Ever since the release of the first book in the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling’s net worth has continued to grow exponentially. But after being embroiled in controversy in recent years, many are curious to know whether J.K. Rowling’s net worth is still as impressive as it once was.
It’s been over two decades since Rowling first made a name for herself as the author and creative mind behind the Wizarding World of Harry Potter—and in that time, Rowling’s career has had its ups and downs.
The author, who was born in July 1965 in the United Kingdom, had hopes of being a writer ever since she was a child. She often wrote short stories for her friends and family, and the practice became an escape during her difficult childhood. Rowling’s mother struggled with multiple sclerosis for years before her death in 1990, whereas Rowling had a “strained” relationship with her father. It was her mother’s passing that inspired Rowling to write about her protagonist’s grief after his parents’ death in the first Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (later renamed to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone), which was published in 1997.
Rowling went on to publish six more Harry Potter books, which were each adapted into feature films starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint playing the book series’ three main characters, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, respectively. The franchise captivated fans enough for HBO Max to greenlight a reunion special titled Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts, which premiered in January 2022 with the original actors, directors and producers who worked on the Harry Potter movies.
The author, however, was missing from the special—which raises questions about not only J.K. Rowling’s net worth, but her controversies following the film series. Keep on reading for everything to know about where the Harry Potter author stands now.
Why was J.K. Rowling Canceled?
In June 2020, Rowling came under fire after posting a transphobic tweet in response to an article about menstruation. The Harry Potter author took issue with the trans-inclusive language of the article, titled, “Opinion: Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate.” She wrote, “I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out,” Rowling tweeted, referencing women. “Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”
Shortly after sharing the tweet, Rowling faced immense backlash from social media users who attempted to educate her on why the use of phrases such as “people who menstruate” is ideal, as it includes trans men and non-binary individuals who menstruate, among others. Other social media users noted that menstruation and being a “woman,” as Rowling suggests, are not mutually exclusive experiences as there are many people assigned female at birth who have had hysterectomies, entered menopause or no longer menstruate due to other hormonal imbalances.
In a statement with the Trevor Project, Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry Potter in the Harry Potter movies, criticized the author for her comments about the transgender community. “I realize that certain press outlets will probably want to paint this as in-fighting between J.K. Rowling and myself,” he said in his statement. “But that is really not what this is about, nor is it what’s important right now.
“While Jo is unquestionably responsible for the course my life has taken, as someone who has been honored to work with and continues to contribute to The Trevor Project for the last decade, and just as a human being, I feel compelled to say something at this moment,” his statement continued. “Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I. According to The Trevor Project, 78% of transgender and nonbinary youth reported being the subject of discrimination due to their gender identity. It’s clear that we need to do more to support transgender and nonbinary people, not invalidate their identities, and not cause further harm.”
He added, “To all the people who now feel that their experience of the books has been tarnished or diminished. I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused you. I really hope that you don’t entirely lose what was valuable in these stories to you…. And in my opinion, nobody can touch that. It means to you what it means to you and I hope that these comments will not taint that too much.”
While Rowling doubled down on her stance in spite of the backlash, Harry Potter critics continued to weigh in on social media about some of the author’s other problematic moments—namely, her poor representation of Black characters and other people of color in the Wizarding World. One character, called “Cho Chang,” was an obvious example. Actress Katie Leung weighed in on the controversy herself: “So, you want my thoughts on Cho Chang? Okay, here goes…,” she wrote, sharing donation links to several organizations for Black transfolk in the process.
How much has J.K. Rowling made from Harry Potter?
Forbes’ profile on J.K. Rowling lists her as the second-highest-paid author in the world thanks to her Harry Potter books. The seven novels, which were published between 1997 and 2007, include Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
For her first book in the series, Rowling was given a £1,500 advance (about $2,000) along with an £8,000 grant, approximately $10,800, from the Scottish Arts Council to support her writing. This pales in comparison to her next big paycheck: One year after 1997’s Philosopher’s Stone was published, Rowling’s book was held for auction for the rights to publish it in the United States—and the auction was won for a whopping $105,000 by Scholastic Inc. The rest was history, as they say.
Surprisingly, her seven books are not her biggest cash cow today. Instead, Rowling makes a fortune off of the franchise at large, which includes the Wizarding World at Universal Studios, the eight Harry Potter movies (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was split into two films) and Broadway’s Harry Potter play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The latter clocked nearly $2.3 million in ticket sales in a single week, according to Forbes. It’s estimated that Rowling has earned over $700 million from the Harry Potter films alone.
How much is J.K. Rowling’s net worth in 2022?
As of 2022, J.K. Rowling’s net worth is an estimated £820 million, or around $1.1 billion, per The Sunday Times. According to the site, this makes Rowling the 196th richest person in the U.K. overall.
Harry Potter: Return to Hogwarts is available to stream on HBO Max. Here’s how to watch it for free.
For more about Harry Potter, check out The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook by Dinah Bucholz. The New York Times bestseller features more than 150 recipes from the Harry Potter universe, from cauldron cakes to knickerbocker glories, for fans to re-create at home, regardless of if they’re wizard, witch or muggle. Other spell-binding recipes include Hagrid’s rock cakes, treacle tarts (Harry’s favorite dessert), Molly’s meat pies (Mrs. Weasley’s classic dish) and Kreacher’s French onion soup pumpkin pasties, a staple on the Hogwarts Express cart. The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook is a must-have for any Harry Potter fan who wants to know what it’s really like to eat in Hogwarts’ dining hall. For more Harry Potter collectible items, check out our Harry Potter gift guide here.
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