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J. K. Rowling: The Wizard Behind Harry Potter

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  3,746 Ratings  ·  149 Reviews
The heartwarming story behind J.K. Rowling's rise to fame—and the answers to Harry Potter fans' most burning questions!

Harry Potter is loved throughout the world, and so is his creator. Joanne Kathleen (J.K.) Rowling is a true wizard, a woman who has the ability to recall vividly her days as a child and capture those wild, wonderful, difficult times—an ability that helps m
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 15th 2007 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published August 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sam Reitenour
Mar 02, 2013 Sam Reitenour rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
So, I am a big fan of the Harry Potter books and everything surrounding them and their author, and have stuck with the fanbase to this day. I found "J.K. Rowling: The Wizard Behind Harry Potter" at Half Price Books and said "hey, why not learn more about the author?" I mean, I knew her basic life story and whatnot, but not specifically. Then I saw that this was a biography, not an autobiography, by Marc Shapiro. I figured at the time that this did not matter.

Apparently, it matters.

Not only doe
Wenn man an Harry Potter denkt, dann sieht man meist nicht nur den Blitznarbigen Jungen vor sich sondern auch seine geistige Mutter J. K. Rowling. Sie ist eine Frau, die von den Medien geliebt wurde und noch immer wird. Ein wenig scheu, doch durchaus unbeugsam. Eine Frau die einem Leben in Armut entkommen ist, durch ihre Fantasie und einer gewaltigen Menge an Disziplin.
Diese Biografie kommt in meinen Augen, ein wenig flach daher. Es scheint mir als sei auf dem Harry Potter Hype aufgesprungen wo
Ashlee Telschow
Yesterday when I was leaving the library with my son (the youth room to be exact) I saw this book on display and immediately picked it up. I am a big HP fan and I love Jo Rowling so I was excited to read it. The book is not by her though, it's by a guy named Marc Shapiro, and I really don't think he had any right to write this book. Most of his sources were big magazines or newspaper articles with interviews with Jo in them...but he never talked/interviewed her himself. What got me the most angr ...more
This book has just one thing going for it: it's the first biography for youngsters about the popular author. The only other sources of information are articles in newspapers, magazines, and on the Internet.

Unfortunately, the text reads like a rough draft of a junior-high research paper. Incomplete and fragmented sentences abound as Shapiro rambles on in a confusing manner. Quotations are loosely traced to articles and interviews in their sentences, but are not properly documented. Shapiro write
Jun 22, 2007 S. rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Hilariously and unintentionally awful.
Erin Attenborough
May 10, 2014 Erin Attenborough rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It looked self-published to me, which is rarely a good sign. It wasn’t, but it might as well have been as I’m sure no self-respecting JKR fan would deign to submit it for publishing. First of all was the fact that the blurb included dot points stating what FAQs would be answered within. Incidentally, few were. The “about the author” section spelt his daughter’s name “Rachael” though in the dedications her name was “Rachel”. I strongly suspected that an author who couldn’t decide on the spelling ...more
Oct 06, 2013 Mloy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book has more conjuring in it than all of J.K. Rowling's seven Harry Potter novels put together. One has to question the credibility of an author, and the publishing house, that would publish a book chock full of inaccuracies. I got so tired of listing everything that was wrong with this book because (A) there was so much of it and (B) it was hindering my reading because I constantly had to stop and make a note for my review. The only good part of this book was the last Chapter where the "a ...more
Mar 02, 2016 Allen rated it really liked it
I'm glad that I read this book. There were lots of interesting facts I didn't know about Rowling, which was very surprising. Poverty,failed marriage, it also tells about her rise to fame when she created the Harry Potter books. I recommend this book to anyone who loves Harry Potter or the Author herself!
Matthew Largo
Feb 08, 2016 Matthew Largo rated it liked it
J.K. Rowling: The Wizard Behind Harry Potter was ok. As the book progressed it got a little boring as the book only had evidence from magazines and news articles. I would have thought this book would give more information on Joanne and less of her books but that was not the case. Half of the book was mainly Joanne working and publishing the Harry Potter books. I would have thought this book would give more information on Joanne and less of her books but that was not the case. I would recommend t ...more
Chloe Resendez
Feb 06, 2016 Chloe Resendez rated it really liked it
I would have to say that this book was pretty good but not amazing. Some parts were pretty crazy and then at one point I kind of started getting bored. In some parts, I liked the way Marc Shapiro made things get dramatic when they need to, but I think that the book could be a little bit more interesting. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy reading biographies such as this one. The good thing about this book is that it answered some of the questions I had about Harry Potter.
Ashley (TheNerdyBookmark)
Aug 31, 2016 Ashley (TheNerdyBookmark) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Harry Potter/J.K. Rowling fans
Shelves: favorites, reviewed
Any book about the lovely J.K. Rowling is an automatic 5 star book <3

I got this for practically nothing at my local thrift shop a little bit ago. It's a tiny, fun and easy read. It's also old. The 1st movie had yet to be made and book 4 was just rollin out. Wowzers! A very nostalgic read for me. I grew up with Harry Potter. Everyone says that but I mean it. The first book came out when I was 8. If Harry and gang were in my school, we would've been in the same grade. I was around for all the m
Jun 20, 2016 Sammm added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: apparently no one, since the book turns out to be not accurate.
I think I read this book because the 4th book hasn't come out in Chinese at the time (I was young back then) and I also read this in Chinese. The downside of it was that it was published by a different publisher, and obviously having a different translator, so I think a lot of the names were translated differently. Now after looking through some of the reviews, I realized apparently the author didn't get them right in English to begin with. That was disappointing. That's probably why this book i ...more
Celine Parker
Mar 18, 2010 Celine Parker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a biography about the author of the Harry Potter series and how the books became so successful. It starts from Rowling's childhood, when she was clearly more imaginative than the rest of her friends and classmates. It then goes through her yound adulthood when she experienced a family death and had her first child. She then became very poor and wrote the Harry Potter series on whatever scraps of paper she could find. I'm not one that usually reads biographies, but this was very well-writ ...more
Aug 14, 2016 Lillian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Harry Potter fans everywhere
In J.K. Rowling: The Wizard Behind Harry Potter, Shapiro reveals wonderful secrets and not-so-secret secrets about the life of our favorite author. From how Jo discovered her story telling skills at the age of five, to how she delt with being constantly bombarded by fans, we learn all about Miss Rowling's amazing life.

My few complaints include a small bit of miss-information, and the innocorrect use of the word "literally."
Shapiro either thought it unnessecary to add the fact that Jo doesn't r
Jun 05, 2015 Jacquline rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
There is far too much reintroduction of the characters of Harry Potter in the first section of the book. I get that by the time the fourth book was published, maybe not everyone is as familiar with the story since the movies had yet to come out, but this is still the series that had a whirlwind following from the begging and sold for one of if not the highest publishing contract for a children’s book, so this repetition is annoying filler. This author commits the one sin Rowling never did, talki ...more
Erin Smith
As a huge Potterhead, not a "potteries" as Marc Shapiro refers to Harry Potter fans in the book, I figured I would LOVE to read an autobiography on J.K. Rowling. However this book on her was terrible. It was horribly written, he made her living in poverty as a single mother and her signing on to write 7 Harry Potter books equally as exciting. I don't think he ever actually communicated with Rowling in any way at all. He had tons of facts about the Harry Potter series and her wrong. He clearly ha ...more
Sep 09, 2015 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From what little I have seen and read, my impression of Ms. Rowling has been that she is a private person who does not inhabit her fame and celebrity comfortably. I understood her to be a person of modest tastes who does not seek out attention. Nothing in this brief biography changes any of those impressions. Written for younger readers, this biography is a sympathetic look at Ms. Rowling’s life, and her efforts to both create the Harry Potter stories, and maintain control over her creation, whi ...more
Aug 02, 2014 Amanda rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I love it because it has something to do with Harry Potter & I'm fascinated with the life of JK Rowling -BUT I don't trust that the information is 100 percent correct. How can I when on page 7 it claims that owls run the bank in the Harry Potter world? Obviously, this author hasn't paid close attention to the Harry Potter books. GOBLINS RUN THE BANK. Who can read the books and not know that?!
This was one of two biographies selected by our girls' book club for discussion this month. We enjoyed reading more about J.K. Rowling, even though the girls have not yet read the Harry Potter series. (I think that will be one that we tackle soon!)

The 'unauthorized' biography was short and only took the reader through 2000, which was a bit surprising that it was so out of date. At that point, Ms. Rowling had only published the first four books in the series and the first movie was in production
Jan 03, 2016 Nicole rated it it was ok
Normally I read autobiographies and not biographies but since I have always wondered about Mrs. Rowling I decided to give The Wizard Behind Harry Potter a try.

Sadly things were not what I thought they would be at all. Mainly it consisted of quotes Mrs. Rowling made during interviews and what seemed like a lot of assumptions to fill in the gaps. Since Mrs. Rowling was not involved in the book I find it hard to believe the Marc Shapiro knew what she was thinking. If I ever try another story of Mr
Emily Fischer
Jan 24, 2016 Emily Fischer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book, because it tells about J. K. Rowling's life before and after she started writing Harry Potter. At first I thought that I would not like this book but, I really enjoyed it. It is interesting how Joanne went from being really poor to being really famous. I thought it was cool when Joanne decided she wanted to write she put effort in her work and wrote an entire book series. I can relate to the fact that Joanne is "the most disorganised person in the world". My favourite p ...more
Mar 08, 2016 Carolyn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
I read this years ago and don't remember much, but one of the few things I do remember is the fact that Marc Shapiro had done less research than a 13 year old fan (aka me). I'm a huge Harry Potter fan, and consider myself an expert on J.K. Rowling. I've read a few biographies about her, seen the Hallmark movie about her, and I've done tons of online research. I've done several school projects about her, so I know more than the basics about Jo's life. Shapiro manages to screw up a very simple fac ...more
Cassy Skellington
Apr 25, 2012 Cassy Skellington rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: New/uninformed fans of the series
I picked up this book on a whim at the library, and, being someone who hasn't really paid attention to the history of Harry Potter, more specifically, to J.K. Rowling herself, I was pleased with what I found in this book. It gave me a rundown of her early childhood and her innate ability to tell stories, to her adulthood with all the struggles and joys of finding herself both as a writer and as a woman. A woman who happened to become a multimillion dollar success and one of the top names in mode ...more
Nilo Di Stefano
Jan 30, 2011 Nilo Di Stefano rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
E' uno snack ma molto gustoso
Questo libricino di 120 pagine è una piccola biografia sulla scrittrice più importante degli ultimi 10 anni. La storia di una creazione, la vita dell'autrice fra alti e bassi, fra luci e ombre, dolori e gioie.
Una vita brillante, mai banale, resa entusiasmante dall'intelligenza e dalla fantasia di J.K.Rowling. Le paure e le rivincite fanno da cornice alla creazione della storia più avvincente dopo il signore degli anelli. E' davvero bello sapere il dove e il come è n
Henry Zhu
Feb 11, 2013 Henry Zhu rated it really liked it
This book is mostly about how J.K Rowling and her journey of making the Harry Potter Series. The book shows that in the beginning of her life, there were many hard times for her. For example, when J.K Rowling was 16, her mother died of a sickness. J.K Rowling was very upset that she didn't spend a lot of time with her mother. She had always spent her time either writing or reading her stories to her sister. Also, as she grew older, she found herself homeless and she was a single mother. She had ...more
Tyler Johnson
Mark Shapiro’s novel of J. K. Rowling, The Wizard Behind Harry Potter is a non-official biography about the author of the world-renown author of the Harry Potter series. It was intended to enlighten readers about the history of J. K. Rowling, including why she wrote the series, what her childhood was like, and what her life is like now. Unfortunately, since this book was published in 2001, the information is very old and not recent, resulting in only information about the first three books and ...more
Jordan Verhulst
J.K. Rowling: The Wizard behind Harry Potter is a biography written by Marc Shapiro. It is a relatively simple book with an equally simple purpose: to document and retell the life of the remarkable woman that wrote one of the best known and most loved book series of all time, the Harry Potter series. That is, after all, the entire purpose of any biography; to document and retell. Themes recurring in J.K. Rowling’s life would have to be perseverance and faith. Early in her career, she encountered ...more
Sep 18, 2013 Adam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book, J. K. Rowling: The Wizard behind Harry Potter, was written by Marc Shapiro. This unofficial biography was written to tell about J. K. Rowling and her life growing up. J. K. Rowling’s dedication is the theme in this book. The book told about how Rowling was challenged to stay dedicated to her writing. Even when she was a small child and she was afraid of being made fun of she had to say dedicated. Dedication is also shown when Rowling was writing Harry Potter because of the massive amo ...more
Michael Gonzalez
Mar 08, 2016 Michael Gonzalez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This biography is really great but didn't really get interesting as it progressed.The book started off giving plenty of details but after pages 60 and up it didn't really give that much facts.It didn't really talk about time period and culture but did give plenty of information on other subjects.Over all I think it's a great biography and would recommend this book to Harry Potter fans and those who just wan't to learn about the author.
Lilly C.
Mar 05, 2015 Lilly C. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read! I learned a lot of new facts about J. K. Rowling! It was very short and that is the only reason I did not give it a 5 star rating. The format of the text was organized in a good way, that was enchanting, and easy to read. This isn't the best book to be carrying around, because a LOT of people asked me what the heck is that book and why the heck is there a huge head on it. I felt kinda offended, and I bet J. K. Rowling and Marc Shapiro would be offended.
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Marc Shapiro is the author of the New York Times bestselling biography, J.K. Rowling: The Wizard behind Harry Potter, and more than a dozen other celebrity biographies. He has been a freelance entertainment journalist for more than twenty-five years, covering film, television, and music for a number of national and international newspapers and magazines.
More about Marc Shapiro...

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