By Ryan Kelleher
Few authors have had the honor of turning their works into global phenomenons. British author Joanne Rowling, better known as her pen name JK Rowling, started her fantasy novel series, Harry Potter, in 1997, and since then, the love for Rowling’s wizarding world has exploded leading to various books, movies, amusement parks, and merchandise.
JK Rowling was born on July 31, 1965 in Yate, England. She conceived the K in her pen name from her grandmother’s first name Kathleen. Rowling’s first novel in the series, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” known as “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” in the U.S., was published in 1997. It wasn’t until the third installment to the series, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” published in 1999, that Rowling started receiving worldwide attention. All three of her novels were on the top of “The New York Times” best-seller list. The fourth novel, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” published in 2000, really made a name for Rowling by becoming the world’s fastest-selling book in history.
“My favorite books out of the Harry Potter franchise have to be the first three because they just set the plot up so well and create excitement for the rest of the stories,” Kevin Burdalski, sophomore, said.
Since “Goblet of Fire’s” release in 2000, the franchise has grown into much more than just four books. With seven main Harry Potter books, eight movies, video games, four Harry Potter spinoff novels, amusement parks, a new play following the events of the original stories, and a website showcasing the wizarding world, the franchise continues to grow.
Rowling’s franchise will continue to expand with the release of the movie “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” The book to film adaptation is set to have five movies in the coming years; the first is debuting on Nov. 19.
“I am really hyped to see the new movie. I am glad the world is growing and will stay around for a while,” Emily Etherington, freshman, said.
Rowling and her wizarding world have done more than create a large fandom; they inspire people. With the plots of each book revolving around hope, love, and friendship, the stories drew readers and fans to become attached to the characters and plot. The stories are not just about magical kids, but about growing up and doing what is right.
“I would say Harry Potter was the first series that made me love reading. To put it simply, it was the first series that I attached to and fell in love with,” Ms. Yeaton, English teacher, said.