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31 Quotes from J. K. Rowling of the Harry Potter series

J. K. Rowling is the author and creator of the Harry Potter fantasy series that sold more than 400 million books and generated nearly 8 billion dollars in worldwide box office. Born on July 31, 1965, Rowling conceived the idea for the Harry Potter series while on a delayed train from Manchester to London in 1990. Her first book was rejected by twelve publishing houses, before finally selling it for the equivalent of about $4,000.

The British novelist, screenwriter and film producer, who also goes by the pen name Robert Galbraith, is widely regarded as the "Most Influential Woman in Britain". Today, we want to share 31 defining quotes by Joanne "Jo" Rowling as she turns 51:

 

On life:

On life:
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"As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters."

 

On failure:

"I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. 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."

"Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged."

 

On taking chances:

On taking chances:
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"You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default."

 

On inspiration:

"I've no idea where ideas come from and I hope I never find out; it would spoil the excitement for me if it turned out I just have a funny little wrinkle on the surface of my brain which makes me think about invisible train platforms."

 

On learning to write:

"You have to resign yourself to wasting lots of trees before you write anything really good. That's just how it is. It's like learning an instrument. You've got to be prepared for hitting wrong notes occasionally, or quite a lot. That's just part of the learning process. And read a lot. Reading a lot really helps. Read anything you can get your hands on."

 

On fantasies:

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"I don't think there's any harm at all in allowing a kid to fantasize. In fact, I think to stop people from fantasizing is a very destructive thing indeed."

 

On the power of imagination:

"Many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are."

"Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared. Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s places. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better."

 

On curiosity:

"Curiosity is not a sin…. But we should exercise caution with our curiosity."

 

On a good book:

On a good book:
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"If it's a good book, anyone will read it. I'm totally unashamed about still reading things I loved in my childhood."

 

On morality:

"It is perfectly possible to live a very moral life without a belief in God, and I think it's perfectly possible to live a life peppered with ill-doing and believe in God."

 

On empathy:

"Those who choose not to empathise enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it, through our own apathy."

 

On destiny:

"I believe in free will. Of those that, like us, are in a privileged situation at least. For you, for me: people who are living in western society, people who are not repressed, who are free. We can choose. The things go largely like you want them to go. You control your own life. Your own will is extremely powerful."

 

On our choices:

On our choices:
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"It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be."

"It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."

"If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals."

 

On personal strength:

On personal strength:
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"The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more than any qualification I ever earned."

 

On discipline:

"You've got to work. It's about structure. It's about discipline. It's all these deadly things that your schoolteacher told you you needed... You need it."

 

On humility:

"Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone's total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes."

 

On going from rags to riches:

On going from rags to riches:
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"I think the single biggest thing that money gave me—and obviously I came from a place where I was a single mother and it really was hand to mouth at one point. It was literally as poor as you can get in Britain without being homeless at one point. If you’ve ever been there you will never, ever take for granted that you don’t need to worry. Never."

 

On the pressure to be presentable:

"I would be a liar if I said I don’t care [about my appearance]; yes, I care. I found it very difficult, when I first became well known, to read criticism about how I look, how messy my hair was, and how generally unkempt I look. The nastiest thing ever written was written by a man, and I do remember that. I wasn’t looking for it either, it was just simply in the newspaper I was reading."

"You can choose, you can go one of two ways. You can be the person I probably admire more and say 'well I don’t care and I’ll continue not to bother to brush my hair.' Or you can be a weak-willed person like me and think 'oh I’d better get my act together. And maybe my mother was right and I do need to put my hair back and tidy myself up a bit.’ So I did tidy myself up a bit. But I do often resent the amount of time that it takes to pull yourself together to go on TV, I really do. If I sound bitter, then that accurately reflects how I feel about the subject."

 

On body positivity:

"Is 'fat' really the worst thing a human being can be? Is 'fat' worse than 'vindictive', 'jealous', 'shallow', 'vain', 'boring' or 'cruel'? Not to me."

"I've got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me, because I don't want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I'd rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny—a thousand things, before 'thin.' And frankly, I'd rather they didn't give a gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence whether the woman standing next to them has fleshier knees than they do."

 

On motherhood:

"Years ago someone wrote (about me): ‘She characterizes Molly Weasley as a mother who is only at home looking after the children.’ I was deeply offended, because I until a year before that had also been such a mother who was at home all the time taking care of her child ... What has lesser status and is more difficult than raising a child? And what is more important?"

 

On personal responsibility:

On personal responsibility:
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"There is an expiration date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you."

 

On poverty:

"I cannot criticize my parents for hoping that I would never experience poverty. They had been poor themselves, and I have since been poor, and I quite agree with them that it is not an ennobling experience. Poverty entails fear, and stress, and sometimes depression; it means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts, that is indeed something on which to pride yourself, but poverty itself is romanticized only by fools."

 

On depression:

"I have never been remotely ashamed of having been depressed. Never. What's to be ashamed of? I went through a really rough time and I am quite proud that I got out of that."

 

On self-worth:

"Whatever money you might have, self-worth really lies in finding out what you do best."

 

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15 Insightful Quotes from V. S. Naipaul

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