Feature

Rowling’s fear of losing it all

“I was as poor as it’s possible to be in this country,” said J.K. Rowling.

J.K. Rowling can’t get used to being rich, said Geordie Greig in the Daily Mail (U.K.). In the early 1990s, Rowling was a single mother living on welfare in the Scottish city Edinburgh, where she had moved following the breakdown of her marriage to a Portuguese journalist. “I was as poor as it’s possible to be in this country,” said Rowling, 48. “I remember 20 years ago not eating so my daughter would eat.” Then she got an advance for the first Harry Potter book, and things started to turn around. “We stopped renting, and I could buy a house. Next it wasn’t just advances, it was royalties coming in. Then you need advice on not blowing it. I was terrified of pressing the wrong button and losing everything and having to look my daughter in the face and say, ‘We briefly had a house, and now through a stupid error....’” Even now, as perhaps the world’s only author who became a billionaire through her work, she still worries about money. When she met TV host Oprah Winfrey, they compared attitudes. “Oprah said, ‘Have you accepted now that you will always be rich?’ I said, ‘No, I don’t know that.’ It bears no relation to what is in your bank account, it is purely emotional.”

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