J.K. Rowling’s 2008 Harvard Commencement speech, Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination. The book will be illustrated by Joel Holland and will be published worldwide in the English language on 14th April 2015.
The speech was amazing, delivering a what others have described as “deeply affecting.” The author shares words of wisdom for anyone at a turning point in life, asking profound and provocative questions: How can we embrace failure? And how can we use our imagination to better both ourselves and others?
J.K. Rowling draws from stories of her own post-graduate years, addressing some of life’s most important issues with acuity and emotional force.
On failure she said:
So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.
Further she continues on the benefits of learning from failure:
The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. 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.
Sales of the book will benefit Lumos, which works to transform the lives of disadvantaged children, and university-wide financial aid at Harvard University.
“I have heard and read many commencement speeches, none more moving and memorable than J.K. Rowling’s,”Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust said. “Years after her visit to Harvard, people still talk about it—and still find inspiration in her singular evocation of the idea that living a meaningful life so often means daring to risk failure. What a powerful example she embodies, and what a remarkable gift her speech was, and is, for all of us privileged to hear it then—and to read it now.”