Published:  11:19 AM, 06 July 2017

20 years of wizardry: A writer’s story of hardship and triumph

20 years of wizardry: A writer’s story of hardship and triumph

Tasbir Iftekhar

Exuberant tweet coming from distinguished author J.K. Rowling, as her fantasy novel series Harry Potter hits the milestone of twenty successful years this year since its debut publication. The British author transpired with her first book Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on June 26, 1997, under the publishing banner of Bloomsbury. 


Fans of the series, as they like to call themselves “Potterheads”, found themselves sitting tight in the breathtaking rollercoaster ride full of dragons, wizards, witchcrafts, sorceries, age-old secrets – and what not – a ride that has lasted for two decades now. The last book of the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out ten years ago on 2007.

Who would have thought that the letter magical owls brought to the poor orphan living in the little cupboard of Number Four, Privet Drive would turn out to be the letter of fortune for the struggling author herself? Only 500 copies were initially printed, 300 of which were distributed to the libraries with hard-luck-selling tag. But the genesis of the saga had a visible hint of becoming a blockbuster, which became evident by the time the last movie adaptation of the series took place, taking the value of the Harry Potter franchise over $25 billion, by 2016.

With the death of her mother and break-down of marriage, Rowling found herself on the verge of hitting the rock bottom. Drowning in severe depression, jobless and penniless, the author decided to try her luck out with a new fantasy book series, aiming the young-adult audience. "An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless ... By every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew," – said the writer from southwest England, as she reminisced the tough days of designing the plots of the series, sitting in lone cafe tables, with her toddler Jessica sleeping in the pram right next to her. And to add to her misfortune, the manuscript had been rejected by a fair number of publishers until Bloomsbury, the publishing house from London, decided to give it a chance. The rest is history.


To trace the origin, the idea of the plot had allegedly “fell into Rowling’s head” when she was on a train coming to London. It was back in 1990, as the author says in her website - "I had been writing almost continuously since the age of six but I had never been so excited about an idea before. I simply sat and thought, for four (delayed train) hours, and all the details bubbled up in my brain, and this scrawny, black-haired, bespectacled boy who did not know he was a wizard became more and more real to me." By the year 1995, her manuscript was completed.

Till this day, the books have been translated into 79 languages including Bengali. And no wonder, the charm did not fail to work evenly on the youth of our country as well. Now-a-days, you can spot Harry Potter gadgets and accessories like bags, watches, brooches on the school and college campuses, with devoted fans coming out as a passionate connoisseur.

“I came to know about the series when I was in second grade,” says Sadman (20) who is now a university freshman, “The series made me imagine encountering an awful lot of queer situations, from which I have learned many things. What’s most important for me was that I learned what true friendship is like, and how to value it. Back in the school days, I kept imagining what it would be like if I was in Hogwarts. Although I’ve grown up enough to realize none of it is actually true, a part of my brain still wants to live one such life!” Thousands of Harry Potter fans all over the world celebrated the 20th anniversary together, dressing up as wizards, eating chocolate frog cakes and popping crackers the way Fred and George would do. Many of them still wholeheartedly believe that Hogwarts IS real, and they are just yet to receive their letters!

The series can be put into a good number of genres with mystery, horror, drama, thrillers, adventure and even romance sprinkled in it evenly. Based on the original series, a new west-end stage play had been written by Jack Thorne. The play premiered last year in the Palace Theatre, London. 


The seven-part book series has been adapted into eight films by Warner Bros. Pictures. The movie adaptation of the series began with the release of the first film “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone” (the original book title for US version) in the year 2001. Chris Columbus was the director of the film. Actor Daniel Radcliffe, who has his birthday coming up on 23rd July, played the central role of Harry. The series starred artists like Richard Harris (Albus Dumbledore), Maggie Smith (Professor Mcgonagall), Rupert Grint (Ronald Weasley), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), Alan Rickman (Professor Snape), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) and many others. Like Daniel, for many members of the cast, the movie series brought a breakthrough in their careers. 


With the series officially ended, many of them are now exhibiting their extraordinary skills of acting in other movies. Emma Watson is one of these prominent artists who has perhaps managed to develop the most successful acting career so far, compared to the others, with a good number of movie credits by her name. But still the way it seems, every time a ‘90s kid will see Emma Watson, image of a geeky little brunette will appear to them and give a flashback tour down the murky, enigmatic alleys of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.


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