Best-selling author JK Rowling has spoken out about the depression and difficult childhood that inspired her to write the Harry Potter books.
At one point she suffered so severely with depression that she woke every morning expecting to find her baby daughter dead.
Joanne Rowling made the revelation after agreeing to let a film crew follow her for a year in the life of documentary during the release of her latest novel Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. She admitted the Harry Potter series began as an attempt to reclaim her childhood and even ends the series by giving Harry Potter a family.
She said: “I was very frightened of my father for a very long time and also tried desperately to get his approval and make him happy.
” Then there came a point I couldn’t do that any more so I haven’t had any contact with my father now for a few years.”
Rowling’s mother Anne was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when Rowling was 15 and died in 1990 completely unaware of the success her daughter was about to become.
The mother of three admits her mother’s painful death influenced her writing. “It has seeped into every part of the books,” she said. “She would have odd losses of feelings in limbs, her balance was poor for a long time and then it got worse and worse and she decided it was time to visit the doctor.
“She had a very virulent form of the illness and at that time there were no drug treatments at all.”
The hit author opened her heart by admitting she regrets not seeing her mother’s body before her funeral.
“I wanted to see her but my father didn’t want me to see her and I mistakenly agreed not to,” she said. “I deeply regret that. I really wish I’d seen her. It didn’t matter what she looked like. It would have made thing easier.”
Depression hit Rowling when her first marriage to a television journalist broke down after just two years. She had moved to Portugal to teach English and gave birth to her first daughter Jessica. She said: “I’d had a short and quite catastrophic marriage. “I had to get my baby back to Britain and re-build us a life and adrenaline kept me going.
“It was only when I came to rest it hit me what a complete mess I had made of my life. That hit me quite hard.
“We were as skint as you can be without being homeless and at that point I was definitely clinically depressed.
“That was characterised my a numbness, a coldness and an inability to believe you will feel happy again. All the colour drained out of life.”
Rowling hit an all-time low when she convinced herself something awful was destined to happen to her two-year-old daughter. She said: “I loved Jessica very very much and was terrified something was going to happen to her. “I’d gone into that very depressive mind set where everything has gone wrong so this one good thing in my life will now go wrong as well.
“It was almost a surprise to me every morning that she was still alive. I kept expecting her to die. It was a bad bad time.”
Film crews took Rowling back to the flat a few miles from Edinburgh where she overcame depression by writing first novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Tears began to flow as she walked into the small lounge room where she first put pen to paper.
She said: “This is really where I turned my life around completely. My life changed so much in this flat.
“I feel I really became myself here. Everything was stripped away. I’d made such a mess of things. I just thought I want to write so I wrote the book. What was the worst that could happen? It could get turned down by every publisher in Britain. Big deal.”
As she walked into the bedroom she spotted the whole Harry Potter series on the current owner’s bookshelf. “If it all disappeared this is where I would come back to,” she said. “Because it’s such a well worn part of my story now it’s a big yawn to hear how I wrote it as if it was some publicity stunt I did for a year, but it was my life and it was very hard.
“I didn’t know it was going to be this fairy tale resolution. Coming back here is just full of ghosts.”
Rowling revealed how she wished to be a writer since her childhood but says she never expected the fame that has come with it. “I wished to be published and I wished more than anything in the world to be a writer,” she said. “It never occurred to me in a million years that people would search my dustbins, put a long lens camera on me on the beach or bang on the door of one of my oldest friends and offer her money to talk about me.”
Rowling has ruled out writing any more Harry Potter books but let slip she is working on a new novel. “It’s definitely time to stop now. I don’t want to write any more Hogwarts books,” she said.
“I’m happier now than I’ve ever been in my life.”
Rowling described her new novel as a political fairy tale. She said: “I’m not in a mad hurry to publish, I would like to take my time. I’ve lived with deadlines for ten years and I’m currently able to luxuriate that no one’s really expecting it so I feel as if I’ve gone right back to the beginning where I was with the Philospher’s Stone in my own private world.
“I’d really like to enjoy that sole possession for a little while,” she said on ITV’s JK Rowling, A Year in the Life.
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