The History of the Harry Potter Phenomenon


    The Harry Potter series is composed of seven novels written by Joanne Rowling (whose nom de plum is J.K. Rowling), initially marketed to children of ages nine to twelve. The first book was released in England in June 1997 and each sequel was released every few years until the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final book, book seven, in 2007. Early on, then series gained positive reviews, and won awards from The Federation of Children’s Books Groups (overall winner in 1997 and 1998 at the Children’s Book Awards) and the British Book Awards (1997 Children’s Book of the Year). As the series gained popularity, it also attracted criticisms for the book’s increasingly dark tones as well as the “unchristian” inclusion of magic.

     Despite criticisms, the series gained an immense fan base, extending beyond children of ages nine to twelve to teenagers and adults. By 2000, the release of the fourth book, midnight release parties for the books became widespread, with many fans dressing up as their favorite characters. By 2008, the book series had sold over 400 million copies worldwide. Children easily identified with the series, which centered around a young wizard and his friends facing an evil from his past while experiencing bullying, friendship, being an outcast, and much more. Since the books popularity, they have been published in 67 different languages including Greek and Latin. The Harry Potter community that has developed around the books has created a way for fans to be engaged beyond just reading, including consuming or creating fan-based content (fan-fiction, videos, and websites).

     Harry Potter encompassed media outside of the written word from the famous movies first released in 2001 to video games and to commercialized products such as toy brooms and wands, becoming even more involved in a family's daily life. As of today, Harry Potter continues to be popular amongst both children and adults, and although the generation that it was aimed for has now grown up, the next generation is picking up the books to read and carry on the avid enthusiasm for all things Harry Potter.

                     American (Scholastic) Cover Illustrations                                                  British (Bloomsbury) Cover Illustrations