Harry Potter

This article is about the Harry Potter book series. For information about the character, see Harry Potter (character).
Cover of the original novel in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. This original edition was distributed throughout the English-speaking world outside of the United States (within the U.S., it was distributed as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone).
Cover of the original novel in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. This original edition was distributed throughout the English-speaking world outside of the United States (within the U.S., it was distributed as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone).

Harry James Potter (born July 31, 1980) (see timeline) is a fictional young wizard who is the protagonist in a series of fantasy and wizardry novels by J. K. Rowling and the movies based on them. The first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in the United States), was released in 1997, but takes place in 1991.



To read a complete synopsis of the first five books, and an incomplete synopsis of the sixth and seventh, see Harry Potter (plot).

The Harry Potter books are primarily aimed at older children (because they have progressively darker themes), but have fans of all ages, as demonstrated by the publication of editions of each book with cover artwork intended for adults. There is also a series of Warner Brothers films based directly on the books, the first of which was released in 2001.

According to Rowling, the stories appeared in her head, fully formed, while she was on a train from Manchester to London. Her favourite place to write the first book was at an Edinburgh caf table, while drinking endless cups of coffee. Unsubstantiated rumours and magazine articles claim that sales from the books, as well as royalties from films and merchandise, have made Rowling richer than Queen Elizabeth II, though in a 2003 interview, Rowling denied having more than 280,000,000, which is Queen Elizabeth's supposed fortune.

Each book chronicles one year in Harry's life at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where he learns to use magic, brew potions, and play Quidditch. Harry also learns to overcome many obstacles, such as:

  • dealing with his rival, Draco Malfoy
  • having the entire school against him (Chamber of Secrets, Order of the Phoenix)
  • fighting off Dementors (Prisoner of Azkaban)
  • asking a girl to the Yule Ball (Goblet of Fire)

Rowling has announced that seven books are planned, each gradually a little darker than its predecessor, as Harry ages and his nemesis, Lord Voldemort (Tom Marvolo Riddle), gains power. As of early 2005, five books have been published, and an English language publication date of 16 July 2005 has been announced for the sixth volume, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Rowling has revealed hints about the plot of the book on her personal website [1] (http://www.jkrowling.com/).

Cover of the  edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, known as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Cover of the United States edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, known as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

The books are written in third person limited omniscient mode, with Harry as the central character. The books are generally written from Harry's point of view, with short exceptions in Philosopher's Stone and Goblet of Fire. This is one reason that readers feel such a strong kinship to Harry; the story is literally told through his character.

The books have been compared to many well-known novels, including C. S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia and J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. They also fit into a British genre of novels about boarding school life, and sections involving the Dursleys, Harry's relatives, remind some readers of Roald Dahl's works.

Certain aspects of the Harry Potter series have even entered the real world, such as Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans, which inspired an actual product of that name, marketed by the Jelly Belly Company.

The novels

  1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
    • Story time: 19911992
    • Release: June 26, 1997
    • Note: Both the book and the film were retitled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in the U.S., with similar alterations to the text.
  2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  7. Title unknown

Harry is expected to leave the school in mid-1998, shortly before his eighteenth birthday — supposing, of course, that he lives to do so (as Rowling likes to remind her readers when asked about Harry's career after school).

The books have become popular enough that bookstores now hold "midnight release parties" on the day Harry Potter books are released.

The Harry Potter books have been translated into many languages. See List of titles of Harry Potter books in other languages and Harry Potter in translation series. For the English language, there exists an adapted American English version of each book, with lexical changes like football to soccer, video recorder to VCR, or do his nut becoming go ballistic.

In 2001 two books supposedly reproduced from copies owned by Harry (complete with notes scribbled in the margins by Harry and his friends) were published. They were Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander and Quidditch Through the Ages by Kennilworthy Whisp. These books were written by J. K. Rowling with proceeds going to Comic Relief.

Regarding the existence of Harry Potter novels beyond the seventh, Rowling has said that she might write an eighth book some day. If she does, she intends it to be a sort of encyclopedia of the wizarding world, containing concepts and snippets of information that were not relevant enough to the novels' plot to be included in them. She has also said that she will not write any sort of "prequel" to the novels since by the time the series ends all the necessary backstory will have been revealed.

The films

For details of which actor plays which character in the various movies, see the Harry Potter cast article.
  1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
    • Release: November 16, 2001
    • Director: Chris Columbus
    • Note: Both the book and the film were retitled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in the U.S., with similar alterations to the text.
  2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
    • Release: Expected around Spring or Fall 2007.
    • Director: David Yates

All three of the currently released films were among the top ten grossing films of their year, with all three films being in the top 50 films of all time list. [2] (http://www.boxofficemojo.com/alltime/domestic.htm)


Like many works of science fiction and fantasy, the Harry Potter series uses analogies to real issues, rather than confronting the issues themselves.


The most obvious is the analogy of "blood purity" to racism. This theme is explored with characters such as Remus Lupin, a werewolf; Rubeus Hagrid, a half-human, half-giant; and Hermione Granger, who is muggle-born, or of non-magical parentage. Even Harry's friend Ron Weasley, from a tolerant family, is shocked to learn of Lupin's lycanthropy in Prisoner of Azkaban, and Hagrid's ancestry in Goblet of Fire. Ron's mother, Molly Weasley, apparently without realizing it, also expresses open prejudice against werewolves in Order of the Phoenix despite sharing a temporary home with one. "Blood purity" also contains elements of the class-system that was previously a feature of British society, particularly within educational institutions such as universities or public schools similar in nature to Harry's school, Hogwarts.

Ironically, some Harry Potter fans did not absorb the lessons about racism that Rowling teaches her readers. Recently, certain fans had been complaining about the casting of an "Asian" actor for the role of Cho Chang in the fourth Harry Potter film. An "anti-fan site" has been started to target this particular actor.


Rowling has stated that, rather than intentionally placing themes in her books, she lets them "grow organically". One of the most significant recurring themes is that of choice. In Chamber of Secrets, Dumbledore makes perhaps his most famous quote on this issue: "It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." He confronts the issue again in Goblet of Fire, when he tells Cornelius Fudge that what one grows up to be is far more important than what one is born. Rowling has commented that Dumbledore often speaks for her.

Also, through the novels, Harry must choose between what is right and what is easy. This theme is expected to arise more and more frequently as the choices Harry must make become more and more difficult.


Much like Star Trek, Harry Potter makes statements about real issues of prejudice by assuming that they do not exist. For example, it is taken for granted that every profession in Rowling's world has personnel who are both male and female; even the sports teams are mixed.

Even homophobia has made a subtle appearence in the books, in the form of taunting comments from Harry's boorish cousin Dudley in the first chapter of Order of the Phoenix.

Nevertheless, the wizard world is faced with much prejudice of its own kind. There are a great many in the Harry Potter universe that disdain any non "pure" wizard or witch, to say nothing of any intelligent but non-human species(of which there are many).

For example, elves are considered fit for nothing but subjugation and slavery, despite their humanlike feelings and their own unique magical powers. This theme is explored in the books.


The novels also focus on the importance of humility. Harry has to spend many tedious years in the muggle world with his abusive relatives, who treat him very poorly. When Harry learns that he is the famous "Boy Who Lived", he is more concerned about living up to his reputation than using it to his own advantage, contrasting with his counterpart, Draco Malfoy. Harry turns out to be a very proficient Quidditch player, and excellent at Defence Against the Dark Arts. Instead of basking in the glory of his abilities, he is humble, and even bashful, when complimented on his skills.


The books have provoked various kinds of controversy.

Accusations of promoting witchcraft

According to the American Library Association, the Harry Potter novels have been among the most frequently challenged in school libraries since 1998. The complaints allege that the books have occult or Satanic themes, are violent, and are anti-family.

Some Christian groups in the United States have denounced the series for promoting witchcraft or Satanism. "It contains some powerful and valuable lessons about love and courage and the ultimate victory of good over evil," said Paul Hetrick, spokesman for Focus on the Family, a national Christian group based in Colorado Springs. "However, the positive messages are packaged in a medium — witchcraft — that is directly denounced in scripture."[3] (http://www.cesnur.org/recens/potter_06.htm). The official exorcist of Rome, Father Gabriele Amorth, believes that the Harry Potter books can be a bad influence on some children by getting them interested in the occult. See Christian views on witchcraft.

The current Pope, Benedict XVI, also condemned the books, stating they are "a subtle seduction, which has deeply unnoticed and direct effects in undermining the soul of Christianity before it can really grow properly." [4] (http://www.hollywood.com/news/detail/article/2439745)

In contrast, other members of the Catholic Church gave the series their approval, by saying that it is imbued with Christian morals, and that the good versus evil plot is very clear. The late Pope John Paul II praised the books for their message about the evils of racism and genocide. Christian Congregationalist minister John Killinger also argued that rather than corrupting children's minds, the novels encourage young readers to follow the teachings of Jesus. The book The Hidden Key to Harry Potter: Understanding the Meaning, Genius, and Popularity of Joanne Rowling's Harry Potter Novels, written by John Granger, a Reader in the Orthodox Church, claims to uncover Christian themes in its analysis of the story.

Much less controversy has occurred in the United Kingdom, where religion plays a smaller role in public affairs than in the United States.

The controversy was spoofed on the television show The Simpsons. In one episode, ultra-Christian Ned Flanders "reads" Harry Potter to his son and says "…and Harry Potter and all his wizard friends…went straight to Hell for practicing witchcraft". His son cheers and Ned throws the book into the fireplace.

Accusations of plagiarism

Rowling prevailed in a lawsuit alleging copyright infringement, filed by Nancy Stouffer, writer of The Legend of Rah and the Muggles and allegedly of Larry Potter and His Best Friend Lilly. The first book features creatures called "muggles". U.S. District Judge Allen G. Schwartz rejected Nancy Stouffer's claims that she was plagiarised, and fined Stouffer $50,000 for "submission of fraudulent documents" and "untruthful testimony", but stopped short of having Stouffer criminally charged with perjury. Stouffer was required to pay a portion of the attorney's fees incurred by Rowling, her U.S. publisher Scholastic Press, and Warner Bros. Films.

Comic book fans have noted that a comic book series first published in 1990 by DC Comics called The Books of Magic, by Neil Gaiman, shares many similarities to Rowling's book. These include a dark haired young boy with glasses, named Tim Hunter, who discovers his own potential as the most powerful wizard of his age after being approached by magic-wielding individuals, the first of whom gifts him with a pet owl. Rowling officially denies being aware of this series, and Gaiman has gone on record stating that he believes similarities to be either coincidence, or drawn from the same fantasy archetypes.

Recent viewers of the 1985 film Young Sherlock Holmes, scripted by Chris Columbus, director of the first two Harry Potter movies, have noticed similarities between its characters, setting, events and tone, and those of the Harry Potter series.

The Ken Akumatsu Manga Mahou Sensei Negima is often regarded as a Harry Potter clone, despite the only similarity being a 10-year-old wizard from England.

Parodies of Harry Potter


  • Barry Trotter, by Michael Gerber—a series of Harry Potter parodies published in the United States and the United Kingdom.
  • Porri Gatter by Andreyi Zhvalevskiyi and Igor' Miyt'ko—Belarusian series of Harry Potter parodies.
  • Tanya Grotter (Таня Гроттер in Cyrillic), by Dmitri Yemetz (Дмитрий Емец in Cyrillic)—Russian series about a magical schoolgirl, described by the author, as "a sort of Russian answer to Harry Potter".
  • Heri Kkler, by K. B. Rottring (pseudonym) — a series of Harry Potter parodies in Hungarian. Kkler means 'mountebank, charlatan, swindler' and beside the sound resemblance, the fictional name of the author is a pun too: kb. means 'approx.' and rotring means 'mechanical pencil' in Hungarian (after the noted manufacturer). As of 2004, nine volumes have been published. See [5] (http://www.colors-computer.hu/~herikokler/)

Sketches on Saturday Night Live


  • Bothering Snape and Trouble at Hogwarts (http://www.potterpuppetpals.com/)—two PG-13 rated parodies featuring puppet-style Harry Potter characters in "new" adventures.
  • Brink o' Doom (http://home.att.net/~coriolan/musical/brinkofdoom.htm)—a musical based on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by Caius Marcius, featuring lots of singing and dancing, and dementors in kilts, who open the musical by performing a "traditional Azkaban Island fling (i.e., they fling a few prisoners into a vat of molten lead)"
  • "Wizard People, Dear Readers" (http://www.illegal-art.org/video/wizard.html/)—an audio work by Brad Neely of Austin, Texas. Originally a free CD shared with Neely's friends, "Wizard People" provides an ongoing farcical narration, meant to be played while a DVD of the film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone plays with the sound off. In 2004, the New York Underground Film Festival rented a print of the film from Warner Brothers, screened it with the sound off, and played Neely's soundtrack instead. Shortly thereafter, website Illegal Art made Neely's work available for free download. In the following year, Neely also performed "Wizard People" live in several cities, until Warner Brothers took action against theatres that had rented prints, and forced them to cancel the shows.
  • Torg Potter and the Sorcerer's Nuts (http://www.sluggy.com/daily.php?date=020902) and Torg Potter and the Chamberpot of Secretions (http://www.sluggy.com/daily.php?date=030915)—two one-month storylines of the Sluggy Freelance webcomic, parodying the first two Harry Potter books (the links above show only the opening panels of each storyline).
  • Ethel Roberts: THE TRUTH BEHIND HARRY POTTER!! (http://www.n-chicken.net/misc/potter-essay.shtml)—A essay by the fictional Ethel Roberts, claiming that the Harry Potter books are promoting witchcraft. It has led to hate mail from Harry Potter fans who took it seriously. ([8] (http://www.n-chicken.net/tomfoolery/potterhatemail.shtml) [9] (http://www.n-chicken.net/tomfoolery/potter-madddawg.shtml))
  • In 2003, Comic Relief performed a spoof story called Harry Potter and the Secret Chamberpot of Azerbaijan. It featured Dawn French as a female Harry; Jennifer Saunders as Ron Weasley and J. K. Rowling; Miranda Richardson as Hermione; Nigel Planer as Dumbledore (wearing the beard and costume of Richard Harris); Jeremy Irons as Professor Severus Snape; Ronnie Corbett as Hagrid and Basil Brush as Dobby the House Elf (Basil explains that he only took the role after being turned down for Gollum in The Two Towers).
  • In The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, episodes feature "Toadblat's School of Sorcery", Nigel Planter (who has a L on his forehead), and other obvious Harry Potter spoofs.
  • Henry Skreever was the title of a book series in an episode of the children's television show Arthur. A new book had just come out entitled Henry Skreever and the Cabbage of Mayhem and all the characters were reading it.
  • "Harry Bladder," a sketch on the children's comedy show All That.
  • A collection of Harry Potter sketches on the Australian comedy show Big Bite. It was based on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and included such characters as Haggis, Professor Stumblebum, and Mailman, Mailboy's father (the two Malfoys).
  • Hari Potret, an Indonesian TV series for young children, aired from mid-2000 until late 2004. It features a little boy named Hari who loved photography (therefore nicknamed 'potret', means 'photo'). He lived with his cruel uncle (Oom Balon), aunt (Tante Rika), and cousin (Duta), and later on he discovered that he was the son of the most powerful wizardry couple. They are deceased, murdered by an evil wizard named Baron Muka Peot (roughly translated as "Crumple-Faced Baron") who obsessed with the idea of taking control of the whole world. Hari made friends with little boy genie, Jin Farid, and a girl fairy, Pipit. They unfunnily resembles Harry Potter's best friends Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger respectively, as Jin Farid was portrayed as funny but plucky (compare to Ron) and Pipit was portrayed as bushy-haired, cunning and bossy (compare to Hermione). Hari was described as being able to turn all his photos into the moving ones, like those magically-transformed photos/paintings in Harry Potter books.The character of Duta also had a gang of three naughty schoolboys, who resemble Draco Malfoy and his colleagues, Gregory Goyle and Vincent Crabbe.

Hari Potret first appeared in another TV series called Jin & Jun, probably as a small parody regarding to the booming popularity of Harry Potter in Indonesia. There, Hari used the famous spell "Wingardium leviosa" to do ALL kinds of magic (instead of only for levitating objects, as described in the first Harry Potter book). Later, after the producers ended Jin & Jun, they made Hari Potret into a separated series.

Strangely, though, the local TV channel that hosted "Hari Potret" had managed to cooperate with Warner Bros to air "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" movie, and Hari Potret acted as the 'warming-up' for two months before the actual Harry Potter showed.

Unauthorised books featuring Harry Potter

Several unauthorised derivative books have been written, either directly featuring Harry Potter, or using similarly named characters. J. K. Rowling and her publishers are making attempts to stop the distribution of these books.

Written in Bengali:

Written in Chinese:


  • The Hogwarts Express train—used by students to get to the school—is located at platform "nine and three-quarters" at King's Cross Station in London. This location is based on a popular British legend which states that the body of the Celtic leader Boadicea is buried under platform ten.
  • P. G. Wodehouse's 1948 novel Uncle Dynamite includes a character named Police Constable Harold Potter, and another called Hermione (not Granger, but Bostock)
  • Dutch Prime Minister (2002—) Jan Peter Balkenende is known for his resemblance to Harry Potter. A similar nickname was given to the Bulgarian politician Nikolay Vassilev who started his political career as Minister of Economy, and was later re-assigned Minister of Transport and communications.
  • Simon Ammann, Swiss ski jump athlete who won double Gold medals at the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, is affectionately nicknamed "Harry Potter" because he likes to wear big round spectacles.
  • Supporters of Vladimir Putin have often accused the makers of the Harry Potter films of having deliberately modelled Dobby after the Russian president.
  • A skit on an episode of the British television series Monty Python's Flying Circus featured a character named Harold Potter.
  • A news presenter on Channel 10 News, Gold Coast, Australia, is called Harry Potter
  • Canadian Cabinet Minister Pierre Pettigrew entered federal politics the same year (1994) that traitor Peter Pettigrew escapes Harry and his friends.
  • Miranda Richardson will play journalist Rita Skeeter in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: following her appearance in the Comic Relief sketch, this makes her the second actress to have portrayed two J.K. Rowling characters on film to date. The first was Dawn French who played Harry Potter in the same sketch and the "Fat Lady" in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
  • Albus Dumbledore's partner in the Philosopher's Stone is Nicolas Flamel, an alchemist. An alchemist of the same name lived in Paris and is a well known historical figure. Nicolas Flamel is also referenced as a secret head of the Priory of Sion in Dan Brown's book The Davinci Code.
  • Not counting Nicolas Flamel, the only other real person named in the Harry Potter books is Natalie McDonald, who was sorted into Gryffindor in Goblet of Fire. This girl, an avid Harry Potter fan, e-mailed J.K. Rowling, but tragically died of cancer the day before the author responded. Since her death Rowling has struck up a friendship with Natalie's mother, and decided to add the girl's name to her then-unfinished fourth book.
  • The gravesite in Jerusalem of a British soldier named Harry Potter has become a tourist attraction.

See also

Magical creatures

Wizarding terminology


External links

Template:Wikiquote For further fandom links, including "unofficial" websites, see Harry Potter fandom.

Official websites

Articles about Harry Potter

  • Catholic News (http://www.cathnews.com/news/302/10.php): Article on the Vatican's approval of Harry Potter
  • Touchstone Archives: The Alchemist's Tale (http://touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=16-09-034-f): Article on Harry Potter and the alchemical tradition in English literature
  • MSN Slate (http://slate.msn.com/id/2084960/): Article on the shut down of unpermitted Harry Potter books
  • MSN Slate (http://slate.msn.com/?id=2073627): Negative analysis of Harry's character
  • Harry Holmes (http://harryholmes.blogspot.com): Single-entry blog outlining Harry Potter / Young Sherlock Holmes similarities
  • Bibliography-TXT (http://www.eulenfeder.de/hpliteratur.txt) and Bibliography-HTML (http://www.eulenfeder.de/hpliteratur.html): Potter Bibliography (Further secondary literature)
  • Harry Potter and the Third Way (http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article-1-66-462.jsp): Where does Harry Potter stand in relation to Tony Blair’s ‘New Britain’? by Jeremy Gilbert and
  • Reading Harry Pottermania (http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article-1-66-455.jsp): On the use of the creative imagination in the service of commerce by Andrew Blake, both on openDemocracy.net (http://www.opendemocracy.net)

J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series:
Harry Potter and the ...
Philosopher's Stone book movie game
Chamber of Secrets book movie game
Prisoner of Azkaban book movie game
Goblet of Fire book movie  
Order of the Phoenix book movie  
Half-Blood Prince book    
Book Seven (as yet untitled) book    
Characters - Places - Translations - Related articles

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them | Quidditch Through the Ages | Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup

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Travesties of Harry Potter

Charlie Bone is a dreary imitation of Harry Potter. The cover looks similar, picturing a kid with spiky hair from above with a circlular distortation below. The plot is similar too, involving a strange boy who goes to school where he meets people with similar powers.


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