2017 marks the 20th year since the very first of the Harry Potter series was published and 10 years since J.K. Rowling finished writing the last one (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows). The debut novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was first published in 1997 by Bloomsbury. It was also published in the United States under the title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. This publication was well-received by critics and children alike. It won the Smarties Gold Award, in 1997 and reached the top of the New York Times list of best-selling fiction in August 1999 (a rank which was upheld through 1999 and 2000). The series as a whole lead to J.K. Rowling being compared to Jane Austen and Roald Dahl, due to the imagination and creativity she displayed.
These books earned fame for multiple reasons whether it is their individuality or gripping nature. One appealing factor of the books is the relatable characters that grow up during all seven books. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone the protagonist, Harry Potter, starts as an eleven year old who lives in the cupboard under the stairs and has to constantly endure harsh treatment from his aunt, uncle and cousin. However, a letter causes drastic changes and through the course of the year he makes friends and enemies, triumphs and fails, learns about his past and gets a glimpse into the future. The success and fame of the series was perfectly predicted when Professor Minerva McGonagall stated “… every child in our world will know his name!” (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone pg15)
The author, J.K. Rowling, became a household name as did her characters. From an early age she aspired to be a writer, starting at six with her first story. Later at eleven she wrote her very first novel about seven cursed diamonds and their owners. At eighteen years she left home to study at Exeter University, where having read widely she developed knowledge of classical literature. After completing her degree (at Exeter and a year abroad in Paris) she moved to London and worked in multiple different jobs.
Rowling first created the idea of Harry Potter while sitting on a delayed train from Manchester to King’s Cross Station in London. In the following five years, she developed and mapped out the whole series. Once completing the final manuscript, years after conceiving the initial ideas, the first three chapters were sent to multiple literary agents. One asked to see the rest of the manuscript and as J.K. Rowling explained “the best letter I had ever received in my life”. From there, her success spiralled with the rest of the series being published in at least 60 different languages and being adapted into eight films.
The wizarding world has continued to expand ever since with more works, recently a new stage show (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) as well as Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find them .
By Beth (MYP3)
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