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J.K. Rowling Harvard Commencement Speech

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J.K. Rowling Harvard Commencement Speech

Harvard University Commencement 2008

Harvard University,

5 min read
5 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Individuals have a social responsibility to engage their imaginations to change the world.

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable
  • Engaging
  • Inspiring


In 2012, J.K. Rowling, the notoriously private author of the Harry Potter series, dropped off the Forbes billionaires list as a result of her generous charitable donations. Her 2008 Harvard University commencement address gives a glimpse into the mind of this celebrated philanthropist and creator. With self-deprecating wit, Rowling shares wisdom gleaned from her personal and professional life and credits her success to a blend of failure and imagination. getAbstract believes Rowling’s eloquent, sincere speech will inspire anyone who has led an overly sheltered life to take action to improve the world.


As Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling prepared her Harvard commencement speech, she felt a deep responsibility to deliver words of wisdom that would resonate with some of America’s most elite university graduates. So she considered the advice she wished someone had bestowed onto her as a young graduate. In so doing, Rowling whittled down her guidance to two important lessons:

  1. Appreciate the value of failing – As a student of modern languages and classics, Rowling determined her success according to a single metric: her ability to pass...

About the Speaker

Novelist and philanthropist J.K. Rowling is the author of the Harry Potter series.

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