Top 16 J.K. Rowling Quotes to Inspire Strength Through Adversity

J.K. Rowling knows a thing or two about adversity. The author of the most popular book franchise in history came from far behind, traversing enormous personal hardships, poverty, and depression on the way to becoming the inspiration she is today.

Rowling wrote the first installment of the Harry Potter series while her life was at rock bottom. Her mother’s death was a traumatic event for her, and her exceptionally short-lived marriage had just collapsed. She was out of work, a single mother battling severe clinical depression — contemplating suicide at one point — and trying to raise a child on state welfare benefits of £68 a week (about $90 US at the time). She was, in her own words, “as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless,” feeling like an epic failure at every level, and living hand to mouth without a hint of a light at the end of the tunnel.

For Rowling, diving into her world of writing was the only way to divert her focus from the barrage of misfortunes that threatened to crush her spirit. On some level, she knew that channeling her drive into the one thing that kept her going – that kept her dreaming – might also have been the thing that literally kept her alive. 

It took Rowling five long and trying years of writing and a parade of rejections from a dozen different publishers, but the aspiring author persevered — and ultimately triumphed. Published by Bloomsbury in June 1997, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone exploded almost instantly into a global sensation. Seven sequels later, the Harry Potter series has broken record after record, selling 450 million copies in 78 languages worldwide, spawning eight blockbuster film adaptations, and inspiring a generation of young readers from around the world. 


Rowling went from being on welfare to being a multi-millionaire in five years — and perhaps most inspiring of all has been what she’s done with her newfound wealth. Rowling never forgot where she came from, and has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to charities as a result, actively supporting over a dozen organizations, and establishing her own children’s foundation, Lumos, in 2005.

J.K. Rowling’s oftentold story is one that merits retelling. And with that in mind, here are our Top 16 J.K. Rowling Quotes to Inspire Strength Through Adversity.

Top 16 J.K. Rowling Quotes to Inspire Strength Through Adversity

Top 16 J.K. Rowling Quotes to Inspire Strength Through Adversity

As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.

The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive.

We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.

J.K. Rowling quotes - We do not need magic to change the world. We have the power to imagine better

Are you the sort of person who gloats when they see a woman fall, or the kind that celebrates a magnificent recovery?

You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity.


It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

I believe in free will. Of those that, like us, are in a privileged situation at least. For you, for me: people who are living in western society, people who are not repressed, who are free. We can choose. The things go largely like you want them to go. You control your own life. Your own will is extremely powerful.

J.K. Rowling quote - You control your own life. Your own will is extremely powerful.

Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.

Whatever money you might have, self-worth really lies in finding out what you do best.

Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged.

It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.

J.K. Rowling quotes - It mattters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be

I have never been remotely ashamed of having been depressed. Never. What’s to be ashamed of? I went through a really rough time and I am quite proud that I got out of that.

Is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’, ‘boring’ or ‘cruel’? Not to me.


You’ve got to work. It’s about structure. It’s about discipline. It’s all these deadly things that your schoolteacher told you you needed… You need it.”

I don’t think there’s any harm at all in allowing a kid to fantasize. In fact, I think to stop people from fantasizing is a very destructive thing indeed.


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