As I walked through Kings Cross on the 1st of September, I was surrounded by people of all ages and nationalities crowding around the Platform 9¾ sign, celebrating the anniversary of Harry Potter’s return to the station nineteen years after the battle of Hogwarts. I don’t think it would be inaccurate for me to say that the Harry Potter franchise is one of the most valued and sacred creations of the United Kingdom. The likelihood of passing someone in the middle of the street and them not having heard of Hogwarts is slim and dare I say, perhaps non-existent.
The constant expansion of the Harry Potter universe makes us regularly write pieces questioning its authenticity, and with the annual releases of illustrated editions of the Harry Potter novels, I have come to the realisation of just how many Potter-related products have been created over the years for the consumer’s pleasure. Is it acceptable for me to suggest that perhaps, in continuing the franchise through the means of updated storylines, the initial spark and magic of Harry Potter is slowly starting to subside? There’s such a thing as overkill, after all!
First of all, let’s go back to the publishing of the core Harry Potter novels. Alongside the standard UK versions, American versions were also published, with different illustrations and Americanized language. Along with these there were adult editions of the books where the difference was solely the cover so that adults would not feel ashamed reading a children’s book out in public. Since then, there have been numerous publications with different covers to grace your bookshelves. Then came the movies! One for each novel, apart from the final installment which was split into two. Though Potter fans were thrilled about the series being somewhat prolonged, other big movies started to follow suit (such as Twilight and The Hunger Games), and in consequence the companies were slated for trying to milk the movies and get more money. This just goes to show how much the Harry Potter films were and still are so deeply cherished.
After the books and the movies, Rowling worked on other Potter-related projects, writing screenplays for a new movie franchise, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Along with this came the fresh Pottermore, a website where fans could be sorted into their own Hogwarts house, get their wand, find out their Patronus, and unlock different facts and stories that had perhaps not been disclosed in the novels or movies.
One of the biggest add-ons to the Harry Potter universe would arguably the stage play that Rowling co-wrote alongside Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. This incredibly popular production is currently being shown in London’s Palace Theatre and tells the tale of Harry’s son Albus and his friend Scorpius (son of Draco Malfoy). The release of the play really does put into perspective how the world of Harry Potter seems to not have an end date. Not to mention Rowling occasionally tweeting little facts that have not previously been mentioned, implying that there will never be a sense of total closure when regarding the franchise.
Despite Harry Potter holding a special place in our nation’s heart, I think that perhaps things should slow down a bit in the Wizarding World. Through the illustrated editions we can relive the magic we first felt when reading the books, but due to all the new releases and updates on the beloved story, readers may come away looking for a sense of closure, which by the looks of it will not come anytime soon, if not at all.
The main issue with novels being illustrated is that lots of fans will feel like the idea they created in their mind does not match up to those in the book, but then again, this happened with the movies and the play. It all adds a sense of confusion surrounding the whole franchise. Though the story is the same there is clearly no consistency when it comes to its representation, which puts quite a lot of people off. Maybe Rowling should just let the fans enjoy the enormous amount of magic we have already been given instead of trying to constantly top it up. There’s only so much we can take!