Humble beginnings- Kathleen Alexander

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Harry Potter has been a pretty common theme during our trip in the UK. It’s pretty hard to avoid when the books have become such a big part of our pop culture, and we’ve been surrounded by where it all began.

We started our day off with a talk about J.K. Rowling, whose real name is actually just Joanne Rowling. Her publisher advised her to publish her book under a male name so that boys wouldn’t turn down reading a book written by a woman. However, Joanne decided to take her grandmother’s name, Kathleen, (or my name, however you want to look at it) and use initials for her first and middle name so she was able to publish the book under her name.

I had a lot of fun learning more about Joanne Rowling. She is actually quite the celebrity, but even as a big fan of Harry Potter myself; I didn’t know much about her background and how it influenced Harry’s story. She wrote Harry Potter in Edinburgh after a separation with her husband. She was poor, out of work, and a single mother. She came to Edinburgh where her sister lived and her parents had met for a new start after she got the inspiration for a wizard named Harry during a train delay from Manchester to London in 1989.

Here, she sat in coffee shops writing the story of the boy who lived. She was too poor to afford her heating bill, so she preferred cups of coffee at cafes instead. Rowling used inspiration from the city for the world she created, even finding names for her characters from the tombstones in the cemetery next door to a café she liked to visit.

Today, she lives just down the street from where we are staying, still writing, and is worth millions. It’s important to remember that inspiration is all around us, and that even the most amazing success can come from humble beginnings.

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