Twenty-five years ago, the book industry was changed forever. The line between children’s and adult literature was all but dissolved, witches and wizards flew (we’re picturing broomsticks, but there’s the whole apparating thing too, if you prefer) to astonishing new heights of popularity and one of the most devoted and influential fandoms of all time was born. Yes, the author who brought this enchanting new world into being has since become something of a controversial figure, but the Harry Potter books and the paradigm-shifting entity that they have become still stand as a mythology that brings seemingly boundless comfort and enjoyment to millions upon millions of readers. When you think of books, no series occupies quite the same space as this one. And then there’s the impact that it would come to have on the film industry to consider too. And it all began with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Perhaps you remember your first time encountering the boy who lived, we certainly hope so, or perhaps you have not yet had the pleasure of immersing yourself in the wizarding world… either way, there’s no way you haven’t heard of the book.
This is exactly when it all started: 9 June 1997
… that 9th June part is important for those of you wanting to throw themed parties and bookish celebrations… which is something we recommend you do because firstly it’s really quite an important thing that happened and secondly because why not? Don’t pretend you don’t already have the scarf of your chosen Hogwarts house.
As a little celebration of this milestone, we thought we’d bring you some little morsels of HP design and trivia. Read on.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, yes, every branch of Bargain Books keeps the full series in stock. There’s usually a box set available too.
This is what it looked like in its first iteration:
And here’s a selection of the various jackets in which it has been wrapped over the years:
Just Some Facts and Curiosities:
- Most of the character names in the series have a special meaning. For example “Severus” as in Severus Snape, essential translates from the Latin as “stern” or “severe”. The surname “Malfoy” can be translated as “bad faith” – “Mal” means bad in Latin and “Foi” in French means faith.
- Rowling purportedly first scribbled the Hogwarts house names on an airline vomit bag… which surely makes for a better, and grosser, story than if she had simply written them in a notebook.
- Nicolas Flamel – creator of the Philosopher’s Stone – was actually a real person. He was apparently a French businessman and scribe in the 14th century. Nobody has yet found proof that he created any real magical objects, but who knows? They did get up to some strange stuff back then.
- The HP series has sold over five hundred million copies worldwide and has been translated into approx. 80 languages. One imagines that the translation process must have been tricky at best, given the numerous classical languages from which the series draws. Let’s give it up for the translators.
- The Hogwarts motto, “Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus”, means “never tickle a sleeping dragon”. Good advice. You’re welcome.
- Rowling is apparently unhappy that she granted permission for the US publishers of the book to change the title to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. As an emerging author, she was not really in a position to refuse. Scholastic, the US publisher, was not certain that readers would be familiar with the term “philosopher”, and thought that “sorcerer” would make more immediate sense.
- The very first line of the book is: “Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
- And the very final line is: “They don’t know we’re not allowed to use magic at home. I’m going to have a lot of fun with Dudley this summer…” What a bunch those Durselys were, hey?
For those of you unfamiliar with the series (presumably there must be some of you, out there, somewhere, we guess), here is a complete rundown of the series, with important terms, plot points, spells, creatures and objects briefly explained. We found this really good one on Hobby Lark – it’s a smashing overview: