Curiosity is a powerful feeling. It's why we know the Earth is round and weighs 5 974 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 kilograms. Or why a group of wizzkids invented a Google algorithm that gave that answer in less than a second. It's also what makes ADC go around, driving students and teacher from all over Europe to embark on our Work Experience and Teacher Development Programmes. So let's celebrate curiosity in all its quizzical glory! Over the next few months we will introduce seven curious people who changed the world.
How can a delayed train journey from Manchester to London be in any way magical? Let's say it is 1990 and J.K. Rowling was onboard that train. Let's say she started daydreaming about a young boy who is also travelling by train, but an enchanted one destined for the wizard school of Hogwarts. Rowling's first book Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone was published seven years later. Today the series about the bespectacled orphaned boy with a penchant for wizardry has sold almost 450 million copies and been adapted into a blockbuster film franchise, propelling Rowling from poverty and obscurity to worldwide fame.
Rowling grew up in Gloucestershire in the South-East of England. She always wanted to be a writer and crafted stories from a young age for her little sister. But her childhood, and especially teenage years, were difficult and Rowling has previously said that she wasn't "very good at being young". Her mum was diagnosed with MS when she was fifteen and she had a difficult relationship with their dad. The character of Hermione Granger, a talented and studious witch who befriends Harry, is said to be based on her eleven-year-old, bookish self.
After studying French and classics at Exeter university, she moved to London and worked for Amnesty International (a charity she still supports) and, later, the Chamber of Commerce. After coming up with the idea of Harry Potter during the delayed train trip, she began writing immediately. In the years that followed, Rowling moved to Portugal to teach English and continue focusing on her novel. There, she met a journalist, got married and soon gave birth to a daughter. But the marriage didn't last and in 1993 she brought her daughter to Scotland with three chapters of what was going to become the Harry Potter saga in her suitcase.
In later years she has described this period of her life as a testing time. Rowling felt like a failure. She was a single parent barely surviving on welfare, while trying to cope with suicidal thoughts (her depression inspired the harrowing dementor creatures that suck the soul out of their victims). But in an inspiring speech at Harvard she has also talked of the benefits of failure and how it set her free creatively. She began directing all her time and energy into the only work that mattered to her - the story of Harry Potter - and wrote in cafes while her daughter slept in a pram beside her.
In 1995 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was finished. After having been rejected by numerous publishers, Bloomsbury finally accepted the manuscript (the chief executive's 8-year-old daughter had not been able to put it down) and printed 1000 copies. Rowling was given a modest advance and told to get a teaching job as children's books generally don't make much money. Now, such early copies are estimated to be worth between £16 000 and £25 000.
Rowling's magical world has enchanted millions and introduced reading to a generation that were thought to like films and computer games. After the seventh book about Harry Potter came out in 2007, Rowling published The Casual Vacancy, a story of a parish council. She has also written three crime novels under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.
If you happen to be in London this autumn, the eight chapter of Harry Potter (which was co-created by Rowling) - a play called Harry Potter and The Cursed Child– is currently being shown at the Palace Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue.
ADC College organises Internship and Teacher Development Programmes in London and Dublin, eligible for funding from Erasmus+. Don't hesitate to contact us if you would like more information about what we do and how to get funding. Call a Country Manager today on +44 2084249424 or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.