There’s no arguing that “Harry Potter” is a cultural phenomenon, whether you’re a die-hard fan or a Muggle who’s only seen the movies. Here are 10 interesting facts that you did not know about the Harry Potter franchise.
1. Rowling and Harry Potter share a birthday: J.K. Rowling: J.K. Rowling’s birthday comes on July 31st; being the author of Harry Potter, Rowling took the advantage of the writing license, and decided to give her birthday (except the year, of course) to her main character.
2. Rowling gave her characters names that reflect their roles in the series: Rowling’s world-building is legendary among fans, and the unique names she gave her characters are no exception. She disclosed on Pottermore that she came up with names for 40 Hogwarts students in Harry’s year, including every member of the Golden Trio, early in the creative process. Harry’s name, for example, refers to his leadership skills, while Ron’s refers to his function as a sidekick. “Harry” is a Middle English variant of the name “Henry,” which has been popular among English kings for ages. Rowling appears to have based “Ronald” on the Old Norse “Rögnvaldr,” a title for a ruler’s adviser. Hermione’s name, which comes from Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” (as well as Greek mythology in general), has less to do with her personal characteristics and more to do with her Muggle parents’ desire to come up with a witty pseudonym.
3. The “Harry Potter” books have been translated into around 80 languages, from Albanian to Hebrew to Scots: The “Harry Potter” books have sold more than 500 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 80 different languages, including Scots, which is spoken as a first language by 90,000 people.
4. Rowling jotted down the Hogwarts house names on an airplane vomit bag: Many people, including celebrities, connect strongly with a Hogwarts house. Rowling first scribbled the words Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff on the back of an aircraft puke bag, which may surprise you. In 2017, she divulged this tidbit on Twitter.
5. When she invented Dementors, Rowling drew from her past experiences with depression: Rowling struggled with depression when she was in her twenties. Dementors, she said in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, are based on the “hollowed-out feeling” of sadness. “I know sadness. Sadness is to cry and to feel. But it’s that cold absence of feeling — that really hollowed-out feeling. That’s what Dementors are,” she stated.
6. Rowling planned in advance who would meet a grim fate in the series — but she decided to spare one character’s life at the last minute: One of the plot aspects that Rowling planned ahead of time is character deaths. She had intended for Ron’s father, Arthur Weasley, to die in “Order of the Phoenix,” but she altered her mind. In a 2007 interview with “Today,” she said, “I think part of the reason for that is there were very few good fathers in the book.”
7. Some of the most expensive costumes to make were the Hogwarts uniforms: The Hogwarts uniforms were arguably of the most expensive clothes in the series to produce because they contained silk ties and wool sweaters. She previously told Insider, “I never wanted to use anything but the most beautiful material.” “The ties are silk, the sweaters are wool, and the gowns are made of a very expensive material.”
8. Some of the food on set was real: Despite the fact that part of the food in the “Harry Potter” films was painted resin, there were edible things in the mix for the feast scene in “Goblet of Fire.” Try some of the wonderful options at Universal Studios’ Wizarding World of Harry Potter, from butterbeer to bangers and mash, if you want to eat like a Hogwarts student.
9. Edinburgh, Scotland, where Rowling resides, provided a ton of inspiration for the series: The Gothic architecture, cobblestone streets, and tight alleys abound in Scotland’s capital. From Greyfriars Kirkyard, where the “genuine” Tom Riddle is buried, to George Heriot’s School, a private institution whose turreted architecture inspired Hogwarts, Rowling was fascinated by the city’s locations.
10. Like the multitude of spells in the series, Hogwarts’ official motto is also in Latin: Rowling is well-versed in Latin, having studied Classical languages and mythology at Exeter University. The series’ many spells, as well as Hogwarts’ motto, “Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus,” (“Never tickle a sleeping dragon”) are based on that old language. “You know the way that most school slogans are things like persevere and nobility, clarity, and fidelity or something,” Rowling noted in a 2005 BBC interview “it just amused me to give an entirely practical piece of advice for the Hogwarts school motto.”