Happy birthday, Harry Potter! Here are 15 fun facts about the series that you may not know
Probably the most popular fictional character of all time, Harry Potter, celebrates his birthday today on July 31. The iconic series was created by JK Rowling, who also has her birthday today! We look at some fun facts about the character, the book series and the hit movies, that you may not know:
1. Rowling says the idea of Harry Potter fell into her head during a four-hour train delay, when she was travelling back to London on her own from Manchester. It started as a simple thought: “Boy who doesn’t know he’s a wizard goes to wizarding school.” She recalled, “I simply sat and thought, for four (delayed train) hours, while all the details bubbled up in my brain, and this scrawny, black-haired, bespectacled boy who didn’t know he was a wizard became more and more real to me.”
2. The Weasleys’ car, a Ford Anglia, harks back to the model and colour that Rowling has fond memories of driving around in when she was younger, with her best-friend from school.
3. Rowling has revealed that she may have adopted the name Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, from a hogwort plant she came across in New York’s Kew Gardens.
4. The dementors are based on Rowling’s struggle with depression after her mother’s death. Rowling’s mother, who had multiple sclerosis, died in 1990, after which Rowling suffered a period of depression. She would use the experience to characterize the Harry Potter’s dementors, creepy creatures that feed on human emotion.
5. Rowling tipped Alan Rickman off to Snape’s motivation. She also tipped Radcliffe off to Harry’s fate partially to get more depth in the characters which we see in the movies.
6. The film’s make up artists applied the lightning bolt scar 5,800 times over the course of eight films. The scar was applied to Daniel Radcliffe’s face 2,000 times and the rest went on film and stunt doubles. Radcliffe also went through 160 pairs of Harry’s round-frame glasses.
7. Harry's parents James and Lily are soulmates because the Patronus charm is a physical representation of one’s soul. Because James' is a stag and Lily's is a doe they are a perfect fit together. And because Professor Snape was in love with Lily, his Patronus transformed into a doe when she died.
8. The first Harry Potter book was published in 1998, the same year the final Battle of Hogwarts was fought. Rowling had said, "I open at the close"
9. After the fragment of Voldemort's soul inside Harry was destroyed as the true final Horcrux, Harry lost his ability to speak Parseltongue. It's kind of sad, in a way, since Harry had been able to use that gift to his benefit several times.
10. After being the worst villain in the Harry Potter franchise, Dolores Umbridge ended up in Azkaban. The reason, according to Pottermore, was that she took part in imprisoning, torturing, and even ordering the deaths of some innocent witches and wizards in the Second Wizarding War. However, being the worst literary villain since Hannibal Lecter is also a pretty great reason to be thrown in Azkaban on its own.
11. Minerva McGonagall is forward-thinking and resourceful, brilliant and occasionally brooding. But what you might not know is that, like Batman, Minerva has made it through a lot of tragedy. Her first love was a muggle, for whom she almost left the wizarding world. Sadly, he was murdered by Voldemort in an anti-muggle attack. Minerva's second partner, who worked with her at Hogwarts, also lost his life because of dark wizards. Heck, McGonagall's home was even destroyed, which is why she now lives at the school. But through all that tragedy, Minerva is one of the most steadfast, courageous, and righteous witches in the HP world. She will always do what's good, no matter the sacrifice she must make. Without her, Hogwarts would probably be a much darker place.
12. Hogwarts castle is unplottable -- in other words, it's hiding in plain sight. We learned from Hermione in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire that if a muggle ever stumbles onto the school's grounds, they will see a castle, but not the way wizards see it. Instead, it looks as though it's completely in ruin, and is barred by a sign warning any potential explorers away. Hogwarts' unplottability is also designed to keep dark wizards at bay, though that clearly only works as long as the school's powerful magical protections are intact.
13. J.K. Rowling was afraid of getting asked one specific question – what was Dumbledore’s wand made out of? She was afraid of this question because she thought it would give too much away if she said that his wand was made of “the death tree.”
14. Hagrid’s Hut was a real place. It was built specifically for the film but torn down immediately after Sorcerer’s Stone wrapped to avoid fans flocking to it.
15. Dumbledore’s full name, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore might be long, but each name carries a specific meaning. "Albus" is Latin for "white," which could be symbolic of his relationship to Harry or his status as the antithesis of Voldemort. "Percival" was one of King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table, who went in search for the lost grail; a reference to the Deathly Hallows. "Wulfric" is said to be a reference to the 12th-century British figure Wulfric of Haselbury, known as a miracle worker. "Brian" is said to be derived from an Old Celtic word that means "noble." "Dumbledore" is an Old English word for "bumblebee", and in joke by Rowling who stated: Since Albus Dumbledore is very fond of music, I always imagined him as sort of humming to himself a lot.
Sony PIX celebrates Harry Potter’s birthday on August 31, with a movie marathon on the channel