I was ten when I read the first Harry Potter book, and though I can’t say that was what kickstarted my love of reading (I was always quite the bookworm), it was the first book I became completely obsessed with. I devoured it in two days and spent the next several weeks daydreaming and play-pretending that I was a wizard. As you might guess, when my 11th birthday rolled around, I was gravely disappointed that my Hogwarts acceptance letter hadn’t arrived.
I read and reread that first book so many times that the binding started unraveling. It is my most battered copy of any book I own, as well as my favorite.
I think some of my very best childhood memories involve Harry Potter in some way – whether it’s reading the books, or watching the reruns of the movies on TV every holiday season. Which is why the fact that it’s the 21st anniversary of the year Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone came out is making me very emotional.
So, to celebrate it, here are 21 facts about the Harry Potter series that you might not have known.
1. The series has been translated into over 80 different languages
2. Some of the invented words like “muggle” and “Quidditch” have entered everyday language
“Muggle” was added into Oxford English Dictionary in 2003.
3. 500 million copies of the books have been sold since it first came out
This includes both print and e-book versions, and one in fifteen people in the world is known to own a copy of a Harry Potter book.
4. In total, all seven Harry Potter books comprise of 1,100,086 words
5. Fans of the series once got impatient and started translating the book themselves
The translator also apologized for any possible errors, writing in one place, “Here comes something that I’m unable to translate, sorry.”
6. J.K. Rowling almost killed Ron halfway through the series
She said she had been in a bad place at the time, but now believes she still wouldn’t have done it.
7. She also admitted that she regrets the relationship between Ron and Hermione
She said she wrote it as “wish fulfillment” and to cling to the plot as she first imagined it. I for one, choose to pretend I never heard this.
8. Dumbledore is an old English word for ‘bumblebee’
J.K. Rowling said she named him that because, “Dumbledore is very fond of music, I always imagined him as sort of humming to himself a lot.”
9. Peeves, the Poltergeist was cast but his parts didn’t make it in the movie
He was portrayed by Rik Mayall who said, ” I played the part of Peeves in Harry Potter. I got sent off the set because every time I tried to do a bit of acting, all the lads who were playing the school kids kept getting the giggles, they kept corpsing, so they threw me off.”
10. Hermione’s Patronus is an otter because that’s J.K. Rowling’s favorite animal
11. J.K. Rowling invented the names of the Hogwarts houses in the back of a paper bag
12. Voldemort’s Boggart would be seeing his own corpse
Because “His worst fear is death”
13. The actress who played Moaning Myrtle wasn’t a teenager
Shirley Henderson was actually 36 when she played the 14-year-old girl.
14. Alan Rickman always knew about Snape’s backstory
J. K. Rowling said, “I told him really early on that Snape had been in love with Lily, that’s why he hated James, that’s why he projected this amount of dislike onto Harry.”
15. Only 500 copies of the first Harry Potter book were published when it first came out
16. Those first edition copies are now worth over $80,000
17. Emma Watson is much more like Hermione than you know
She was so over-zealous during filming for the first movie that she can be seen mouthing Daniel and Rupert’s lines as well as her own.
18. Every May 2nd, J.K. Rowling apologizes for killing off a character during the Battle of Hogwarts
This year, she apologized for Dobby.
It’s that anniversary again. This year, I apologise for killing someone who didn’t die during the #BattleofHogwarts, but who laid down his life to save the people who’d win it. I refer, of course, to Dobby the house elf.
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) May 2, 2018
19. J.K. Rowling came up with the idea for Quidditch after a fight with her boyfriend
20. Dementors were inspired by a period of depression Rowling went through after her mother’s death
21. “All was well” wasn’t always supposed to be the last line in the series
Rowling actually said in several instances that it was supposed to be “scar.”