JK Rowling world's richest author

JK Rowling is the world’s best paid author, banking more than £170m (€217.4m) in the last year, US business magazine Forbes said today.

Rowling, who wrote the first of her best-selling books about boy wizard Harry Potter while an impoverished single mother, earned US$300m (€383.6m) over the past year.

The 43-year-old billionaire author’s income was six times that of second-placed James Patterson, who wrote 'Along Came A Spider'.

Last month, Rowling donated £1m (€1.27m) to the Labour Party ahead of its annual conference, indicating that her gift was motivated by Labour’s record on child poverty and Tory leader David Cameron’s offer of tax breaks to married couples.

A Forbes spokesman said: “It was wizardry that transformed JK Rowling from a destitute single mother on welfare into a bestselling billionaire.”

The magazine described her work as “a children’s literary sensation” and a “publishing hit”.

It went on: “Once a single mother on welfare, Rowling can now claim best-selling billionaire status thanks to her Harry Potter franchise.

“Over on the big screen, her Potter franchise has already generated US$4.5bn (€3.2bn) at the worldwide box office – and she still has three more flicks to come.”

Last month, she won a New York legal battle and succeeded in blocking publication of a Potter encyclopaedia which she described as “wholesale theft” of her work.

US District Judge Robert Patterson said Rowling proved that Steven Vander Ark’s 'Harry Potter Lexicon' would cause her irreparable harm as a writer.

Rowling, who said she was “delighted” with the ruling, told the judge she had not brought the case for the money, but because the Lexicon was “atrocious” and “sloppy” with “very little research”.

She also said it had forced her to stop work on a new novel because the lawsuit had “decimated my creative work”.

The mother of three was honoured by the city where she created the boy wizard books when she was presented with the Edinburgh Award last month.

She also devotes time and money to various charities including the Multiple Sclerosis Society Scotland, of which she is patron.

The decade since the first Harry Potter book was published in 1997 has seen Rowling’s series take the world by storm.

The books have sold more than 400 million copies and translated into 67 languages.

The final instalment, 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows', has sold some 44 million since it came out last summer, including 15 million in the first 24 hours, the magazine said.

Elsewhere on the list, Ken Follett, the Welsh author of 1989 'Pillars Of The Earth', which was recommended by US daytime TV queen Oprah on her show last year, came eighth, picking up £20m (€14.5m).

The 10 stars on the Forbes list of best-paid authors pulled in a combined $563m (€408.1m) between June 1, 2007, and June 1, 2008.

The Forbes top 10 best-paid authors:

1. JK Rowling – $300m (€217.45m)

2. James Patterson – $50m (€36.2m)

3. Stephen King – $45m (€32.6m)

4. Tom Clancy – $35m (€25.4m)

5. Danielle Steel – $30m (€21.7m)

6=. John Grisham and Dean Koontz – $25m (€18.1m)

8. Ken Follett – $20 (€14.5m)

9. Janet Evanovich – $17m (€12.3m)

10. Nicholas Sparks – $16m (€11.6m).

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