The secrets of my magical family ... by JK Rowling
JK Rowling, the creator of the Harry Potter novels and one of Britain’s most famous lone parents, has discovered she comes from a long line of single mothers.
She made the discovery while taking part in the BBC genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are?
The novelist learnt during her research for the programme that her great-grandmother, Lizzie, her great-great-grandmother, Salomé, and her great-great-great-grandmother, Christine, raised their children alone.
Her maternal grandmother, Louisa, is also believed to have been born out of wedlock.
Rowling, whose personal wealth is thought to be half a billion pounds, wrote the first book of the Harry Potter series following her divorce while living on benefits in a cold Edinburgh flat with her baby daughter. The experience left her clinically depressed.
“What I’m very struck by is how many single mothers I’m descended from in this line of the family,” she said in an interview for the programme.
“Twenty years ago, I was teaching and writing in my spare time and was very skint. And not long after that, I became a single mum, so I feel the connection.”
Christine’s husband Jacques died while she was pregnant with their seventh child, while Salomé, a housemaid in Paris, was an unwed mother of four. Lizzie was left to raise Rowling’s grandfather alone after her husband divorced her and returned to his native France.
Rowling told the Radio Times: “I went into the programme wanting the truth, no matter what it was, because I knew so little about my French ancestry.
“It is humbling to see yourself as a tiny part of a huge family tree, but it is also strangely reassuring.”
Rowling married her second husband, Neil Murray, a doctor with whom she has two children, in 2001. She is president of Gingerbread, the charity for single parents.
She previously said being a single mother made her a "hate figure" and "bogeyman" to the last Conservative government.
"Women like me... were, according to popular myth, a prime cause of social breakdown, and in it for all we could get: free money, state-funded accommodation, an easy life."
"Between 1993 and 1997 I did the job of two parents, qualified and then worked as a secondary school teacher, wrote one and a half novels and did the planning for a further five. For a while, I was clinically depressed. To be told, over and over again, that I was feckless, lazy — even immoral — did not help."