Platform nine and three-quarters from Harry Potter

On June 26, 1997, struggling author J.K. Rowling’s first novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was finally published by Bloomsbury in the UK after multiple rejections from other companies. It was published the next year in America by Scholastic under the name Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Today marks 20 years since Harry Potter was officially introduced – 20 years of the scrawny, black-haired, green-eyed, bespectacled boy enchanting readers all over the world.

Two decades of the cultural phenomenon have spawned a 7-book series, several additional books from the Harry Potter universe, a published script, nine films (with more to come), a play on West End and Broadway, a popular website, and one of the biggest fandoms to ever exist. The films jump-started the careers of several young actors, and the books have contributed to boosting literacy.

I was late to the Harry Potter party. I was in middle school when the books were becoming popular in America, but I refused to read them because I felt as though they were too silly for me. I disregarded them for years, until my friends convinced me to give it a go. I was 17, and it was a couple of months before the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I was complaining about the mania surrounding the series, and a friend of mine remarked that I should really read the books before criticizing them. She loaded me up with the first 5 books and sent me on my way.

I started reading on Friday evening, and finished the 5th book Sunday evening. I had barely slept at all – I was completely taken with J.K. Rowling’s magical world. I finally understood that thrill of getting my hands on a copy of the newest book at midnight. I joined in the massive online fandom and made friends from all over the world who all had that deep love for Harry Potter in common.

Harry Potter photo - tie with sweater and Time Turner

I occasionally reread the whole series. It is still a magical experience, and let me tell you – those deaths never get easier! I’ve taken the official Pottermore sorting quiz (thankfully I already own a good amount of green, because the Sorting Hat shouted, “SLYTHERIN!”) and I have a photo taken of me at Platform 9 3/4 in King’s Cross. I hope to one day visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando and the Warner Bros studios where Harry Potter was filmed in the UK.

On this 20th anniversary of Harry Potter’s introduction to the Muggle world, I want to hear from you! Which House have you been sorted into? Favorite book? Favorite character? What does Harry Potter mean to you?

4 thoughts on “20 Years of Harry Potter

  1. Greetings, fellow Slytherin! My favorite book always has been and always will be “The Prisoner of Azkaban.” My favorite character(s) are a close tie between Hermione and Remus Lupin. I have a strong affinity for both of them, being misunderstood bookish types who struggle to both follow the rules or bend them when they find them corrupt. I’m currently midway through a reread of the series myself; just about to start “The Order of the Phoenix.”

    1. I am in need of a reread; it has been several years now!

      It is always difficult for me to pick a favorite character, but I really like your choices and reasoning. I love strong female characters, and there are several times that Harry and Ron would not have made it to the end without Hermoine!

      I actually really like Order of the Phoenix, although that seems to be a rather unpopular opinion. I’ve heard the complaint that Harry is too whiny in that book, but what could be expected of a teenager who is battling both hormones AND a Dark Lord? I hardly blame him!

      Enjoy your reread!

  2. I started reading the series for the first time when I was in college, somewhere within 1999 or 2000. My girlfriends and I wanted to dress up for Halloween the following year, but there were not very many great female characters in our age range yet. I’m glad that there were many more strong female characters added over the course of the series. I never attended a midnight release as I had my first daughter in 2001, and I needed my sleep. However, I always pre-ordered the books so I could get them as soon as possible. I now have three daughters, and I’ve read the books or listened to Jim Dale read them aloud on audio with two out of three so far. With my youngest, we are currently reading The Order of the Phoenix. After we finish each book, we watch the movie, and I love listening to them discuss how much better the books are than the movie, and explaining to their dad the differences. Eventually I’ll get my husband to read them!!! As an elementary school teacher, I’ve had many discussions with different children about so many different topics related to Harry Potter. The series has given me “street cred” with so many students over the years and allowed me to share my love of fantasy fiction and other genres.

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