JK Rowling becomes Companion of Honour for charity work

JK Rowling has become a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour for her services to literature and philanthropy. Picture: Dan Hallman/Invision/AP
JK Rowling has become a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour for her services to literature and philanthropy. Picture: Dan Hallman/Invision/AP
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She is one of the world’s most successful authors and has made millions through her stories that captivated a worldwide audience.

Harry Potter author JK Rowling is now also well known for her philanthropy and pours money into her charitable interests.

After being made an OBE in 2001, she is now becoming a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour for her services to literature and philanthropy.

It is a far cry from the days almost 20 years ago when the first Harry Potter book was published with a print run of around 500 copies.

Rowling, whose first name is Joanne, has previously told how her famous boy wizard creation simply “fell” into her head years earlier while on a crowded train to London after a weekend spent flat-hunting with her then boyfriend in Manchester in 1990.

Sitting on the delayed train, she said she had “never been so excited about an idea before”.

Harry Potter was born, and on her return home that night, Rowling immediately began writing what would become the first book of the series - Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone.

Following the breakdown of her first marriage, she and her young daughter arrived in Edinburgh at the end of 1994.

Eager to finish her book, the writer famously began scribbling in the city’s cafes and found an agent.

It took another year before a publisher, Bloomsbury, was found - and the first Harry Potter book was published on June 26 1997.

It was a world away from the hype and excitement which surrounded the release of future, much-anticipated instalments of what would become the best-selling book series in history.

Now, two decades on from the publication of that first volume, Rowling’s life has changed beyond all recognition.

The most recent Sunday Times Rich List estimated her fortune at £650 million and placed her third on the Scotland Giving List for her philanthropic work.

Volant, the charitable trust she set up, supports projects that alleviate social deprivation, particularly supporting women, children and young people at risk.

She is president of Gingerbread, which provides advice to single parents. Rowling also founded Lumos, a charity working to transform the lives of institutionalised children and has raised many millions through the sale of her books for Comic Relief and other charities.

A prolific user of Twitter, with more than 10 million followers, she comments on a variety of issues, including politics. In 2014, she confirmed her support for a No vote in the Scottish independence referendum with a £1 million donation to the Better Together campaign.

Rowling was born in Chipping Sodbury, near Bristol, in July 1965, and grew up first in Winterbourne on the outskirts of Bristol and then in Tutshill, a small village near Chepstow in Wales.

She went on to study French and classics at Exeter University, graduating in 1987.

She is married to Dr Neil Murray and has three children.