J.K. Rowling wants to help poor single moms — she was one, too

Author J.K. Rowling has come a long way since her days as a poor single mom.
(Louis Lanzano / Associated Press)

Without help from the British government, there might never have been a Harry Potter.

Rowling famously wrote her first book, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” when she was a single mother living below the poverty line, receiving government benefits. She’s now calling on the British government to step up its support for single parents and Britain’s poor.

Rowling is president of Gingerbread, a charitable organization founded in 2000 that advocates for single-parent families. In a post published on the organization’s website Wednesday, Rowling writes that the current administration suffers from a “profound disconnect with people struggling to keep their heads above water.”

Rowling writes that in light of the country’s austerity measures, “the government mantra that work is the best route out of poverty is ringing increasingly hollow, with nearly 1 in 3 children whose single parent works part-time still growing up in poverty.”


It’s been a long time since Rowling has been poor. In 2011 she made the Forbes billionaires list.

Meanwhile, 46.5 million Americans lived under the poverty line last year, and census data indicate that nearly nearly a third of the children being raised by single mothers are living below the poverty line.

In her post as Gingerbread president, Rowling writes about receiving government benefits as she finished the first Harry Potter book after the dissolution of her marriage, “as it turned out,” she says, “my belief I would shortly be back in paid work turned out to be a much bigger delusion than the hope that the novel might be published.”


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