J.K.Rowling's Harvard Commencement Speech to be Illustrated Book

Posted on December 3, 2014

Cover of Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling

In 2009 Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling gave the commencement address at Harvard University. Her moving speech focused on two themes: the benefit of failure and the importance of imagination.

Now Little, Brown and Company will publish the that speech in book form. The book will be called Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination. The book will be illustrated by Joel Holland and will be released world wide on April 14, 2015. It \would make a wonderful gift for any graduate or Harry Potter fan.

Ms. Rowling is donating 90% of her proceeds from the sales of the book to the Lumos charity, which she founded. Lumos works to end the institutionalization of children worldwide and ensure that all children grow up in a safe and caring environment. The other 10% of the proceeds will be donated to Harvard to be used as financial aid for students. The speech is a great one. It's funny, it's moving and it has some really good advice which will apply not just to the newly graduated, but to anyone who is facing a difficult time in life.

Ms. Rowling discusses how her parents did not want her to be a writer, because they didn't want her to be poor. She also discusses her own failure. A single mother with a failed marriage behind her, she endured very dark days as she had, indeed, ended up in poverty just as her parents feared would happen. She says that the press makes that time seem like fairy tale with a happy ending, but for her it was awful because she didn't know there would be a better time. She goes into detail about what failure taught her about herself, and how important it was.

She also discusses why having an imagination is so important. She says everyone needs imagination, as it is this that gives us the ability to imagine that things can be different. She talks about her time at Amnesty International and how it changed her.

You can watch her speech here:

Photo: Hachette