It’s July 31st, which only means one thing: it’s Harry Potter’s birthday!
On this day in 1980, little Harry Potter was born to Lily and James. Eleven years later, on July 31st, 1991, Hagrid burst through the door of a dank hut and said, “Yer a wizard, Harry.”
Today, he is 34.
Harry Potter has been massively important in my life. I first picked up a copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 1999 at the age of 10. Like so many other children and adults around the world, I was immediately hooked. I burned through the next two books, pre-ordered the next books in the series as they were released, went to see all the movies, sometimes multiples times. When the Deathly Hallows came out in 2007, it felt like a chapter was closing on my life.
Truthfully, though, that chapter never fully closed. I still think about Harry Potter and his friends regularly. So often I encounter problems in my own life and think back to the lessons I’ve taken from those books. The series has informed the way I think about friendship, family, love and how to be a decent human being.
I still re-read the books occasionally, discovering new depths of emotion and wisdom every time I do. It’s a singular series, really. The stories are aimed at children, but with no condescension. They are simple in some ways, following the typical hero’s journey template. At the same time, the Harry Potter books are wonderfully complex, forcing the characters to face the darker sides of life and the world, and asking them to decide the kinds of people they want to be.
Having those books in my life as I was growing up made some of those decisions easier for me when I had to face them. They also gave me another world to escape to and immerse myself in. They were a respite from life that nevertheless confronted me with the truths of life. For that I am ever thankful.
July 31st isn’t just Harry Potter’s birthday, though. It’s also his creator’s.
J.K. Rowling is 49 years old today. Her impact on so many others and myself cannot be overstated, and for that I wish her all the happiness in the world.
Happy Birthday, J.K. Rowling! And many more!
PS, Can somebody please explain Pottermore to me?