On Monday the 26th of June, it was the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, the book that started it all. I know I’m a little late on this one, to be honest it only occurred to me to write about this the other day, when I realised how much Harry Potter was a part of my childhood. You see the thing about the Harry Potter books is that they bring people together. They captured the imaginations of so many people, everyone wanted to be a part of that world, myself included. Harry Potter solidified friendships, it’s a common ground that made it easier to get to know new people through a shared love.
My first experience of Harry Potter was me, curled up on the sofa, snuggled up to my mum, listening to her read to me. It was a new book, one she had heard wonderful things about and wanted to read herself. It was a shared experience, just between the two of us, my younger siblings already in bed. She would hold the book open so I could see it, and I would try to read along with her in my head. You see, reading, while something I’ve always enjoyed, was never easy for me. The words moved, sentences were slippery (at eighteen I found out I was dyslexic, it changed my life, but that’s a different story), Harry Potter made me want to try harder than ever. With later books I read them by myself, large hardcovers with multiple bookmarks shared with my mum, taking it in turns to read.
As a child, my friends and I would make “potions” in the garden, leaves and petals mixed with water, mixed in the bird bath, and stored in jars, left to go stagnant. We would make our own parchment, staining paper with tea, and send messages to each other, rolled in to scrolls. I made my own Gryffindor badge so I could be like Hermione, this was before I realised that I am much more of a Hufflepuff. My mum made me robes, my dad helped me make a wand from a branch in the garden. I made my own spell book, I made everyone in my family Harry Potter bookmarks, my Grandad still uses his over a decade later.
Hermione was my go to character costume whenever I needed to dress up, I related to a character who liked to read and study, who liked to learn new things. I related to her so much, I wanted to be her. When the first movie came out I was over the moon, because I got to enjoy the story all over again. When I had nightmares, I would think my way through the film scene by scene until I could calm down and go back to sleep.
Now at 23, I still love Harry Potter, and I have been rediscovering the joy. Fantastic Beasts and where to find them allowed me to rediscover the magical world from a different perspective. It is not one of my all-time favourite movies. I saw it twice in the cinema, and rushed out to buy the DVD when it was released. This year I have been on the Warner Brothers London Harry Potter Studio Tour twice, and loved it immensely each time. Between the two trips I took over 800 pictures, and I don’t want to think about what I spent in the gift shop.
Currently I’m coveting the new hardcover Hufflepuff house edition of Philosophers Stone, and am planning to start my first reread of the series in years. I don’t own my own copies of the books, I bought the first one at the studio tour, so I plan to pick up the rest as I progress through my reread. I want to re-experience the magic. I want to take notes, and maybe do something creative. I want to do something to honour the series that gave me so much, for now this post will have to do, as my love letter to the series that shaped my childhood. It may not be perfect, but the way it captured the imaginations of so many cannot be dismissed.
I’m always happy to chat about books, especially Harry Potter. What house are you in? Any fellow Hufflepuffs out there?
Want to chat, places you can find me: