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J. K. Rowling

Prince of Asturias Award for Concord 2003

With her seven Harry Potter books, the work of the English writer, J.K. Rowling (Yate, South Gloucestershire, Great Britain, 1965), has become a sociological and human phenomenon in the culture of our times.

The social transcendence of Rowling's literary creation lies in the fact that it has stimulated children from the entire world's ethnic groups and cultures to discover the joy of reading and to find in the fascinating adventures of Harry Potter a stimulus for their imagination and creativity. Most importantly, Rowling's work also prompts young people to identify with essential human values such as the ability to discern between good and evil, and to recognise how important cooperation and solidarity are in overcoming life's problems and obstacles. In short, it promotes ideas and skills that foster and lead to understanding and concord amongst Mankind.

Rowling's life is a valuable example of struggle in the face of adversity. She finished the first Harry Potter tome in a precarious situation indeed, thanks to a grant from the Scottish Arts Council. Now, her books, which have sold over two hundred million copies, have been translated into more than fifty languages. To quote Pilar García Mouton, research lecturer at the University Council for Scientific Research's Spanish Language Institute, "children in many countries go to enormous lengths to read books that are hundreds of pages long, at a time when reading seemed to be a lost cause. The imagination of those millions of the world's children will forever find in these texts a common point of contact that will be a bond of peace for a whole generation." Likewise, in the words of Rosa Navarro, Professor of Spanish Literature at the University of Barcelona, "the power of the Harry Potter adventures is such that young boys and girls have learnt English to be able to read them as soon as they have gone on sale to the public. The force emanating from these works generates reading and learning - two activities that are of enormous benefits to a person".

J.K. Rowling has also written two books whose entire profits have gone to different charities, besides launching a project to promote reading amongst the world's children. She has also published two novels, The Casual Vacancy (2012) and The Cuckoo’s Calling (2013).

Officer of the Order of the British Empire (2000) and Dame of the Order of the Smile (Poland), she has received honorary degrees from the University of St. Andrews, Edinburgh University, Napier University and the University of Aberdeen. On 5th June 2008, Rowling gave a speech at the Harvard University commencement ceremony, where she received another honorary title. On 3rd February 2008, French President Nicolas Sarkozy invested her with the insignia of Knight of the Order of the Legion of Honour, the highest civilian honour awarded in France. She has won the National Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year on two occasions and holds three Smarties Prize Gold Medals, being the first author to win this prize three years running.

(Note: Photograph © William de la Hey)

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