Today JK Rowling embarks on an exciting new career as a proper serious grown up writer with the release of The Casual Vacancy.

Details of the book - reviewed across the land today - were kept a closely-guarded secret for months, and the notoriously reclusive author only gave a tiny handful of interviews.

All of which adds to the sense that, for all millions of us know and love her words, we don't know an awful lot about her.

To go a small way to addressing this problem, we present you with ten little-known facts about Rowling that might just surprise you...

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  • As a child JK Rowling's favourite book was The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. PHOTO: PA

  • JK Rowling insisted on using British actors for the Harry Potter films PHOTO: PA

  • JK Rowling and her husband (an anaesthetist) have no plans to stop working despite her multi million pound fortune, as she thinks working sets a good example to her children PHOTO: PA

  • JK Rowling goes on Harry Potter fan sites - she once visited the chatroom of popular site Mugglenet, and got told to keep quiet by regulars as she didn't know enough about Harry Potter PHOTO: PA

  • JK Rowling typed Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone on a typewriter PHOTO: PA

  • After graduating, and before starting the Harry Potter books, JK Rowling worked as a researcher at Amnesty International PHOTO: PA

  • Before she finished the books, she let Alan Rickman in on the whole story, so that he could play the character of Severus Snape better in the films PHOTO: PA

  • Harry Potter and JK Rowling have the same birthday, 31st July PHOTO: PA

  • Her preferred Hogwarts house would be Gryffindor (the same house as Harry, Ron and Hermoine) PHOTO: PA

  • Her first fan letter was from a reader called Francesca Gray. She thought JK Rowling was a man and started her letter, 'Dear Sir...' PHOTO: PA