Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story stars the lovely Poppy Montgomery as author J.K. Rowling. This television movie rolls out as a fairytale with plenty of magical moments like a Harry Potter novel. All I knew about J.K. Rowling is that she’d been on the dole and now she’s a billionaire. In a three-year span she went from being a UK Welfare mother to being one of the richest people in the UK. This is an unauthorized biopic based on an unauthorized biography and I’m not sure if there’s anything particularly scandalous. Perhaps just that Rowling wasn’t as bad off or on the dole for all that long before achieving success as a writer. Most writers never achieve that level of fame and fortune.
Joanne Rowling grew up in Scotland. As a child she made up and even wrote down stories to entertain her sister and herself. She grew more and more interested in writing but her parents discouraged her from pursuing a writing degree at university. Her mother told her to write but to do so in her free time. Reasonable advice. After college she jumped around to a few different jobs in London and then moved to Portugal to teach English after her mother died from an MS-related illness. She married a Portuguese journalist and they had a child. He drank and became abusive. Rowling finally left him and moved back to Scotland where she had no choice but to collect state money while she looked for work. Rowling’s sister encouraged her to finish the Harry Potter book she’d started in Portugal. She didn’t seem to be out of work long. After she found an agent, she landed a teaching gig. After a year or so, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone found a publisher.
Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story portrays the mercurial publishing industry quite well. It’s a fickle business. Rowling needed to go by J.K. so she wouldn’t alienate boys who didn’t want to read books by women. Many publishing companies steer clear of children’s books. It’s a tough market. Rowling dreamed of being a writer for so long and finally she was a published writer with astronomical fortune. Poppy does a wonderful job bringing the enigmatic writer to life.
Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story premieres Monday 18 July at 8 pm ET/PT on Lifetime