** This post contains spoilers to the Harry Potter series. If you haven’t finished the series yet, what are you doing with your life?**
As cliche as it sounds, my life was changed by a book. A book that is today celebrating its 20th year of publication.
My dad never fails to remind me that I read the book when I was in nursery: “You would never want to wait for us to read it together,” he chuckles.
While I found troubling pronouncing 90% of the book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone enthralled me with its talk of magic and potions and little boys and girls saving the world.
I would run downstairs each night, jumping up and down with excitement as I told my parents about how Harry had just escaped ‘Private’ Drive and the clutches of his evil relatives the ‘Dudleys’.
Victor Krum had it right – it took me at least a year to understand that no, my favourite character’s name was not Herminninninny.
In school, I was the little girl with squinty eyes and glasses that sat rather awkwardly on my face. My memories of primary school are that of people making fun of my teeth, or telling me my arms looked like a skeleton’s and pushing me into puddles.
I read a lot – the underneath of my pillow was laden with the books I had began to read the night before and hadn’t had the energy to move them to the bookcase a foot away.
So when Hermione Granger ran past her two future best friends, tears streaming down her face and arms wrapped around a few thick texts, I suddenly felt a draw to the book that I had never felt before.
I was never ashamed of my love of reading, nor my need to thrust my hand in the air at every opportunity to show off my intelligence. I craved the attention of my teachers, and the scathing glances the other nine-year-olds would send my way when I asked for extra homework.
I found solace in the frizzy-haired heroine, and the fact that she wouldn’t let any sort of negativity stand in her way of succeeding in life and making the most out of her education.
Harry and Ron annoyed me to no end – how dare they not want to do magic homework at a magic school. There I was, wasting away on the ten words I had to learn for tomorrow’s spelling test, and they were writing essays on parchment about dragons and spells and constellations.
It upset me when people in my school began to discover the magical land of Hogwarts and Diagon Alley – this was my world. It was my escape.
As I grew older, my love of JK Rowling’s magical universe stuck with me. Secondary school saw me adopt the ‘Harry Potter lover’ identity, and I could never bring myself to stray away from my favourite set of books.
Soon, I started to realise that I didn’t agree with a lot of Rowling’s decisions. No, Ron and Hermione did not belong together. Dumbledore was an arse, and ‘the greater good’ was just an excuse to execute his power and get away with it. Fred should have survived, and personally I think he should have ended up with Granger. The bookworm and the prankster seems like such a beautiful combination.
I began writing Fanfiction when I was 13 – no, it was not the stories with the scantily-clad wizards and intimate relationships with magical creatures. That’s just gross.
My bedroom wall was covered in post-it notes depicting my latest AU universe. I would put so much time and effort into every scene, every chapter, and every character. Hermione would always be my protagonist, and I would really just use her as a way to insert myself into a book.
I would rush home from awful days of school, where I felt worthless and anxious and sad, and pour my heart out in writing. My room door would remain closed for hours as I became completely lost in my own magical world.
Inspiration from the Harry Potter universe prompted me to begin writing my own novel. It never ever took off, nor was it ever completed. But for a 14-year-old to write over 35,000 words of something other than schoolwork, it was damn good.
I account my success in writing to my love of Harry Potter. I am working on a series of short stories, and am picking up my long-forgotten Fanfiction account to spark my love of fiction writing once more. I’m currently working in journalism, and completely attribute my attention to detail and flow of language to the different prompts that came from this little book I read when I was four.
The films are a massive part of my life as well. They could have been much more adhesive to the books, but they are significantly better than nothing. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is for sure one of my most favourite films of all time.
Obviously, I wanted to be in Gryffindor when I was younger. You didn’t see much merchandise for the other less-cool houses, and Gryffindor just seemed to be the in-thing.I
But as I’ve grown older, I’ve found that my heart truly lies in the house of green and silver. Whenever someone learns this, they always grow rather dumbfounded. “But you’re so nice,” they say. “I’ve seen you cry a few times – you wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
I FORGOT TO SHOW OFF MY 20TH ANNIVERSARY COPY OF THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE pic.twitter.com/W4QamYaTQt
— Elle Duffy (@STVEleanor) 4 June 2017
Without getting into a full 10,000 word post about the misrepresentation of Slytherin, I have to disagree. We are known for our ambition, our cunningness, our willingness to get things done and succeed over all else. We are closest to Ravenclaw in terms of wit and intelligence, but tend to think with strategy and deviousness rather than straight fact.
So yeah. Harry Potter has changed my life drastically. I can’t even imagine a lifetime where I didn’t pick up the book about the little boy with a lightening-shaped scar. And I can only hope that one day I write something that influences others as much as this has affected me.
Are you a fan of Harry Potter? Any fellow Slytherins out there? How has it affected you?