Real Life Muggles Named ‘Harry Potter’

I picked up a copy of Book magazine, a super slick production of Barnes & Noble, in May 2003 because it had a picture of Rowling on the cover and two or three fun feature stories. My favorite part of the magazine, though, and the reason I still have a copy is a side-bar piece titled, ‘Will the Real Harry Potter Please Stand Up?’ It has four cameo pictures of men named ‘Harry Potter’ with brief descriptions — age, work, city of residence — and each Harry’s blurb description of what it is like to be named for the lead character in a tsunami cultural phenomenon.

They were a 45 year old “director of drop out prevention in schools” in Providence, Rhode Island, a 58 year old mailman in Scotia, New York, a 47 year old funeral director in Bedford, Massachusetts, and a 67 year old “retired pastor” in Wauchula, Florida. Only the pastor was a non-reader; he said “I am a Christian and the Bible says we should stay away from witchcraft.” Even he admitted the name business is “humorous to me, though.”

I even had a person call me from London, asking if I had a son named Harry Potter because they wanted a real Harry Potter in the movie. I said I could fit in. I could be the old Harry Potter who’s lost his zap. did a search in 2005 for “ordinary people called Harry Potter,” an investigation that yielded ‘Meet the Real Harry Potters.’ The retired “naval seaman” in Florida was probably the most interesting of that lot because he was Harry Potter III and also had a son named Harry Potter.

I pulled the Book magazine off my Harry Potter shelf today, though, after reading the piece, ‘Meet the real-life muggles named Harry Potter: How sharing a name with the Boy Who Lived transfigured the lives of a knighted criminal lawyer, a fitness guru and more.’ It’s a relatively extended and in-depth look at five men named Harry Potter (four in the picture above) and the advantages and drawbacks each has experienced in the two decades of sharing a name with The Boy Who Lived. I recommend it.

The RadioTimes piece includes, for example, this strange bit of nigh on incredible Shared Text data:

This boy will be famous!” McGonagall whispered to her companion, who was placing yet another lemon drop in the mouth hiding beneath his flowing silver beard. “There will be books written about him – every child in our world will know his name!”

She was, of course, completely correct. The baby, a young wizard called Harry Potter, would soon possess one of the most celebrated names on the planet. It was a name that became emblazoned across JK Rowling’s novels, which went on to sell 500 million copies worldwide in 74 languages. Four syllables that would garner their own registered trademark and font.

And even today, almost 21 years since The Philosopher’s Stone was published, ‘Harry Potter’ is still a name more popular on Google than Donald Trump, Kanye West and Gandalf combined, not to mention 17 times more searched for than Jesus Christ.

But however right McGonagall’s prophecy was, she had overlooked something huge. While the Boy Who Lived would soon bare the world’s most famous name, so too would a set of other Harry Potters across the country. The estimated 23 Harry Potters of voting age residing in the UK, for instance.

John Lennon famously quipped in 1966 that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus.” I don’t think Rowling is foolish enough to think that, not to mention say it in public, but, if Google searches equate to popularity rather than curiosity, I guess she could.

I share a name with a Harry Potter character, fortunately “the smartest witch of her generation,” and, because the connection is only the relatively common surname not the signature ‘Hermione’ first name, I am never bothered about it in my Walter Mitty existence. As the Dean of Harry Potter Scholars, though, I get comments, invariably a tease or in good humor.

It is a standing joke, for example, that Hermione was given the middle name ‘Jean’ in Deathly Hallows (Dumbledore’s will, right?) because Rowling was making a hat tip to ‘John Granger,’ know-it-all interpreter of children’s books, who like Miss Granger and Tales of Beedle the Bard, identifies the symbol but misses its meaning. Not a very funny joke, I know, but I haven’t got any good stories to share with you about being named ‘Granger.’ Maybe being an old guy rather than a young woman keeps people from making the association — everyone that is except very young readers who inevitably ask at the end of talks if I am related to Harry’s brilliant friend.

The Tom Riddles of the world are having a much harder time. ‘What’s it Like to Share a Name with Lord Voldemort?’

Do you know a Weasley, Snape, or Potter? How is life treating them? Let me know in the comment boxes below!


Lorrie Kim on Hermione and Ravenclaw

Lorrie Kim, author of Snape: A Definitive Reading, has been posting write-ups of her talks at the 2019 LeakyCon and the Chestnut Hill Harry Potter Conference on her WordPress weblog, I posted a link to her thoughts on the relationship of Severus Snape and Albus Dumbledore last month; today I direct you to her most recent work, a discussion of Hermione’s story arc, the mystery of Ravenclaw House, and how much we are obliged to read Rowling’s work in light of her biography. She acknowledges that others disagree with a psycho-biographical reading of the Hogwarts Saga but then makes this reading the focus of her conclusions about Hermione, Ravenclaw, and what the reader is meant to take away from the story.

Though I disagree with several of her assertions in addition to this ‘personal heresy’ and was a little startled by one or two statements of fact, I enjoyed J.K. Rowling, Giftedness, and the Ghost of Ravenclaw as I do everything Lorrie Kim writes. Her Potter Punditry is informed by a signature command of text and a unique perspective on the characters and their interactions. Her thoughts on Hermione alone and her annual “projects” are worth the time it takes to read; they complement in challenging fashion David Martin’s charting Hermione’s development as a reader book to book, Stone to Hallows.

Let me know what you think in the comment boxes below! Hat-tip to an anonymous correspondent for the pointer to this Kim post.


Robert Downey, Jr., is ‘Dolittle’

Featuring a trove of Harry Potter film franchise stars as animal voices, the new Dolittle movie features Robert Downey, Jr., in the title role. I read the twelve books to my children before we met the Boy Who Lived and they loved them so much that they named every vehicle we owned then and in coming years — cars, vans, even a used RV — after favorite Dolittle animals. I don’t recall offhand anything like the adventure the Dr Downey-Dolittle film is about (he is searching for a cure to a disease Queen Victoria has) but the high seas moments evident in the trailer above are a Hugh Lofting signature.

I had to laugh when I saw that MuggleNet asked in its article about the film and its Potter connections, ‘Is Dr Dolittle a Magizoologist?‘ Louise Freeman, Hogwarts Professor and Dolittle authority, asked and answered that question back in 2016 in a brilliant piece called ‘Could Fantastic Beasts Be Dr Dolittle with a Wand?‘ I highly recommend it and look forward to Dr Freeman’s revisiting the subject in light of the new film.

Matyrs Crispin and Crispinian

Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be rememberèd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.

– William Shakespeare, Henry V

Variety: Beasts3 All About Hogwarts

Variety says the only thing that will save the Fantastic Beasts film franchise is a return to Hogwarts. Yes, fine, send the fantastic foursome and Grindelwald to Brazil, but make sure at least half the movie is with Jude Law at our favorite school of witchcraft and wizardry.

Rebecca Rubin writes in ‘Fantastic Beasts 3’: Can Warner Bros. Recapture ‘Harry Potter’ Magic? that the franchise was in serious trouble after Crimes of Grindelwald but that filmmakers know the way back to the first film’s resonance with Wizarding World faithful. the secret, according to one “box office analyst,” will be winning back the domestic audiences in the US and UK, which means ‘More Young Dumbledore.’

“The Crimes of Grindelwald” wasn’t exactly an embarrassment with $650 million in worldwide ticket sales, but it fell short of expectations and earned over $150 million less than its predecessor. What did become clear, however, was that just two films in, the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise was already starting to show signs of fatigue.

“I don’t think you can discount a movie that made $650 million, but there’s an issue any time a sequel drops that far from the original,” said Jeff Bock, a box office analyst with Exhibitor Relations. “We’ve seen what happens when a studio tries to put out a third movie in a franchise after the second didn’t do anything for audiences.”…

Part three is expected to put more of a spotlight on Jude Law’s young Albus Dumbledore and set more action at Hogwarts, with series stars Eddie Redmayne, Ezra Miller, Katherine Waterston and Dan Fogler also returning. While taking the series back to its Hogwarts roots, the third movie will also show how magic is explored in an entirely new location: Rio de Janeiro….

“If you look at what worked with ‘Crimes of Grindelwald, it was when they went back to Hogwarts. There were audible gasps from the audience,” Bock said. “People loved seeing Jude Law as Dumbledore. Hopefully J.K. and the writers realize just because the movie is set in Brazil doesn’t mean we can’t spend half the time at Hogwarts. There are things they could do to save the movie.”

Read the whole thing.

Analyst Bock is excited about Steve Kloves’ return to screenwriting, albeit as an assistant to Rowling or partner rather than a writer who adapts her novels. I expect this means that the director wants the cuts made in the shooting script and rewrites for blockbuster formula all done before he gets to the shooting and retreats to the cutting room. From this view, Kloves will be adapting Rowling’s screenplays rather than her novel — and we’re even less likely to know the story as she conceived it.

Or I’m just making too much of one analyst’s opinions. What do you think?