Some of our favourite quotes from J.K. Rowling's Harvard Commencement speech

Posted on 14th April 2015 by Jonathan O'Brien
JK Rowling's fantastic speech for the 2008 Harvard Commencement is published today.

J.K. Rowling's speech to the Harvard Commencement in 2008 is full of fantastic advice. Today it's published as a book in its own right, Very Good Lives.

Rowling, who you already know as the author of the Harry Potter books, told the audience of future world leaders about the benefits of both failure and imagination.

Here are some of our favourite things she had to say on failure.

"I am not dull enough to suppose that because you are young, gifted and well-educated, you have never known hardship or heartache."


"Talent and intelligence never yet inoculated anyone against the caprice of the fates."


"There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction."

(This is one of the best pieces of advice for young people there could ever be.)


"It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you’ve failed by default."


"You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more than any qualification I ever earned."


"Personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two."


The imagination side of the speech details her experiences of working for Amnesty International before her success as an author. It's an important subject that, quite frankly, shouldn't be reduced to a series of internet friendly quotes. You should watch/read the entire thing. It's a great speech from someone who clearly deserves every bit of her success.

Watch the rest of the speech or buy the book.


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