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The Creator

Harry made her a billionaire

By Kim Ossi
McClatchy Newspapers

LAST UPDATED: 2:32 a.m. HST, Jul 14, 2011

J.K. Rowling

It’s fitting that the Hogwarts Express is an important part of the “Harry Potter” movies since Rowling brainstormed the series during a train journey from Manchester to London. Scholastic says she then spent five years outlining the plots for each book before writing the first novel.

When “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” was complete, she shopped her book around and it eventually was published in 1997. The American version — changing “Philosopher” to “Sorcerer” — printed a year later. When the fourth book, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” published in July 2000, the 766-page book hit stores in Britain, Canada, the U.S. and Australia simultaneously and subsequently broke records for the greatest number of books sold on the first weekend of publication. In 2007 — 10 years after the release of the first book — the seventh and final book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” was published.

Scholastic says it had a “record-breaking first print-run of 12 million copies in the U.S.” and the book sold 8.3 million copies in 24 hours, making it the fastest selling book in history.

In June, Forbes reported that Rowling, 45, is one of just 14 women around the world who are self-made billionaires. Despite her success — and insistence that she’s not writing more books in the series — the story didn’t end with book seven.

The Potter-verse thrives, namely through the successful movies and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which opened at Universal Studios Orlando in 2010.

And perhaps as a way to appease fans sad to see the final movie hit the silver screen this summer, Rowling announced Pottermore ( on June 23 — an “exciting online experience around the reading of the Harry Potter books,” according to the website.

The free site opens in October, with a personal promise from Rowling that she’ll be involved on the site as well, as she has more information about the “Harry Potter” universe to share with committed readership.

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