The Winner Takes It All
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The Winner Takes It All
A collection of people that made an international success after heavy life's debacle
Curated by Sasa Milosevic
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Joanne K Rowling

Joanne K Rowling | The Winner Takes It All |

JK Rowling biography. Joanne Rowling was born on the July 31, 1965 in
Gloucestershire, England to parents Peter James- and Anne Rowling. From a very
early age she enjoyed telling and writing stories, and often acted them out with
her younger sister Di.


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"Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light."
-Albus Dumbledore


She went to school in Bristol, then at the age of 9 they moved to Wales where
she finished school. After school, influenced by her parents she went to study
French at Exeter University (though she
admits she would rather have studied English), as it had better career
opportunities according to them.


Finishing her degree, she worked as a secretary for several companies in
London. At one time she was working with
Amnesty International which really opened her eyes to some of the problems in
the world.


In 1990 while on a train that was delayed for 4 hours, she came up with the
concept for Harry Potter and started writing the first novel. A pivotal point in
the JK Rowling biography happened when her mother passed away at the young age
of 45 from multiple sclerosis. This influenced her in a deep and profound way
and it impacted on the Harry Potter story.


To try and deal with life at that difficult time, she took up a English teaching position in Porto, Portugal. This is where she met and married her first
husband, Jorge Arantes, a TV journalist. Her first daughter, Jessica Isabel
Rowling Antares, was born on July 27, 1993. The marriage to Jorge didn't work
out and they separated in November 1993. This gave Joanne the opportunity to
move back to Edinburgh to be close to her sister, while taking care of her


Trying to write a book and take care of her daughter as a single mother on a
welfare check of £70/week wasn't easy. She'd take her daughter for a walk in a
stroller and when her daughter would fall asleep, she'd nip into a café and
spend more time writing the novel.


When she finally finished the manuscript in 1995, she sent the first three
chapters to an agent, but the first agent just sent it right back. The second
agent she sent it to agreed to take it on and
asked to see the rest of the manuscript.


Even then, it took almost a year to find a publisher willing to publish it,
and they had 12 other publishers saying 'No thanks' to publishing the first
Harry Potter novel. Finally a small London publisher, Bloomsbury, agreed to
publish after the chairmans daughter read it and couldn't get enough. They gave
her an £1500 advance but advised her to keep teaching as children books don't pay very well.


The first print run only had a 1000 books of which 500 were sent to
libraries. But the book started winning awards (the first three books won the Nestle Smarties award three years in a
row), and the publishing rights in the US was picked up by Scholastic Press for


Joanne Rowling when she heard the news, nearly feinted.

The K in her JK Rowling pseudonym came about after Bloomsbury suggested that
boys might not like to read books by a
female author. So she chose the K for Kathleen, her grandmother, as her middle


In 1998, Warner Bros, bought the movie rights to the franchise for an
undisclosed 7 figure sum. But JK Rowling still had a big say in the content of
the films, including that it had to be shot in Britain and that all the actors
had to be British. Coca-Cola won the bid for in-film product placement after agreeing to donate $18 million to Reading is Fundamental charity.


The JK Rowling biography also includes a second marriage. In December 2001
she married Neil Michael Murray and they have two children together, David
Gordon Rowling Murray (born March 24, 2003) and Mackenzie Jean Rowling Murray
(born January 23, 2005).


She has properties in Edinburgh, Perth and London, but still call Edinburgh home.


Her mothers death from multiple sclerosis
have strongly influenced her charitable donations. She also chairs the One
Parent Families charity after her experience as a single mom.

The JK Rowling biography is an inspiring rags-to-riches story as she kept
believing in her dreams even through the hard times.


And now that she is famous
and wealthy, she insists on giving back to being involved with charitable work

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Tererai Trent

Tererai Trent | The Winner Takes It All |

Trent, who now carries the title of "Oprah's All-Time Favorite Guest," shared her powerful story of how education can totally change a life.


Tererai was born in a village in rural Zimbabwe, probably sometime in 1965,

and attended elementary school for less than one year. Her father married

her off when she was about 11 to a man who beat her regularly. She seemed

destined to be one more squandered African asset.


A dozen years passed. Jo Luck, the head of an aid group called Heifer

International, passed through the village and told the women there that

they should stand up, nurture dreams, change their lives.


Inspired, Tererai scribbled down four absurd goals based on accomplishments

she had vaguely heard of among famous Africans. She wrote that she wanted

to study abroad, and to earn a B.A., a master’s and a doctorate.


Tererai began to work for Heifer and several Christian organizations as a

community organizer. She used the income to take correspondence courses,

while saving every penny she could.


In 1998 she was accepted to Oklahoma State University, but she insisted on

taking all five of her children with her rather than leave them with her

husband. “I couldn’t abandon my kids,” she recalled. “I knew that they

might end up getting married off.”


Tererai’s husband eventually agreed that she could take the children to

America — as long as he went too. Heifer helped with the plane tickets,

Tererai’s mother sold a cow, and neighbors sold goats to help raise money.

With $4,000 in cash wrapped in a stocking and tied around her waist,

Tererai set off for Oklahoma.


An impossible dream had come true, but it soon looked like a nightmare.

Tererai and her family had little money and lived in a ramshackle trailer,

shivering and hungry. Her husband refused to do any housework — he was a

man! — and coped by beating her.


“There was very little food,” she said. “The kids would come home from

school, and they would be hungry.” Tererai found herself eating from trash

cans, and she thought about quitting — but felt that doing so would let

down other African women.


“I knew that I was getting an opportunity that other women were dying to

get,” she recalled. So she struggled on, holding several jobs, taking every

class she could, washing and scrubbing, enduring beatings, barely sleeping.

At one point the university tried to expel Tererai for falling behind on

tuition payments. A university official, Ron Beer, intervened on her behalf

and rallied the faculty and community behind her with donations and



“I saw that she had enormous talent,” Dr. Beer said. His church helped with

food, Habitat for Humanity provided housing, and a friend at Wal-Mart

carefully put expired fruits and vegetables in boxes beside the Dumpster

and tipped her off.


Soon afterward, Tererai had her husband deported back to Zimbabwe for

beating her, and she earned her B.A. — and started on her M.A. Then her

husband returned, now frail and sick with a disease that turned out to be

AIDS. Tererai tested negative for H.I.V., and then — feeling sorry for her

husband — she took in her former tormentor and nursed him as he grew sicker

and eventually died.


Through all this blur of pressures, Tererai excelled at school, pursuing a

Ph.D at Western Michigan University and writing a dissertation on AIDS

prevention in Africa even as she began working for Heifer as a program

evaluator. On top of all that, she was remarried, to Mark Trent, a plant

pathologist she had met at Oklahoma State.


Tererai is a reminder of the adage that talent is universal, while

opportunity is not. There are still 75 million children who are not

attending primary school around the world. We could educate them all for

far less than the cost of the proposed military “surge” in Afghanistan.


Each time Tererai accomplished one of those goals that she had written long

ago, she checked it off on that old, worn paper. Last month, she ticked off

the very last goal, after successfully defending her dissertation. She’ll

receive her Ph.D next month, and so a one-time impoverished cattle-herd

from Zimbabwe with less than a year of elementary school education will don

academic robes and become Dr. Tererai Trent

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Anni Frid Lyngstad (ABBA)

Anni Frid Lyngstad (ABBA) | The Winner Takes It All |

On record and stage, Abba exemplified all that was fun and exhilarating in
pop music. And leading the chorus in a string of worldwide hits was the
distinctive, mellow voice of Frida Lyngstad, 'the dark one'.


Abba's lyrics were often more poignant than their catchy melodies might
initially suggest, but the Lycra-clad Frida, tottering seductively on her
platform heels as she belted her way through such songs as Fernando and Mamma
Mia, always projected an image of joyous exuberance.


She wishes she could do the same in her own life. She cannot. The miseries of
her past continue to torment her, even now, at the age of 56.


Abba made her rich beyond dreams, and since her second marriage in 1992 to a
member of one of Germany's royal houses, she has been Her Serene Highness
Princess Anni-Frid of Reuss.


Yet she remains what she has always been - a confused and desperately unhappy
refugee from her childhood.


She has tried to close her mind to the painful reality of who she really is,
seeking psychiatric help and retreating into isolation. All to no avail. The
past keeps springing up to confront her.


It is about to do so again, in one of the most disturbing cases to come
before the European Court of Human Rights.

For Frida Lyngstad was the product of an affair between a Norwegian woman and
a Nazi soldier.


There were up to 14,000 children of such liaisons in Norway. Some were the
progeny of SS chief Heinrich Himmler's Lebensborn ('fountain of
life') plan to produce a master-race of blondhaired Aryans.

Under this perverted scheme, special houses were established throughout
Germany and occupied Europe, including in Norway, where SS officers mated with
selected women.


Princess Michael of Kent's father, SS major Baron Gunther von Reibnitz, is
alleged to have been party to the project. Others were simply the result of the
kind of love affair of convenience that war engenders. Frida was one of


It is almost 60 years since the end of the war, and time should have dimmed
the memory of such a sorry chapter in history. But that has not happened in


In the aftermath of the Nazi's defeat, collaborators were subjected to
retribution. In Norway, so were such children - not by the Germans who spawned
them, but by the Norwegian people acting under the authority of the postwar
Norwegian state.


In 1945, the head of Norway's largest mental hospital stated that women who
had 'mated' with German soldiers were 'mental defectives', and concluded that 80
per cent of their progeny must be retarded.


The children were vilified, abused, confined to mental institutions, beaten,
raped and treated as sub-humans until well into the Sixties.


Frida was fortunate in that she managed to avoid the worst of the
maltreatment. She could not, however, escape the stigma - and it has stayed with
her ever since.


It was in 1943, three years after the Germans invaded Norway, that a 24-year-
old Nazi sergeant named Alfred Haase was posted to Ballangen. This small town is
20 miles from the port of Narvik, where, by coincidence, the SS had set up a
Lebensborn stud farm.


When Haase caught sight of Synni Lyngstad, however, he decided to do his own
courting. He seduced the pretty 18-year-old by giving her a sack of potatoes - a
gift of immense value in wartime Norway, where food was scarce. They had sex
shortly afterwards, following a naked swim in a nearby lake.


Haase, a pastry chef in civilian life, said he told Synni he was married. 'I
think she regarded our relationship as I did,' he added. 'The war meant the
conditions were different. For many of us, it was a matter of living for today -
tomorrow we might be dead.'


The affair continued until 1945, when Haase was shipped back to Germany.
Synni was pregnant when he left. They were destined never to meet again.

No one in Ballangen was in any doubt as to who the father was. When Synni
passed in the street, people would shout out: 'German whore!' Neighbours refused
to have anything to do with her or her widowed mother, Agny.


Shortly afterwards Agny fled to Sweden, taking baby Frida with her. Synni
followed soon afterwards. She took a job as a waitress but died of kidney
failure, aged only 21, when Frida was two years old.


Brought up by her grandmother, a distant and embittered woman, Frida endured
a forlorn childhood. She recalled: 'I didn't have many friends. I thought
everything about me was wrong - that there was nothing about me that was worth


Frida was told she was the daughter of a German soldier who had drowned when
his ship sank on the journey back to Germany. It was not until 1977, when Abba
were at the height of their success, that she learnt her father was still


At the war's end Haase had settled near Stuttgart with his wife and two
children. It was only after his niece, a keen Abba fan, read an interview with
Frida in which she said she was the illegitimate offspring of a German soldier
named Alfred Haase, that he discovered she was his daughter.


A meeting was arranged. Haase, who is now an 83-year- old grandfather,
arrived at her Swiss home bearing a bouquet of flowers, and greeted her with a
hug. They sat together for most of the night, talking and crying. They looked
over old photos and compared their hands and feet, noting how similar they


Not long afterwards, Frida declared: 'It's like my entire background is
coming back, flowing over me. It's only now that the tension has been released -
the other night, I lay awake crying for several hours.'


It was a short-lived reconciliation. For three decades, Frida had had to deal
with the disgrace of being a Lebensborn child. Now, she had to deal
with a father she had never known. It proved beyond her emotional


She said: 'It would have been different if I'd been a child. But it's
difficult to get a father when you're 32 years old. I can't really connect to
him and love him the way I would have if he'd been around when I grew up.'


After a faltering attempt at reconciliation, father and daughter parted in
1983 and have had virtually no contact since. Frida said: 'I prefer to spend my
time with people who won't let me down.' Not even the disasters that have
subsequently befallen this gifted woman have drawn them together again.


Like her mother before her, Frida had been a romantically vulnerable teenager
- 'I think it was security I was looking for,' she once said - and at the age of
16 she had given birth to a daughter named Ann Lise-Lotte. But in 1998, Ann, then 30 years old, was killed in a car crash.


A year later tragedy struck again when Frida's husband,Prince Ruzzo, died of cancer. They were burdens anybody would have struggled to
face up to. For Frida, they proved overwhelming. Ever since the first meeting
with her father, she has been prone to bouts of depression that have required
medical attention.


Says Haase, now living in retirement with his wife Anna: 'It is my daughter's
life - what she chooses to do with it is up to her. I had an affair and I had a
child, but this was all such a long time ago, when I was young and the world was
in flames.'


He adds: 'I didn't know she would be traumatised or anything. And I know
nothing of this Lebensborn group. What she does is up to her. More,
I cannot say.'


Frida now lives in Garboesque seclusion in Fribourg in Switzerland, rarely
venturing out - and, at least until now, steadfastly refusing to be drawn into
the furore surrounding her birth.


Says her spokeswoman: 'She has been asked several times in the past six or
seven years to become involved with the Lebensborn group, but she
does not want to.'


But however hard she tries, Frida Lyngstad cannot escape her past. She
escaped being branded with a swastika like Harriet von Nickel. And unlike so
many of the Lebensborn children, who were denied education and
work, she has done well in life. But the mental scars remain, and neither fame
nor wealth can eradicate them.


And that, as the 'dark one' from Abba once sadly admitted, is not something
she could ever bring herself to sing about.


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Paolo Coelho

Paolo Coelho | The Winner Takes It All |

At 16, Coelho's introversion and opposition to following a traditional path led to his parents committing him to a mental institution from which he escaped three times before being released at the age of 20.


At his parents' wishes, Coelho enrolled in law school and abandoned his dream of becoming a writer. One year later, he dropped out and lived life as a hippie, traveling through South America, North Africa, Mexico, and Europe and started drugs in the 1960s. Upon his return to Brazil, Coelho worked as a songwriter, composing lyrics for Elis Regina, Rita Lee, and Brazilian icon Raul Seixas.


Composing with Raul led to Paulo being associated with satanism and occultism, due to the content of some songs.


In 1974, Coelho was arrested for "subversive" activities by the ruling military government, who had taken power ten years earlier and viewed his lyrics as left-wing and dangerous.


Coelho also worked as an actor, journalist, and theatre director before pursuing his writing career.


In 1986, Coelho walked the 500-plus mile Road of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, a turning point in his life.On the path, Coelho had a spiritual awakening, which he described autobiographically in The Pilgrimage. In an interview, Coelho stated "[In 1986], I was very happy in the things I was doing. I was doing something that gave me food and water – to use the metaphor in "The Alchemist", I was working, I had a person whom I loved, I had money, but I was not fulfilling my dream. My dream was, and still is, to be a writer."


Coelho would leave his lucrative career as a songwriter and pursue writing full-time. 


In 1982 Coelho published his first book, Hell Archives, which failed to make any significant impact.


In 1986 he contributed to the Practical Manual of Vampirism, although he later tried to take it off the shelves since he considered it “of bad quality."After making the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in 1986, Coelho wrote The Pilgrimage.


The following year, Coelho wrote The Alchemist and published it through a small Brazilian publishing house who made an initial print run of 900 copies and decided not to reprint. He subsequently found a bigger publishing house, and with the publication of his next book Brida, The Alchemist became a Brazilian bestseller.  


The Alchemist has gone on to sell more than 65 million copies, becoming one of the best-selling books in history, and has been translated into more than 70 languages, the 71st being Maltese, winning the Guinness World Record for most translated book by a living author.


"The Alchemist" easily known as his most successful story, is a story about a young shepherd. You follow his spiritual journey to the Egyptian pyramids in search of a treasure.


Since the publication of The Alchemist, Coelho has generally written one novel every two years including By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept, The Fifth Mountain, Veronika Decides to Die, The Devil and Miss Prym, Eleven Minutes, Like the Flowing River, The Valkyries and The Witch of Portobello. This dates back to The Pilgrimage: While trying to overcome his procrastination of launching his writing career, Coelho said, "If I see a white feather today, that is a sign that God is giving me that I have to write a new book." Coelho found a white feather in the window of a shop, and began writing that day.


In total, Coelho has published 30 books. Three of them – The Pilgrimage,The Valkyries and "Aleph" – are autobiographical, while the majority of the rest are fictional, although rooted in his life experiences.


Others, like Maktub and The Manual of the Warrior of Light, are collections of essays, newspaper columns, or selected teachings. In total, Coelho has sold more than 100 million books in over 150 countries worldwide, and his works have been translated into 71 languages.


He is the all-time bestselling Portuguese language author.


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