Saturday, 19th June 2021

This Month's Magazine


The Harry Potter stories are ten years old this year

The first book in The Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the philosopher’s stone, was published on the 26th of June 1997. Since then another five books have been published in the series and collectively have sold more than 300 million copies worldwide.

This incredible feat has made the author J K Rowling, the richest writer in literary history. All of the books have been translated into 47 languages, including Latin and even ancient Greek.

According to J K Rowling the idea for the stories “just popped into her head” during a train journey from Manchester to London. Unbelievably, the first eight publishers approached, turned down the book, until eventually Bloomsbury offered Rowling a 3,000 pound advance on the story and the rest as they say is history.

However, the success of Harry Potter hasn’t all been plain sailing; in 1999 a woman called N K Stouffer claimed copyright and trademark infringements against J K Rowling, this was mainly over the invention of “Muggles” Stouffer claimed to have invented the word and indeed the definition of muggles (non magical humanoids).


However, Stouffer’s claims were dismissed and she was fined $50,000 in a counter claim made by Rowling’s American publishers, Scholastic Press.

Rowling has also had to contend with considerable religious backlash, particularly from Christian Fundamentalist groups. Such groups believe that the books contain Pagan imagery, that is harmful to children and some churches in America have banned the books all together.

Most of the problems that have arisen over the ten years have come from America and this must surly question the American attitude, rather then the contents of any series of books. In Europe however, Harry Potter remains a firm favourite with children, and possibly more surprising to Ms Rowling, an equal number of adults.

As a work of imaginative fiction, the world of Harry Potter that J K Rowling has created is quite an achievement and she has certainly earned her place among the storytellers of the past; and all because of a boring train journey!

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