Try as you might, there’s no getting away from Harry Potter. Twenty years after the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the series’ popularity shows no signs of abating, and though J.K. Rowling herself rarely goes a week without putting her foot in her mouth, (or furthering the careers of domestic abusers) the books and films continue to enthrall.
I love Harry Potter as much as the next person, though as I get older and wiser I am certainly more aware of its problems than I was fifteen years ago. But I love the stories, so news of Harry Potter: A History of Magic – an exhibition taking place at the British Library, was very welcome indeed.
So I took myself off to London on a very, very wet Saturday morning, and, after spending a couple of hours wandering around Bloomsbury, photographing blue plaques, made my way to the British Library. In all honesty, other than knowing that the exhibition would include many of the original notes and doodles made by Rowling during the writing of the series, I didn’t know much else about what I’d be seeing. So I was pleasantly surprised to learn, once I’d entered, that there was a whole other element to it – something that should have been apparent from the name of the exhibition: A History of Magic. Alongside the very exciting notes and doodles, there were rare books, magical objects and artefacts peppered throughout covering each of the main subjects that Harry and his classmates study at Hogwarts.
It added a really fascinating dimension, as much of the inspiration for the subjects come from these traditions of folklore and magic. It’s also very humbling to stand next to a book that is hundreds of years old and realise that you are but a blip in the universe!
Of course, I did particularly enjoy seeing Rowling’s handwritten notes planning the stories, and Jim Kay’s drawings and illustrations are truly wonderful – my favourite was his drawing of Hagrid.
Photography was not allowed in the exhibition, of course, so I wasn’t allowed to take any photos to share with you, There is, however, a companion book available, which I haven’t bought yet, but I’m sure it won’t be long.
Sadly the exhibition finished at the end of February, and even before that, I think it was mostly sold out. But the book is probably a good alternative for anyone who didn’t get to see it, and I believe that some of the exhibits are going on tour around the world.
This was another 36 Before 36 item, so I’m already ahead of myself compared to last year!
1.Visit Harry Potter: A History of Magic at the British Library.