"£60,000 for novel written in cafe." Western Morning News 8 July 1997.

A former Westcountry student yesterday told of her astonishment at being paid more than £60,000 for her first novel.

Joanne Rowling, who studied at Exeter University, was given $100,000 by an American publisher for her first book, a children's story - and Hollywood producers are competing for the film rights.

Joanne, 31, who wrote the book in a cafe while her baby daughter slept, is already being compared to legendary author Roald Dahl for her 80,000-word Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

The book is a tale of fantasy and magic designed for children aged eight and over. Joanne, who graduated in French and Classics from Exeter, said of the deal: "I was astonished. The first feeling was profound shock. I was temporarily paralysed at the time. I was writing for me. For someone to offer that amount of money for something that I had written because it is the sort of thing I like reading was incredible.

"I don't know what I'll do now.

"I'm very nervous of just packing in my part-time teaching and becoming a full-time author, even though that is something I have always wanted to do."

Source: Factiva News Service. Submitted by Jacob Kaufman, 16 July 2005.