Happy Birthday, Harry Potter!
On July 31st, 1980, 35 years ago to the day, a wizard was born to James and Lily Potter. Over the course of his life, he would come to be known as The Boy Who Lived. This young, titular protagonist of author J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series has risen in fame to become one of literature’s most iconic characters, not only for his instantly recognizable lightning bolt-shaped scar, and circular glasses, but also for his kindness, loyalty, and bravery.
In honor of his 35th birthday, here are 35 facts you might not know about Harry, his friends, his magical universe, and the impact of this franchise on our world.
Be warned though – there are spoilers ahead! So, if you’ve been living under a rock or have spent the past 17 years trapped in Azkaban… proceed with caution.
- Fred and George Weasley were notorious pranksters. Little did they know, in the first book when throwing snowballs at the back of Professor Quirrell’s turban, they were actually hitting Voldemort He Who Must Not Be Named in the face!
- Harry’s ginger-haired best friend Ron Weasley almost met his maker in the middle of the series. Luckily, J.K. Rowling changed her mind about the fate of the now-beloved character.
- Though they were not close growing up, Harry and his cousin Dudley would remain on Christmas card terms for the rest of their lives.
- The reason that Snape’s patronus was a doe was because he was so in love with Lily Potter that he adopted her patronus after her death.
- The Harry Potter series is the reason that the New York Times created a separate list for children’s books in 2000.
- In the third book, Professor Trelawney refused to take a seat at a table, as she claimed that once there are 13 people at a table and the first to leave would die. Two books later, in Order of the Phoenix, Sirius Black is the first to stand after sitting at a table with 12 other members of the Order. He is killed soon after.
- Rowling truly meant it when she penned the line, “I open at the close.” The first Harry Potter book was published in the United States in 1998; the same year that the Battle of Hogwarts took place.
- The reason Voldemort He Who Must Not Be Named can not love is because he was conceived under a love potion.
- The name of Voldemort He Who Must Not Be Named is derived from the french phrase, vol de mort, which translates to flight of death.
- Ever wonder why the change was made from Philosopher’s Stone to Sorcerer’s Stone for the American edition? It was because American publishers felt kids would not want to read a book with the word philosopher in the title, and that sorcerer better emphasized the magical themes of the story.
- Ron Weasley was originally supposed to have a bit of a potty mouth, but Rowling’s publisher nixed the swearing in order to make the book more appropriate for young readers.
- Young witch, Natalie McDonald, from The Goblet Of Fire, was a real person. Natalie was a young, Canadian fan who was suffering from leukemia. Her mother’s had written to Rowling asking her to write to the girl, but by the time she had received the letter, she had passed. As tribute, Natalie was written into the book and sorted into Gryffindor.
- Dobby the House Elf’s first and last words in the series were, “Harry Potter.”
- Though consistently attempting to escape death, Voldemort He Who Must Not Be Named died at 71 years of age during the battle of Hogwarts. The date was May 2nd, 1998.
- In order to clear up any confusion about the pronunciation of Hermione’s name, Rowling had her sound it out for tri-wizard tournament competitor, Viktor Krum, in the series’ fourth installment.
- While threatening the character of Neville Longbottom, Bellatrix Lestrange actress Helena Bonham Carter accidentally perforated Matthew Lewis’s eardrum.
- The oldest actress to portray a student at Hogwarts was Shirley Henderson who, at age 37, made her debut as Moaning Myrtle, the ghost of a former attendee of the school.
- The props department needed to create 40 versions of Salazar Slytherin’s locket as a result of failed attempts to destroy it.
- Over the course of filming all eight movies, Daniel Radcliffe went through roughly 160 pair of glasses and over 80 wands.
- As character research for the third film, director Alfonso Cuaron asked each member of the Golden Trio to write an essay about their character. Appropriately, Emma Watson turned in a well-researched 16-page essay, Daniel Radcliffe handed in a single page, and Rupert Grint didn’t even bother to write his.
- Even though, in the books, Harry Potter has green eyes, in the films the character has blue eyes matching the actor’s. Daniel Radcliffe developed an allergy to the colored contact lenses he was to wear.
- A deleted scene from Deathly Hallows: Part 1 showed a softer side of Dudley, where he shakes hands with his cousin and tells him that he doesn’t consider him a waste of a space.
- Daniel Radcliffe’s stunt double, David Holmes, was injured by an explosion during a flying scene in the Deathly Hallows. This accident resulted in the Holmes breaking his neck and left him confined to a wheelchair.
- The first cast member hired for the films was Ook, a male snowy owl who was chosen to play Harry’s pet, Hedwig.
- Harry and Ron never never actually graduated from Hogwarts. Of the three, Hermione was the only member of the Golden Trio to return to Hogwarts after the defeat of Voldemort He Who Must Not Be Named.
- Kingsley Shacklebolt became the official Minister of Magic after the Battle of Hogwarts.
- The least profitable film from the Harry Potter franchise made $90 million more than Twilight‘s most successful installment.
- The K in J.K. Rowling stands for ‘Kathleen,’ which is not actually the middle name of Joanne Rowling, but is instead the name of the author’s grandmother.
- Before being picked up by Bloomsbury, 12 different publishers turned down Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
- Eventually, Harry, Ron, and Hermione all received the honor of appearing on chocolate frog cards, something that Ron considered his greatest accomplishment.
- Initially, Neville had asked the Sorting Hat to place him in Hufflepuff, as he was intimidated by Gryffindor’s reputation for courage and bravery.
- J.K. Rowling is co-producing a new play for the London stage called Harry Potter and the Cursed Child which is expected to debut in 2016.
- Hufflepuff has produced the smallest number of dark wizards.
- As part of scoring a coveted marketing tie-in with the franchise, J.K. Rowling insisted that Coca-Cola donate $18 million to the U.S. Reading Is Fundamental campaign.
- Harry Potter shares his birthday with J.K. Rowling; she is 15 years his senior.