Who Is Harry Potter?
Harry Potter, the boy who lived. Harry Potter, the boy who created a new generation of fantasy lovers. Harry Potter, the boy who changed the landscape of children’s literature forever.
Today, “Harry Potter” is synonymous with one of the biggest franchises ever. The character of Harry Potter is first found in the novel Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (with the British title being Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) by controversial, although undisputed, writing juggernaut J. K. Rowling. However, today, Harry Potter does not simply bring to mind the series of children’s books but also eight multimillion-dollar movies (not to mention the Fantastic Beasts films, a spinoff franchise), theme park lands, an ever-growing number of video games and so much merchandise that it is incomprehensible.
If you do not know, the original Harry Potter books are a series of seven children’s novels that follow (originally) 11-year-old Harry Potter. This young boy is whisked away from his horrible, boring “Muggle” (non-magical) home by discovering that not only is magic real, but in the world of magic and witchcraft, he is famous. At Hogwarts, the best wizarding school in the world, Harry’s life is further changed by making incredible friends (namely Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger), finding new abilities, and, of course, making a few enemies (namely Draco Malfoy and Lord Voldemort). Throughout the series, Harry learns how to be a good wizard and a good person, all while dealing with regular childhood matters, such as first crushes, and world-ending ones, such as saving humanity from the man who killed his parents.
The original Harry Potter books are a series of seven children’s novels that follow (originally) 11-year-old Harry Potter.
The plot is fun and engaging, but the world it opens its readers to (that of class houses based on personality, a wand specially made for you, and a million adventures that one could imagine themselves going through) was ripe for a branded franchise. Therefore, it is no wonder that Harry Potter has an immense legacy. However, it does make one wonder: How did he get here? What is the history of Harry Potter that has brought him to this level of fame? What must we know about Harry Potter to see how he has achieved this legacy? And, beyond the character, what have his creators done to secure this legacy? How has Harry Potter been portrayed to create the culturally saturated force of nature that we know today?
The houses of Harry Potter’s school, Hogwarts, were invented on an airplane sick bag.
The four houses of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry — Ravenclaw, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, and Gryffindor — are nearly as iconic as Harry Potter himself. However, the history of their names is not as serious as the history of Harry Potter’s name. In a tweet on December 15, 2017, J. K. Rowling said, “The best thing I ever wrote on was an airplane sick bag. Came up with the Hogwarts houses on it.”
Stephen Spielberg almost directed the first Harry Potter film.
Steven Spielberg is one of Hollywood’s most beloved directors; from Jaws to Jurassic Park to Schindler’s List, Spielberg has touched almost every major film and film franchise in Hollywood today — and Harry Potter is no exception. Spielberg was attached to the film almost from the beginning and had even picked out Haley Joel Osment (from Sixth Sense fame) to play Harry Potter. However, eventually, Spielberg decided to leave the project to spend more time with his family.
Some parts of Harry Potter are based on real life.
Although many Harry Potter fans are still waiting patiently for their Hogwarts letter to arrive, most have sadly and begrudgingly concluded that the story of Harry Potter isn’t real. However, that isn’t entirely true. J. K. Rowling is known for pulling from real-life occurrences for many parts of her series, including the story of Nicolas Flamel, who was a real alchemist in the 14th century, the castle of the iconic Hogwarts School, which is based on real-life Alnwick Castle in Northumberland in the U.K., and much, much more.
On May 2nd, the world celebrates Harry Potter’s own personal holiday, International Harry Potter Day.
In the Harry Potter series, May 2, 1988, is the day Harry Potter defeats Lord Voldemort during the Battle of Hogwarts. This day is, therefore, not just a holiday for the Wizarding World but also for the Potterhead (the name for Harry Potter fans) world!
The actor who played Harry Potter’s best friend rapped in his audition for the movie.
Ronald “Ron” Weasley is arguably just as iconic a character as his world-famous best friend, Harry Potter. So, when Rupert Grint auditioned for the role of Ron in the Harry Potter movies, he certainly had a lot to live up to. To impress the casting director, the 10-year-old Rupert Grint, who created his audition tape on his own, decided to rap about how much he wanted to be Ron in the film.
J. K. Rowling and Harry Potter share birth dates.
A famous piece of writing advice tells one to “write what you know.” J. K. Rowling does this constantly in the Harry Potter series. One of the smallest details she took from real life is that Rowling and her protagonist were born on July 31st, making them both Leos!
J. K. Rowling insisted that the actors in the Harry Potter movies be British and/or Irish.
As Hollywood executives picked up the Harry Potter films, the Americans immediately started pushing the British author to change the story to be set in the United States. However, Rowling stuck to her source material and insisted that the movies do the same. And thank goodness she did that, or so many generations of kids wouldn’t try to say “‘Arry Pottah” or “Wingardium Leviosa” in their best British accent.
The Harry Potter spells are in Latin.
J.K. Rowling loved taking aspects of our world and history while building the facts about Harry Potter and his world. She added both a feeling of ancient history and reality by using Latin words for most of the spells in Harry Potter.
Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe got the role due to a well-timed coincidence.
Whereas both Emma Watson and Rupert Grint auditioned and were selected traditionally (for Hermione and Ron, respectively), the titular Harry Potter was much harder and more complicated to fill. Other timely young actors were considered, and auditions were held, with over 300 young boys auditioning. Still, eventually, the blue-eyed generous-looking kid who happened to be sitting behind producer Steve Kloves at the theater got the role.
Harry Potter began as merely a thought that occurred to a young, aspiring author on a train. That author was Joanne “J. K.” Rowling, who was born on July 31, 1965, to a family in Winterbourne, Gloucestershire, exactly 15 years before Harry Potter’s first birthday. Rowling grew up in Tutshill, near Chepstow, and attended Wyedean Comprehensive School. Eventually, she earned an undergraduate degree in French and Classics at the University of Exeter, which she would later use in fleshing out the Wizarding World. In 1990, Rowling was on a train traveling from Manchester to London when the idea for Harry Potter appeared. As she tells it, Rowling didn’t have any way to write the story down then but took the entire train ride to think of ideas for Harry and his world anyway.
DID YOU KNOW?
In 1990, Rowling was on a train traveling from Manchester to London when the idea for Harry Potter appeared.
Over the next five years, through many personal hardships, including her mother’s death and a divorce, Rowling continued to shape what would become the Harry Potter we know today. In 1995, Rowling finally began to send the finished manuscript to publishers. However, it took another year before anyone took an interest. Luckily, in 1996, Bloomsbury did, and by 1997, the first Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (released first in Britain under this British title), could be found on nearly every bookstore shelf.
A Household Name
By the early 2000s, everyone in the real world knew “Harry Potter,” just as all the Wizarding World did. Although the history of Harry Potter has humble beginnings, the character and his magical world quickly gained national and international attention, which earned him a position as a household name.
The books sold incredibly well in the U.K., so they were quickly brought to a broader, especially American, audience, now under slightly different titles. This international fame opened up the opportunity for the books to be adapted into movies, and the film’s simplicity allowed the Harry Potter brand to take off as a world-dominating force.
The basic plot of the Harry Potter novels is simple yet effective: a young boy with a mysterious past is brought into a world that he doesn’t understand and must now navigate, which he does, eventually becoming that wizarding world’s savior. The building blocks of the history of Harry Potter, as a character, were perfect for creating eight blockbusters, hugely beloved movies, and the world-building (which was always Rowling’s specialty) was perfect for creating a place in which people wanted to live and a brand into which people wanted to buy.
The first film was released in 2001 and the last in 2011, but over that decade they cemented the Harry Potter name as not only one known in every household across the world but as one that people would want to get to know for years after.
Today, Harry Potter remains one of the most famous people in the world, with International Harry Potter Day still celebrated every year on May 2nd. The Harry Potter novels have sold over 500 million copies worldwide and are now being published in over 80 different languages. Moreover, the Harry Potter brand is still going strong, releasing new movies, games, and merchandise daily, and is estimated to be worth over $25 billion. In fact, a single 1st edition copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone sold for $90,000 in 2019. Harry Potter and his franchise have reached a type of success that cannot be overstated. Just like Harry Potter conquered evil in the books, the Harry Potter brand has conquered the hearts of fans and people everywhere and earned the recognition that comes along with that. It is impossible to deny that Harry Potter is a force to be reckoned with, both on the page and in the real world.
DID YOU KNOW?
International Harry Potter Day is celebrated every year on May 2nd.
What are the seven things in Harry Potter?
In the original run of the Harry Potter novels, Lord Voldemort and Harry and company must find and destroy the seven “Horcruxes” Voldemort has divided his soul into to defeat the main villain. These seven things are Tom Riddle’s diary, Marvolo Gaunt’s ring, Salazar Slytherin’s locket, Helga Hufflepuff’s cup, Rowena Ravenclaw’s diadem, Nagini the Snake, and Harry Potter himself.
What is the biggest secret in Harry Potter?
Most would say that the biggest twist in the plot of Harry Potter is the reveal that Harry Potter himself is one of Lord Voldemort’s Horcruxes. These Horcruxes each contain a piece of Voldemort’s soul. They must be destroyed to destroy him, meaning that Harry Potter has to die to defeat Lord Voldemort.
Who is Harry Potter’s biggest enemy?
Although there are many villains throughout the books, namely bully and fellow student Draco Malfoy or whoever is new in the revolving door of Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers, Harry Potter does have one main nemesis. The overarching villain of the Harry Potter series, whom Harry and company fight in nearly every book and must defeat for a final time by the end, is Lord Voldemort, aka Tom Marvolo Riddle.
Is Harry Potter based on real life?
Although none of the magic of Harry Potter is based on true events or lived experience, much of the history of Harry Potter and the Wizarding World is based on real historical events.
How was Harry Potter created?
J.K. Rowling thought of the character of Harry Potter while on a train from Manchester to London.