Park Inn Leavesden Ticket Contest: First Contestant, Please!

As posted here last month, in the first of what the faculty hopes are a series of HogwartsProfessor Short Essay Contests, we asked you to write a 500-750 word composition, poem, fictional vignette, whatever in answer to the question, “When I am asked why I love the Hogwarts Saga, I answer…” This week we are  posting the best responses we received by the 1 March deadline  — and the essay receiving the most votes in a tally this weekend will earn its author two free tickets to the Warner Brothers Studio Tours, London, a $100 value.

We won’t be paying your air fare to see the famous Leavesden Studios if you’re in North America, of course, or your stay, alas. Getting there is your job. We recommend with enthusiasm, though, that you make reservations at the Park Inn Watford  hotel, which establishment has kindly provided us with these tickets for a promotional give away. Hurrah!

Without further introduction, then, the first contestant’s entry:

When I am asked why I love the Hogwarts Saga…

I got into the Harry Potter universe much later than most. In fact, all of the books had been released and out in the wild for almost three years before I finally caved and picked up “Sorcerer’s Stone”. Almost exactly one month later, I put down a tear-stained “Deathly Hallows” and deemed the series the single-best piece of literature I had ever read, which still stands to this day. Since then, I’ve been hugely involved in the Potter community, discussing outlining themes, making in-depth character analyses, and having heated arguments with other fans regarding changes made in the book-to-movie adaptations. Yet as I sat down to write this essay, I found myself utterly unprepared to answer the seemingly simple question, “Why do I love Harry Potter?” Quite frankly, it’s not a question I’m asked very often. With Harry Potter being the huge phenomenon that it is, people already tend to know what its appeal is. Yet after some very deep reflection, I think I’ve finally worked out why I’m so hopelessly in love with this series.

My first instinct when asked this question was to note the great qualities of the series. I’d talk about the fantastic writing of Miss Joanna Rowling, which is especially impressive considering her target audience was children. I’d discuss the characters, and how each and every one of them is brimming with personality. I’d bring up the plot, which not only sidesteps most common storytelling tropes, but incorporates huge outlining themes intricately woven into the entire series. And last, I’d bring up the fact that she not only created a new universe, but a brand new, fully realized culture that is a joy to immerse into.

Yet while all of these things are undoubtedly true, they don’t fully explain the adoration that I and millions of others have for the series. There have been a countless number of authors equally as talented at telling a story, hundreds upon thousands of great literary characters, and dozens of well-crafted fantasy universes. So what is it that separates Harry Potter from the rest? Certainly it’s none of the technical things I just mentioned. The attraction runs so much deeper than that, on a much more emotional level.

It could have a lot to do with the time of my life that I read them. I started reading the series right as I was entering high school. Like any beginning high school student, I was in a very rough state emotionally. I was searching for my place in the world, trying desperately to make some friends so I didn’t have to go home alone every day, and facing a constant stream of bullying that was so debilitating that I had slid into a huge depression. Harry was the best outlet I could’ve possibly been given. For a long time, my happiest moment of the day was when I got home and got to crack open the current Harry Potter book I was reading. Despite his young age of eleven, I instantly related to the loneliness and despair he felt living with the Dursleys, and being able to travel along with him as he found a place that not only accepted him, but embraced him for exactly who he was gave me so much more than I can describe in words.

But the thing I love the most about Harry Potter, and the thing that I’ll always be thankful for, is the friendships. In that lonely time period, I had no friends to speak of. No one I could call my own. But whenever I opened Harry Potter, I had two of the best friends I could ever ask for in Ron and Hermione, a family that would go to the end of the world for me in the Weasleys, a girlfriend who loved me unconditionally in Ginny, and a whole community of people who accepted me for exactly who I was. In a time where loneliness and despair dominated my thoughts, that was the best gift I could’ve ever been given. It may have saved my life.

And the very best part of it all is that despite whatever else is going on in my life, they’re always just a page turn away.

Comment as you like below — but no voting, please, until all three essays have been put up!


  1. Very well written. I can identify with everything you wrote, especially the difficulty of describing exactly what it is I enjoy about the series, when there are so many, many reasons.

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