Whether you’re definitely a wizard or a Muggle who’s only watched a couple of the films, there’s absolutely no denying that Harry Potter is a cultural phenomenon. JK Rowling’s magical series will never be forgotten, and it’s taking the world by storm even more than twenty years on. Today, it’s much more than a book series and a film franchise. There’s a dedicated Harry Potter theme park, Harry Potter shops in London and castles where you can learn how to play Quidditch. Keep reading to learn some surprising facts about the magical wizarding world of Harry Potter.
Harry Potter and JK Rowling share a birthday
Both the actor and the wizard were born on July 31.
Rowling first wrote down the Hogwarts house names on an aeroplane vomit bag
Many people strongly identify with a certain Hogwarts house, including many celebrities. So it comes as a surprise to many that Rowling first wrote the words Slytherin, Ravenclaw, Gryffindor and Hufflepuff on an aeroplane vomit bag.
Harry Potter was named after his great grandfather
Although Harry’s great-grandad doesn’t appear in the books or films, his timeline intersects with the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ era. According to Pottermore, Harry is named after him.
Edinburgh inspired a lot of the series
JK Rowling lives in the Scottish capital, which is filled with cobblestone streets, narrow passageways, and Gothic architecture. Rowling was inspired by much of this city when writing the Harry Potter books, and you can even visit the cafe where she began writing – The Elephant House. Take a trip to the Harry Potter Studio tour in London, too – you can see the sets and exactly how they were inspired by this Scottish city.
Hogwarts’ official motto is in Latin
Rowling studied Classical languages and mythology at Exeter University, so it’s no secret that she knows Latin. The many spells in the series come from Latin, as does Hogwarts’ motto – which translates to ‘never tickle a sleeping dragon’. According to Rowling, it amused her to give an entirely practical piece of advice for the motto.
An animal production team worked on the movies
Aside from the magical creatures, there were tons of ordinary animals in the Harry Potter movies, that were overseen by dedicated animal production teams. Hedwig, Harry’s bird, was played by four different owls and Scabbers – Ron’s pet rat – was played by over a dozen rodents.
Harry Potter has been translated into around eighty languages
The Harry Potter books have sold over five hundred million copies worldwide, and have been translated into eighty different languages – including Scots, which is spoken as a first language by 90,000 people.
Peeves was supposed to appear in the films
One of the biggest differences between the books and the films is that Peeves, the mischievous Hogwarts ghost, is missing from the movies. However, he was meant to appear – Rik Mayall was actually cast as Peeves in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, but the scenes were cut after just a few weeks of shooting because the director didn’t like how the character looked onscreen.
Depression inspired dementors
When she invested in the Dementors, Rowling was inspired by her past experiences with depression, which she struggled with during her 20s. She told Oprah Winfrey that Dementors were based on the hollow feeling of depression.
Arthur Weasley was spared at the last minute
When writing, Rowling planned who’d meet a grisly fate in advance. Originally, she decided that Ron’s dad Arthur would meet his demise in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but she changed her mind at the last moment. The reason that she gave for this was that there were very few good fathers in the book, and she didn’t want to get rid of a character who’s potentially the only good father in the entire series.
Which of these facts did you not know?