June 26th 2017 was the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone being published, and that makes me feel some kind of way. Nothing has had such an impact on my life as Harry Potter. I know that sounds dramatic – it is – but it’s also true.
I was four at the time Harry Potter came out, so naturally I don’t remember it happening. I don’t even remember the first time I read Harry Potter to be honest. What I do remember is finishing the Prisoner of Azkaban and being appalled that I couldn’t immediately read the next one, as the dramatic, impatient child I was. I remember the thin, glossy pages of the Book Club magazine, with the cover of the next instalment in it, and tracing over the outline of the dragon again and again in pencil. I remember staying up all night to read it (even though I think it took me two sessions in the end), and I definitely remember the agonizing wait for the one after that.
In between waiting for the new books to come out, I devoured anything I could get my hands on – the Famous Five, Sophie and the B.F.G, and Bilbo Baggins kept me company between visiting Hogwarts. I read at school during lunches when I felt too fat to play with my friends. I read at summer day-care because I didn’t get on with any of the other kids. I read late at night when I was supposed to be sleeping, and in the morning when I was supposed to be getting ready. Harry Potter has been there to help me escape not only the rest of the world, but my own bad moods and scary thoughts. Nothing can hurt you at Hogwarts, apart from maybe the odd troll or dark wizard. No biggie.
I honestly, truly used to wish and pray that magic was real, and when I turned 11 I’d be whisked away to learn spells and potions and eat feasts in the Great Hall. Alas, it was not to be, I am but a Muggle. For me, the magic of escapism lies only within the pages of those wonderful books, and not in the green and silver subterranean common rooms, and honestly I’m always going to be low-key bitter about that.
Harry Potter took up so much of my time when I was young that it was bound to impact my adulthood. I’ve tried to write fantasy novels more times than I could possible count, and the drafts that exist in notebooks and computer files on broken laptops is scary to think about. I have a Harry Potter tattoo – the incantation for the secret keeper charm, with a miniature wand next to it. I captained a Quidditch team (yes really) and wrote a dirty song about it. I met my partner as I was enthusiastically sorting strangers into their Hogwarts houses at a party. He’s a Hufflepuff.
I love Harry Potter. Unashamedly and completely. Not just for the story – though that is pretty special – but for what it gave me. Hogwarts really did feel like my home whenever I was lost. If I had my books close, I felt like I belonged. Too soppy for a Slytherin? I don’t care.
Thanks, J.K. For the inspiration, the magic, but most of all, for the home.