At the stroke of midnight each year on 31st July came the wonderful onset of another 365 days of Harry. In Harry Potter series this date always commanded a special mention and notice, for with each new year came brand new events and happenings. And the journey which had started with “The Philosopher’s Stone” progressed a little further.
But this date has more meaning attached to it. 31st July is not only Harry’s birthday but also JK Rowling’s. A woman who almost put her whole life on this one character, loved this boy so much that she gave her special date to him.
So as you may have judged by now that without Rowling there is no Potter. Without her struggle, her insane disappointments all through her life the boy who survived could not have met us.
J K Rowling. A woman who is herself a story worth a million bucks. Her life as most of us know was never a bed of roses. She thought of Harry Potter on a station waiting for a train, and in a span of seven years her life went from one struggle to another. From losing a parent to finally becoming a divorced single mother, time brought her very close to poverty.
And then emerged the first manuscript of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”. A manuscript which got rejected by twelve publishers only to be finally accepted by Bloomsbury.
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Harry Potter was destiny. Prophesies around him and Voldemort entangled his life into a spiraling series of events. And in a way it is uncanny to realise that the success of Harry Potter was also a way of destiny.
If JK Rowling was undergoing a bad time. Then so was Bloomsbury.
When Liz Calder a dear friend of Salman Rushdie found space in his house for three years, she would often sneak in and read his manuscripts. For fifteen years they formed a partnership as well as a friendship in which Liz published most of his novels through her employer company. So when in 1986 she decided to quit her job and become one of the founding members of a new publishing house, it was assumed the new “Satanic verses” would go to her. Being Rushdie’s friend that was obvious.
But then she was just starting up and so could not afford a lot of advance payment for the script. Rushdie accepted in his autobiography “Joseph Anton” that he did not give Liz his contract out of greed. He knew he could command a better price.
And then there it was. A publishing house formed only for Rushdie’s book which was out of work. And a writer who was rejected by twelve publishers at the brink of committing a suicide.
They say the stories of world are written with women as central characters. There would be no Ramayana had there been no Sita, no Mahabharata if no Draupadi.
Liz Calder betrayed by her long time friend and JK Rowling by her incessantly depressing life, found solace in each other and proved to be each other’s messiah.
Liz Calder’s publishing company Bloomsbury found a new author which took the industry by surprise. The response of the readers was unwarranted and yet welcoming. The success of these two women became the highlights of the 90s.
And for me as a person this interconnection is more significant. Harry Potter is almost as good as my life, the love I have for this series is incomparable. Yet if there is one author who beats this is of course Salman Rushdie. And it looks like the universe conspired to bring the two together in such a twisted tale of events. If there was no Salman Rushdie’s greed, there was no Harry Potter’s success.
This post is written for the ongoing Harry Potter Festival.
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