Guest Post: Was Stephen Meredith Potter Harry’s Inspiration?

A guest post from Viktor Richardson:

In 1956, Mitford published (stenciled) a pamphlet, “Lifeitselfmanship or How to Become a Precisely-Because Man“. In response to Noblesse Oblige, the book her sister Nancy (NAZI sympathizer) co-wrote and edited on the class distinctions in British English, popularizing the phrases “U and non-U English” (upper class and non-upper class), Jessica described L and non-L (Left and non-Left) English, mocking the clichés used by her comrades in the all-out class struggle (The title alludes to Stephen Potter‘s satirical series of books that included Lifemanship).

Stephen Meredith Potter (1 February 1900 – 2 December 1969) was a British author best known for his mocking self-help books, and film and television derivatives from them. He studied English at Oxford, and after some false starts he spent his early working life as an academic, lecturing in English literature at Birkbeck College in the University of London, where he published several works on Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In 1941 he wrote a play, Married to a Genius, based on the Coleridge marriage. In 1935 he published his most important contribution to the subject, Coleridge and S.T.C., A Discussion of the Duality in the Poet’s Nature, “not merely the earlier and the later, but the true and the false, and the exciting and the nauseating,”

In 1937 Potter published The Muse in Chains: a Study in Education, a humorous satire on the academic teaching of English literature. In 1943 Potter collaborated with Joyce Grenfell on a gently satirical comedy feature “How to Talk to Children”. In 1965 when his youngest son was about 9 years old, Potter wrote a children’s book, Squawky, illustrated by George Him, with whom he had earlier created the mythical County of Schweppshire as part of an advertising campaign for a soft-drink manufacturer. At the time of his death he was making notes on word origins from the natural world; they were posthumously edited and published in 1973 as Pedigree: Essays on the Etymology of Words from Nature.

All quotes above stolen from that font of all truth, Wikipedia.

It is more than possible that Mrs. Rowling found inspiration from Mitford for the M and non-M class struggle in her books.  And there are more than a few cross connections between Mrs. Rowling and Mr. Stephen Potter, including: an English literature education, Coleridge, duality in man’s nature, satirizing of British education, writing children’s books with mythical locations and, a love of words and names. Is there at least a slight tip of the hat in H.J.P.’s Christian name? (In addition to him being the Heir of The Potter.)

I am confident you have already perused these paths and could direct me to your conclusions.

Thanks, and looking forward to your next book.

Viktor Richardson

I only wish I had known about this and written about it so I could direct readers to my conclusions! Your thoughts, dear readers?

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