FACTBOX: Facts about Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling

Wed Dec 3, 2008 12:06pm EST
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(Reuters) - "The Tales of Beedle the Bard," a new book by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, goes on sale on Thursday.

Proceeds from the collection of wizarding fairy tales, which are mentioned in the Harry Potter series, will go to The Children's High Level Group, a charity for vulnerable children in Eastern Europe co-founded by Rowling.

Following are some facts about Rowling and her books:

* Joanne Rowling was born in July, 1965, in England.

* In the mid-1990s, J.K. Rowling was a single mother claiming state benefits and writing in Edinburgh cafes while her daughter napped. She completed the manuscript for the first Harry Potter book "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" in 1995, but it was rejected by around a dozen publishers before Barry Cunningham of Bloomsbury agreed to take her on.

* It proved a shrewd move, as Rowling went on to sell more than 400 million copies of the Harry Potter series, making her the world's first billion-dollar author. Warner Bros. have distributed five Harry Potter movies, amassing a worldwide box office tally of $4.5 billion. There are three more to come, with the final of seven Potter books being divided into two movies.

* Rowling has married twice, once to a Portuguese journalist with whom she had daughter Jessica before divorcing, and Neil Murray, with whom she had two children, son David and daughter Mackenzie.

* Rowling hand-wrote and illustrated seven copies of The Tales of Beedle the Bard and gave six of them away as gifts, including one to Cunningham. The seventh went up for auction a year ago and fetched $4 million for charity. Online retailer Amazon bought it.

(To read more about our entertainment news, visit our blog "Fan Fare" online at blogs.reuters.com/fanfare)