J K Rowling has been made a Companion of Honour for her services to literature and philanthropy in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
The Queen has bestowed the title, which recognises "services of national importance", on Rowling nearly 20 years to the day after the her first title Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Bloomsbury) was published on 26th June 1997.
Meanwhile Virago Press founder Carmen Callil has been made a Dame, and both The Snowman creator Raymond Briggs and author Andy McNab have been given a CBE, the latter for his services to literacy charities, as also has Faber writer Ronald Blythe. The founder of the Wigtown Book Festival, Adrian Turpin, has been given an OBE.
Rowling has sold 36.9 million books sold for £295m through Nielsen BookScan, including those written under her pseudonym Robert Galbraith. All seven original Harry Potter titles chart in the top 12 bestselling books of all time, with playscript Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in at 25th. The Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix hardback (the first book released after the film franchise had begun) is the most valuable single edition since records began, pulling in £33.98m.
Last month, Rowling was given the Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Book Trade at the British Book Awards. Her impact on the trade was dubbed "remarkable" and beyond it she was hailed "a loud and proud force for good".
Forbes named the author as third on its list of the world’s 100 highest-paid entertainers of the last 12 months, estimating her earnings titled $95m last year. However, Rowling is also one of Britain’s most benevolent celebrities, donating £10.3m to charities in 2015- a large portion of her fortune. The main benefactors were the Lumos Foundation, her own charity aimed at closing down all child institutions and orphanages around the world by 2050, the Volant Charitable Trust, which raises money to alleviate social deprivation and for research into multiple sclerosis, which killed Rowling’s mother.
Rowling’s honour by the Queen comes 16 years after she received an OBE from the Prince of Wales in 2001 for services to literature.
She joins cook Delia Smith, who was also named a Companion of Honour today (16th June), along with Beatle Sir Paul McCartney and designer Terence Conran. There are never more than 65 elected members of the Order, and current members include Stephen Hawking, Sir John Major, David Hockney and Dame Judi Dench. Those elected are entitled to use the letters CH after their names.
Callil, founder of Virago Press in 1973, has also been honoured by the Queen and made a Dame Commander of the British Empire. The mission of Virago Press was to "publish books which celebrated women and women's lives, and which would, by so doing, spread the message of women's liberation to the whole population". Last year the BBC aired a documentary tracing the history of the women's publisher from its early-1970s roots to the present day.
Children's author Briggs was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to literature. The Snowman’s 83-year-old creator was also given the BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award earlier this year.
Faber author Ronald Blythe, who also receives a CBE, is best known for his work Akenfield: Portrait of an English Village (1969), an account of agricultural life in Suffolk from the turn of the century to the 1960s.
Adrian Turpin, artistic director of Wigtown Book Festival, was honoured as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to literature and the economy of Wigtownshire.
Meanwhile Tejinder Kumar Sharma was made a medallist of the Order of the British Empire for services to Hindi Literature and to Community Cohesion in London.