36 Before 36 ~ Visit Harry Potter: A History of Magic at the British Library

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.

Harry Potter British Library
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!

Harry Potter History of Magic

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. 


Top Ten Tuesday ~ Ten characters I’d like to check in with

Taking part in BEDM doesn’t always mean following the prompts – for days when I don’t feel inspired by Elizabeth’s ideas, I am choosing to go another way. And the other way takes me into the path of another prompt, of sorts. I have taken part in The Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday before, and that’s what I’ve chosen to do today, though I’m going with an old topic, rather than the current one!

So this is about characters that you feel you would have liked to check in with, after the events of the novel. There have been countless times where I have wished for a sequel, so I could find out what happened with these characters next, so it seemed like an ideal prompt for me!

The Malfoys in the Harry Potter series

OK, so really, it’s just about everyone in the Harry Potter series, but specifically, I would have liked to have known a little bit more about what happened to Draco and his parents. I find their ending really interesting, because ultimately, when faced with it, their love for each other means more than their worship of Voldemort. Did Lucius and Narcissa go to Azkaban? Draco obviously gets married and settles down, but what happens to him immediately after the battle of Hogwarts?

Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility

Marianne falls deeply in love with Willoughby, but is eventually overlooked by him in favour of a rich young lady. She settles for Colonel Brandon, because he loves her, and he is reliable, and good, and she loves him in her way. But when you’ve loved someone in the way that you’ve loved Willoughby, is that life enough? I wonder if she was ever as happy with Colonel Brandon as she felt with Willoughby.

Alfie from Shirley Hughes’ series

Alfie and I are the same age, more or less, so I wonder where his life has taken him! He’s still a small boy in the stories, and Shirley Hughes is still drawing him that way, but if he was real, what would he be doing?

Eleanor from Eleanor and Park

This is probably a popular choice for a prompt like this, but of course, I’d like to know how Eleanor’s story continued. The book ended abruptly, and although you are led to believe that things happened the way everyone wanted them to, it would be good to go back and just make sure.

Darrell Rivers from Malory Towers

There’s no doubt in my mind that Darrell Rivers is the headmistress of a boarding school somewhere. In fact, she probably became headmistress of her beloved Malory Towers. But she lived in a world where she couldn’t have a career and a family, so is that how things turned out, or did she fall in love?

All of the members of the Babysitters Club

Another childhood favourite, sure, but don’t you wonder what Kristy, Stacey, Mary-Anne, Claudia et al are up to? Claudia was always my favourite, but the rest of the gang had such distinctive characters that it would be fun to find out what they got up to post middle school!

Lisbeth Salander from the Millennium series

The main reason that I would want to check in with Lisbeth Salander is simply to have a bit more Lisbeth Salander in my life. I loved this character so very much when I was reading the books, that when I finished the third one, I felt genuinely bereft. She finished the third book in a much better place than she started the first one, so hopefully she continued on the same trajectory. Of course, there’s a fourth Millennium book coming, but as it’s not written by Stieg Larsson, I can’t guarantee I’ll read it.

Rachel Robinson

As I write this, I find myself wondering if it would be Rachel Robinson, or if it would be Steph Hirsch, or even Alison Monceau that I’d want to check in with. Maybe it’s all three. They are, of course, the three characters from Judy Blume’s books Just as Long as We’re Together and Here’s To You Rachel Robinson. They are three interesting characters, but I always found myself slightly more drawn towards Rachel.

Leo from The Go-Between

There’s probably not really any need to check in with Leo, as the novel does that for us – we see him as a much older man, coming to terms with what happened to him at Brandham Hall in the summer of 1900. But it would be nice to find out how the events of the end of the novel changed his life again, if indeed they did.

Bashkim from We Are Called to Rise

Bashkim is a young Albanian immigrant, and he is the reason that I cried while reading this book. His story is a fairly tragic one, but again, there’s so much hope at the end of the story, so I just want to check in with him and make sure that he’s happy.

Who would you like to check in with?

Gryffindor, Where Dwell the Brave at Heart

You may remember, a couple of months ago, that I shared some photographs of me looking awkward in a Hogwarts t-shirt from Primark. Well now it’s time for you to see me looking equally awkward in a Gryffindor t-shirt from Primark!

I think Primark are smashing it with regards to t-shirts at the moment. Every time I go in there, I want another one, and if I can find my size (which usually I can’t, because they only seem to get about three size 16s in and they sell like hot cakes), I will buy one. My best friend Anna has become my t-shirt dealer; she phoned me a few weeks ago to say that she had seen a Gryffindor t-shirt and did I want one, and then at the weekend she presented me with a Jurassic Park tee because I had gone on and on about it the other day when we were together, and she had seen my size. It’s definitely worth having her as a best friend!

Given the opportunity, I’d have all four house t-shirts, and I have seen Slytherin and Hufflepuff, but never in my size. But Pottermore stuck me in Gryffindor, so these are my colours, as it were, and I am fond of red and gold.

Gryffindor t-shirt ~ £6 ~ Primark
Blazer ~ Stolen from my sister ~ Primark
Jeans ~ £13 (sale) ~ New Look
Sandals ~ c/o Clarks
Bag ~ c/o Choice Discount (Blog post coming soon)

My jeans are also new – I needed a pair of new skinny jeans after I discovered that my old ones were starting to get a bit holey. When I found a pair in the sale in New Look, I tried them on, only to discover that they were reversible! I didn’t need too much convincing to buy them – two pairs of jeans for the price of one, reduced to £13, and I had a voucher. You can’t really say fairer than that!

My sister-in-law Kelly took the shots, she is actually a photographer, so I could have asked her to do a proper shoot, but I just shoved my camera in her hand when we were walking through the park and asked her if she would take some photos. Ever the professional, she gave me some tips (‘chin up!”) and then insisted on a jumping shot, which she always makes people do! I love a jumping shot, so I didn’t need asking twice. (Actually I did need asking twice, because I was worried people were going to laugh, but I just tucked in my top and got on with it. And we got it first time!)

Ever the awkward non-fashion blogger, she did the best she could, and I love the top photo, of me with an ice cream! I think it’s the knee bend – it makes me feel like a proper blogger!

Four down, six to go on number seven of 32 Before 32 – do ten outfit posts.

The Bookish Side of Life #1

I’ve taken to describing Is That You Darling as a lifestyle blog with a focus on the bookish side of life. I think this sums things up quite well; I don’t want it to become only about books, but I’m a bit of a bookish character after all, and my blog is going to reflect that! So that with that in mind, I’ve decided to start a new series of posts called The Bookish Side of Life, just to round up a few of the bookish things that are going on with me lately.

I popped to the library this morning, to pick up a book that has been waiting for me for a while. I put The Chimp Paradox on my reservation list ages ago, when I heard the author, Professor Steve Peters on the radio talking about it. It sounded fascinating, but it took so long to come in at the library that I have lost some of my enthusiasm for it! I have already started reading it (walking home from the library), so hopefully I will remember why I was so fascinated with it.

I took about six books back to the library, mostly unread. I hate doing it, but sometimes I just get overwhelmed with how much I have to read, and I think it’s best if they just go back, and if I really want them, I’ll get them a second time. The idea was to take back lots and just pick up one, but I ended up having a browse of the shelves, and picking up another one too. The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress by Beryl Bainbridge took my fancy because it’s about a young couple on an American roadtrip that coincides with the Robert Kennedy presidential campaign. Anything with the words ‘presidential campaign’ in the blurb will immediately pique my interest, and it being Robert Kennedy makes it even better.

My book problem is more or less out of control. I made a list the other day of all the books I have to read, including library books, review books for the blog, review books for Essex Life, book club books and any others I want to read. It was a long list, and slightly overwhelming, so I did what any normal person would do. I reached for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and settled in for a re-read. I was supposed to be dipping in and out with a chapter here and there, which is what I did with Philosopher’s Stone, but then I devoured Chamber of Secrets within a day. It’s not really getting the job done, but I’m enjoying myself.

I’ve been baking out of a book today. My sister bought me Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe for Christmas, along with all the ingredients to make these Express Airline Altitude Cookies, and it has taken me until now to bake them! But it’s my dad’s birthday today, so along with a cake, I’ve baked some cookies. I haven’t read the book yet, but I might save it now until later in the year. It might feel autumnal today, but it’s very much midsummer!

What are you reading at the moment?