Born Joanne Kathleen Rowling in 1965, J.K. Rowling spent several years after graduating from college in relative poverty; she worked briefly as a teacher, and, after her divorce, lived off the English public-assistance program while taking care of her baby daughter, Jessica. During her child's naps, Rowling frequented a small English café and penned, unbeknownst to her, what would become a literary and pop-culture phenomenon -- Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone. After winning numerous awards and building up a bank account that would rival those of the world's richest individuals, Rowling allowed Warner Bros., screenwriter Steve Kloves, and director Chris Columbus to produce film adaptations of what fans have coined the "Potterverse." Like the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, whom Rowling lists as one of her inspirations, the Potter series has helped bring the fantasy genre back to mainstream film audiences, and raised the bar in terms of special effects, CGI, and even set and costume design. Though written for children, the books have attracted more than a few adult fans, including the films' star-studded casts -- Emma Thompson, Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon, and Robbie Coltrane all list the series as one of their favorites. As installments in the series hit theaters over the years, directors such as David Yates, Y Tu Mamá También director Alfonso Cuarón, and Mike Newell helmed the projects.