My Enduring Love for Harry Potter
Harry Potter is our generation’s Star Wars or Beatles.
Nothing has come close in terms of cultural phenomena, and, 20 years after Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone had a limited run of 500 copies, we’ve had 7 books, selling over 450 million copies, 9 movies (including 2016’s Fantastic Beasts) grossing over $8.5 billion at the box office and, 10 years since the final book The Deathly Hallows was released, a level of fan devotion which has, if anything, got stronger.
I have to be honest, I started a little late. Harry’s first year at Hogwarts was my first year at Stonewall High (or similar) but I didn’t pick up the first book until I was 14. Like most people, I was instantly hooked. I pre-ordered Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix from my local WH Smiths. I didn’t quite reach queuing at midnight levels of fandom, but I’d be there first thing the next morning. With the last 2 books, I switched my phone off and locked myself in my bedroom until the job was done, in case someone gave the story away. I remember shouting down to my flatmates during book 7, neither of whom were Potter fans, saying, “Guys, I think Harry is dead. I’m not sure what to do with myself”. I remember endlessly dissecting it with my brother, and when I finished the tremendous final installment it was tinged with sadness, knowing that that was it.
I watched the first film with my Dad, the third film with a date. I remember being disappointed by the 4th, and pleasantly surprised with the 5th. I watched the 6th in Bristol and the 7th and 8th in Wimbledon. I remember two people having a scrap over a seat as Deathly Hallows Part 2 began. I remember bawling my eyes out as Snape’s secret is revealed. I remember getting excited all over again when Fantastic Beasts was announced, and just last Christmas; I watched a movie from the Harry Potter Universe at the cinema with my future wife for the first time.
We ended up getting tattoos together, from my brother, who has the same tattoo, as do my partner’s best friends. We listen to Stephen Fry audiobooks virtually every night as we go to sleep. I’ve been to the Harry Potter studio tour. Twice. The first time I had genuinely the worst hangover I’ve ever had, but still loved it immeasurably (butterbeer is an astonishing hangover cure) I have witnessed the magic of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the stage play which swept the Olivier Awards, and is booked up until the start of 2019. I’ve got a Hermione and a Niffler pop vinyl figure, a Time Turner and Sirius’s wand, as well as several prints, displayed proudly in my home. We dressed my brother up as Harry for his stag do.
At its essence, Harry Potter is a simple morality tale; that love and friendship can overcome hate and derision. It’s a story that, though not directly influencing my outlook on life, has certainly help to reinforce it. It’s funny, well written, entertaining as hell. Complex without feeling alienating and magical without losing its humanity. If you hate it, you haven’t read it. To engage is to love, and to feel part of that world is why the fervour surrounding the franchise is still so strong today, and why it will endure for years to come, just like love for The Beatles and Star Wars before it. All Potter fans have these stories and memories, and will cherish them. It's what brings us together. Potter rules!