The Untold Truth Of J. K. Rowling

You might stay up-to-date on all there is to know about Harry Potter, but how much do you know about the boy wizard's creator? Likely, not so much, though now that J.K. Rowling finds herself at the center of several public feuds, it's time to learn. You might know which spells are used to disarm another wizard, and why Hagrid doesn't carry a wand, but now it's time to learn about the word-wizard herself:

A petition has challenged her to live with refugees

As someone who continues to voice her political opinions in interviews and social media, J.K. Rowling shouldn't be surprised that people are wondering just how dedicated she is to solving these issues. One of the biggest issues she brings up is finding homes for refugees, something that would cost Europe ten times more than any of their neighboring countries, according to this petition page challenging her to open up her "18 spare bedrooms" to Muslim refugees.

It began when American author Mike Cernovich — who's known not so much for his writing, but more for his pro-Trump tweets — offered to fly in 100 refugees to her home, a tweet that went without reply because, regardless of your political views, it's rude to invite people to somebody else's home without that somebody else's permission. But it seems some of his supporters took the request to the next level, by creating a petition that challenges the writer to take in a minimum of 18 refugees for at least eight years. It goes on to say that her 18 spare bedrooms should be put to use during this crisis, and even specifies that she should have to take in at least 14 male refugees, as roughly 75 percent of current refugees are men.

With over 56,000 signatures, the idea apparently has traction, but don't expect Rowling to agree to do it ... or even dignify the petition with a response. As she's no doubt aware, this issue is a huge, complicated one, and allowing a handful of refugees into her home is probably not a viable long-term solution for the scale of the problem.

She was never homeless

Somehow, a rumor was started that J.K. Rowling was homeless while she wrote the popular series, even going as far as saying she lived in her car. Rowling has put the rumors to rest, saying in a commencement speech given to Harvard graduates that she was forced to live off state welfare, explaining, "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." According to an interview she did with The New Yorker, Rowling was only in bad living conditions for several months, before a friend helped her get a nicer apartment. So yes, there's certainly a rags-to-riches story here, but it's certainly not as extreme as you once believed.

With her daughter by her side, Rowling would often spend hours in her brother-in-law's cafe, writing and creating some of our favorite witches and wizards at Hogwarts. While it was certainly a low point in her life, much of her depression had to do with the death of her mother, and the end of her marriage to a journalist she met in Portugal. She has been surprisingly open about this time in her life, even mentioning in several interviews that her depression actually inspired the series's creepy, soul-sucking, happiness-draining Dementor characters. As she explained to ABC News, "... [depression's] just characterized for me by, a numbness, just a sort of coldness and an inability to believe that you will feel happy again or that you could feel light-hearted again. It's just all the color drained out of life really." This is your friendly reminder that the Dementors star in Harry Potter, a kids' book.

She gave away most of her money

It's been over a decade since Rowling was named the first billionaire author by Forbes, but her financial situation has since changed drastically. No, she isn't broke, and she's not back on welfare. She's still doing quite well for herself, but in 2012, was placed on the slightly insulting Forbes Dropoff List after giving away all the money to charity. It seems the author has donated over $160 million since making her claim to fame, a decision that has hardly affected her net worth, except she can no longer be considered a billionaire.

One of her biggest charities has been the Lumos Foundation, which strives to protect children without homes who end up in institutions. She spoke about her decision to create the foundation in an interview with The Sunday Times, saying she was largely influenced by a disturbing story they ran in 2004, about a Czech children's orphanage that kept the kids in cages. Plus, according to the Lumos Foundation's website, most children that end up in orphanages aren't actually orphans — many have disabilities that their families can't afford to treat. So Lumos takes donations and works with government programs, and even individual families, to help them with whatever burdens they might be experiencing, so these kids can stay with their parents and out of orphanages.

Also, most people don't know that her two shorts, Quidditch Through The Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, were originally written as part of a donation to the charity UK anti-poverty charity Comic Relief. Reported by The Sunday Times, all earnings from book sales went to Comic Relief, making millions for the fundraiser. So, while Forbes might criticize the famed writer for her drastic drop in wealth by adding her to their seriously unnecessary "ha ha you're not worth billions anymore" list, she's still a hundred-millionaire who does her best to make a positive impact on the world.

She turned down a collaboration with Michael Jackson

Way back in 2010, Rowling made her first appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, where she revealed that the late Michael Jackson had approached her about producing a Harry Potter-themed musical. Can you imagine? Yes, we might have been forced to watch a Quidditch tournament play out on stage, while the melody to "Beat It" hums on in the background.

While she didn't give a straight answer as to why she turned down the King of Pop's sort-of ridiculous proposal, she did brush on how she agreed to Universal's theme parks, because of their thorough and extraordinary proposal. So perhaps Jackson's presentation was ... BAD (we're not sorry for that one). But the Jackson-Rowling connection doesn't start and end there — it turns out, one of the reasons she chose not to make the creatures protecting the locket Horcrux in Half-Blood Prince zombies, was because of Jackson's "Thriller" video. She explained on Pottermore that zombies were old news and had been done already, and that she is "... part of the 'Thriller' generation; to me, a zombie will always mean Michael Jackson in a bright red bomber jacket." So, instead of zombies, she created corpses under the control of the Dark Lord, called Inferi. It's kinda the same thing, but with much less dancing.

Her first novel for adults received a lot of criticism

After wrapping up the Harry Potter series, Rowling decided to put her career writing for kids on hold, so she could attempt to write her first novel for adults. The Casual Vacancy was received with some seriously mixed reviews, as The New York Times called it "not only disappointing — it's dull." What's more, it's a VERY adult book, with intense rape and domestic abuse scenes that Times critic said "reads like an odd mash-up of a dark soap opera." But regardless of what critics had to say, the book still managed to fly off shelves in both the U.K. and the U.S., likely due to Rowling's name being on the cover.

It seems that even the book's poor reviews couldn't put a dent in Rowling's popularity, and HBO agreed. A few years after the release of The Casual Vacancy, HBO released a miniseries in Britain under the same title, knowing that pretty much anything with Rowling's name on it will bring in a ton of money. This time, The New York Times was a bit kinder, perhaps since the shock after reading the lewd content that's found in the book had finally worn off. Well, "kinder": they said it was "more interesting than it is enjoyable." Sounds clear they just wanted wizards and that's that.

She wrote a failed crime-fiction series under a pen-name

Many people don't know that Rowling was asked by her first British publisher to just use her initials when the first edition of Sorcerer's Apprentice/Stone was released. They asked her to go by J.K. Rowling rather than use her full first name (Joanne), because they thought the book would only appeal to boys, who wouldn't read it if they knew it was written by a woman. She explained her choice to Oprah during an interview saying, "... they said to me 'could we use your initials' and I said 'fine'. I only have one initial. I don't have a middle name. So I took my favorite grandmother's name, Kathleen."

So when Rowling chose to write a crime-fiction series under the name Robert Galbraith, it wasn't the first time she changed her name so potential readers would think she was a man. Apparently it's still the 1800's. The Cuckoo's Calling was released with a small number of books printed, and sold just 500 hardcover copies in its first few months in bookstores. The New York Times reported that stores were even contemplating sending books back to the publisher — that is, of course, until the author's true identity was revealed by The Sunday Times. Immediately after, sales magically skyrocketed, because bad literature reads so much better when someone you like writes it.

Even though Rowling seemed disappointed that her disguise was short lived, it's hard not to wonder if this information was intentionally leaked to increase sales. Either way, bad news for actual obscure authors without a billion-dollar real name to fall back on.

She has reunited with her long-estranged father ... maybe

While many view Rowling's life as some sort of fairytale, with the idyllic ending that brought her love, success, and wealth, there's also a lot of grief and heartache that the public seems to ignore. Rowling didn't have the best relationship with her father growing up, and according to The New Yorker, she cut off all contact with him in 2003. More often than not, the novelist has managed to dodge questions regarding the details of their estrangement, but her father was almost too eager to share what happened. His side of the story, at least.

Peter Rowling has been rumored to claim that his daughter wouldn't bail out his burger van business, or assist him in any way when it went out of business. At first glance, that seems hard to believe, since she's not only loaded, but loves to give her money away to the less fortunate. However, it was also reported that, at the time of their estrangement, Peter had put several first editions of his daughter's books up for sale, all which were gifted to him — one was even a Father's Day present signed "Lots of love from your first born." That book alone — which was a first-edition copy of Goblet of Fire – sold for an absurd $48,000. Understandably, Rowling was pissed, and now you see why "help Pop's burger van" wasn't high on her to-do list.

Apparently the two made peace in 2012 after nearly a decade of silence, but the reports seem suspicious, as they're all flooded with quotes from Peter, and Rowling herself has never commented on it. Also, her father's claims of reconciliation conveniently popped up after rumors began circulating that one of the more offensive characters in The Casual Vacancy was based on him. All in all, it sounds like a cheap attempt at repairing his reputation, but what do we know? We've never run a burger van.

Harry Potter fans are burning their books because of Rowling's political views

If you're on Twitter, you probably know that Rowling isn't exactly President Trump's biggest fan. In fact, she's been tweeting her displeasure over many of his actions even before he took office. Her tweets and retweets have touched nearly every controversial move Trump has made, including his history with sexism and sexual assault, the Muslim ban, and a few other hot-button topics that she finishes off with a Winston Churchill quote or two.

But this isn't why her tweets are making headlines — it's her response to those hating on her opinions and even insulting her writing skills, simply because she voices her political views, that have the internet bent over in laughter. The media attention her tweets were getting have brought even more trolls and Trump supporters to her feed. This ultimately led to some of her fans (ex-fans, more like) making a bonfire out of their Harry Potter books and DVDs. We're guessing those people were rooting for Voldemort anyway.

But regardless of whether you're for or against Trump, you have to admit Rowling deserves some kind of award for her witty comeback skills. One of her tweets hilariously points out that the fumes from burning DVDs can be toxic, but she has no problem with their decision as she still has their money. Another tweet, in response to a long time fan expressing her disgust for the author, reads, "Guess it's true what they say: you can lead a girl to books about the rise and fall of an autocrat, but you still can't make her think." Seems that troll has cast expecto missingthepointium on themself.

She doesn't like PewDiePie, and PewDiePie doesn't like her

PewDiePie is known all over YouTube for his energetic video game reviews and commentaries, which have earned him the title as the highest-earning YouTube star ever. Recently, however, PewDiePie found himself at the center of controversy, after getting himself in hot water over sketches that he intended to be funny and shocking. Thus, as originally reported by the Wall Street Journal, the YouTuber ended up losing his deal with the network Maker Studios. In addition, he was dropped from YouTube's Google Preferred list (which had helped nab him the best advertising deals), and his series on YouTube's paid network, YouTubeRed, was canceled. All in all, he had a bad week.

These events led to legitimate discussions regarding the lines that comedians and YouTubers should or should not cross, and what is and what is not a joke. But when Rowling tweeted about the incident to her millions of followers, saying "For those who think fascism is an edgy accessory..." along with a link to a story about Mr. Pew's bits of distasteful performance art, she started a bit of controversy of her own.

PewDiePie might have taken her shout-out — as well as the media response — a bit personally, as he created a video and blog post where he both apologized and claimed the content was taken out of context. He also insisted that he, in no way, supports people with these kinds of opinions. Rowling, for her part, has stood firm in her stance without backing down to the backlash, while PewDiePie has taken the feud to the next level, with some not-so-nice references to her in his videos. Namely, he ended a recent YouTube video by saying "J.K Rowling is a cu..", with the video ending before the last, and obvious, part of the word.

Something tells us there's more to come in this drama, as both sides continue to stir the pot. One thing's for certain — PewDiePie definitely won't be playing videogames at the Rowling household anytime soon.

Piers Morgan can't stand her

British television personality Piers Morgan and J.K. Rowling have been feuding over Twitter these past few weeks over — what else? — American politics. It all started when Morgan appeared on an episode of Real Time With Bill Maher, where his political views clashed with another guest on the show, comedian Jim Jefferies, when they were discussing Trump's recent Muslim ban. All Rowling really did was tweet out the video to her millions of followers, with a caption saying how satisfying it was to see this comedian tell off Morgan. Her version was slightly less eloquent, but you get the picture.

That was all it took, however, for the feud to begin. After a back-and-forth squabble between the two, as reported by The Boston Globe where Morgan claimed he'd never read Rowling's "garbage" work, to which Rowling replies with something whimsical about him being burned alive, it finally gets interesting. Rowling sets up the most epic Twitter burn of all time, when she posts this photo of a flattering blurb in an article written about her. Posting it on Valentine's Day, she captions the photo asking if the person who wrote this would come forward using #valentine. Apparently, it was intended to lure Morgan back into their feud, bait which he quickly took. His retweet of her post calls her actions "priceless humblebrag BS." Unfortunately for Morgan, the article, titled "The 100 British Celebrities Who Really Matter," was written by ... himself! He apparently forgot about it, which is understandable since he wrote it way way back in the Dark Ages of 2010. For someone who's never read any of Rowling's work, and thinks she's garbage, he certainly had a ton of great things to say about her. According to Morgan, "by encouraging children to read, feel inspired and be creative, she has had a greater impact on the world than most of the other names on it." You know ... typical garbage stuff.