When I think back to my childhood, one of the first things that comes to mind is the Harry Potter series. Each summer, on the day a new book would be released, my sister and I would wait at the foot of the stairs for the mailman to come and deliver our pre-ordered copies. My sister would run to her room and finish the book in two days without sleep. I, on the other hand, usually took a couple of weeks to finish the books that contained hundreds of pages because I wanted to savor every moment of it.
I will forever be grateful to author J.K. Rowling for bringing magic into my childhood and strengthening my love for reading. Those books taught me valuable lessons like the importance of friendship, selflessness, and perseverance. Even though the series ended years ago, J.K. Rowling keeps the magic alive by inspiring us through her speeches, tweets, and other noble actions. Not only is she an incredible writer, but she is also a strong-minded, genuinely kind woman who can be a role model to girls everywhere.
Here are my favorite J.K. Rowling moments outside of the Harry Potter series.
1. When she reminded us all about the benefits of failure.
Rowling had the great honor of giving the commencement address at the 2008 Harvard graduation, and in her speech she focused on the “fringe benefits of failure.” She reminded us that failure simply means you put yourself out there and took a chance on something. There is always something to be learned from failure, and in a way we are better for it.
2. When she hinted at what a risqué version of Harry Potter would be like.
When Rowling was confronted with the fact that the 50 Shades of Grey series took over her record for most books sold, she didn’t throw a fit or criticize her competitor. Instead, she took it in stride and made a joke about it, proving that humor is a great tool to use in tough situations.
3. When she pulled out a sassy and epic defense of Serena Williams.
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) July 11, 2015
Serena Williams constantly receives horrible and unfair criticism about her body. When a nasty Twitter user commented that Williams “is built like a man,” Rowling responded with a stunning picture of Williams and a snarky response. In her defense of Williams, Rowling sent the message loud and clear that not only is Williams beautiful, but also that she should be praised for her talent and not attacked for her appearance.
4. When she sent a Harry Potter themed care package to Cassidy Stay.
In the summer of 2014, Cassidy Stay was the only survivor of the murder of her parents and four siblings. She impressed everyone with her beautiful eulogy, quoting Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, when she said, “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” When Rowling heard of this, she sent Stay a care package including a personalized letter from Dumbledore, a wand, an acceptance letter to Hogwarts, and school supplies. Rowling showed us here that small acts of kindness can go a long way in helping a person through a horrific situation.
5. When she established the link between the Patronus and eternal love, emphasizing that true love is with us forever.
In the Harry Potter series, witches and wizards cast spells called Patronuses which take the shape of any animal. They can sometimes change to reflect who that person loves. When a fan asked Rowling what happens if you fall out of love with the person your Patronus changed for, Rowling asserted that it only would have changed if the love was eternal. Through this, Rowling reminds us that true love is unchanging and will always be carried with us.
6. When she asserted that there are far more important characteristics that make you who you are than the shape of your body.
It seems like at some point in their lives, women face insecurities about the size of their bodies. Rowling reminds us with this quote that there are so many more important characteristics to be worrying about. We should all be focusing on being good people and making the best of ourselves, not on what we look like.
7. When she called people who discriminate based on sexual orientation “ludicrous Muggles” and declared that the wizarding world is accepting of all ways of life.
@_Paaulaisadora Only by ludicrous Muggles. The wizards don’t give a damn – it’s all about the magic for them.
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) September 7, 2014
Rowling faced some backlash when she announced that one of her main characters, Albus Dumbledore, was gay. When one fan expressed her frustration with the fact that even in the wizarding world, homosexuals face discrimination, Rowling responded by assuring her that all sexualities are accepted in the wizarding world. In fact, she called those who do discriminate against homosexuals “ludicrous Muggles”, emphasizing how horrible and ridiculous it is.
8. When she supported actress Emma Watson’s feminist speech to the UN by saying that Hermione would be proud of her.
Emma Watson, the actress who played Hermione Granger, gave a speech to the UN last year to launch her HeForShe campaign, which encourages boys and men to get involved in the fight against gender inequality. When asked what Hermione would think of the speech, Rowling asserted that she would have been very proud, thus strengthening Hermione’s presence as a feminist character and supporting Watson.
9. When she gave the perfect mom response to actor Matthew Lewis’ nude modeling photos. When she gave the perfect mom response to actor Matthew Lewis’ nude modeling photos.
When Matthew Lewis, the actor who played Neville Longbottom, posed nude for a magazine, Rowling responded just as any mother might respond. She was supportive of his decision, but also teased him about putting some clothes on. This demonstrates her affection for the actors and actresses she worked with, as well as proves that you can support someone and be humorous about it.
10. When she kept the magic alive by live-tweeting the Hogwarts sorting ceremony.
Have just heard that James S Potter has been Sorted (to nobody’s surprise) into Gryffindor. Teddy Lupin (Head Boy, Hufflepuff) disappointed.
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) September 1, 2015
After the series ended, many Harry Potter fans were left wondering what was next. Rowling filled that void by giving a live tweet of the sorting hat ceremony when Harry’s children were supposedly returning to Hogwarts. Rowling genuinely cares about her fans, and she knows that little acts like this are extremely meaningful to them.
11. When she would go to cafes to write the Harry Potter manuscript as a poor, single mother, then got rejected seven times, but kept working until she finally succeeded.
The storyline goes that Rowling began writing Harry Potter on napkins at various cafes she would go to when she was a struggling single mother. The manuscript got rejected seven times, but she didn’t give up. She knew she had a special story that the world deserved to hear, and she didn’t give up until she made that happen.
12. When she assured Harry Potter fans that they actually did go to Hogwarts as we all lived it together while reading the books.
Here’s another example of how Rowling keeps the magic alive. She reminds her fans that everyone really did go through the journey of Hogwarts with Harry and that we experienced it with him, right by his side. This is a testament to the power of books and community.
While J.K. Rowling’s books taught us the importance of friendship and determination, the way she lives her everyday life teaches that you can always keep the magic going through kindness, generosity, and humor. It really doesn’t get much better than that!
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.