When it comes to having a highly lucrative writing career, only a few writers are lucky enough to reach the same level of success as J.K. Rowling. As the renowned author of the Harry Potter children's book series and adapted movies, she is one of the wealthiest writers today. So, what is J.K. Rowling net worth, and where does her fortune come from?
J.K. Rowling Net Worth
J.K. Rowling has a reported net worth of more than $1 billion, a feat very few authors have accomplished. How exactly did she reach such a high net worth? Since she was not born into wealth, J.K. Rowling achieved it through hard work. It is a compelling rags-to-riches story of a woman who went from being a struggling aspiring writer to having an extremely high net worth.
J.K. Rowling was born in England in 1965. Her birth name is Joanne Rowling. She does not have a middle name, but uses Kathleen, the name of her grandmother, as her middle name. As a child, J.K. Rowling demonstrated a writing talent, creating short stories that she would read to her younger sister. Rowling continued her inclination towards the creative arts when she attended the University of Exeter, earning a degree in Classics and French.
After earning her degree, Rowling moved to London and began working as a human rights abuse researcher for Amnesty International. J.K. Rowling then moved to Portugal, finding work as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher. During Rowling's time in Portugal, she met and married her husband, Jorge Arantes, a Portuguese journalist, and had their daughter, Jessica, born in 1993. The couple divorced, and Rowling returned to England.
The Start of Harry Potter and Early Success
Although it may seem that J.K. Rowling achieved her literary success and high net worth practically overnight, that was not the case. In 1990, before moving to Portugal, J.K. Rowling began writing the first drafts of her Harry Potter books while commuting on the train from Manchester to London King's Cross. Over the next five years, Rowling would make notes outlining the plotlines and content of what would eventually become the seven-book Harry Potter series.
J.K. Rowling continued writing the Harry Potter books throughout her time in Portugal. When she divorced and moved back to England, she had already completed the first three chapters of the initial Harry Potter novel. During this time, Rowling was not only suffering from depression, but she had to rely on welfare benefits to support herself and her young daughter. Despite these challenges, Rowling continued to work on her first novel.
After completing the entire manuscript for the novel, Rowling sent out the first three chapters to various literary agents. She received positive feedback from one of them, who asked to see the entire book. Rowling landed a book deal with Bloomsbury Publishing, which soon released her first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, in 1997. In the U.S., the book's title was changed to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
Rowling's first book about an orphaned young wizard and his friends became a global phenomenon. It was translated into other languages for readers worldwide. The Harry Potter books are published in 80 languages, with over 500 million sold globally. The entire book series was made into eight movies. The combined successes of the books and films have contributed to the substantial net worth of J.K. Rowling.
The Harry Potter Book Series
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone began J.K. Rowling's meteoric success as a published author. She went on to publish six more Harry Potter books that also went on to become best sellers. This book started the series about the life and adventures of the boy wizard and his magically gifted companions.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
The second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets continues to tell the story of Harry Potter, his friends and adversaries. It was released in July 1998 and sold an estimated 77 million copies worldwide. It is not considered the most memorable of J.K. Rowling's books, but it is the highest-selling of the series.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
The third book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was released in July 1999. The book has a reported global sales of 65 million, with over 35 million copies printed in 35 languages.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the fourth book in the Harry Potter series. After its release in July 2000, it became the fastest-selling book within 24 hours. Like Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, this book sold approximately 65 million copies worldwide.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
The fifth book of the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, experienced a delay in publishing and was not released until June 2003. Despite the novel being more than 700 pages long, readers continued to be captivated by the boy wizard, propelling its sales to more than 65 million copies, just like the previous two books.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Released in July 2005, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth of the Harry Potter books, sold a massive 6.9 million copies during the first 24 hours of availability in the U.S. At the time, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince had the most significant opening sales in publishing history. At 600 pages long, this was hardly a quick read, but it still sold around 65 million copies worldwide.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The July 2007 release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows marked the end of the Harry Potter books. The seventh and final chapter in the series set the record as the largest ever in-store and online book pre-order. It also sold 65 million copies, but 15 million were sold in the first 24 hours after its release. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows holds the world record as the fastest-selling book ever.
The Harry Potter Movie Franchise
In addition to the blockbuster global sales of her Harry Potter book series, J.K. Rowling's net worth can also largely be credited to the success of the film franchise, all of which experienced tremendous box office returns. Each film was released in chronological order to match the order of the books.
The film version of J.K. Rowling's first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, was released in the U.S. in November 2001, becoming the top-grossing film of 2001.
It made more than $965 million at the box office.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was released in 2002, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was released in 2004. Both films were box office successes, earning $875.2 million and $789.5 million, respectively. The fourth film in the series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, was released in 2005 and was also a box office smash, earning $886.7 million.
The fifth movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was released in 2007. It was a massive hit among moviegoers, almost making as much as the first movie with box office receipts of $939.6 million. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth film, was released in July 2009, bringing in $929.4 million in ticket sales.
The final installments for the seventh book in the series were released in two separate films: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, released in 2010, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, which was released in 2011. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 made $952.6 million at the box office, while Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 had a stunning box office haul of $1.31 billion, the highest total earned of all of the Harry Potter films.
Fantastic Beasts Books and Movies
J.K. Rowling's net worth climbed even higher after completing her Harry Potter books series. She published a shorter series of three books centered on the magical creatures in the Harry Potter universe. The three books are titled Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, and Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.
The Fantastic Beasts books have been adapted to the screen by Warner Bros. and are now available as a film series. The books and films are not sequels or prequels to the Harry Potter films but are an addition to them, relying heavily on the themes of magic and wizardry.
The first movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, was released in 2016, with over $800 million in global ticket sales. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald was released in 2018, with a considerably less successful global box office total of $654.8 million. The third and final film in the series, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, was released in 2022 with a disappointing worldwide box office sales of $407 million. Despite the less-than-hoped-for box office receipts for the last two movies, J.K. Rowling’s net worth is still among the highest on earth.
How J.K. Rowling Uses Her Net Worth To Help Others
J.K. Rowling is not just reveling in her total net worth; she uses her fortune to help those in need. In 2000, Rowling established a foundation called the Volant Charitable Trust. It focuses on women and children, allowing them to escape poverty. The trust also provides funding for significant disaster incidents. She's written books with their proceeds to support Comic Relief. She has also raised funds for AIDS relief organizations and Medicine Without Borders.
Rowling supports organizations dedicated to researching multiple sclerosis, the disease that claimed her mother's life. She also helped establish the Lumos Foundation, which devotes its resources to ending child institutionalization worldwide. Her charitable efforts have provided assistance to people and organizations around the world.
J.K. Rowling may be one of the wealthiest people in the world based on her net worth, but she is also one of the most generous in sharing her good fortune.