Harry Potter: Final Thoughts

“All these people saying they never got their Hogwarts letter: you got the letter. You went to Hogwarts. We were all there together.
Of course it happened inside your head, but why on earth should that mean it wasn’t real?”- JK Rowling

As the month draws to an end it also marks the conclusion of my Harry Potter month. This is the fourth month long focus type things I’ve done and I have to say, each one of them as been very different. I was wondering how I was going to feel going into this, and now, at the end, I realise it’s totally different than any of them.

I’ve realised I think it is because of what Harry Potter is. The others – His Dark Materials, Shakespeare, and Winnie the Pooh – as popular as they are, and as established and huge as they are in their own right, Harry Potter is an entirely separate class. The series is nothing short of a phenomenon. It took the world by storm; it gave its readers and viewers a complicated world and a lifestyle that has infiltrated the everyday in and obvious way any more than certainly HDM and Winnie the Pooh, but even Shakespeare in a way. We know that he influenced culture in an unimaginably large way, but we don’t consciously notice it. But we notice Harry Potter. We notice all the time as people use their houses as a form of identity, as people immerse themselves in the world again and again, as it is has grown to such a grand size that it’s almost inescapable that even those who haven’t read the books have seen the movies, or vice versa. Or that they know something of the series even if they haven’t seen or watched it.

Being part of the generation that grew up with the Harry phenomena I feel incredible privilege. Never again will any new reader know of the excitement, the trepidation, or the frustration at having to wait for the next book. Of trying not to get spoilers beforehand or from anyone who read faster than you. For the decade that it took Rowling to go from Philosopher’s Stone to Deathly Hallows we became part of a club that will remember what it was like to wait. We really will be the only ones to know what it was like to have to have no idea what was going to come next, to theorise and to pine, to reread the books over and over while we waited for months and sometimes for years for the next book to come out.

I remember when I finished writing about HDM it was a completely different experience. I had returned to a world I visit so rarely that digging into the centre of the world and the characters was like revisiting an old friend, a friend who even though it’s been years it felt like no time had passed. I wasn’t sure what would happen this time around, but as I sit here, with a month of posts behind me that it is very different but also the same. I think it’s because Harry Potter never really went away. I’ve never had to step away from it, see nothing about it, read nothing about it. It was always part of my life. As I say, because we are saturated for content you never have to leave the wizarding world. And yet, as I reread the stories and renewed my love of these characters, it felt like returning to a familiar and wonderful place.

From the very first page of rereading Philosopher’s Stone it was like falling back into the world I knew so well. From that first moment at Privet Drive through each of the books I felt that warm and comforting feeling of familiarity and affection. Of course that wasn’t always expressed as I was, even now on my nth reread, still nervous and excited and worrying about what was happening, but on some level I was content and captivated by these words.

20 years has passed since JK Rowling published Philosopher’s Stone and looking at the celebrations this past month, the world certainly wasn’t going to let it go by unobserved. The wonderful thing about this whole series is the quote by McGonagall in Philosopher’s Stone as she tells Dumbledore “every child in our world will know his name”. In an art imitating life moment, no truer words have been spoken. And what makes them even greater is that it’s chapter one of the very first book. It isn’t in book two or book seven, it isn’t after it’s been published and consumed by the masses, it’s an innocent little phrase that the world decided to take literally. I love it.

While the series may be over, and the movies finished, we will forever have Harry Potter in our lives. It’s earned its place well and truly and I cannot wait to see it being celebrated for decades to come, ready to welcome new reader or to welcome the old ones with open arms. To quote the wonderful JK Rowling, “whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”

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