J K Rowling tops list of Britain's most influential women

Magazine editors select figures 'inspirational' to their female readers

Susie Mesure
Sunday 10 October 2010 00:00 BST
(afp/getty images)

She may lack Cheryl Cole's sway when it comes to hairstyles, or Victoria Beckham's sartorial clout, but that hasn't stopped J K Rowling from being voted Britain's most influential woman in a poll by some of the country's most powerful magazine editors.

The multimillionaire author will top a list of the 100 women who have the most influence over our lives when it is unveiled tomorrow, to mark the 100th anniversary of the National Magazine Company, whose titles including Cosmopolitan, Harper's Bazaar, Company and Good Housekeeping.

Rowling's supremacy is all the more surprising given that despite her success, the 45-year-old keeps a very low profile. But Lindsay Nicholson, editor of Good Housekeeping, said: "Everyone felt J K Rowling was the one with the most influence across the widest audience. As a single parent who managed to cope and pull herself out of poverty and create a massive entertainment empire on the way, she is very inspiring."

She added: "Rowling is very careful about the way she uses her fame and is very true to herself. She didn't pursue power, fame and money in a conventional way but by writing her thoughts in a café while her baby slept."

NatMag, which was established in 1910 by the American media baron William Randolph Hearst, will hope Rowling's values resonate with the millions of women who read one of the 20 magazines that it publishes. Its best-selling title is its oldest, Good Housekeeping, which was started in 1922 and has nearly 500,000 readers.

Although beaten into top place, Cheryl Cole and Victoria Beckham are both in the top 10. Nicholson said Beckham, the former Spice Girl who has reinvented herself as a designer, was a role model who transcended the decades. "She is admired among older women for her commitment to family," she added.

The panel of editors also deemed Nigella Lawson to be influential. "She showed that curves can be fantastic and that you can love cooking as a woman because you can love it for your own sake. You can have a feminist mentality without that making you a doormat," Louise Court, editor of Cosmopolitan said. Also popular are glamour girl-turned-novelist Katie Price and Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder of Kids Company charity.

NatMag toyed with making the list about powerful rather than influential women. Nicholson said: "In the end we went for influence because influential women are more the sort that our readers are interested in."

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