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J. K. Rowling A Biography Hardcover – December 31, 1999

3.3 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

J.K. Rowling's meteoric rise to worldwide superstardom and bestseller status is now the stuff of tabloid legend -- how she would spend hours in a café in Edinburgh, nursing a single coffee and a glass of water while she wrote the Harry Potter novel that would bring her fame and fortune.

Creator of the most famous and best-loved character in contemporary fiction, J.K. Rowling is also the author of her own escape from a depressing existence on the verge of destitution. Sean Smith traces the life story of this phenomenal woman who has brought joy and inspiration to millions of readers around the world. And in a book based on exhaustive interviews with many of the people from her past and her present, Smith also traces the origins of the books that are worldwide bestsellers. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Sean Smith has contacts with a number of J.K. Rowling's friends and former classmates, and much of the book will be based on exclusive interviews with these and others who knew her. A former national newspaper columnist and now a freelance writer, his books include the international bestseller Sophie's Kiss, a biography of Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Michael O'Mara Books; illustrated edition edition (December 31, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1854798200
  • ISBN-13: 978-1854798206
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #493,629 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I've read all the HP books and am a big fan so I was pleased to find a good biography of JK Rowling as Marc Shapiro's from last year was too thin and not very enlightening. This one is much more interesting and follows JK's life through from when she was little girl all through her education and the subsequent creation of Harry Potter on a train up to the present day. It's a pleasure to read a good rags to riches story - and in case you've read all those articles about her writing in cafes you can find out here that there is a lot more to JK Rowling than that! I recommend this book if you're a Harry Potter fan, especially if you like the game of spotting where all the inventive names in the books come from - you might not agree with Sean Smith but it's fun to play!
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Format: Hardcover
Sean Smith's brilliant biography of J.K. Rowling was a must read for me. Joanne Rowling was a gifted and talented writer in one of the English classes I taught as a student teacher abroad at Wyedean School in the late seventies. Naturally, I wanted to learn as much as possible about what she had been doing in the intervening years. Smith's book did not disappoint. He tells the story of the development of this major talent much in the way J.K. Rowling hooks and holds the reader's attention. He combines a compelling subject with his clever and very readable prose to produce a book that is sure to satisfy Rowling's legion of fans at home and abroad. His tireless research and intelligent insights into connections between his subject's life and the mythology she creates in her fiction are highly credible. There are many surprises here, even for those already familiar with Rowling's amazing rise to the top of the publishing world. Smith's writing entertains without sensationalizing. He remains true to his subject just as she maintains fidelity to the workings of the adolescent imagination which informs her writing. Ultimately this literary jewel sparkles like J.K. Rowling eyes on the cover photograph. Smith describes her in the conclusion as a woman who looks rich. I would add that Smith's writing feels rich in its detail and insights into the formative experiences and major events of J.K. Rowling's inspiring life. Just as with a Harry Potter book, I was saddened to find the last page come all too soon. Fortunately, there is much more to come from J.K. Rowling, which should make for further updates to her biography. Smith will remain my biographer of choice.
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By A Customer on January 29, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I found this book very entertaining. JK Rowling's life has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride but the downs like her messy marriage and her mother's long term illness made me want to turn the pages all the more to see how it all turned out for her. It's an unpretentious read packed with facts about the author that I had no idea about. You can't always believe what you read in the newspapers! It's fun joining the author in trying to find Harry Potter references in her own life story and this book doesn't take itself too seriously. JK Rowling is a good writer but her own story is a great one. Thoroughly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I ordered this for a biography for school, and was very disappointed. the author does not tell the story in chronological order, and doesn't specify who people are. He does not say that Joanne is J.K. Rowling's name as well as her mothers, and does not specify which is which. In the bibliography, He includes Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages, which are included in the Harry Potter School Book collection. To make the collection look more realistic, she does not display her own name on the cover, but the authors that wrote the books in the Harry Potter series. But Sean Smith, the biography author, does not credit J.K. Rowling for the book, but the fictional authors, proving his research unthorough. I will not be buying Smith's work again, and I highly recommend not buying this. I would recommend Who is J.K. Rowling instead. It is a book meant for younger children, but has complete information and is easier to understand.
posted by A.P. (age 12)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A friend had seen the biography on TV that was based on this book. She specifically requested it after seeing other similar biographies of J.K. Rowling. She even bought one of the others and did not like it much. She really enjoyed reading this book.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a poorly written book. The author never even interviewed J.K. Rowling. The book is full of unattributed quotes. The author attempts to tie some part of Rowling's life directly into the Harry Potter series at least three times in every page - whether it makes sense or not. Here's an example from Chapter One: "Her father provided her first memory of books when he read her the Wind in the Willows while she was stuck at home with the measles. Joanne has yet to reveal how she thought up the name of Weasely for Harry Potter's best friend but it does sound rather similar to measly."
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very pedestrian piece of writing. Sean Smith substitutes solid knowledge of her life and experiences with endless speculations about which individuals in her life were converted to characters in the Harry Potter books. The pace picks up a bit a little more than halfway through, when there is more solid history available. Nevertheless, there is nothing in this book that provides any surprises or insights into the amazing woman and author that is Joanne Rowling. Really, I was so disappointed and wouldn't recommend this to anyone. There is currently no "authorized" biography available, but this writer strains to create a biography out of all too scanty information.
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