When I was in year 6, so this is when I was around 9 or 10, my mum was really into The Oprah Winfrey Show. She still loves Oprah, I really don’t know anyone who doesn’t to be honest. On this show there was a regular book club segment that happened to focus, one time, on Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban. My mum thought I, the book worm, should read this one, but I wasn’t interested. I don’t remember if I had heard of Harry Potter or not (back then it was growing as a phenomenon but hadn’t hit the kind of infamy that it now has, or had in its peak), but I just didn’t think it would appeal to me (this might have been because I resented my mother thinking it would be a good choice for me just because it came recommended from her favourite show). But, in the end, it was bought and I read it. I fell in love with it, like I had never fallen for any other experience in my life.
It’s not uncommon to read about people being in love with Harry Potter. It’s not uncommon to read or hear about how it changed their life for the better, sparked creativity, inspired confidence or daring, gave them a sense of belonging (whether it be in communities of fans or just within the story, its characters, that castle) or just something to talk to their parents about. Books have been written about theories surrounding the plot, about life experiences relating to the story, about the entire phenomenon; it’s studied, both for it’s content and impact; it has been the centre of religious and literary debates and of course, has birthed the most successful film franchise of all time.
It gave me so much. I have felt my imagination soar, I have been emotionally ravaged by the twists in the plot, I have literally grown up with Harry (the seventh book came out when I was 17). As a lover of stories and writing, I have been in awe of Rowling’s boundless imagination, the complexities of her world, it’s believability and the attention to detail. I have been amazed by her control and the myriad themes, motifs and subjects she has traversed and explored in her creation – from government and subject, fame and infamy, truth and falsehood, bravery and cowardice, love and power, sport and spectator, learning and teaching, travel and home life, war and peace, sacrifice and absolution; and that is just the beginning. I have invested in characters that she imbued with real traits so that they could go the distance to last seven books and much scrutiny.
The truth is, it is clear to see that Rowling put a lot of herself in her books. Her beliefs and loves pour out of the page, as she does something incredible in creating a world that young and old feel at home returning to, time and time again. The reason why it is so relatable and the reason why I feel it is so successful, is not just that she put all her considerable talent into it, but because she put her whole heart into it.
I’m writing this post because this is how I want to say goodbye to Harry Potter. I’ve put the books away, I’ve transferred the audio books to an external hard-drive and the movies have been packed up. Why? Why would I want to do this after I have obviously had such a positive and genuine experience with something actually phenomenal? Because I have to move on. I like the books, the stories, a little too much and have done for a little too long. It’s time to accept the end and enjoy it when it crosses my path from time to time (the new Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie that is currently being written, or if I ever get myself to Leavesden Studios). It has inspired so much amazing positive action that is actually making the world and peoples lives, individually and collectively, better. I think that’s amazing and deserves to be celebrated. I just know that for me, it’s done all it can. I just wanted, once and for all, to get down a record of how brilliant I think it is and what it’s meant to me. It might seem strange – how does someone say goodbye to… being a fan of something? Why, in fact, does someone need to? Surely, you just… stop? Well, that, only a fan of anything will understand and I wouldn’t know how to explain, in any case.
Bye, Potter. You did really well.