JK Rowling is the world’s highest paid author

The writer's return to the Harry Potter franchise catapults her to the top of Forbes' list with £72 million earnings in the last year

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It’s been a magical year for JK Rowling. The Harry Potter author demonstrated her literary dominance once again when the script for stage play The Cursed Child was released, shifting more than 680,000 print copies in the UK in the first three days, and becoming the fastest selling book since her final Potter release, The Deathly Hallows.

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Add to that the first in a new film franchise, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – for which Rowling wrote the script – and you have earnings totalling over £72 million, according to a new list released by Forbes

The Harry Potter author has topped a rundown of best-paid authors in the world – a position she last occupied almost ten years ago when she concluded her book series about the boy wizard.

Rowling’s annual salary was further boosted by her publisher Bloomsbury who have been releasing illustrated versions of the Harry Potter books to mark 20 years since her first, The Philosopher’s Stone, was published.  

Forbes’ list is compiled using a mix of print, ebook and audio sales, as well as television and film earnings and expert opinions. The year-long period analysed runs until 31st May 2017. 

Coming in second after Rowling is James Patterson, writer of the Women’s Murder Club series, who pulled in an impressive £66.3 million over the course of 12 months. 

The pair are head and shoulders above third-placed Jeff Kinney (Diary of a Wimpey Kid) who earned £16 million, and Dan Brown and Stephen King who finished fourth and fifth, raking in £15.2 million and £11.4 million respectively.

Three Brits appear in the top ten with Rowling joined by Girl on the Train author Paula Hawkins, placed eighth with £9.9 million, and Fifty Shades scribe EL James, in ninth with £8.7 million. 

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“Our celebrity lists tend to have a substantial percentage of international stars,” noted Forbes producer Hayley Cuccinello, “but it is remarkable that nearly a third of the highest-paid authors hail from the UK. That said, I think it’s more noteworthy that nearly half of the list members are women.”