Beatrice Groves: Potter Meets Python!

Oxford University Research Fellow and Lecturer Beatrice Groves, author of Literary Allusion in Harry Potter, has written two posts over at and her Bathilda’s Notebook there. They are both in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first Monty Python television programs being aired on the BBC. Each points to hat-tips in the Potter novels that are almost certainly Rowling’s tribute to the masters of comic defamiliarization (and, yes, as my thesis in progress is a Formalist reading of the Presence’s work, it was a delight to see ostranenie in Groves’ post).

The first is about pointers in the Hogwarts Saga to Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian’ and the second is to ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail.’ Cockroach Clusters! Who knew?

My only criticisms of these delightful pieces are that (1) Professor Groves doesn’t include links to either the Bookshop Sketch or to the Pornographic Bookshop Sketch with Sir Philip Sidney (and its hilarious ‘literary allusion’ follow-up) and (2) she suggests that Rowling is “responding to” allegorical readings of Dumbledore as Jesus by naming him Brian (she would have to be responding in anticipation if she was; the name appears in Prince and the meme appeared only after DDore’s death Half-Blood Prince).

Which are complaints only to demonstrate how closely I read Groves’ latest in my great delight of stumbling upon them while searching yesterday for the Alohomora podcast link. Here is the Bookshop Sketch for your enjoyment before or after reading Professor Groves’ fun posts on the shadow of Monty Python discernible in the halls of Hogwarts!

Alohamora Podcast: Ring Composition 2

This time last year Kat Miller and the Alohamora gang at MuggleNet invited me on their super-powered podcast to speak to their global audience about Ring Composition. That first show — which you can listen to here — went over so well that they invited me back to talk in much greater detail about one pair of books, Chamber of Secrets and Half-Blood Prince, and the many correspondences between them. It was a lot of fun, even “geeky glee,” which you’d expect with readers who know the Hogwarts Saga as well as the Alohamora crowd do. Click on the link below in Kat’s announcement of the episode, have a listen, and then let me know what you think!


Wipe off the floor under where you’re sitting and get ready for another jaw dropping Ring Composition episode. Part Deux is here!

PotterMore No More! And So What? is now which is the name change covering a host of new online fandom fun from ‘Wizarding World Digital.’ The short story? JKR, Inc., is monetizing PotterMore at long last. Here is the official announcement:

Wizarding World Digital today announces the launch of The Official Harry Potter Fan Club, which can be experienced through the first ever Wizarding World app – a Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts mobile companion, and new, interactive Wizarding World website. Whether you’ve considered Hogwarts a home for over 20 years, or you’ve only recently been bewitched by a Niffler, everyone can now immerse themselves in the ever-expanding magical universe in new and innovative ways.

The Wizarding World app allows users to discover which house they belong to with a re-imagining of the famous Hogwarts Sorting Ceremony, featuring J.K. Rowling’s original questions and a new augmented reality Sorting Hat, whilst those fans that have been previously sorted can reaffirm their house pride. The new app is also packed with fresh content including exclusive videos, interactive quizzes and Secret Codes, plus the new fanzine ‘Wizarding Weekly’, putting the best of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts right at your fingertips. – the new online home of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts is where fans can enjoy all they loved from, but with a trunk full of original content and new interactive experiences. Delve deeper into the stories you love, get behind-the-scenes details and enjoy all your favorites from J.K Rowling’s archive of writing for Pottermore.

Accessible through both the app and the website, fans will be able to join The Official Harry Potter Fan Club for free. This will provide them with curated experiences from the Wizarding World, including an official Fan Club newsletter and member benefits. And soon, fans will have the option to enhance their membership experience with Wizarding World Gold, a yearly paid subscription that comes with a unique, annual gift and is packed with exclusives and special offers – all of the magic you love and more!

All these great experiences and features can be unlocked by registering for a personalised Wizarding Passport which is a fan’s magical identity and holds their defining traits such as their Hogwarts house, Patronus and Wand.

Paul Kanareck, Managing Director of Wizarding World Digital says: ‘The Harry Potter global phenomenon continues to be loved by fans of all ages – from the millions of people who discover the books for the first time to those who explore the movies, audiobooks, stage play, visitor attractions and games each year. We have a wonderful opportunity to create new experiences including a fan club for the digital age, which offers an amazing breadth of content and new interactive platforms that will give our fans around the world a truly connected experience across the Wizarding World universe.’

The Wizarding World app, available with the newly reimagined Hogwarts Sorting Ceremony can be downloaded today for free in the initial launch territories on the App Store for iPhone and Google Play for Android. Selected features will also be hosted globally online at for fans who cannot access the app at this stage.

As with the Cursed Child logo being brought into line with the published books and released films, this consolidation of PotterMore into the Wizarding World, Inc., monolith is just about making a loss-leader that sustains fan interest into a bona fide money maker, the aptly named ‘Wizarding World Gold.’ I am surprised only that it took them this long to monetize their principal web site, that so much of the content will still be free, and that anyone begrudges Rowling and her minions the Galleons of global gold they’ll be depositing in Gringotts for decades.

Your thoughts?

Summary Justice 1: The Novel Structure

As regular readers of HogwartsProfessor know, October will be dedicated in large part to discussion of the William Brodrick (writing as ‘John Fairfax’) novels Summary Justice and Blind Defence (not a typo).  We’ll start with Justice, the first book of the series, for two weeks of posts and, beginning on the 14th, we’ll move on to Defence and speculation about book three, Forced Confessions, due out in March 2020.

Why are we reading these books? Why now? I’ve explained this in previous posts at some length but the short answer is that there are fascinating parallels and correspondences between the Brodrick/Fairfax coutroom dramas and its lead players, William Benson and Tess de Vere, and the Rowling/Galbraith murder mysteries featuring Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott-Cunliffe. Beyond the famous-author-with-transparent-pseudonym, we have a brilliant couple linked professionally with the matter of justice being done with respect to murder who cannot or will not become romantically entwined. More important, we have two series with over-arching mysteries for which we are given important clues in slow release in the stand-alone novels.

Today’s first post is a very quick look at the story structure. I doubt any other reviewer’s reflex when reading a story is to chart out the lay-out of the story-telling (please send me a url if you find any of Fairfax’s readers have done this already!). I believe, though, via Nabokov and Lewis, that the story structure, a large even the greatest part of the ‘how’ of writing, makes up most of the ‘what.’ As Cleanth Brooks noted, “Form is meaning.”

I won’t be doing a full ring analysis today but I do want to note the obvious relationships of the story parts in Summary Justice and suggest not only what this means for the first novel but what it may indicate about the series as a whole. There will of course be plenty of spoilers, no apologies or warnings, so if you haven’t read the book and want to do so without knowing the finish, well, stop right here. [Read more…]

Mail Bag: Books Like Cormoran Strike?

Hello Professor,

I love all of your articles on the Strike series. I have read the series several times now and I’m dying for the next one. The detective genre is completely out of my wheelhouse as I usually read epic fantasy like Robert Jordon or Brandon Sanderson. But I’m enjoying this so much I would like to read more like it and I was wondering if you had any books or authors to recommend that are similar to the Strike series.

Hope you are having a great weekend.


Great question, Phil! Here are five recommendations for murder mystery books with a Cormoran Strike resonance:

(1) John Fairfax’s Benson and De Vere courtroom dramas

We’ll be discussing the first, Summary Justice, here beginning tomorrow! Go here for more on these stories and their relationship with Strike.

(2) Ian Rankin’s John Rebus novels

Cormoran Strike is in several ways Rowling’s re-imagining of Rankin’s John Rebus but with him set in London rather than Edinburgh and as a private detective rather than police officer. ‘Ian Rankin and Cormoran Strike‘ is a good first stop to learn about these two.

(3) P. D. James’ Cordelia Gray thrillers

There are only two, alas, but it is hard to overstate the influence of Cordelia Gray on Galbraith’s Robin Ellacott. Check out the Duchess of Malfi debts discussed here.

(4) Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie books

I’m just starting Case Histories but, having read Behind the Scenes at the Museum, Life after Life, and A God in Ruins, I’m more than confident that Rowling is a great fan of Atkinson and that Cormoran Strike and Jackson Brodie would recognize each other as types.

(5) Boris Akunin’s Sister Pelagia mysteries

Akunin is a treasure whose Erast Fandorin novels — each a different genre (I kid you not) — are an international sensation and delight. His much shorter series on a plucky Orthodox nun in Tsarist Russia who is given leave to re-join the world in disguise to investigate crimes in obedience to her bishop are personal favorites despite its train wreck of a finish to this trilogy.

I hope that helps! If others have recommendations, please click on the ‘Leave a Comment’ button up by the post headline and share your favorites in the comment boxes below!

Tomorrow, the bracketing structure of Summary Justice…