Is Harry Potter One Story or Seven?

Potter Pundits Summer School, four free online classes with yours truly and a live webinar for Q&A, will be rowling out in a little over a week. To get you ready for that, I’ll be posting my videos here at HogwartsProfessor this week. Look for a survey about what you want to be sure I cover in those classes in your inboxes later this week!

We started a conversation last week about unexamined and prevalent Harry Potter ideas that shape our understanding of The Boy Who Lived’s seven adventures while also obscuring other ways of seeing them. That first post in the series revealed the obvious advantages and the not-so-obvious disadvantages of looking at the series as Children’s Literature (‘Kid Lit’). Check it out here if you are joining us mid-stream and missed that.

Today let’s talk about the idea of Harry Potter as seven distinct, stand-alone novels. We know there’s an over-arching story that connects them, especially after the return of the Dark Lord in Goblet of Fire, but is it really, as Rowling has said, just one story in seven parts? What does the predominant idea of the books as a seven part series obscure in the artistry and meaning of the work?

Quite a bit actually! Let me know what you think by shooting me an email at John at HogwartsProfessor dot com or just writing a comment in the boxes below.

Click Here for transcripts of ‘Is Harry Potter’ One Story or Seven Different adventures?

Click here for pdf ‘Top Twelve Rowling Story Sources Every Potter Pundit Needs to Read (and Re-Read)’


  1. Brian Basore says:

    I agree that they are seven volumes and one story.

    I probably just missed the latch, but The Once and Future Anglia seems to be a loose thread, and if that’s about the only one, then HP is tight writing.

    It is mentioned that Arthur Weasley’s mother was a Black, but the author doesn’t develop that detail much at all. Is the story of the Anglia an echo of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley? (Will the Anglia continue to be one of the wild things in the Forbidden Forest? Will it recognize future Weasleys? If Arthur looked for it, would it come home with him?) Frankenstein’s new Promethius searched for his creator until Frankenstein’s death, then left over the ice floes, so there’s no end to that story. Maybe JKR is sharing that joke by not knotting that thread, in which case the whole story is actually complete.

  2. Mr. Granger,

    This is somewhat off-topic, however, there’s a minor caveat I’ve wanted to bring up re: E. Nesbit in “12 Rowling Sources”. In the section detailing Nesbit’s influences, you mention her as a member of the Golden Dawn. That came as quite a surprise to me, as I was, and still am, in the middle of Julia Brigg’s “A Woman of Passion”, Nesbit’s biography.
    Brigg’s has nothing to show that Nesbit was ever a part of that particular group. Nor can I find anything in Noel Streatfield’s “Magic and the Magician”, a copy of which C.S. Lewis owned, as it turns out.

    Briggs does, however, make mention, on page 64, of the Blands belonging to a Fellowship of New Life. However, rather than having anything to do with the occult, there are hints in the Briggs text that the Fellowship had its roots in the Quaker religion. In point of fact, the Fabian Society was an offshoot of this same New Life Fellowship, and one of its founding members was, wait for it…a Quaker. So it could be possible that somewhere a normal religious society got confused and mixed up with the Golden Dawn.

    This is all I really know, or can surmise, from my own readings. So far, I’ve yet to see any proofs that Nesbit had anything to do with the New Age. Then, I’ll admit, I don’t know what sources were used in writing that section.

    Just some potential food for thought.

  3. Louise M. Freeman Davis says:

    A few years ago I surveyed 100+ of my Mary Baldwin students: Roughly 50% had read the full series; about 30% had read none. (And no, I did not petition for their immediate expulsion!) The remaining 20% or so had read part of the series, usually the first, or the first two books. There was no one who read only 5 or only 6. Basically, if they made it to OotP, they finished the whole series. That seems to fit with the idea of the earlier books being more “stand alone” and the later ones focusing more on the full, seven part story, by looking backwards and echoing elements of the first three.

  4. Brian Basore says:

    When I was reading DH I knew I was reading a book, and yet the line blurred between words and movies. I noted, ” Break I’m on page 239. This isn’t a book, it’s a fast-breaking movie. In a way it reminds me of the Kill Bill movies. Yes, Quentin Tarentino should direct this one.”

    If it was that obvious, I should trust JKR as a screenwriter.

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