Harry Potter
Overview
Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels
Fantasy literature
Fantasy literature is fantasy in written form. Historically speaking, literature has composed the majority of fantasy works. Since the 1950s however, a growing segment of the fantasy genre has taken the form of films, television programs, graphic novels, video games, music, painting, and other...

 written by the British author J. K. Rowling
J. K. Rowling
Joanne "Jo" Rowling, OBE , better known as J. K. Rowling, is the British author of the Harry Potter fantasy series...

. The books chronicle the adventures of the adolescent wizard
Magician (fantasy)
A magician, mage, sorcerer, sorceress, wizard, enchanter, enchantress, thaumaturge or a person known under one of many other possible terms is someone who uses or practices magic that derives from supernatural or occult sources...

 Harry Potter
Harry Potter (character)
Harry James Potter is the title character and main protagonist of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. The majority of the books' plot covers seven years in the life of the orphan Potter who, on his eleventh birthday, learns he is a wizard...

 and his best friends Ron Weasley
Ron Weasley
Ronald Bilius "Ron" Weasley is a fictional character and one of the three protagonists in the Harry Potter book series written by J. K. Rowling. His first appearance was in the first book of the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as the best friend of Harry Potter and Hermione Granger...

 and Hermione Granger
Hermione Granger
Hermione Jean Granger is a fictional character and one of the three protagonists in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. She initially appears in the first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, as a new student on her way to Hogwarts...

, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Hogwarts
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry or simply Hogwarts is the primary setting for the first six books of the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, with each book lasting the equivalent of one school year. It is a fictional boarding school of magic for witches and wizards between the ages of...

. The main story arc
Story arc
A story arc is an extended or continuing storyline in episodic storytelling media such as television, comic books, comic strips, boardgames, video games, and in some cases, films. On a television program, for example, the story would unfold over many episodes. In television, the use of the story...

 concerns Harry's quest to overcome the evil dark wizard Lord Voldemort
Lord Voldemort
Lord Voldemort is the main antagonist of the Harry Potter series written by British author J. K. Rowling. Voldemort first appeared in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, which was released in 1997...

, whose aim is to subjugate non-magical people, conquer the wizarding world
Harry Potter universe
The fictional universe of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series of fantasy novels comprises two separate and distinct societies: the wizarding world and the Muggle world...

, and destroy all those who stand in his way, especially Harry Potter.

Since the 30 June 1997 release of the first novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is the first novel in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling and featuring Harry Potter, a young wizard...

, the books have gained immense popularity, critical acclaim and commercial success worldwide.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels
Fantasy literature
Fantasy literature is fantasy in written form. Historically speaking, literature has composed the majority of fantasy works. Since the 1950s however, a growing segment of the fantasy genre has taken the form of films, television programs, graphic novels, video games, music, painting, and other...

 written by the British author J. K. Rowling
J. K. Rowling
Joanne "Jo" Rowling, OBE , better known as J. K. Rowling, is the British author of the Harry Potter fantasy series...

. The books chronicle the adventures of the adolescent wizard
Magician (fantasy)
A magician, mage, sorcerer, sorceress, wizard, enchanter, enchantress, thaumaturge or a person known under one of many other possible terms is someone who uses or practices magic that derives from supernatural or occult sources...

 Harry Potter
Harry Potter (character)
Harry James Potter is the title character and main protagonist of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. The majority of the books' plot covers seven years in the life of the orphan Potter who, on his eleventh birthday, learns he is a wizard...

 and his best friends Ron Weasley
Ron Weasley
Ronald Bilius "Ron" Weasley is a fictional character and one of the three protagonists in the Harry Potter book series written by J. K. Rowling. His first appearance was in the first book of the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as the best friend of Harry Potter and Hermione Granger...

 and Hermione Granger
Hermione Granger
Hermione Jean Granger is a fictional character and one of the three protagonists in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. She initially appears in the first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, as a new student on her way to Hogwarts...

, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Hogwarts
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry or simply Hogwarts is the primary setting for the first six books of the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, with each book lasting the equivalent of one school year. It is a fictional boarding school of magic for witches and wizards between the ages of...

. The main story arc
Story arc
A story arc is an extended or continuing storyline in episodic storytelling media such as television, comic books, comic strips, boardgames, video games, and in some cases, films. On a television program, for example, the story would unfold over many episodes. In television, the use of the story...

 concerns Harry's quest to overcome the evil dark wizard Lord Voldemort
Lord Voldemort
Lord Voldemort is the main antagonist of the Harry Potter series written by British author J. K. Rowling. Voldemort first appeared in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, which was released in 1997...

, whose aim is to subjugate non-magical people, conquer the wizarding world
Harry Potter universe
The fictional universe of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series of fantasy novels comprises two separate and distinct societies: the wizarding world and the Muggle world...

, and destroy all those who stand in his way, especially Harry Potter.

Since the 30 June 1997 release of the first novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is the first novel in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling and featuring Harry Potter, a young wizard...

, the books have gained immense popularity, critical acclaim and commercial success worldwide. The series has also had some share of criticism, including concern for the increasingly dark tone. , the book series has sold about 450 million copies and has been translated into 67 languages
Harry Potter in translation
The Harry Potter series of fantasy novels by J. K. Rowling have become some of the most widely-read works of children's literature in history, with readers of all ages and in many countries. In April 2011 worldwide sales of Harry Potter books were estimated to be about 450 million copies, and the...

, and the last four books consecutively set records as the fastest-selling books in history.

A series of many genre
Genre
Genre , Greek: genos, γένος) is the term for any category of literature or other forms of art or culture, e.g. music, and in general, any type of discourse, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. Genres are formed by conventions that change over time...

s, including fantasy
Fantasy
Fantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in imaginary worlds where magic is common...

 and coming of age
Coming of age
Coming of age is a young person's transition from childhood to adulthood. The age at which this transition takes place varies in society, as does the nature of the transition. It can be a simple legal convention or can be part of a ritual, as practiced by many societies...

 (with elements of mystery, thriller, adventure
Adventure novel
The adventure novel is a genre of novels that has adventure, an exciting undertaking involving risk and physical danger, as its main theme.-History:...

, and romance
Romance novel
The romance novel is a literary genre developed in Western culture, mainly in English-speaking countries. Novels in this genre place their primary focus on the relationship and romantic love between two people, and must have an "emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending." Through the late...

), it has many cultural meanings and references. According to Rowling, the main theme is death, although it is primarily considered to be a work of children's literature
Children's literature
Children's literature is for readers and listeners up to about age twelve; it is often defined in four different ways: books written by children, books written for children, books chosen by children, or books chosen for children. It is often illustrated. The term is used in senses which sometimes...

. There are also many other themes in the series, such as love and prejudice.

The initial major publishers of the books were Bloomsbury in the United Kingdom and Scholastic Press in the United States; the books have since been published by many publishers worldwide. In October 2011, the series will be released in various ebook formats through "Pottermore
Pottermore
Pottermore is a website by J. K. Rowling, developed by TH_NK and sponsored by Sony. The website, according to Rowling, will serve as a permanent online home for the wizarding world of Harry Potter. The site will feature many of J.K...

". The books have been made into an eight-part film series
Harry Potter (film series)
The Harry Potter film series is a British-American film series based on the Harry Potter novels by the British author J. K. Rowling...

 by Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., also known as Warner Bros. Pictures or simply Warner Bros. , is an American producer of film and television entertainment.One of the major film studios, it is a subsidiary of Time Warner, with its headquarters in Burbank,...

, with the seventh book split into two parts; it is the highest grossing film series of all time. The series also originated much tie-in
Tie-in
A tie-in is an authorized product based on a media property a company is releasing, such as a movie or video/DVD, computer game, video game, television program/television series, board game, web site, role-playing game or literary property...

 merchandise, making the Harry Potter brand worth in excess of $15 billion.

Plot

The novels revolve around Harry Potter
Harry Potter (character)
Harry James Potter is the title character and main protagonist of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. The majority of the books' plot covers seven years in the life of the orphan Potter who, on his eleventh birthday, learns he is a wizard...

, an orphan who discovers at the age of eleven that he is a wizard, living within the ordinary world of non-magical, or Muggle
Muggle
Muggle, a term from the Harry Potter book series by J. K. Rowling, refers to a person who lacks any sort of magical ability and was not born into the magical world...

, people. His ability is inborn and such children are invited to attend a school that teaches the necessary skills to succeed in the wizarding world
Wizarding world
The fictional universe of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series of fantasy novels comprises two separate and distinct societies: the wizarding world and the Muggle world...

. Harry becomes a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Hogwarts
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry or simply Hogwarts is the primary setting for the first six books of the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, with each book lasting the equivalent of one school year. It is a fictional boarding school of magic for witches and wizards between the ages of...

 and it is in here where most of the novels' events take place. As Harry develops through his adolescence, he learns to overcome the problems that face him: magical, social and emotional, including ordinary teenage challenges such as friendships and exams, and the greater test of preparing himself for the confrontation that lies ahead.

Each book chronicles one year in Harry's life with the main narrative being set in the years 1991–98. The books also contain many flashback
Flashback (narrative)
Flashback is an interjected scene that takes the narrative back in time from the current point the story has reached. Flashbacks are often used to recount events that happened before the story’s primary sequence of events or to fill in crucial backstory...

s, which are usually described by characters viewing memories in a device called a Pensieve.

Early years

When the story of Harry Potter opens, it is clear some remarkable event has taken place in the wizarding world, an event so very remarkable, even the Muggles notice signs of it. The full background to the stories and to the person of Harry Potter is only revealed gradually, through the series. In the first book Harry discovers as a baby he witnessed his parents' murder by the power-obsessed dark wizard, Lord Voldemort
Lord Voldemort
Lord Voldemort is the main antagonist of the Harry Potter series written by British author J. K. Rowling. Voldemort first appeared in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, which was released in 1997...

, who then attempted to kill him also. For reasons not immediately revealed, the spell with which Voldemort tried to kill Harry rebounded. Harry survives with only a lightning-shaped scar on his forehead as a memento of the attack, and Voldemort disappears. As its inadvertent saviour from Voldemort's reign of terror, Harry becomes a living legend in the wizarding world. However, at the orders of the venerable and well-known wizard Albus Dumbledore
Albus Dumbledore
Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore is a major character in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. For most of the series, he is the headmaster of the wizarding school Hogwarts...

, the orphaned Harry is placed in the home of his unpleasant Muggle
Muggle
Muggle, a term from the Harry Potter book series by J. K. Rowling, refers to a person who lacks any sort of magical ability and was not born into the magical world...

 (non-wizard) relatives, the Dursleys. The Dursleys keep him safe but hide his true heritage from him in hopes that he will grow up "normal".

The first novel in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is the first novel in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling and featuring Harry Potter, a young wizard...

(changed in some countries to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone), begins near Harry's eleventh birthday. Half-giant
Giant (mythology)
The mythology and legends of many different cultures include monsters of human appearance but prodigious size and strength. "Giant" is the English word commonly used for such beings, derived from one of the most famed examples: the gigantes of Greek mythology.In various Indo-European mythologies,...

 Rubeus Hagrid
Rubeus Hagrid
Rubeus Hagrid is a fictional character in the Harry Potter book series written by J. K. Rowling. Hagrid is introduced in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as a half-giant who is the gamekeeper and Keeper of Keys and Grounds of Hogwarts, the primary setting for the first six novels...

 reveals Harry's history and introduces him to the wizarding world
Wizarding world
The fictional universe of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series of fantasy novels comprises two separate and distinct societies: the wizarding world and the Muggle world...

. The environment J. K. Rowling created is completely separate from reality yet intimately connected to it. While the fantasy land
Fantasy world
A fantasy world is a fictional universe used in fantasy novels and games. Typical worlds involve magic or magical abilities and often, but not always, either a medieval or futuristic theme...

 of Narnia
Narnia (world)
Narnia is a fantasy world created by C. S. Lewis as the primary location for his series of seven fantasy novels for children, The Chronicles of Narnia. The world is so called after the country of Narnia, in which much of the action of the Chronicles takes place.In Narnia, some animals can talk,...

 is an alternative universe
Parallel universe (fiction)
A parallel universe or alternative reality is a hypothetical self-contained separate reality coexisting with one's own. A specific group of parallel universes is called a "multiverse", although this term can also be used to describe the possible parallel universes that constitute reality...

 and the Lord of the RingsMiddle-earth
Middle-earth
Middle-earth is the fictional setting of the majority of author J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy writings. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings take place entirely in Middle-earth, as does much of The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales....

 a mythic past, the wizarding world of Harry Potter exists in parallel within the real world and this is how Potter's world contains magical elements similar to things in everyday life. Many of its institutions and locations are recognizable, such as London. It comprises a fragmented collection of hidden streets, overlooked and ancient pubs, lonely country manors and secluded castles that remain invisible to the Muggle population.

With Hagrid's help, Harry prepares for and undertakes his first year of study at Hogwarts. As Harry begins to explore the magical world, the reader is introduced to many of the primary locations used throughout the series. Harry meets most of the main characters and gains his two closest friends: Ron Weasley
Ron Weasley
Ronald Bilius "Ron" Weasley is a fictional character and one of the three protagonists in the Harry Potter book series written by J. K. Rowling. His first appearance was in the first book of the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as the best friend of Harry Potter and Hermione Granger...

, a fun-loving member of an ancient, large, happy, but hard-up wizarding family, and Hermione Granger
Hermione Granger
Hermione Jean Granger is a fictional character and one of the three protagonists in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. She initially appears in the first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, as a new student on her way to Hogwarts...

, a gifted and hard working witch of non-magical parentage. Harry also encounters the school's potions master, Severus Snape
Severus Snape
Severus Snape is a fictional character in the Harry Potter book series written by J.K. Rowling. In the first novel of the series, he is hostile toward Harry and is built up to be the primary antagonist until the final chapters. As the series progresses, Snape's character becomes more layered and...

, who displays a deep and abiding dislike for him. The plot concludes with Harry's second confrontation with Lord Voldemort, who in his quest for immortality, yearns to gain the power of the Philosopher's Stone.

The series continues with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the second novel in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling. The plot follows Harry's second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, during which a series of messages on the walls on the school's corridors warn that the "Chamber of...

describing Harry's second year at Hogwarts. He and his friends investigate a 50-year-old mystery that appears tied to recent sinister events at the school. Ron's younger sister, Ginny Weasley, enrols in her first year at Hogwarts, and finds a notebook which turns out to be Voldemort's diary from his school days. Ginny becomes possessed by Voldemort through the diary and opens the "Chamber of Secrets", unleashing an ancient monster which begins attacking students at Hogwarts. The novel delves into the history of Hogwarts and a legend revolving around the Chamber. For the first time, Harry realises that racial prejudice exists in the wizarding world, and he learns that Voldemort's reign of terror was often directed at wizards who were descended from Muggles. Harry also learns that his ability to speak Parseltongue, the language of snakes, is rare and often associated with the Dark Arts
Black magic
Black magic is the type of magic that draws on assumed malevolent powers or is used with the intention to kill, steal, injure, cause misfortune or destruction, or for personal gain without regard to harmful consequences. As a term, "black magic" is normally used by those that do not approve of its...

. The novel ends after Harry saves Ginny's life by by destroying a basilisk and the diary, in which Voldemort saved a piece of his soul (although Harry does not realise this until later in the series). The concept of storing part of one's soul inside of an object in order to prevent death is officially introduced in the sixth novel under the term "horcrux".

The third novel, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the third novel in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling. The book was published on 8 July 1999. The novel won the 1999 Whitbread Book Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the 2000 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, and was short-listed for other...

, follows Harry in his third year of magical education. It is the only book in the series which does not feature Voldemort. Instead, Harry must deal with the knowledge that he has been targeted by Sirius Black
Sirius Black
Sirius Black is a fictional character in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. Sirius was first mentioned briefly in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone as a wizard who lent Rubeus Hagrid a flying motorbike shortly after Lord Voldemort killed James and Lily Potter...

, an escaped murderer believed to have assisted in the deaths of Harry's parents. As Harry struggles with his reaction to the dementors—dark creatures with the power to devour a human soul—which are ostensibly protecting the school, he reaches out to Remus Lupin, a Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher who is eventually revealed to be a werewolf
Werewolf
A werewolf, also known as a lycanthrope , is a mythological or folkloric human with the ability to shapeshift into a wolf or an anthropomorphic wolf-like creature, either purposely or after being placed under a curse...

. Lupin teaches Harry defensive measures which are well above the level of magic generally shown by people his age. Harry learns that both Lupin and Black were close friends of his father and that Black was framed by their fourth friend, Peter Pettigrew. In this book, another recurring theme throughout the series is emphasised—in every book there is a new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, none of whom lasts more than one school year.

Voldemort returns

During Harry's fourth year of school (detailed in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the fourth novel in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling, published on 8 July 2000.The novel won a Hugo Award in 2001, the only Harry Potter novel to do so...

) Harry is unwillingly entered as a participant in the Triwizard Tournament, a dangerous contest where Harry must compete against a witch and a wizard "champion" from visiting schools as well as another Hogwarts student. Harry is guided through the tournament by Professor Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody, who turns out to be an impostor – one of Voldemort's supporters named Barty Crouch, Jr in disguise. The point at which the mystery is unraveled marks the series' shift from foreboding and uncertainty into open conflict. Voldemort's plan to have Crouch use the tournament to bring Harry to Voldemort succeeds. Although Harry manages to escape from him, Cedric Diggory, the other Hogwarts champion in the tournament, is killed and Voldemort resurges.

In the fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the fifth in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling, and was published on 21 June 2003 by Bloomsbury in the United Kingdom, Scholastic in the United States, and Raincoast in Canada...

, Harry must confront the newly resurfaced Voldemort. In response to Voldemort's reappearance, Dumbledore re-activates the Order of the Phoenix, a secret society which works from Sirius Black's dark family home to defeat Voldemort's minions and protect Voldemort's targets, especially Harry. Despite Harry's description of Voldemort's recent activities, the Ministry of Magic
Ministry of Magic
The Ministry of Magic is the government of the fictional Magical community of Britain in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. First mentioned in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the Ministry makes its first proper appearance in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix...

 and many others in the magical world refuse to believe that Voldemort has returned. In an attempt to counter and eventually discredit Dumbledore, who along with Harry is the most prominent voice in the wizarding world attempting to warn of Voldemort's return, the Ministry appoints Dolores Umbridge as the High Inquisitor of Hogwarts. She transforms the school into a dictatorial regime and refuses to allow the students to learn ways to defend themselves against dark magic.

Harry forms "Dumbledore's Army
Dumbledore's Army
Dumbledore's Army is a student organisation in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series that is founded by the main characters, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, in order to stand up against the regime of Hogwarts High Inquisitor Dolores Umbridge, as well as to learn practical Defence...

", a secret study group to teach his classmates the higher-level skills of Defence Against the Dark Arts that he has learned. An important prophecy concerning Harry and Voldemort is revealed, and Harry discovers that he and Voldemort have a painful connection, allowing Harry to view some of Voldemort's actions telepathically. In the novel's climax, Harry and his friends face off against Voldemort's Death Eaters. Although the timely arrival of members of the Order of the Phoenix saves the children's lives, Sirus Black is killed in the conflict.

Voldemort begins waging open warfare in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the sixth and penultimate novel in the Harry Potter series by British author J. K. Rowling...

. Although Harry and friends are relatively protected from that danger at Hogwarts, they are subject to all the difficulties of adolescence; Harry eventually begins dating Ginny Weasley. Near the beginning of the novel, Harry is given an old potions textbook filled with annotations and recommendations signed by a mysterious writer, the Half-Blood Prince. Harry also takes private lessons with Dumbledore, who shows him various memories concerning the early life of Voldemort. These reveal that Voldemort's soul is splintered into a series of horcruxes, evil enchanted items hidden in various locations. Harry's snobbish adversary, Draco Malfoy, attempts to attack Dumbledore, and the book culminates in the killing of Dumbledore by Professor Snape, the titular Half-Blood Prince.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the last book in the series, begins directly after the events of the sixth book. Voldemort has completed his ascension to power and gains control of the Ministry of Magic. Harry, Ron, and Hermione drop out of school so that they can find and destroy Voldemort's remaining horcruxes. To ensure their own safety as well as that of their family and friends, they are forced to isolate themselves
Fugitive
A fugitive is a person who is fleeing from custody, whether it be from private slavery, a government arrest, government or non-government questioning, vigilante violence, or outraged private individuals...

. As they search for the horcruxes, the trio learn details about Dumbledore's past, as well as Snape's true motives—he had worked on Dumbledore's behalf since the murder of Harry's mother.

The book culminates in the Battle of Hogwarts. Harry, Ron, and Hermione, in conjunction with members of the Order of the Phoenix and many of the teachers and students, defend Hogwarts from Voldemort, his Death Eaters, and various magical creatures. Several major characters are killed in the first wave of the battle. After learning that he himself is a horcrux, Harry surrenders himself to Voldemort, who casts a killing curse at him. However, the defenders of Hogwarts do not surrender after learning this, but continue to fight on. Having managed to return from the dead, Harry finally faces Voldemort, whose horcruxes have all been destroyed. In the subsequent battle, Voldemort's curse rebounds off of Harry's spell and kills Voldemort. An epilogue describes the lives of the surviving characters and the effects on the wizarding world.

Supplementary works

Rowling has expanded the Harry Potter universe
Harry Potter universe
The fictional universe of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series of fantasy novels comprises two separate and distinct societies: the wizarding world and the Muggle world...

 with several short books produced for various charities. In 2001, she released Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a 2001 book written by British author J. K. Rowling about the magical creatures in the Harry Potter universe...

(a purported Hogwarts textbook) and Quidditch Through the Ages
Quidditch Through the Ages
Quidditch Through the Ages is a 2001 book written by British author J. K. Rowling about Quidditch in the Harry Potter universe. It purports to be the Hogwarts library's copy of the non-fiction book of the same name mentioned in several novels of the Harry Potter series.Rowling's name does not...

(a book Harry reads for fun). Proceeds from the sale of these two books benefitted the charity Comic Relief
Comic Relief
Comic Relief is an operating British charity, founded in 1985 by the comedy scriptwriter Richard Curtis and comedian Lenny Henry in response to famine in Ethiopia. The highlight of Comic Relief's appeal is Red Nose Day, a biennial telethon held in March, alternating with sister project Sport Relief...

. In 2007, Rowling composed seven handwritten copies of The Tales of Beedle the Bard
The Tales of Beedle the Bard
The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a book of children's stories by British author J. K. Rowling. It purports to be the storybook of the same name mentioned in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the last book of the Harry Potter series....

, a collection of fairy tales that is featured in the final novel, one of which was auctioned to raise money for the Children's High Level Group, a fund for mentally disabled children in poor countries. The book was published internationally on 4 December 2008 Rowling also wrote an 800-word prequel
Harry Potter prequel
The Harry Potter prequel is an 800-word story written by J. K. Rowling, and was published online on 11 June 2008. Set about three years before the birth of Harry Potter, the story recounts an adventure experienced by Sirius Black and James Potter....

 in 2008 as part of a fundraiser organised by the bookseller Waterstones. In 2011, Rowling launched a new website announcing an upcoming project called Pottermore
Pottermore
Pottermore is a website by J. K. Rowling, developed by TH_NK and sponsored by Sony. The website, according to Rowling, will serve as a permanent online home for the wizarding world of Harry Potter. The site will feature many of J.K...

.

Structure and genre

The Harry Potter novels fall within the genre of fantasy literature
Fantasy literature
Fantasy literature is fantasy in written form. Historically speaking, literature has composed the majority of fantasy works. Since the 1950s however, a growing segment of the fantasy genre has taken the form of films, television programs, graphic novels, video games, music, painting, and other...

; however, in many respects they are also bildungsroman
Bildungsroman
In literary criticism, bildungsroman or coming-of-age story is a literary genre which focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood , and in which character change is thus extremely important...

s, or coming of age
Coming of age
Coming of age is a young person's transition from childhood to adulthood. The age at which this transition takes place varies in society, as does the nature of the transition. It can be a simple legal convention or can be part of a ritual, as practiced by many societies...

 novels, and contain elements of mystery, adventure, thriller, and romance
Romance novel
The romance novel is a literary genre developed in Western culture, mainly in English-speaking countries. Novels in this genre place their primary focus on the relationship and romantic love between two people, and must have an "emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending." Through the late...

. They can be considered part of the British children's boarding school
Boarding school
A boarding school is a school where some or all pupils study and live during the school year with their fellow students and possibly teachers and/or administrators. The word 'boarding' is used in the sense of "bed and board," i.e., lodging and meals...

 genre, which includes Rudyard Kipling
Rudyard Kipling
Joseph Rudyard Kipling was an English poet, short-story writer, and novelist chiefly remembered for his celebration of British imperialism, tales and poems of British soldiers in India, and his tales for children. Kipling received the 1907 Nobel Prize for Literature...

's Stalky & Co.
Stalky & Co.
Stalky & Co. is a book published in 1899 by Rudyard Kipling, about adolescent boys at a British boarding school. It is a collection of linked short stories in format, with some information about the charismatic Stalky character in later life. The character Beetle, one of the main trio, is partly...

, Enid Blyton
Enid Blyton
Enid Blyton was an English children's writer also known as Mary Pollock.Noted for numerous series of books based on recurring characters and designed for different age groups,her books have enjoyed huge success in many parts of the world, and have sold over 600 million copies.One of Blyton's most...

's Malory Towers
Malory Towers
Malory Towers is a series of six novels by British children's author Enid Blyton, featuring the fictional Cornish seaside boarding school of the same name...

, St. Clare's
St. Clare's series
St. Clare's is a series of six books written by English children's author Enid Blyton about a boarding school of that name. The series follows the heroines Patricia "Pat" and Isabel O'Sullivan from their first year at St. Clare's on...

and the Naughtiest Girl series, and Frank Richards's
Charles Hamilton (writer)
Charles Harold St. John Hamilton , was an English writer, specializing in writing long-running series of stories for weekly magazines about recurrent casts of characters, his most frequent and famous genre being boys' public school stories, though he also dealt with other genres...

 Billy Bunter
Billy Bunter
William George Bunter , is a fictional character created by Charles Hamilton using the pen name Frank Richards...

novels: the Harry Potter books are predominantly set in Hogwarts
Hogwarts
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry or simply Hogwarts is the primary setting for the first six books of the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, with each book lasting the equivalent of one school year. It is a fictional boarding school of magic for witches and wizards between the ages of...

, a fictional British boarding school for wizards, where the curriculum includes the use of magic
Magic (Harry Potter)
In the Harry Potter series created by J. K. Rowling, magic is depicted as a natural force that can be used to override the usual laws of nature. Many fictional magical creatures exist in the series, while ordinary creatures sometimes exhibit new magical properties in the novels' world...

. In this sense they are "in a direct line of descent from Thomas Hughes
Thomas Hughes
Thomas Hughes was an English lawyer and author. He is most famous for his novel Tom Brown's Schooldays , a semi-autobiographical work set at Rugby School, which Hughes had attended. It had a lesser-known sequel, Tom Brown at Oxford .- Biography :Hughes was the second son of John Hughes, editor of...

's Tom Brown's School Days and other Victorian and Edwardian novels of British public school
Public School (UK)
A public school, in common British usage, is a school that is neither administered nor financed by the state or from taxpayer contributions, and is instead funded by a combination of endowments, tuition fees and charitable contributions, usually existing as a non profit-making charitable trust...

 life". They are also, in the words of Stephen King
Stephen King
Stephen Edwin King is an American author of contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction and fantasy fiction. His books have sold more than 350 million copies and have been adapted into a number of feature films, television movies and comic books...

, "shrewd mystery tales", and each book is constructed in the manner of a Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective created by Scottish author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The fantastic London-based "consulting detective", Holmes is famous for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to take almost any disguise, and his use of forensic science skills to solve...

-style mystery
Mystery fiction
Mystery fiction is a loosely-defined term.1.It is often used as a synonym for detective fiction or crime fiction— in other words a novel or short story in which a detective investigates and solves a crime mystery. Sometimes mystery books are nonfiction...

 adventure. The stories are told from a third person limited point of view with very few exceptions (such as the opening chapters of Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is the first novel in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling and featuring Harry Potter, a young wizard...

and Deathly Hallows and the first two chapters of Half-Blood Prince).

In the middle of each book, Harry struggles with the problems he encounters, and dealing with them often involves the need to violate some school rules. If students are caught breaking rules, they are often disciplined by Hogwarts professors, who employ the use of punishments often found in the boarding school sub-genre
Genre
Genre , Greek: genos, γένος) is the term for any category of literature or other forms of art or culture, e.g. music, and in general, any type of discourse, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. Genres are formed by conventions that change over time...

. However, the stories reach their climax in the summer term
Summer term
Summer term is the name of the summer academic term at many British schools and universities and elsewhere in the world.In the UK, 'Summer term' runs from the Easter holiday until the end of the academic year in June or July, and thus corresponds to the Easter term at Cambridge University, and...

, near or just after final exams
Final examination
A final examination is a test given to students at the end of a course of study or training. Although the term can be used in the context of physical training, it most often occurs in the academic world...

, when events escalate far beyond in-school squabbles and struggles, and Harry must confront either Voldemort or one of his followers, the Death Eaters, with the stakes a matter of life and death–a point underlined, as the series progresses, by one or more characters being killed in each of the final four books. In the aftermath, he learns important lessons through exposition and discussions with head teacher
Head teacher
A head teacher or school principal is the most senior teacher, leader and manager of a school....

 and mentor
Mentor
In Greek mythology, Mentor was the son of Alcimus or Anchialus. In his old age Mentor was a friend of Odysseus who placed Mentor and Odysseus' foster-brother Eumaeus in charge of his son Telemachus, and of Odysseus' palace, when Odysseus left for the Trojan War.When Athena visited Telemachus she...

 Albus Dumbledore
Albus Dumbledore
Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore is a major character in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. For most of the series, he is the headmaster of the wizarding school Hogwarts...

.

In the final novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry and his friends spend most of their time away from Hogwarts, and only return there to face Voldemort at the dénouement. Completing the bildungsroman format, in this part Harry must grow up prematurely, losing the chance of a last year as a pupil in a school and needing to act as an adult, on whose decisions everybody else depends—the grown-ups included.

Themes

According to Rowling, a major theme in the series is death
Death
Death is the permanent termination of the biological functions that sustain a living organism. Phenomena which commonly bring about death include old age, predation, malnutrition, disease, and accidents or trauma resulting in terminal injury....

: "My books are largely about death. They open with the death of Harry's parents. There is Voldemort's obsession with conquering death and his quest for immortality
Immortality
Immortality is the ability to live forever. It is unknown whether human physical immortality is an achievable condition. Biological forms have inherent limitations which may or may not be able to be overcome through medical interventions or engineering...

 at any price, the goal of anyone with magic. I so understand why Voldemort wants to conquer death. We're all frightened of it."

Academics and journalists have developed many other interpretations of themes in the books, some more complex than others, and some including political subtexts
Politics of Harry Potter
There are many published theories about politics in the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling, which range from criticism of racism to anti-government sentiments. According to Inside Higher Ed, the catalog of the Library of Congress records 21 volumes of criticism and interpretation on the Harry...

. Themes such as normality
Normality (behavior)
In behavior, normal refers to a lack of significant deviation from the average. The phrase "not normal" is often applied in a negative sense Abnormality varies greatly in how pleasant or unpleasant this is for other people.The Oxford English Dictionary defines "normal" as "conforming to a standard"...

, oppression, survival, and overcoming imposing odds have all been considered as prevalent throughout the series. Similarly, the theme of making one's way through adolescence and "going over one's most harrowing ordeals—and thus coming to terms with them" has also been considered. Rowling has stated that the books comprise "a prolonged argument for tolerance, a prolonged plea for an end to bigotry
Bigotry
A bigot is a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices, especially one exhibiting intolerance, and animosity toward those of differing beliefs...

" and that also pass on a message to "question authority and... not assume that the establishment or the press tells you all of the truth".

While the books could be said to comprise many other themes, such as power/abuse of power, love
Love
Love is an emotion of strong affection and personal attachment. In philosophical context, love is a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection. Love is central to many religions, as in the Christian phrase, "God is love" or Agape in the Canonical gospels...

, prejudice
Prejudice
Prejudice is making a judgment or assumption about someone or something before having enough knowledge to be able to do so with guaranteed accuracy, or "judging a book by its cover"...

, and free choice, they are, as J. K. Rowling states, "deeply entrenched in the whole plot"; the writer prefers to let themes "grow organically", rather than sitting down and consciously attempting to impart such ideas to her readers. Along the same lines is the ever-present theme of adolescence, in whose depiction Rowling has been purposeful in acknowledging her characters' sexualities and not leaving Harry, as she put it, "stuck in a state of permanent pre-pubescence". Rowling said that, to her, the moral significance of the tales seems "blindingly obvious". The key for her was the choice between what is right and what is easy, "because that ... is how tyranny is started, with people being apathetic and taking the easy route and suddenly finding themselves in deep trouble."

Origins and publishing history

In 1990, J. K. Rowling was on a crowded train from Manchester
Manchester
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

 to London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 when the idea for Harry suddenly "fell into her head". Rowling gives an account of the experience on her website saying:
Rowling completed Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in 1995 and the manuscript
Manuscript
A manuscript or handwrite is written information that has been manually created by someone or some people, such as a hand-written letter, as opposed to being printed or reproduced some other way...

 was sent off to several prospective agents
Literary agent
A literary agent is an agent who represents writers and their written works to publishers, theatrical producers and film producers and assists in the sale and deal negotiation of the same. Literary agents most often represent novelists, screenwriters and major non-fiction writers...

. The second agent she tried, Christopher Little, offered to represent her and sent the manuscript to Bloomsbury. After eight other publishers had rejected Philosopher's Stone, Bloomsbury offered Rowling a £2,500 advance for its publication. Despite Rowling's statement that she did not have any particular age group
Demographic profile
A demographic or demographic profile is a term used in marketing and broadcasting, to describe a demographic grouping or a market segment...

 in mind when beginning to write the Harry Potter books, the publishers initially targeted children aged nine to eleven. On the eve of publishing, Rowling was asked by her publishers to adopt a more gender-neutral pen name in order to appeal to the male members of this age group, fearing that they would not be interested in reading a novel they knew to be written by a woman. She elected to use J. K. Rowling (Joanne Kathleen Rowling), using her grandmother's name as her second name because she has no middle name
Middle name
People's names in several cultures include one or more additional names placed between the first given name and the surname. In Canada and the United States all such names are specifically referred to as middle name; in most European countries they would simply be regarded as second, third, etc....

.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was published by Bloomsbury, the publisher of all Harry Potter books in the United Kingdom, on 30 June 1997. It was released in the United States on 1 September 1998 by Scholastic
Scholastic Press
Scholastic is a global book publishing company known for publishing educational materials for schools, teachers, and parents, and selling and distributing them by mail order and via book clubs and book fairs. It also has the exclusive United States' publishing rights to the Harry Potter book...

—the American publisher of the books—as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, after Rowling had received US$105,000 for the American rights—an unprecedented amount for a children's book by a then-unknown author. Fearing that American readers would not associate the word "philosopher" with a magical theme (although the Philosopher's Stone
Philosopher's stone
The philosopher's stone is a legendary alchemical substance said to be capable of turning base metals into gold or silver. It was also sometimes believed to be an elixir of life, useful for rejuvenation and possibly for achieving immortality. For many centuries, it was the most sought-after goal...

 is alchemy-related), Scholastic insisted that the book be given the title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone for the American market.

The second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was originally published in the UK on 2 July 1998 and in the US on 2 June 1999. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was then published a year later in the UK on 8 July 1999 and in the US on 8 September 1999. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was published on 8 July 2000 at the same time by Bloomsbury
Bloomsbury
-Places:* Bloomsbury is an area in central London.* Bloomsbury , related local government unit* Bloomsbury, New Jersey, New Jersey, USA* Bloomsbury , listed on the NRHP in Maryland...

 and Scholastic
Scholastic Press
Scholastic is a global book publishing company known for publishing educational materials for schools, teachers, and parents, and selling and distributing them by mail order and via book clubs and book fairs. It also has the exclusive United States' publishing rights to the Harry Potter book...

. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the longest book in the series at 766 pages in the UK version and 870 pages in the US version. It was published worldwide in English on 21 June 2003. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was published on 16 July 2005, and it sold 9 million copies in the first 24 hours of its worldwide release. The seventh and final novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was published 21 July 2007. The book sold 11 million copies in the first 24 hours of release, breaking down to 2.7 million copies in the UK and 8.3 million in the US.

Translations

The series has been translated into 67 languages, placing Rowling among the most translated authors in history. The books have seen translations to diverse languages such as Azerbaijani
Azerbaijani language
Azerbaijani or Azeri or Torki is a language belonging to the Turkic language family, spoken in southwestern Asia by the Azerbaijani people, primarily in Azerbaijan and northwestern Iran...

, Ukrainian
Ukrainian language
Ukrainian is a language of the East Slavic subgroup of the Slavic languages. It is the official state language of Ukraine. Written Ukrainian uses a variant of the Cyrillic alphabet....

, Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

, Urdu, Hindi, Bengali
Bengali language
Bengali or Bangla is an eastern Indo-Aryan language. It is native to the region of eastern South Asia known as Bengal, which comprises present day Bangladesh, the Indian state of West Bengal, and parts of the Indian states of Tripura and Assam. It is written with the Bengali script...

, Welsh
Welsh language
Welsh is a member of the Brythonic branch of the Celtic languages spoken natively in Wales, by some along the Welsh border in England, and in Y Wladfa...

, Afrikaans
Afrikaans
Afrikaans is a West Germanic language, spoken natively in South Africa and Namibia. It is a daughter language of Dutch, originating in its 17th century dialects, collectively referred to as Cape Dutch .Afrikaans is a daughter language of Dutch; see , , , , , .Afrikaans was historically called Cape...

, Latvian
Latvian language
Latvian is the official state language of Latvia. It is also sometimes referred to as Lettish. There are about 1.4 million native Latvian speakers in Latvia and about 150,000 abroad. The Latvian language has a relatively large number of non-native speakers, atypical for a small language...

 and Vietnamese
Vietnamese language
Vietnamese is the national and official language of Vietnam. It is the mother tongue of 86% of Vietnam's population, and of about three million overseas Vietnamese. It is also spoken as a second language by many ethnic minorities of Vietnam...

. The first volume has been translated into Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 and even Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

, making it the longest published work in Ancient Greek since the novels of Heliodorus of Emesa
Heliodorus of Emesa
Heliodorus of Emesa, from Emesa, Syria, was a Greek writer generally dated to the third century AD who is known for the ancient Greek novel or romance called the Aethiopica or sometimes "Theagenes and Chariclea"....

 in the 3rd century AD.

Some of the translators hired to work on the books were well-known authors before their work on Harry Potter, such as Viktor Golyshev
Viktor Golyshev
Viktor Golyshev is a well-known English-to-Russian translator. His translations include Light in August, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, All the King's Men, Theophilus North, 1984, Other Voices, Other Rooms, Set This House on Fire, Pulp, and others...

, who oversaw the Russian translation of the series' fifth book. The Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

 translation of books two to seven was undertaken by Sevin Okyay
Sevin Okyay
Sevin Okyay is a Turkish literary critic, journalist, author, regular columnist and a prolific translator. Sevin had been a radio host and a teacher as well....

, a popular literary critic and cultural commentator. For reasons of secrecy, translation can only start when the books are released in English; thus there is a lag of several months before the translations are available. This has led to more and more copies of the English editions being sold to impatient fans in non-English speaking countries. Such was the clamour to read the fifth book that its English language edition became the first English-language book ever to top the bestseller list in France.

The United States editions of the Harry Potter novels have required the adaptation of the texts into American English
American English
American English is a set of dialects of the English language used mostly in the United States. Approximately two-thirds of the world's native speakers of English live in the United States....

, as many words and concepts used by the characters in the novels may have not been understood by a young American audience.

Completion of the series

In December 2005, Rowling stated on her web site, "2006 will be the year when I write the final book in the Harry Potter series." Updates then followed in her online diary
Online diary
An online diary is a personal diary or journal that is published on the World Wide Web on a personal website or a diary-hosting website.-Overview:...

 chronicling the progress of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, with the release date of 21 July 2007. The book itself was finished on 11 January 2007 in the Balmoral Hotel
Balmoral Hotel
The Balmoral is a luxury five-star hotel and landmark in Edinburgh, Scotland, known as the North British Hotel until the late 1980s. It is located in the heart of the city at the east end of Princes Street, the main shopping street beneath the Edinburgh Castle rock, and the southern edge of the New...

, Edinburgh
Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

, where she scrawled a message on the back of a bust of Hermes
Hermes
Hermes is the great messenger of the gods in Greek mythology and a guide to the Underworld. Hermes was born on Mount Kyllini in Arcadia. An Olympian god, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of the cunning of thieves, of orators and...

. It read: "J. K. Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in this room (552) on 11 January 2007."

Rowling herself has stated that the last chapter of the final book (in fact, the epilogue) was completed "in something like 1990". In June 2006, Rowling, on an appearance on the British talk show Richard & Judy
Richard & Judy
Richard & Judy was a British magazine/chat show which was presented by married couple Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan. It originally aired on Channel 4 from 2001 to 2008 but later moved to digital channel Watch in October 2008. It featured the world's most famous stars, along with their Book Club...

, announced that the chapter had been modified as one character "got a reprieve" and two others who previously survived the story had in fact been killed. On 28 March 2007, the cover art for the Bloomsbury Adult and Child versions and the Scholastic version were released.

Cultural impact

Fans of the series were so eager for the latest instalment that bookstores around the world began holding events to coincide with the midnight release of the books, beginning with the 2000 publication of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The events, commonly featuring mock sorting, games, face painting
Body painting
Body painting, or sometimes bodypainting, is a form of body art. Unlike tattoo and other forms of body art, body painting is temporary, painted onto the human skin, and lasts for only several hours, or at most a couple of weeks. Body painting that is limited to the face is known as face painting...

, and other live entertainment have achieved popularity with Potter fans and have been highly successful in attracting fans and selling books with nearly nine million of the 10.8 million initial print copies of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince sold in the first 24 hours. The final book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows became the fastest selling book in history, moving 11 million units in the first twenty-four hours of release . The series has also gathered adult fans, leading to the release of two editions of each Harry Potter book, identical in text but with one edition's cover artwork aimed at children and the other aimed at adults. Besides meeting online through blogs, podcast
Podcast
A podcast is a series of digital media files that are released episodically and often downloaded through web syndication...

s, and fansites, Harry Potter super-fans can also meet at Harry Potter symposia
Academic conference
An academic conference or symposium is a conference for researchers to present and discuss their work. Together with academic or scientific journals, conferences provide an important channel for exchange of information between researchers.-Overview:Conferences are usually composed of various...

. The word Muggle has spread beyond its Harry Potter origins, becoming one of few pop culture words to land in the Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
The Oxford English Dictionary , published by the Oxford University Press, is the self-styled premier dictionary of the English language. Two fully bound print editions of the OED have been published under its current name, in 1928 and 1989. The first edition was published in twelve volumes , and...

. The Harry Potter fandom has embraced podcasts as a regular, often weekly, insight to the latest discussion in the fandom. Both MuggleCast and PotterCast
PotterCast
PotterCast is the official podcast of the Harry Potter fansite The Leaky Cauldron. Its episodes are posted once per month and are typically about an hour long. In every episode, the hosts discuss particular passages, themes, and questions from the Harry Potter books and films, and they go over the...

 have reached the top spot of iTunes podcast rankings and have been polled one of the top 50 favourite podcasts.

Awards and honours

The Harry Potter series have been the recipients of a host of awards since the initial publication of Philosopher's Stone including four Whitaker Platinum Book Awards (all of which were awarded in 2001), three Nestlé Smarties Book Prize
Nestlé Smarties Book Prize
The Nestlé Children's Book Prize, also known as the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize, was an annual award given to children's books written in the previous year by a UK citizen or resident. The prize was administered by Booktrust, an independent charity which promotes books and reading, and sponsored by...

s (1997–1999), two Scottish Arts Council Book Awards
Scottish Arts Council
The Scottish Arts Council is a Scottish public body that distributes funding from the Scottish Government, and is the leading national organisation for the funding, development and promotion of the arts in Scotland...

 (1999 and 2001), the inaugural Whitbread children's book of the year award
Costa Book Awards
The Costa Book Awards are a series of literary awards given to books by authors based in Great Britain and Ireland. They were known as the Whitbread Book Awards until 2005, after which Costa Coffee, a subsidiary of Whitbread, took over sponsorship....

 (1999), the WHSmith book of the year
British Book Awards
The Galaxy National Book Awards are a series of British literary awards focused on the best UK writers and their works, as selected by an academy of members from the British book publishing industry...

 (2006), among others. In 2000, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the third novel in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling. The book was published on 8 July 1999. The novel won the 1999 Whitbread Book Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the 2000 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, and was short-listed for other...

was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Novel
Hugo Award for Best Novel
The Hugo Awards are given every year by the World Science Fiction Society for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year. The award is named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and was once officially...

, and in 2001, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the fourth novel in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling, published on 8 July 2000.The novel won a Hugo Award in 2001, the only Harry Potter novel to do so...

won said award. Honours include a commendation for the Carnegie Medal
Carnegie Medal
The Carnegie Medal is a literary award established in 1936 in honour of Scottish philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and given annually to an outstanding book for children and young adults. It is awarded by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals...

 (1997), a short listing for the Guardian Children's Award
Guardian Award
The Guardian Children's Fiction Prize or Guardian Award is a prominent award for works of children's literature by British or Commonwealth authors, published in the United Kingdom during the preceding year. The award has been given annually since 1967, and is decided by a panel of authors and the...

 (1998), and numerous listings on the notable books, editors' Choices, and best books lists of the American Library Association
American Library Association
The American Library Association is a non-profit organization based in the United States that promotes libraries and library education internationally. It is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with more than 62,000 members....

, The New York Times, Chicago Public Library
Chicago Public Library
The Chicago Public Library is the public library system that serves the City of Chicago in Illinois. It consists of 79 branches, including a central library, two regional libraries, and branches distributed throughout the city....

, and Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly, aka PW, is an American weekly trade news magazine targeted at publishers, librarians, booksellers and literary agents...

.

Commercial success

The popularity of the Harry Potter series has translated into substantial financial success for Rowling, her publishers, and other Harry Potter related license holders. This success has made Rowling the first and thus far only billionaire author. The books have sold more than 400 million copies worldwide and have also given rise to the popular film adaptation
Film adaptation
Film adaptation is the transfer of a written work to a feature film. It is a type of derivative work.A common form of film adaptation is the use of a novel as the basis of a feature film, but film adaptation includes the use of non-fiction , autobiography, comic book, scripture, plays, and even...

s produced by Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., also known as Warner Bros. Pictures or simply Warner Bros. , is an American producer of film and television entertainment.One of the major film studios, it is a subsidiary of Time Warner, with its headquarters in Burbank,...

, all of which have been highly successful in their own right. The films have in turn spawned eight video games and have led to the licensing of more than 400 additional Harry Potter products (including an iPod
IPod
iPod is a line of portable media players created and marketed by Apple Inc. The product line-up currently consists of the hard drive-based iPod Classic, the touchscreen iPod Touch, the compact iPod Nano, and the ultra-compact iPod Shuffle...

). The Harry Potter brand has been estimated to be worth as much as $15 billion.

The great demand for Harry Potter books motivated the New York Times to create a separate bestseller list for children's literature in 2000, just before the release of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. By 24 June 2000, Rowling's novels had been on the list for 79 straight weeks; the first three novels were each on the hardcover bestseller list. On 12 April 2007, Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble, Inc. is the largest book retailer in the United States, operating mainly through its Barnes & Noble Booksellers chain of bookstores headquartered at 122 Fifth Avenue in the Flatiron District in Manhattan in New York City. Barnes & Noble also operated the chain of small B. Dalton...

 declared that Deathly Hallows had broken its pre-order
Pre-order
A pre-order is an order placed for an item which has not yet been released. The idea for pre-orders came when people found it hard to get popular items in stores due to their popularity. Companies were then given the idea to allow people to reserve their own personal copy, before the release, ...

 record, with more than 500,000 copies pre-ordered through its site. For the release of Goblet of Fire, 9,000 FedEx
FedEx
FedEx Corporation , originally known as FDX Corporation, is a logistics services company, based in the United States with headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee...

 trucks were used with no other purpose than to deliver the book. Together, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble, Inc. is the largest book retailer in the United States, operating mainly through its Barnes & Noble Booksellers chain of bookstores headquartered at 122 Fifth Avenue in the Flatiron District in Manhattan in New York City. Barnes & Noble also operated the chain of small B. Dalton...

 pre-sold more than 700,000 copies of the book. In the United States, the book's initial printing run was 3.8 million copies. This record statistic was broken by Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the fifth in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling, and was published on 21 June 2003 by Bloomsbury in the United Kingdom, Scholastic in the United States, and Raincoast in Canada...

, with 8.5 million, which was then shattered by Half-Blood Prince with 10.8 million copies. 6.9 million copies of Prince were sold in the U.S. within the first 24 hours of its release; in the United Kingdom more than two million copies were sold on the first day. The initial U.S. print run for Deathly Hallows was 12 million copies, and more than a million were pre-ordered through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Literary criticism

Early in its history, Harry Potter received positive reviews. On publication, the first volume, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, attracted attention from the Scottish newspapers, such as The Scotsman
The Scotsman
The Scotsman is a British newspaper, published in Edinburgh.As of August 2011 it had an audited circulation of 38,423, down from about 100,000 in the 1980s....

, which said it had "all the makings of a classic", and The Glasgow Herald
The Herald (Glasgow)
The Herald is a broadsheet newspaper published Monday to Saturday in Glasgow, and available throughout Scotland. As of August 2011 it had an audited circulation of 47,226, giving it a lead over Scotland's other 'quality' national daily, The Scotsman, published in Edinburgh.The 1889 to 1906 editions...

, which called it "Magic stuff". Soon the English newspapers joined in, with more than one comparing it to Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl was a British novelist, short story writer, fighter pilot and screenwriter.Born in Wales to Norwegian parents, he served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, in which he became a flying ace and intelligence agent, rising to the rank of Wing Commander...

's work: The Mail on Sunday
The Mail on Sunday
The Mail on Sunday is a British conservative newspaper, currently published in a tabloid format. First published in 1982 by Lord Rothermere, it became Britain's biggest-selling Sunday newspaper following the closing of The News of the World in July 2011...

rated it as "the most imaginative debut since Roald Dahl", a view echoed by The Sunday Times
The Sunday Times
The Sunday Times is a British Sunday newspaper.The Sunday Times may also refer to:*The Sunday Times *The Sunday Times *The Sunday Times *The Sunday Times...

("comparisons to Dahl are, this time, justified"), while The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

called it "a richly textured novel given lift-off by an inventive wit".

By the time of the release of the fifth volume, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the books began to receive strong criticism from a number of literary scholars. Yale professor, literary scholar and critic Harold Bloom
Harold Bloom
Harold Bloom is an American writer and literary critic, and is Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University. He is known for his defense of 19th-century Romantic poets, his unique and controversial theories of poetic influence, and his prodigious literary output, particularly for a literary...

 raised criticisms of the books' literary merits, saying, "Rowling's mind is so governed by clichés and dead metaphors that she has no other style of writing." A. S. Byatt
A. S. Byatt
Dame Antonia Susan Duffy, DBE is an English novelist, poet and Booker Prize winner...

 authored a New York Times op-ed article calling Rowling's universe a "secondary secondary world, made up of intelligently patchworked derivative motifs from all sorts of children's literature ... written for people whose imaginative lives are confined to TV cartoons, and the exaggerated (more exciting, not threatening) mirror-worlds of soaps, reality TV and celebrity gossip".

Michael Rosen
Michael Rosen
Michael Wayne Rosen is a broadcaster, children's novelist and poet and the author of 140 books. He was appointed as the fifth Children's Laureate in June 2007, succeeding Jacqueline Wilson, and held this honour until 2009....

, a novelist and poet, advocated the books were not suited for children, who would be unable to grasp the complex themes. Rosen also stated that "J. K. Rowling is more of an adult writer." The critic Anthony Holden
Anthony Holden
Anthony Holden is an English writer, broadcaster and critic, particularly known as a biographer of artists including Shakespeare, Tchaikovsky, Leigh Hunt, Lorenzo da Ponte and Laurence Olivier, and of members of the British Royal family, notably Charles, Prince of Wales...

 wrote in The Observer
The Observer
The Observer is a British newspaper, published on Sundays. In the same place on the political spectrum as its daily sister paper The Guardian, which acquired it in 1993, it takes a liberal or social democratic line on most issues. It is the world's oldest Sunday newspaper.-Origins:The first issue,...

on his experience of judging Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the third novel in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling. The book was published on 8 July 1999. The novel won the 1999 Whitbread Book Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the 2000 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, and was short-listed for other...

for the 1999 Whitbread Awards
1999 Whitbread Awards
-Children's Book:Winner:*J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of AzkabanShortlist:*Carol Ann Duffy, Meeting Midnight*Michael Morpurgo, Kensuke's Kingdom*Jacqueline Wilson, The Illustrated Mum-First Novel:Winner:...

. His overall view of the series was negative—"the Potter saga was essentially patronising, conservative, highly derivative, dispiritingly nostalgic for a bygone Britain", and he speaks of "pedestrian, ungrammatical prose style". Ursula Le Guin said, "I have no great opinion of it. When so many adult critics were carrying on about the 'incredible originality' of the first Harry Potter book, I read it to find out what the fuss was about, and remained somewhat puzzled; it seemed a lively kid's fantasy crossed with a "school novel", good fare for its age group, but stylistically ordinary, imaginatively derivative, and ethically rather mean-spirited."

By contrast, author Fay Weldon
Fay Weldon
Fay Weldon CBE is an English author, essayist and playwright, whose work has been associated with feminism. In her fiction, Weldon typically portrays contemporary women who find themselves trapped in oppressive situations caused by the patriarchal structure of British society.-Biography:Weldon was...

, while admitting that the series is "not what the poets hoped for", nevertheless goes on to say, "but this is not poetry, it is readable, saleable, everyday, useful prose". The literary critic A. N. Wilson praised the Harry Potter series in The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

, stating: "There are not many writers who have JK’s Dickensian ability to make us turn the pages, to weep—openly, with tears splashing—and a few pages later to laugh, at invariably good jokes ... We have lived through a decade in which we have followed the publication of the liveliest, funniest, scariest and most moving children’s stories ever written". Charles Taylor of Salon.com
Salon.com
Salon.com, part of Salon Media Group , often just called Salon, is an online liberal magazine, with content updated each weekday. Salon was founded by David Talbot and launched on November 20, 1995. It was the internet's first online-only commercial publication. The magazine focuses on U.S...

, who is primarily a movie critic, took issue with Byatt's criticisms in particular. While he conceded that she may have "a valid cultural point—a teeny one—about the impulses that drive us to reassuring pop trash and away from the troubling complexities of art", he rejected her claims that the series is lacking in serious literary merit
Literary merit
Literary merit is a quality generally applied to the genre of literary fiction. A work is said to have literary merit if it is a work of quality, that is if it has some aesthetic value....

 and that it owes its success merely to the childhood reassurances it offers. Taylor stressed the progressively darker tone of the books, shown by the murder of a classmate and close friend and the psychological wounds and social isolation
Social isolation
Social isolation refers to a lack of contact with society for members of social species. There may be many causes and individuals in numerous generally social species are isolated at times, it need not be a pathological condition. In human society, in those cases where it is viewed as a pathology,...

 each causes. Taylor also argued that Philosopher's Stone, said to be the most light-hearted of the seven published books, disrupts the childhood reassurances that Byatt claims spur the series' success: the book opens with news of a double murder
Double murder
Double murder is a term used to describe the act of unlawfully killing two people. This is commonly punished by back-to-back life sentences. It is possible but rare for a double-murder charge to be enforced in cases of homicide in which a pregnant woman is murdered, thereby killing her unborn...

, for example.

Stephen King
Stephen King
Stephen Edwin King is an American author of contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction and fantasy fiction. His books have sold more than 350 million copies and have been adapted into a number of feature films, television movies and comic books...

 called the series "a feat of which only a superior imagination is capable", and declared "Rowling's punning, one-eyebrow-cocked sense of humour" to be "remarkable". However, he wrote that despite the story being "a good one", he is "a little tired of discovering Harry at home with his horrible aunt and uncle", the formulaic beginning of all seven books. King has also joked that "Rowling's never met an adverb she did not like!" He does however predict that Harry Potter "will indeed stand time's test and wind up on a shelf where only the best are kept; I think Harry will take his place with Alice
Alice (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland)
Alice is a fictional character in the literary classic, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, And What Alice Found There. She is a young girl from Victorian-era Britain.-Development:...

, Huck
Huckleberry Finn
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a classic Mark Twain novel.Huckleberry Finn may also refer to:*Huckleberry Finn , a fictional character in the Adventures of Tom Sawyer...

, Frodo
Frodo Baggins
Frodo Baggins is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium.He is the main protagonist of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. He was a hobbit of the Shire who inherited Sauron's Ring from Bilbo Baggins and undertook the quest to destroy it in the fires of Mount Doom...

, and Dorothy
Dorothy Gale
Dorothy Gale is the protagonist of many of the Oz novels by American author L. Frank Baum, and the best friend of Oz's ruler Princess Ozma. Dorothy first appears in Baum's classic children's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and reappears in most of its sequels...

 and this is one series not just for the decade, but for the ages".

Social impacts

Although Time magazine
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

 named Rowling as a runner-up for its 2007 Person of the Year award, noting the social, moral, and political inspiration
Politics of Harry Potter
There are many published theories about politics in the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling, which range from criticism of racism to anti-government sentiments. According to Inside Higher Ed, the catalog of the Library of Congress records 21 volumes of criticism and interpretation on the Harry...

 she has given her fandom
Harry Potter fandom
The Harry Potter fandom is a large international and informal community drawn together by J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. The fandom works through the use of many different forms of media, including web sites, fan fiction, podcasts, fan art and songvids...

, cultural comments on the series have been mixed. Washington Post book critic Ron Charles opined in July 2007 that the large numbers of adults reading the Potter series but few other books may represent a "bad case of cultural infantilism", and that the straightforward "good vs. evil" theme of the series is "childish". He also argued "through no fault of Rowling's", the cultural and marketing "hysteria" marked by the publication of the later books "trains children and adults to expect the roar of the coliseum, a mass-media
Mass media
Mass media refers collectively to all media technologies which are intended to reach a large audience via mass communication. Broadcast media transmit their information electronically and comprise of television, film and radio, movies, CDs, DVDs and some other gadgets like cameras or video consoles...

 experience that no other novel can possibly provide".

Librarian Nancy Knapp pointed out the books' potential to improve literacy
Literacy
Literacy has traditionally been described as the ability to read for knowledge, write coherently and think critically about printed material.Literacy represents the lifelong, intellectual process of gaining meaning from print...

 by motivating children to read much more than they otherwise would. Agreeing about the motivating effects, Diane Penrod also praised the books' blending of simple entertainment with "the qualities of highbrow literary fiction", but expressed concern about the distracting effect of the prolific merchandising
Merchandising
Merchandising is the methods, practices, and operations used to promote and sustain certain categories of commercial activity. In the broadest sense, merchandising is any practice which contributes to the sale of products to a retail consumer...

 that accompanies the book launches.

Jennifer Conn used Snape's and Quidditch coach Madam Hooch's teaching methods as examples of what to avoid and what to emulate in clinical teaching, and Joyce Fields wrote that the books illustrate four of the five main topics in a typical first-year sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

 class: "sociological concepts including culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

, society
Society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

, and socialisation; stratification and social inequality
Social inequality
Social inequality refers to a situation in which individual groups in a society do not have equal social status. Areas of potential social inequality include voting rights, freedom of speech and assembly, the extent of property rights and access to education, health care, quality housing and other...

; social institutions; and social theory
Social theory
Social theories are theoretical frameworks which are used to study and interpret social phenomena within a particular school of thought. An essential tool used by social scientists, theories relate to historical debates over the most valid and reliable methodologies , as well as the primacy of...

".

Jenny Sawyer wrote in 25 July 2007 Christian Science Monitor that the books represent a "disturbing trend in commercial storytelling and Western society" in that stories "moral center [sic] have all but vanished from much of today's pop culture
Popular culture
Popular culture is the totality of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images and other phenomena that are deemed preferred per an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture, especially Western culture of the early to mid 20th century and the emerging global mainstream of the...

 ... after 10 years, 4,195 pages, and over 375 million copies, J. K. Rowling's towering achievement lacks the cornerstone of almost all great children's literature: the hero's moral journey". Harry Potter, Sawyer argues, neither faces a "moral struggle" nor undergoes any ethical growth, and is thus "no guide in circumstances in which right and wrong are anything less than black and white". In contrast Emily Griesinger described Harry's first passage through to Platform 9¾ as an application of faith and hope, and his encounter with the Sorting Hat as the first of many in which Harry is shaped by the choices he makes. She also noted the "deeper magic" by which the self-sacrifice of Harry's mother protects the boy throughout the series, and which the power-hungry Voldemort fails to understand.

In an 8 November 2002 Slate
Slate (magazine)
Slate is a US-based English language online current affairs and culture magazine created in 1996 by former New Republic editor Michael Kinsley, initially under the ownership of Microsoft as part of MSN. On 21 December 2004 it was purchased by the Washington Post Company...

article, Chris Suellentrop likened Potter to a "trust-fund kid whose success at school is largely attributable to the gifts his friends and relatives lavish upon him". Noting that in Rowling's fiction, magical ability potential is "something you are born to, not something you can achieve", Suellentrop wrote that Dumbledore's maxim that "It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities" is hypocritical, as "the school that Dumbledore runs values native gifts above all else". In a 12 August 2007 New York Times review of Deathly Hallows, however, Christopher Hitchens
Christopher Hitchens
Christopher Eric Hitchens is an Anglo-American author and journalist whose books, essays, and journalistic career span more than four decades. He has been a columnist and literary critic at The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, Slate, World Affairs, The Nation, Free Inquiry, and became a media fellow at the...

 praised Rowling for "unmooring" her "English school story" from literary precedents "bound up with dreams of wealth and class and snobbery", arguing that she had instead created "a world of youthful democracy and diversity".

Controversies

The books have been the subject of a number of legal proceedings
Lawsuit
A lawsuit or "suit in law" is a civil action brought in a court of law in which a plaintiff, a party who claims to have incurred loss as a result of a defendant's actions, demands a legal or equitable remedy. The defendant is required to respond to the plaintiff's complaint...

, stemming either from claims by American Christian groups that the magic in the books promotes witchcraft among children, or from various conflicts over copyright and trademark infringements. The popularity and high market value
Market value
Market value is the price at which an asset would trade in a competitive auction setting. Market value is often used interchangeably with open market value, fair value or fair market value, although these terms have distinct definitions in different standards, and may differ in some...

 of the series has led Rowling, her publishers, and film distributor
Film distributor
A film distributor is a company or individual responsible for releasing films to the public either theatrically or for home viewing...

 Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., also known as Warner Bros. Pictures or simply Warner Bros. , is an American producer of film and television entertainment.One of the major film studios, it is a subsidiary of Time Warner, with its headquarters in Burbank,...

 to take legal measures to protect their copyright, which have included banning the sale of Harry Potter imitations, targeting the owners of websites over the "Harry Potter" domain name
Domain name
A domain name is an identification string that defines a realm of administrative autonomy, authority, or control in the Internet. Domain names are formed by the rules and procedures of the Domain Name System ....

, and suing author Nancy Stouffer to counter her accusations that Rowling had plagiarised her work. Various religious conservatives have claimed that the books promote witchcraft and are therefore unsuitable for children, while a number of critics have criticised the books for promoting various political agendas.

The books also aroused controversies in the literary and publishing worlds. In 1997 to 1998 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is the first novel in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling and featuring Harry Potter, a young wizard...

won almost all the UK awards judged by children, but none of the children's book awards judged by adults, and Sandra Beckett suggested the reason was intellectual snobbery towards books that were popular among children. In 1999 the winner of the Whitbread Book of the Year Award children's division was entered for the first time on the shortlist for the main award, and one judge threatened to resign if Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the third novel in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling. The book was published on 8 July 1999. The novel won the 1999 Whitbread Book Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the 2000 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, and was short-listed for other...

was declared the overall winner; it finished second, very close behind the winner of the poetry prize, Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney is an Irish poet, writer and lecturer. He lives in Dublin. Heaney has received the Nobel Prize in Literature , the Golden Wreath of Poetry , T. S. Eliot Prize and two Whitbread prizes...

's translation of the Anglo-Saxon
Anglo-Saxon
Anglo-Saxon may refer to:* Anglo-Saxons, a group that invaded Britain** Old English, their language** Anglo-Saxon England, their history, one of various ships* White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, an ethnicity* Anglo-Saxon economy, modern macroeconomic term...

 epic
Epic poetry
An epic is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form...

 Beowulf
Beowulf
Beowulf , but modern scholars agree in naming it after the hero whose life is its subject." of an Old English heroic epic poem consisting of 3182 alliterative long lines, set in Scandinavia, commonly cited as one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature.It survives in a single...

.

In 2000, shortly before the publication of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the fourth novel in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling, published on 8 July 2000.The novel won a Hugo Award in 2001, the only Harry Potter novel to do so...

, the previous three Harry Potter books topped the New York Times fiction best-seller list and a third of the entries were children's books. The newspaper created a new children's section covering children's books, including both fiction and non-fiction, and initially counting only hardback sales. The move was supported by publishers and booksellers. In 2004 The New York Times further split the children's list, which was still dominated by Harry Potter books into sections for series and individual books, and removed the Harry Potter books from the section for individual books. The split in 2000 attracted condemnation, praise and some comments that presented both benefits and disadvantages of the move. Time suggested that, on the same principle, Billboard should have created a separate "mop-tops" list in 1964 when the Beatles held the top five places in its list, and Nielsen
Nielsen Media Research
Nielsen Media Research is an American firm that measures media audiences, including television, radio, theatre films and newspapers...

 should have created a separate game-show list when Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? is a television game show which offers large cash prizes for correctly answering a series of multiple-choice questions of increasing difficulty. The format is owned and licensed by Sony Pictures Television International. The maximum cash prize is one million pounds...

dominated the ratings
Nielsen Ratings
Nielsen ratings are the audience measurement systems developed by Nielsen Media Research, in an effort to determine the audience size and composition of television programming in the United States...

.

Audiobooks

The Harry Potter books have all been released in unabridged audiobook versions. The UK versions are read by Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry
Stephen John Fry is an English actor, screenwriter, author, playwright, journalist, poet, comedian, television presenter and film director, and a director of Norwich City Football Club. He first came to attention in the 1981 Cambridge Footlights Revue presentation "The Cellar Tapes", which also...

 and the US versions are read by Jim Dale
Jim Dale
Jim Dale, MBE is an English actor, voice artist, singer and songwriter. He is best known in the United Kingdom for his many appearances in the Carry On series of films and in the US for narrating the Harry Potter audiobook series, for which he received two Grammy Awards, and the ABC series Pushing...

. Dale is also the narrator for the special features disc on the DVDs.

Films

In 1998, Rowling sold the film rights of the first four Harry Potter books to Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., also known as Warner Bros. Pictures or simply Warner Bros. , is an American producer of film and television entertainment.One of the major film studios, it is a subsidiary of Time Warner, with its headquarters in Burbank,...

 for a reported £1 million ($1,982,900). Rowling demanded the principal cast be kept strictly British, nonetheless allowing for the inclusion of Irish actors such as the late Richard Harris as Dumbledore, and for casting of French and Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 actors in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the fourth novel in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling, published on 8 July 2000.The novel won a Hugo Award in 2001, the only Harry Potter novel to do so...

where characters from the book are specified as such. After many directors including Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg
Steven Allan Spielberg KBE is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, video game designer, and studio entrepreneur. In a career of more than four decades, Spielberg's films have covered many themes and genres. Spielberg's early science-fiction and adventure films were seen as an...

, Terry Gilliam, Jonathan Demme
Jonathan Demme
Robert Jonathan Demme is an American filmmaker, producer and screenwriter. Best known for directing The Silence of the Lambs, which won him the Academy Award for Best Director, he has also directed the acclaimed movies Philadelphia, Rachel Getting Married, the Talking Heads concert movie Stop...

, and Alan Parker
Alan Parker
Sir Alan William Parker, CBE is an English film director, producer, writer and actor. He has been active in both the British cinema and American cinema and was a founding member of the Directors Guild of Great Britain.-Life and career:...

 were considered, Chris Columbus
Chris Columbus (filmmaker)
Christopher Joseph "Chris" Columbus is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. Columbus had his largest success with the first two films in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, along with Home Alone, the last...

 was appointed on 28 March 2000 as director for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, released in the United States and India as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, is a 2001 fantasy film directed by Chris Columbus and based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling. The film is the first instalment in the Harry Potter film series,...

(titled "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" in the United States), with Warner Bros. citing his work on other family films such as Home Alone
Home Alone
Home Alone is a 1990 American Christmas comedy film written and produced by John Hughes and directed by Chris Columbus. The film stars Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister, an eight-year-old boy, who is mistakenly left behind when his family flies to Paris for their Christmas vacation...

and Mrs. Doubtfire
Mrs. Doubtfire
Mrs. Doubtfire is a 1993 American comedy film starring Robin Williams and Sally Field and based on the novel Madame Doubtfire by Anne Fine. It was directed by Chris Columbus and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It won the Academy Award for Best Makeup...

and proven experience with directing children as influences for their decision. After extensive casting, filming began in October 2000 at Leavesden Film Studios
Leavesden Film Studios
Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden , is a film and media complex owned by Warner Bros.. The studios and backlot sit on the site of the former Rolls-Royce factory at Leavesden Aerodrome, which was an important centre of aircraft production during World War II...

 and in London itself, with production ending in July 2001. Philosopher's Stone was released on 14 November 2001. Just three days after the film's release, production for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a 2002 fantasy film directed by Chris Columbus and based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling. It is the second instalment in the Harry Potter film series, written by Steve Kloves and produced by David Heyman...

, also directed by Columbus, began. Filming was completed in summer 2002, with the film being released on 15 November 2002. Daniel Radcliffe
Daniel Radcliffe
Daniel Jacob Radcliffe is an English actor who rose to prominence playing the titular character in the Harry Potter film series....

 portrayed Harry Potter
Harry Potter (character)
Harry James Potter is the title character and main protagonist of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. The majority of the books' plot covers seven years in the life of the orphan Potter who, on his eleventh birthday, learns he is a wizard...

, doing so for all succeeding films in the franchise.

Columbus declined to direct Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a 2004 fantasy film directed by Alfonso Cuarón and based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling. It is the third instalment in the Harry Potter film series, written by Steve Kloves and produced by Chris Columbus, David Heyman and Mark Radcliffe...

, only acting as producer. Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón
Alfonso Cuarón
Alfonso Cuarón Orozco is a Mexican film director, screenwriter and film producer, best known for his films Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Y tu mamá también, and A Little Princess.- Early life :...

 took over the job, and after shooting in 2003, the film was released on 4 June 2004. Due to the fourth film beginning its production before the third's release, Mike Newell
Mike Newell (director)
Michael Cormac "Mike" Newell is an English director and producer of motion pictures for the screen and for television. After the release of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in 2005, Newell became the third most commercially successful British director in recent years, behind Christopher Nolan...

 was chosen as the director for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is a 2005 fantasy film directed by Mike Newell and based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling. It is the fourth instalment in the Harry Potter film series, written by Steve Kloves and produced by David Heyman...

, released on 18 November 2005. Newell became the first British director of the series, with television director David Yates
David Yates
David Yates is an English filmmaker who rose to mainstream prominence directing the final four films in the Harry Potter film series. He helmed the series' fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth installments, all of which became an instant blockbuster success and made him the most commercially...

 following suit after he was chosen to helm Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a 2007 fantasy film directed by David Yates and based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling. It is the fifth instalment in the Harry Potter film series, written by Michael Goldenberg and produced by David Heyman and David Barron...

. Production began in January 2006 and the film was released the following year in July 2007. After executives were "really delighted" with his work on the film, Yates was selected to direct Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a 2009 fantasy film directed by David Yates and based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling. It is the sixth instalment in the Harry Potter film series, written by Steve Kloves and produced by David Heyman and David Barron...

, which was released on 15 July 2009.

In March 2008, Warner Bros. President and COO Alan F. Horn
Alan F. Horn
Alan F. Horn is the President & COO of Warner Bros. Entertainment. Horn also sits on the board of directors of Univision.Prior to Warner Bros., Horn served in various positions at 20th Century Fox and at Norman Lear's television production company, Tandem Productions...

 announced that the final instalment in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, would be released in two cinematic parts: Part 1 on 19 November 2010 and Part 2
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is a 2011 epic fantasy film directed by David Yates and the second of two films based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling. It is the eighth and final instalment in the Harry Potter film series, written by Steve Kloves and produced by David...

on 15 July 2011. David Yates returned to direct his third and fourth Potter films, becoming the only director to have helmed more than one film since Columbus. Production of both parts started in February 2009, with the final day of principal photography taking place on 12 June 2010.

J. K. Rowling gained creative control on the film series, playing an active role within the filmmaking process of Philosopher's Stone and serving as producer on the two-part Deathly Hallows, alongside David Heyman
David Heyman
David Jonathan Heyman is a British film producer and the founder of Heyday Films. He obtained the film rights to the Harry Potter series in 1999 and has produced all eight installments in the series of films.-Life and career:...

 and David Barron
David Barron (film producer)
David Barron is a British film producer, best known for his involvement in the Harry Potter film franchise.-Career:David Barron worked as a producer on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and Part 2. He previously served as a producer on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry...

. The Harry Potter films have been top-rank box office
Box office
A box office is a place where tickets are sold to the public for admission to an event. Patrons may perform the transaction at a countertop, through an unblocked hole through a wall or window, or at a wicket....

 hits, with all eight releases on the list of highest-grossing films worldwide. Columbus' Philosopher's Stone became the highest-grossing Potter film upon completing its theatrical run in 2002, but it was eventually topped by Yates' Deathly Hallows. Yates' first two instalments grossed higher than any other film after Philosopher's Stone, while Cuarón's Prisoner of Azkaban grossed the least. As well as financial success, the film series has also been a success among film critics
Critical response to the Harry Potter films
The Harry Potter film series is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, produced by David Heyman and based on the Harry Potter novels by British author J. K. Rowling. The franchise consists of eight fantasy-adventure films...

.

Opinions of the films are generally divided among fans, with one group preferring the more faithful approach of the first two films, and another group preferring the more stylised character-driven approach of the later films. Rowling has been constantly supportive of all the films and evaluated Deathly Hallows as her "favourite one" in the series. She wrote on her website of the changes in the book-to-film transition, "It is simply impossible to incorporate every one of my storylines into a film that has to be kept under four hours long. Obviously films have restrictions novels do not have, constraints of time and budget; I can create dazzling effects relying on nothing but the interaction of my own and my readers’ imaginations".

At the 64th British Academy Film Awards
64th British Academy Film Awards
The 64th British Academy Film Awards, more commonly known as the BAFTAs, were held on 13 February 2011 honouring the best national and foreign films of 2010. The nominees were announced on 18 January 2011. The King's Speech earned the most nominations with fourteen...

 in February 2011, Rowling was joined by producers David Heyman and David Barron along with directors David Yates, Alfonso Cuarón and Mike Newell in collecting the Michael Balcon Award for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema on behalf of all the films in the series. Actors Rupert Grint
Rupert Grint
Rupert Alexander Lloyd Grint is an English actor, who rose to prominence playing Ron Weasley, one of the three main characters in the Harry Potter film series. Grint was cast as Ron at the age of 11, having previously acted only in school plays and at his local theatre group...

 and Emma Watson
Emma Watson
Emma Charlotte Duerre Watson is an English actress and model.Watson rose to prominence playing Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter film series. Watson was cast as Hermione at the age of nine, having previously acted only in school plays. From 2001 to 2011, she starred in all eight Harry Potter...

, who play main characters Ron Weasley
Ron Weasley
Ronald Bilius "Ron" Weasley is a fictional character and one of the three protagonists in the Harry Potter book series written by J. K. Rowling. His first appearance was in the first book of the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as the best friend of Harry Potter and Hermione Granger...

 and Hermione Granger
Hermione Granger
Hermione Jean Granger is a fictional character and one of the three protagonists in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. She initially appears in the first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, as a new student on her way to Hogwarts...

, were also in attendance.

Games

There are ten Harry Potter video games, eight of which correspond with the films and books, and two other spin-offs. The film/book based games are produced by Electronic Arts
Electronic Arts
Electronic Arts, Inc. is a major American developer, marketer, publisher and distributor of video games. Founded and incorporated on May 28, 1982 by Trip Hawkins, the company was a pioneer of the early home computer games industry and was notable for promoting the designers and programmers...

, as was the Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup
Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup
Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup is a video game produced by EA Games and EA Sports that features the fictional sport of Quidditch from the Harry Potter franchise. The user plays in the Hogwarts Quidditch Cup competition, competing amongst the four houses of Hogwarts: Gryffindor, Slytherin,...

 game, with the game version of the first entry in the series, Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, also known as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in North America, is an Electronic Arts multi-platform action-adventure video game developed by KnowWonder, Warthog, Griptonite, Argonaut, Eurocom and Westlake Interactive...

, being released in November 2001. The video games are released to coincide with the films, containing scenery and details from the films as well as the tone and spirit of the books. Objectives usually occur in and around Hogwarts
Hogwarts
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry or simply Hogwarts is the primary setting for the first six books of the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, with each book lasting the equivalent of one school year. It is a fictional boarding school of magic for witches and wizards between the ages of...

, along with various other magical areas. The story and design of the games follows the selected film's characterisation and plot; EA worked closely with Warner Brothers to include scenes from the films. The last game in the series, Deathly Hallows, was split with Part 1 released in November 2010 and Part 2 debuting on consoles in July 2011. The two-part game forms the first entry to convey an intense theme of action and violence, with the gameplay revolving around a third-person shooter style format. The other spin-offs games, Lego Harry Potter: Years 1–4
Lego Harry Potter: Years 1–4
Lego Harry Potter: Years 1–4 is a 2010 video game in the Lego video game franchise, developed by Traveller's Tales and published by Warner Bros...

 and the upcoming Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7 are developed by Traveller's Tales
Traveller's Tales
Traveller's Tales is an English software house founded in 1989 and fully established in 1990 and based in Knutsford, Cheshire.It is part of the TT Games group—after the merger of publisher Giant Interactive and the developer Traveller's Tales—along with TT Games Publishing...

 and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. A number of other non-interactive media games have been released; board games such as Cluedo
Cluedo
Cluedo is a popular murder/mystery-themed deduction board game originally published by Waddingtons in Leeds, England in 1949. It was devised by Anthony E. Pratt, a solicitor's clerk from Birmingham, England. It is now published by the United States game and toy company Hasbro, which acquired its U.S...

 Harry Potter Edition
, Scene It?
Scene It?
Scene It? is a DVD game series created by Screenlife, in which players answer trivia questions about films or pop culture. The games were first developed to be played with questions read from trivia cards or viewed on a television from an included DVD or based on clips from movies, TV shows, music...

 Harry Potter
and Lego Harry Potter
Lego Harry Potter
iLego Harry Potter is a Lego theme based on the films of the Harry Potter series. Lego models of important scenes, vehicles and characters were made for the first six films and all the books released...

models, which are influenced by the themes of both the novels and films.

United States

After the success of the films and books, Universal and Warner Brothers announced they would create "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter," a new Harry Potter-themed expansion to the Islands of Adventure
Islands of Adventure
Universal's Islands of Adventure is a theme park located in Orlando, Florida. It opened May 28, 1999 as part of an expansion that, along with CityWalk Entertainment District, the Portofino Bay Hotel, and Hard Rock hotel, converted Universal Studios Florida into the Universal Orlando Resort...

 theme park at Universal Orlando Resort
Universal Orlando Resort
Universal Orlando Resort is a theme park resort in Orlando, Florida. It is wholly owned by NBCUniversal and its affiliates. The resort consists of two theme parks , Universal CityWalk , and three Loews Hotels...

 in Florida. The new land, promoted as the seventh themed "island" of the park, was built from land reserved for expansion outside of the park's original border, as well as from much of the existing "island," The Lost Continent. A soft opening was held at the end of March 2010, with the land opening on 16 June 2010 for reserved guests. The land officially opened to the public on 18 June 2010.

Guests enter the land through a recreation of the Hogsmeade station, leading into the village of Hogsmeade, with a forced-perspective
Forced perspective
Forced perspective is a technique that employs optical illusion to make an object appear farther away, closer, larger or smaller than it actually is. It is used primarily in photography, filmmaking and architecture...

 Hogwarts castle at the very end of the street. The castle contains the expansion's centrepiece attraction, Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey, a KUKA arm
KUKA
KUKA is a leading German producer of industrial robots for a variety of industries - from automotive and fabricated metals to food and plastics...

 attraction which takes passengers through many realistic scenes influenced by the movies and books, including soaring over Hogwarts, getting involved in a Quidditch match, and having close encounters with dragons, dementors, and the Whomping Willow. Other attractions include a twin high-speed rollercoaster named the Dragon Challenge
Dragon Challenge
Dragon Challenge is a pair of intertwined inverted roller coasters in the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter area of Universal Studios' Islands of Adventure. The ride is themed to two dragons, one side being Chinese Fireball and the other Hungarian Horntail...

,
a renovation of the previously existing rollercoaster, Dueling Dragons, and a family roller coaster called Flight of the Hippogriff
Flight of the Hippogriff
The Flight of the Hippogriff is a roller coaster at the Islands of Adventure theme park, in Orlando, Florida, United States. The ride is located in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter section of the park and is a mild alternative to the land's more extreme rides including Dragon Challenge and...

, a renovation of the previously existing ride, Flying Unicorn. In addition to the three rides are several themed shops and restaurants, heavily inspired by their appearances in the books and films: Honeydukes sells sweets, such as chocolate frogs and Bertie Bott's Every-Flavour Beans, Ollivander's offers personalized magic wands, Zonko's Joke Shop sells various items including Sneakoscopes, and the Three Broomsticks serves food and drink, most notably Butterbeer and pumpkin juice.

Developed at a cost of $265 million, the new land "has seen capacity crowds [and] waits of up to two hours just to enter the ... merchandise shop." Islands of Adventure saw a massive increase in attendance following the expansion, seeing gains of as much as 36%, a period during which attendance to competitor resort Walt Disney World dropped slightly. Disney had itself entered negotiations for a Harry Potter-themed expansion, but ultimately turned down the opportunity.

United Kingdom

In March 2011, Warner Bros. announced plans to build a tourist attraction in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 to showcase the Harry Potter film series. Warner Bros. Studio Tour London will be a behind-the-scenes walking tour featuring authentic sets, costumes and props from the film series. The attraction will be located at Leavesden Film Studios
Leavesden Film Studios
Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden , is a film and media complex owned by Warner Bros.. The studios and backlot sit on the site of the former Rolls-Royce factory at Leavesden Aerodrome, which was an important centre of aircraft production during World War II...

, where all eight of the Harry Potter films were made. Warner Bros. stated that two new sound stages would be constructed to house and showcase the famous sets from each of the British-made productions, following a £100 million investment.

Further reading

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External links

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