Harry Potter 25th anniversary: things you probably didn’t know about the book

From The National News:

n Sunday, it will be 25 years since a bushy-faced half-giant burst into our lives and changed everything with four monumental words: “Yer a wizard, Harry.”

And, though the wizard in question was bespectacled orphan, Harry Potter, 11, the friendly oaf transformed all our lives on June 26, 1997, when he flung open the doors to the wizarding world with a sweep of his pink umbrella.

The first novel by JK Rowling was published by Bloomsbury in an initial run of 500 copies. Fans would later hear how struggling single mum Rowling spent hours in an Edinburgh coffee shop working on the novels.

Today, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone has sold 120 million copies and counting, while more than 500 million copies of the entire seven-book series have flown off the shelves.

. . . .

The subsequent film franchise is the fourth highest grossing of all time with $9.2 billion in worldwide receipts, according to fan site Movieweb. Meanwhile, The Sunday Times puts JK Rowling’s earnings at $1.1 billion, in a rags to riches tale that suitably mirrors Harry’s own rise from the cupboard under the stairs.

The 2000s saw Harry Potter mania take over the world, as Potterheads queued up and camped out for every new book release, each declaring themselves a proud Gryffindor, a cunning Slytherin, a brainy Ravenclaw or a lovable Hufflepuff.

But even the Hermione Grangers of the world don’t know everything about Harry and co.

Here, we take a look at some little-known trivia dating right back to the first drafts, from early rejections to the original character names.

Hold onto your sorting hat.

Chapter one — The boy who lived

JK Rowling first had the idea for Harry Potter during a train ride when the idea “fell into her head” and later penned the Hogwart’s school houses on an aeroplane sick bag.

And, though Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was an immediate success, at one stage it seemed as though the book would never be published.

Initially, no one wanted anything to do with “a story about a wizard with a stone” and the manuscript was rejected 12 times by publishers before being picked up by Bloomsbury.

Early drafts of the book also detail a slightly different list of Hogwarts school subjects. Herbology was called “herbalism” and divination was compulsory from the first year, along with alchemy and a subject simply called “beasts”.

Even the early character names were different to those published. Hermione Granger’s surname was initially Puckle, while Neville Longbottom started life as Neville Puff.

Draco Spinks was Malfoy’s earliest name, Luna Lovegood was called Lily Moon and Dean Thomas was known simply as Gary.

Over the years, Rowling has revealed countless trivia about the wizarding world and proudly announced that a sorting hat quiz had put her in Hufflepuff.

In a radio interview in 1999, she explained that she named the Hogwarts headmaster after an old English word meaning bumblebee because she always imagined Dumbledore humming to himself.

And, despite being the golden boy in the books, Rowling admitted it is Albus rather than Harry who is her favourite character in the series.

Link to the rest at The National News

3 thoughts on “Harry Potter 25th anniversary: things you probably didn’t know about the book”

  1. My daughter was an extra in the second Harry Potter movie. Four days on set at Durham Cathedral. Day one: the crew measured her up for a Hogwarts-Hufflepuff uniform, and the animal trainer introduced the schoolkids to the animals. (The owl featured in the movie was, in real life, called Elvis). Day two: She was introduced to the director, Chris Columbus, who then talked the extras through the scene set in the quad. The scene featured a conversation between Harry and Hagrid. For most of the scene the viewer only sees Hagrid’s back; reason being is that the actor, Robbie Coltrane, wasn’t available for the shoot that day so his part was played by a stand-in, who in real life, was a tax inspector from Newcastle, who stood on a crate to achieve Hagrid’s height. The extras were not allowed to have mobile phones on set, and not allowed to take photos, and were asked not to talk to the stars unless approached and spoken to first. And, they were not allowed to ask for autographs. In between rehearsals and takes all the schoolkids had lessons with an on set private tutor. A few weeks later Warner Bros sent her a cheque for £300 — a tidy sum for a UK teenager back then. After official release and premiere in London the movie had a special local premiere in the then local, family run cinema — Robin’s (long since gone), to which all the extras and their families were invited. My daughter is clearly visible on screen for about a minute and a half, in the background, wearing a Hufflepuff scarf, carrying textbooks and miming a conversation with another Hogwarts pupil.

    • I went to school with a few people who did well in movies/television and their experiences starting out with very small roles was waiting and waiting for five minutes of excitement, then waiting a long time until a re-shoot of the scene for five more minutes of semi-excitement.

      • OK. And? Didn’t go to school with “a few people who did well in movies/television”. My school was a shit, third-rate sinkhole. However, as I progressed through life — college, university, and beyond — I happened upon them. No big deal — theatre and movie actors, artists, composers, musicians, writers, and choreographers… And?

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