Beatrice Groves’ Five Magic Plant Posts

Friend of this blog Beatrice Groves, Research Fellow and Tutor at Trinity College, Oxford University, and author of Literary Allusion in Harry Potter, has been writing articles for Harry Potter fandom mega-sites MuggleNet.com and The-Leaky-Cauldron.org. MuggleNet has created a home for her posts on everything from Shakespeare allusions in the Hogwarts Saga to Cratylic Names in Cormoran Strike, a dedicated page called ‘Bathilda’s Notebook.’

Prof Groves writes less frequently for Leaky (see her three part discussion there from July about the 2005 JKR-Lev Grossman interview) but has just finished a five-part survey of Rowling’s use of traditional plant lore in the Harry Potter novels. My favorite is the fifth and concluding part in which she reveals the alchemical side of plants (and makes a great catch, a first I think, of the hermetic items for sale in Diagon Alley), but all five have Groves’ characteristic wit and insight.

Who knew Culpeper’s Complete Herbal was so important to Rowling’s potions work and alchemical drama? “Not I,” says the Dean. I include links to the five posts below for your convenience in finding and reading all five. Enjoy!

“Harry Potter: A History of Magic” and Plant Lore:

Lethal White: Beatrice Groves on ‘Galbraith Meets Graham Norton’

Prof Beatrice Groves, a Research Fellow Lecturer at Trinity College, Oxford University. Her groundbreaking Literary Allusion in Harry Potter was published in 2017. She is a frequent guest on the MuggleNet podcast, ‘Reading, Writing, Rowling‘ and writes for that fandom platform on her dedicated page, ‘Bathilda’s Notebook.’ A frequent contributor to conversations at HogwartsProfessor.com (HogPro), Prof Groves last posted here to discuss the ‘Nagini Maledictus in Fantastic Beasts.’ Today she writes about the Robert Galbraith interview last week with Graham Norton on a BBC2 radio show. Enjoy!

‘I really enjoyed writing this book, it’s probably my favourite of the series both in terms of how it turned out and but also sheer enjoyment. I loved it, I really did.’

On Saturday J. K. Rowling gave a radio interview about Lethal White to Graham Norton on BBC Radio 2. [You can listen to the interview via this link; it begins at 2:30:00.] This is ‘Robert’s’ most in-depth interview since Val McDermid’s in 2014 (cf., Val McDermid interviews JK Rowling (Robert Galbraith) at Harrogate International Festival 2014) and you can hear how much more relaxed Rowling is in it than in her recent televised appearances in America promoting Crimes of Grindelwald and Lumos.

This is possibly due to the warmth of Graham Norton (he’s a very successful chat show host with a great track record of getting the best out of his interview subjects) and her not being jet-lagged (!) but – most likely – it shows the natural preference of a public-speaking phobic celebrity for the medium of radio. But some of her warmth in this interview can, I think, be attributed to the fact that she’s talking about a work that she loves.

Norton asked her whether it made her happier to see her films or her novels at No. 1 and – no surprise to HogPro readers here – she admitted that the success of Strike gives her more of a kick than the Fantastic Beasts movies (however different the paychecks). Much of what she said in this interview we’ve heard before (the story about her cover nearly being blown while her husband was eating a ‘research’ fry-up, for example) but much of it was slightly more fully expressed.

As when she thanked the many listeners who wrote in to praise her for getting their children to read: [Read more…]

Reading, Writing Rowling, Episode 13: So What is a Harry Potter Pilgrimage?

Don’t give up on me, please! A post on the White Horse red herring Rowling-Galbraith has been giving her serious readers the last year to set us up for a big twist in Lethal White is on its way.

Until then, listen in on this fun conversation with host Kathryn McDaniel and professors Caroline Toy and Beatrice Groves about ‘making pilgrimage’ and what that means in the context of Harry Potter fandom’s fascination with Wizarding World theme parks and film studio exhibitions. Enjoy!

From the MuggleNet page for this Reading, Writing, Rowling podcast:

On this episode, we discuss the practice of Harry Potter fan-travel to sites of importance in the writing and filming of the Harry Potter series.

Caroline Toy (Ohio State University) explains the nature and variety of fan travels as well as the emotional and psychological resonance of places associated with the Harry Potter series. We debate whether such travels are genuinely pilgrimages—and what elements of narrative and ritual contribute to the feeling among some fans that they are.

Beatrice Groves (Oxford, author of Literary Allusion in Harry Potter) helps us connect fan pilgrimages to early modern religious pilgrimages to compare how they function for those undertaking the journey. Are places where Rowling wrote the novels more inspiring or “authentic” than film sites? Through mediation, ritual, “queueing up,” and management of space, popular attractions may interfere with fans’ direct experience of a site or allow fans to enter the world of Harry Potter in our imaginations and generate a feeling of community.

And don’t forget to visit the gift shop! We also analyze the role of commerce and souvenirs in the fan travel experience. What do you take back home with you, and how does it help you remember your journey? Whether you’ve been a fan traveler or are planning your next holiday, you won’t want to miss this discussion!

Guest Post: Crimes of Grindelwald, Locks of Love, and Nicolas Flamel

A Guest Post from Oxford’s Beatrice Groves, author of Literary Allusion in Harry Potterabout the lock with Nicolas Flamel’s initials that can be found on the Crimes of Grindelwald screenplay cover. Enjoy!

When MinaLima’s new cover art for The Crimes of Grindelwald dropped on Pottermore at the end of May, the write-up stressed the Parisian nature of its design.

Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima spoke to Pottermore about the creative process behind the heavily detailed cover, and how important it was to portray France in their designs.

‘The Art Nouveau aesthetic is so strong in this film… So while there are Easter eggs and hidden gems in here, they’re all knitted in with these swirls and flourishes that really follow that traditional aesthetic.[1]

Paris is going to be an important setting for Crimes of Grindelwald – and the Eiffel Tower (central to the cover design) has been shown on a postcard in a previous photo drop. But I was interested how strongly Paris was stressed in the Pottermore write-up of the cover given that other than the Eiffel Tower and general Art Nouveau aesthetic, there is nothing else obviously Parisian about it. So, is there a Parisian Easter egg perhaps?

            Five objects stand out as breaking the symmetry of the image – the Dark Mark-style skull at the top, the quill-knot-lock above the title, and the trio of a pendant, a stone in a display case and a ‘NF’ locket below it. Let’s take a look at that stone and locket for a possible Paris connection.

[Read more…]

Reading, Writing, Rowling, Episode 10: Adeel Amini Discusses Re-Release of His Interview With J.K. Rowling in 2008

“Reading, Writing, Rowling” Episode 10: “Adeel Amini Discusses His Interview With J.K. Rowling in 2008”

I’ve explained in another post how important Adeel Amini’s 2008 interview with J. K. Rowling is. She says in it, flat out, for instance, that seeing the Christian content of the Hogwarts Saga is reading the books with your eyes open. It’s an astonishing piece of journalism from a prodigy reporter who only this year agreed to re-release the interview. Read my post for more about that.

From the MuggleNet page for the podcast With Adeel Amini:

What happens when a student journalist meets a famous author? Ten years ago, journalism student Adeel Amini spontaneously asked J.K. Rowling for an interview for the University of Edinburgh newspaper. Having spotted her in a coffee shop in 2008, he successfully landed the interview and produced a unique character study of our favorite author in the wake of Book 7’s publication.

Guest Beatrice Groves (author of Literary Allusion in Harry Potter), John, and Katy discuss the revealing and distinctive interview on its tenth anniversary with Adeel, now the owner and editor of PressPLAY OK. We talk about how Adeel handled the interview and the unusual moment during which he was able to gain this level of access. His article provided much new information about Rowling’s thoughts on the Christian imagery in the books, her response to the media frenzy over her revelations about Dumbledore’s sexuality in 2007, and her earlier experiences with depression.

Adeel quickly took down the interview as a result of the furor over Rowling’s revelations about her struggles with mental health, and he tells us about that decision as well as why he has decided now to release the interview once again. Adeel’s interview reveals Rowling as a fellow human being who, like the rest of us, has struggles and concerns about what is happening in the world in the 21st century.

Join us to hear about Adeel’s reflections, ten years later, on his conversation with her along with our speculations about queer readings of the Harry Potter books (and Fantastic Beasts), Rowling’s continual revisiting of the wizarding world and subsequent creative efforts, and her relationship with her fans and the media.

Let me know what you think!