Harry Potter is a seven book children's series that has sold over 450 million copies, making it the most successful book series in all of history. In addition to being translated into over 67 languages, the books spawned eight movies, which also became the highest-grossing film series of all time. The intricate stories, which chronicle the trials and tribulations of a young wizard and his friends, have also inspired a successful brand, estimated to be worth $15 billion.
Behind all of the fame and fortune that Harry Potter has garnered, is one inspiring success story: that of J.K. Rowling. Joanne Rowling was riding on a train from Manchester to London, England in 1990 when the idea for Harry Potter struck her. After getting off the train, she started to write right away. But later that year, her mother passed away after fighting a lengthy battle with multiple sclerosis. The death took its toll on her and evidence of her pain can be seen in the first book, where Harry copes with the deaths of his own parents.
Rowling's struggles were not over. She moved to Portugal after accepting a job to teach English as a second language. While there, she met and married a Portuguese television journalist, who she married and had a child with. The marriage was short-lived; Rowling gave birth to daughter Jessica in July of 1993 and the couple parted ways in November. It was then that she decided to move back to Edinburgh to be near her sister. She recalls that as a low point in her life - she was then diagnosed with clinical depression. But still, she persisted.
Ultimately, she ended up taking a postgraduate teaching course in order to give her the credentials to teach in Scotland. That was in 1995, when she had just finished the first book of the Harry Potter series. It took her a year to find a publishing company that would publish the book, still she was told to get a job - children's books didn't make any money. But, in only a matter of years, Rowling would be richer than the Queen of England herself.
The popularity of the books began to snowball. Rowling received awards for her work and gained notoriety in the United States and in her native United Kingdom. By the time the fourth book was released, it sold an impressive 373,000 copies on its first day of sales in the U.K. and a subsequent three million copies in the U.S. Rowling finished the seventh and last book of the series in early 2007. It was released some months later and sold 11 million copies on its first day in both the U.S. and the U.K.
When asked what she attributes her success to, Rowling admits that it was her lowest moments that allowed her to persist. The feeling of having "nothing to lose" was what liberated her and propelled her onward to give us one of the most inspiring success stories of all time.