Quite possibly one of the most famous and renowned former-failures of our time, J.K. Rowling is the author of the wildly-popular Harry Potter series of books. Born in 1965, she grew up with a tumultuous childhood that included a difficult and oftentimes-strained relationship with her father, and dealing with the illness of her mother.
In 1982, at the age of 17-years old, she attempted to gain acceptance to Oxford University. She failed and was rejected, instead enrolling at the University of Exeter where she received her Bachelor of Arts in French and Classics. After graduating from university, at the age of 21-years old, she moved to London to work for Amnesty International in 1986.
After London, she moved to Manchester with her boyfriend. It was there, in 1990, at the age of 25-years old, while on a 4-hour-delayed train, when the idea of a young wizard popped into her mind, later stating that it came “fully formed,” and all she needed to do was flesh out the details.
However, it was just a few short months after that her mother, Anne, died from Multiple Sclerosis, leaving her extremely distraught and upset. In the wake of her mother’s death, only a few months afterwards, she moved to Porto, in Portugal, to teach English. There, she met a man, got married, got pregnant, and gave birth to her daughter, who was born in 1993.
The relationship was a very strenuous one, with reports of domestic abuse, resulting in a separation and eventual divorce. With only three chapters of Harry Potter completed, at the end of 1993, when she was at the age of 38-years old, she moved to Edinburgh, to live with her sister.
At that point, she considered herself a major failure. She had failed at just about everything she had ever attempted to do in life. She was diagnosed with clinical depression and was suicidal. Two years later, in 1995, five years after the initial idea had come to her, she managed to finish the manuscript for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. She located an agent, but after one year of trying to get it published, all 12 major publishing houses had rejected her book.
It wasn’t until 1996, when a small literary house in London named, Bloomsbury, gave the green light and a very small advance of£1500, only due to the behest of the owner’s daughter, that the book was published. In 1997, seven years after the initial idea for the young wizard, the first Harry Potter book was published. By 2004, Rowling had become the first author to become a billionaire through book writing, according to Forbes.