“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, we're proud to say that they were very normal, thank you very much.” – In 1990, a young woman came up with this and a storyline to follow while traveling on a train from Manchester to London’s King’s Cross Station with her children.
She made long-hand notes on scrap pieces of paper, and after developing an entire book out of it, went from one publisher to another to get it printed. After several rejections, finally a small London publisher, Bloomsbury agreed to do it. The rest is history.
Harry Potter – a phenomenal milestone in young –adult genre and fantasy fiction category first appeared in the book Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 1997. It took that long for writer Joanne K. Rowling to convince a publisher to publish her book, which would be the first of the bestselling series of all time in a few years.
She published six more books in the coming years and told the story, Harry, his friends Ron and Hermione, his life of wizardry in Hogwarts and his constant battle with the Dark Lord, Voldemort, spanning over a period of seven years in the fictional world and ten in the real.
J.K. Rowling’s magical world of Harry Potter went on to become a literary cult, representing perhaps the largest fandom literature has seen. For an entire generation of readers, Harry Potter is not just a fictional story; it is an emotion, a nostalgia and a part of growing up.
Here are 5 reasons why Harry Potter is more than just a book series:
- FRIENDSHIP IN THE BRIGHTEST LIGHT
No matter what was going wrong in the magical world, Harry was always able to get out of it in some way or the other; but that would never have happened without the help of his friends. While he had his best mate Ron’s mental and emotional support throughout, spare an incident or two; his other best friend Hermione was always ready to save the day with all the knowledge she gathered at the library. Not to mention, they were always ready to accompany him to any of his adventures or secret missions, even if there were risks that they could get killed, “or worse, expelled”. Not only these two but in later years, Harry had unquestioned support from his other friends Neville, Ginny or Luna, who even went to a battle with him in the fifth book without batting much of an eyelid.
The friendship among the main characters of the series is one of the major emotional pulls of the storyline. The mutual trust and unconditional support created a magic that was even more beautiful than the spells they cast with their wands.
- MAGICAL YET REAL
In a storyline where there are screaming plants and fire-breathing dragons and giant snakes and three-headed dogs, J.K. Rowling marveled at keeping her tale relatable from the word go. From competitive rivalry to first crushes, from the eagerness of a curious mind to the resolve of a determined one, from the tiny nuances of a younger age to the complications of a mature one – Harry Potter, with all its magic, is still very much real. The way every character behaved as an individual and with their fellow characters, it made them look and sound like someone we know for a long time, irrespective of the imaginary nature of their topic of conversation or concern.
- HAPPINESS GLITTERS, BUT PAIN STINGS TOO
Even though a fantasy fiction meant for the children and young adults, it is not all hunky-dory. There are epic plot-points that have resulted in a great deal of joy and happiness. The Quidditch match victories, the defeat of the troll and then the Dark Lord, the killing of the Basilisk or the freeing of Harry’s Godfather Sirius Black in the first three books are highly satisfying endings. But then there are the deaths of Cedric, Dobby, Hedwig or Fred Weasley which leaves lingering sadness in the minds of the readers. This constant roller-coaster of emotions is something that made the series so appealing and genuine across every age-group.
4. STRENGTH IS WHAT MATTERS
Over the seven years in the book’s timeline, terrible and shocking things have happened whose implications and no way muted because the world is magical. Harry was orphaned at a few months’ age and thereafter had an abusive childhood. Neville’s parents were patients of psychotic trauma for as long as he could remember. Ron was a constant victim of bullying in school. Even the initial rival of Harry in school – Draco Malfoy had a troublesome relationship with his family who forced him to join the dark side and do terrible things for them.
There were several deaths of close friends and guardian figures, there were frightening accidents, treachery, and shocking events and there was always an impending doom of the Dark Lord’s attack. But in spite of that, Harry and his friends made through it all, together. It might seem like their job was made easier by their knowledge of magic, but anyone who has known their story would readily disagree.
- NOSTALGIA TRAPPED IN WORDS
For an entire generation of book readers, Harry Potter is a part of life. They have been with Harry from the moment Hagrid tore down the door of the house out at the sea and said “Yer’ a wizard, Harry!” They learnt Transfiguration and Defence Against Dark Arts with him at Hogwarts, they killed the Basilisk and saved Ginny with him, they were with him to save Hippogriff and Sirius, they were there when he caught his first Snitch, when he fought the dragons, when he lost his godfather and only family, when he trained his friends to fight the death-eaters, when he visited the past finding out about scary truths till the last moment when he finally defeated and killed Lord Voldemort.
J.K.Rowling came in during an era when internet and digitalization were slowly taking over people’s minds, especially the younger generation. She accomplished the unthinkable by turning millions of teens and adolescents as well as their parents towards the printed pages. She gave them a whole world of spells, fantastic beasts, time-traveling and prophecies along with real-life love, affection, tragedies, and victories.
There were fantasy fiction series before, and there were after and there will be much more in future, but nothing can match the niche that Harry Potter has carved for itself in the mind of the readers worldwide.
Harry Potter does not fall under a category anymore, to be honest. It is something unique standalone by itself.
E-Books or Hardbound books?The debate still continues