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J K Rowling now a billionaire

By Business Bureau
February 27, 2004 12:31 IST
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Harry Potter and his gang of wizards have waved their magic wands over their creator J K Rowling to catapult her into the Forbes list of the super-rich.

With a net value of £562 million or $1billion or about Rs 50 billion, Rowling is ranked 552 on the list of the world's billionaires.

Edinburgh-based Rowling is the only British woman to be ranked a dollar billionaire. She is also one of only five self-made female billionaires, and the first billion dollar author.

Her story is as fascinating as that of the characters she has created.

When the first Harry Potter book was published in 1997, she was a single mother living in a cramped Edinburgh flat on £70-a-week benefits.

Now she divides her time between a £750,000 Georgian mansion in Edinburgh, a country house in Perthshire, which she bought for £600,000 and a £4.5m home in London.

The pace at which Rowling has gone from living on State benefits to becoming a billonaire is astonishing. Last year's The Sunday Times rich list could find only eight people in Britain who had expanded their fortune more rapidly.

In 2001, Rowling married Dr Neil Murray, an anaesthetist with whom she has a son. She has a daughter by a previous marriage with a Portuguese journalist.

Rowling's financial success has been fuelled by the sale of 250 million Harry Potter books worldwide in 55 languages, including Latin and Ancient Greek. Her last book, Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix, sold 12 million copies in the United States alone after its June 2003 release, and earned her American publisher $185 million in just six months. Adding to her kitty has been the rewards from the two spin-off films based on her books and the associated merchandising.

At 38, Rowling, is one of the youngest people on the Forbes list of billionaires. In an interview with BBC television star Jeremy Paxman last year, she admitted to feeling guilty about her vast wealth, telling him: 'The rewards were disproportionate, but I could see how I got there, so that made it easier to rationalize.'


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