Nearly 20 years after J.K. Rowling first published “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” in 1997, the beloved boy wizard comes to life on the theatrical stage. “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and follows the events of the epilogue in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”
The play’s previews debuted this summer at the Palace Theatre London to rave reviews. It officially opens July 30.
The Harry Potter franchise took J.K. Rowling on a whirlwind ride from desperate poverty to the world’s first billionaire author. Here is a look at the “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” play and J.K. Rowling’s life, career and net worth.
J.K. Rowling Net Worth: $1 Billion
In 2004, Guinness World Records crowned J.K. Rowling as the history’s first billionaire author and one of only five self-made female billionaires. Years before, however, the single mother was living on welfare, spending her time writing in coffee shops in Edinburgh, Scotland, while her daughter slept beside her.
“An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain without being homeless,” she said during a 2008 commencement speech at Harvard. “That period of my life was a dark one. And I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution.”
Rowling spent six years working on the manuscript that became “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” and that work was sent to 12 publishers before it was picked up, according to Time. Its first print run of 500 copies was primarily distributed to libraries — and Rowling earned an estimated $2,400 from Bloomsbury one year later for the book.
Comparatively, the final book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” sold 11 million copies between the U.S. and U.K. in 24 hours, according to BBC News. Between the success of her books and lucrative deals in film and merchandising, J.K. Rowling’s net worth has reached an estimated $1 billion, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
Watch J.K. Rowling’s Interview With Oprah
In February 2015, J.K. Rowling interviewed with Oprah Winfrey on the success of her books, her personal struggles and the inspiration behind her work. Watch the interview here:
J.K. Rowling’s Books, Movies and More
The “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” play — co-written by Jack Thorne and directed by John Tiffany — is just the latest installment in a fantasy series that spans the worlds of literature, movies, games and merchandise.
There are seven Harry Potter novels, and approximately 450 million copies are in circulation in 73 languages, reported Time in 2013. The “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” book, based on the script for the play, is due out July 31.
Warner Bros. is behind the series of films that follow the books, with “Deathly Hallows” being split into two movies. With domestic box office sales of $2.39 billion, as reported by Box Office Mojo, the Harry Potter films make up the second-most successful movie franchise in the U.S., behind only the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Worldwide, the movies have brought in $7.72 billion.
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” will be the next Harry Potter film in theaters, due out Nov. 18. That movie will follow the adventures of the magizoologist Newt Scamander after he misplaces a suitcase of dangerous magical creatures.
Factoring in DVD and digital sales, rentals and an estimated $7.3 billion in toy sales, the Harry Potter empire is worth more than $24.85 billion, according to Statistic Brain.
Michael Galvis contributed to the reporting for this article.