Unseen Passage: J. K. Rowling

The story of Joanne Kathleen Rowling’s near magical rise to fame is almost as well known as the characters she creates.

Rowling was constantly writing and telling stories to her younger sister Dianne. “The first story I ever wrote down was about a rabbit called Rabbit.” Rowling said in an interview. “He got the measles and was visited by his friends including a giant bee called Miss Bee. And ever since Rabbit and Miss Bee, I have always wanted to be a writer, though I rarely told anyone so.

However, my parents, both of whom come from impoverished backgrounds and neither of whom had been to college, took the view that my overactive imagination was an amusing personal quirk that would never pay a mortgage or secure a pension.

A writer from the age of six, with two unpublished novels in the drawer, she was stuck on a train when Harry walked into her mind fully formed. She spent the next five years constructing the plots of seven books, one for every year of his secondary school life.

Rowling says she started writing the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, in Portugal, where she was teaching English.

At first nobody wanted to publish Harry Potter. She was told that plot was too complex. Refusing to compromise, she found a publisher.

In 1997 Rowling received her first royalty cheque. By book three, she had sky rocketed to the top of the publishing world. A row of zeroes appeared on the author’s bank balance and her life was turned upside down. Day and night she had journalists knocking on the unanswered door of her flat.

Rowling’s quality control has become legendary, as her obsession with accuracy. She’s thrilled with Stephen Fry’s taped version of the books and outraged that an Italian dust jacket showed Harry minus his glasses. “Don’t they understand that the glasses are the clue to his vulnerability.”

Annual earnings of J.K. Rowling from 2010 to 2019.

Q. On the basis of your understanding of the passage answer the questions given below.

  1. Explain J.K. Rowling’s ‘near magical rise to fame’.
  2. What reason did the publishers give for rejecting Rowling’s book?
  3. What was the drawback of achieving fame?
  4. Why was Rowling outraged with the Italian dust jacket?
  5. Find a word in the last para that means the same as ‘insecure/helpless’.
  6. According to the graph, how many years did it take Rowling to become very successful?


  1. J.K. Rowling’s ‘near magical rise to fame’ means that she gained success and fame suddenly and unexpectedly.
  2. The publishers rejected Rowling’s book because they found the plot too complex.
  3. Losing one’s freedom and personal space is the main drawback of achieving fame.
  4. Rowling was outraged with the Italian dust jacket as they showed Harry Potter without glasses.
  5. The word ‘vulnerability’ means the same as ‘insecure/ helpless’.
  6. According to the graph, it took Rowling six to seven years to become very successful.

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