While British author J.K. Rowling might not trot the streets of Los Angeles, she’s no less a celebrity than the others on this list. In fact, in many ways, her fame is even greater—her name, wise words, and work are beloved by fans all over the globe.
Hers is a rags-to-riches story that rivals any other, and one that continues to inspire many. Today, we know her as the acclaimed, billionaire author of the beloved “Harry Potter” series of books, but once, Rowling was a poor single mother struggling to make ends meet.
At age 25, Rowling’s mother died, an event which would resonate throughout her work. “My books are largely about death,” she told The Telegraph in 2006, a motif inspired by the passing of her mother.
Shortly after, Rowling moved to northern Portugal to begin anew, where she taught English as a foreign language. There she began dating a man named Jorge Arantes, became pregnant, and moved into a two-bedroom apartment with Aarentes’ mother. The two married in 1992, and she gave birth to a daughter in 1993. The marriage, however, lasted only a little over a year, and after the divorce, Rowling and her daughter moved back to the UK.
Jobless and living in poverty in a tiny apartment with her daughter, Rowling became depressed, and even considered suicide. She spent much of her free time writing “Harry Potter” in cafes with her daughter sleeping next to her.
By her own admission, she was “as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain without being homeless,” and considered herself to be “the biggest failure I knew.”
Even after she finished her first book, it was rejected numerous times by major publishers. Finally, though, Bloomsbury gave her a chance, and her work went on to sell more than 450 million copies, win awards, and be made into movies.
For all of you who are working toward your dreams, remember Rowling’s words. She thought herself a failure. She thought she was behind in life, and had no idea that between her and her dreams lay just a little more work.