Shared Text: ‘Hogwarts and All’

The Economist magazine published an article earlier this month on ‘School Voucher Schemes’ in the United States (they are profoundly skeptical, whence “schemes”). They titled it, ‘Hogwarts and All.’

There was not a single allusion to the famous school of witchcraft and wizardry in it, but the reference was meant to tease the Harry Potter fan into reading the piece and share its ‘warty’ conclusion.

Fifteen years after the publication of the last novel in the series, Deathly Hallows, in a world of ever-decreasing attention spans and cultural memory, the Hogwarts Saga — its characters, scenes, and events — remain a shared text across generations and all geography. No doubt the new teevee show will reinforce this social fact.

Wizard Rock – For Jo by RiddleTM

I was listening the latest episode of The Three Broomsticks podcast this weekend, where talk turned to Potter inspired music and Wizard Rock. As a latecomer to the fandom I was aware that Wizard Rock existed but otherwise entirely ignorant. One of the first bands mentioned was a duo called RiddleTM. Judging from their website they haven’t been active for more than ten years, but the music is still available on Sound Cloud

One of their songs has encapsulated to me how it must have felt to grow up with the Harry Potter stories and the growth of both the fandom and the author. For Jo by RiddleTM is a profoundly moving gratitude in ballad form, and because it moved me to tears, I’m sharing it with you here:

For Jo Lyrics
July 21st 1997 and no one had heard of you.
But one decade later there’s queues at the door
People placing their order and shouting for more.
How far you have come
How far you have come.
Enchanted the world with a story you wrote
Of a boy who was ordinary
And now parents read to children who have long been asleep
‘Cause they want to know more about wizard Harry.
How far you have come
How far you have come.

(Chorus)
So Ms Rowling
Here is a song I wrote for you
‘Cause I’m grateful for all that you’ve taught me
And inspired me to do.
You showed me good triumphs over evil
And you taught the whole world how to read
So thank you Ms JK Rowling
Thank you so much for Harry.

Though all 7 books have been finished and read
The magic is still burning strong.
And we who were there will never forget
The anticipation we felt for so long.
How far you have come
How far you have come.
And we grow up with Harry, the Boy Who Lived,
Who has helped us through all the bad times.
And the theories and mysteries, the questions and clues
Were the talk of the forums and in our hearts too.
How far you have come
How far you have come

(Chorus)

So we’ll raise our pumpkin juice and our butterbeer
And we’ll sing about the great things you’ve done.
And we’ll be happy now Voldemort’s defeated
And we’ll cheer for Harry who won.

(Chorus)

So Ms Rowling
This is the song I wrote for you.
Here’s to you now and to your future
And I just wanted to say thank you.

For Jo Lyrics by RiddleTM

Real-Life Fantastic Beast #14: Introducing Macrobiotus naginae.

As longtime readers know, one of my regular Wizarding world talks is on newly discovered species named for Harry Potter characters. The last time I spoke about this publicly was at 2020’s online Queen City Mischief and Magic Festival, when the count was 12:  1 dinosaur, 1 extinct lizard, 1 crab, 1 snake, 2 stink bugs, 2 wasps, and 4 spiders. Since then, one more “potter wasp” was added to the collection in 2021.  At the end of 2022, however, a 14th animal joined the menagerie:  the Finnish tardigrade, Macrobiotus naginae.

 

This microscopic critter is by far the smallest of the collection so far, as well on of the more interesting. Tardigrades are tiny, but among the hardiest of animals on our planet, capable of surviving extremes of temperature, pressure, drought, starvation and even the vacuum conditions of space. As for the name, like the stink-bug Graphorn bicornutus, draws inspiration from the Fantastic Beasts films rather than the book series proper. As stated in the scientific paper describing the discovery:

Etymology: Named after J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter book series character Nagini –Lord Voldemort’s treasured snake companion. Formerly a cursed woman who is ultimately and irreversibly transformed into a limbless beast, this fictional character provides a fitting name for the new species in the pseudohufelandi complex, which in turn is characterized by reduced legs and claws.

You can read more about these Wizarding World inspirations here and here.

Shared Text: Philosopher’s Stone Ending

This piece is funny on several levels, but I post it here just to note that the Babylon Bee, a satire site,  assumed that everyone reading it would be that familiar with the ending of a book published twenty-five years ago.

They assumed that because, oddly enough, it happens to be true, one more demonstration that the Hogwarts Saga remains the global shared text.

Harry Potter Still Magic – Bloomsbury Reports

The publisher for Harry Potter in the UK, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, reports a 35% increase in sales for the series in it’s interim financial report for 2022.

Sales of Harry Potter titles were strong, up 35%. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was the 2nd bestselling children’s book of the year to date on UK Nielsen Bookscan, on the 25th anniversary of its first publication, showing the enduring appeal of this classic series

BLOOMSBURY PUBLISHING PLC
Unaudited Interim Results for the six months ended 31 August 2022

In the last full year report for 2022 Harry Potter sales grew by 5% compared with a growth of 2% in other Children’s titles. How important the books are for Bloomsbury can be judged by the 2021 report which shows seven of their top ten best selling titles come from the series. Two of these, including the top spot are for complete boxed sets. Given that this report contains the year that Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was given away free to the world as we struggled with Covid lockdown, it is amazing to think that sales increased 7% that year too.

While idly checking out the company’s financial report, I thought it would be fun to check out the first mention of J.K. Rowling’s works in the 1997 report:

… the Smarties prize [was awarded] for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by Joanne Rowling. …

… The second in the children’s Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, will also be published later this year.

BLOOMSBURY PUBLISHING PLC
Results for the twelve months ended 31 December 1997

And compare it with the report for 2007, when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published:

2007 saw the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final title in the Harry Potter series. With 2,652,656 copies sold out of UK bookshops on the first day of release, the book exceeded all expectations. With all seven books in the series now published, the books are available in a range of box sets and formats. The series will remain a children’s classic for years to come.

Revenue in Children’s increased 261.4% to £98.92m (2006, £27.37m). Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, published in July 2007, was the main contributor to the increase. Gross profit for Children’s for 2007 increased 198.9% to £39.60m (2006, £13.25m) with the contribution to administrative expenses up 219.6% to £30.01m (2006, £9.39m).

BLOOMSBURY PUBLISHING PLC
Results for the twelve months ended 31 December 2007

While the kind of performance shown in the 2007 report may belong to publishing folklore, Harry Potter is still a force in publishing, and growing stronger every year.