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“The Boy Who Lived.” A phrase that no doubt sends a chill down the spine of modern literary fanatics across the country – four simple words that tell more about a franchise than the lengthiest of explanation ever could. In celebration of the next chapter in the Harry Potter series, “Harry Potter and The Cursed Child”, a script for a play set 19 years after the events of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows featuring a grown up Harry, we take a look into the life of one of Britain’s most iconic and successful authors.
From an early age, Joanne Rowling showed a spark and a passion for writing. She grew up surrounded by books, with both parents loving reading. In a recent interview, she cited, “I lived for books... I was your basic common-or-garden bookworm, complete with freckles and National Health spectacles.” Aged just six years old, Rowling wrote her first book, ‘Rabbit’, about a rabbit, followed by a novel about seven cursed diamonds and their respective owners. Little did she know she would go on to write one of the most popular books of all time.
The seeds for the Harry Potter franchise were first sewn on a fateful delayed train journey, where Rowling was travelling from Manchester to London King’s Cross in 1990. As she waited, she began scribbling notes about her initial ideas for the Harry Potter series on a napkin. She wrote the first book in the series, ‘Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone’ in a quiet corner of various cafés around Edinburgh accompanied by baby daughter Jessica, named after Jessica Mitford, a heroine of Rowling’s youth. All the while, Rowling was training to be a teacher.
Typing her mountain of notes up on an old typewriter, once the manuscript was complete, she sent it to a vast array of publishing houses to no avail, with twelve publishing houses rejecting the idea. However, Bloomsbury, a small publisher at the time, took the story of The Boy Who Lived on, little did they know it would become the best selling series in history. Rowling describes the letter they sent back asking to see the rest of it as being “the best letter I had ever received in my life.” Published in 1997, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone quickly became a bestseller. Translated into a vast array of languages, Harry Potter soon became a global phenomenon, with Rowling receiving letters from thousands of fans all over the world.
Joanne writing under the name ‘JK’ came from a publishing suggestion to make her identity anonymous – there were worries that a wizarding story written by a woman may be unpopular with audiences. K came from her grandmother Kathleen, as Joanne had no middle name, hence JK Rowling. This decision in turn led to Rowling receiving letters addressed, “Dear Sir.”
Since the first novel, the Harry Potter franchise has shattered a number of records. In 2007, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows became the fastest ever selling book, where 2.65 million copies flew off shelves in the first 24 hours of its release in the UK. Released on the 31st July, Harry Potter and The Cursed Child was the most pre-ordered book in the US since 2007, according to retail booksellers Barnes & Noble. Not exclusive to the hardback version, Amazon has reported groundbreaking sales - Harry Potter and The Cursed Child is reportedly the most pre-ordered Kindle book in their stores. Speaking to The Independent, Amazon Books editor Seira Wilson commented, “For the millions of us who are Harry Potter fans, a new Hogwarts story is a huge event. I could easily see young fans adapting to the format and using it to act out the play on their own.”
The script is apparently for those who can’t see the play in London, which is sold out until May 2017, with more dates believed to be added in the future.
With thousands visiting the Harry Potter Studio on a daily basis, 8 phenomenally successful films starring a vast array of prestigious actors including the late Alan Rickman, Potter prequel ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’, starring Eddie Redmayne due for release in November 2016 and a reported Harry Potter equivalent of Pokémon Go in the works, the Harry Potter franchise shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
“After all this time?”
“Always”, said Snape.
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