Running of the Harrys in the Future?

Last week in Key West, folks celebrated what would have been Ernest Hemingway’s 110th birthday with their annual Hemingway Days, a week-long celebration of all things Hemingway, including a look-alike contest, writing competition, and, my personal favorite, the running of the Hemingways, sort of like the  running of the bulls in Pamplona, only with all the Hemingway wannbes instead of bovines. Considering the heat in Florida in July and the fact that most folks go in for the later-in-life Hemingway look, it might actually be more dangerous than the bull running. I hope EMTs were on hand.

What does this spectacle have to do with our discussions here? Well, after enjoying watching all the great character impersonators at Infinitus (I don’t go in for that myself, but I really enjoy observing. I should just wear a sign that says, “Nope, these are just my regular clothes”), I noticed a few interesting trends. While some characters have many folks who want to adopt their look, others seemed absent; completely missing, unless I missed her, was anyone dressed up as Rowling herself. Which leads me to wonder how we will honor her in future years. Will people want to have Rowling make-overs? Is there a big future in Rowling impersonators, or will we be content to mug as the characters she has created?

How about some of our other authors? Having already been mistaken for Stephenie Meyer once, I might have a future there, myself. I wonder which of our living authors will someday have their own crazy celebrations. I can’t see the Maine crowd going in for the sort of nonsense one can get away with in Key West, but Stephen King impersonators would certainly be interesting, or just really disturbing. Certainly, only a few authors of yesteryear get this sort of treatment. Mark Twain does occasionally turn up at large Civil War re-enactments (though not like the Lincoln impersonators, who have their own society), and no Ren Faire would be complete without a Shakespeare or twenty. Why don’t the Baltimore Ravens have a Poe look-alike seating section at their games?  Why do we want to be made over in the image of a writer we admire, or just happen to resemble?  What writers would you like to see with their own festivals of look alikes (or not!)?


  1. Louise M. Freeman says

    I’ve been to two premiere parties in (admitedly crude) costumes… once as Professor Sprout and once as Hepzibah Smith (I got the pink robe, but was apparently not old, rich or fat enough, since people kept mistaking me for Umbridge).

    The best costume of the night was a girl dressed as Mrs. Black’s portrait, complete with cardboard frame and curtain. If I ever do another costumed event I’m stealing that idea.

    I think authors known for a body of work, rather than just one series, are better candidates for costumed imitators. And, since her characters have such interesting and flamboyant costumes, I can’t see a bunch of costumed Jo’s attracting much attention.

  2. Elizabeth says

    Me either, Louise. I keep thinking of the end of one of my favorite seasonal treats, the Muppet Family Christmas. The Muppets, having all descended on Fozzie’s unsuspecting mother for Christmas, are singing carols and enjoying themselves, while a bemused Jim Henson watches from the kitchen and after stating that he likes it when they have a good time, decides to get to washing all the dirty dishes.

    I’m sure you made a lovely Sprout and nicer Hepzibah than the “real” one!

    One Halloween I got in a bind on costume ideas for school, so I just threw on my Civil War duds and toted around a copy of Little Women to be Alcott. I knew a woman who was Emily Dickinson one year, but I aked her how anyone could see her, since, of course, Dickinson would have just put the candy on the porch, turned off the light, and hidden inside the house!

  3. Arabella Figg says

    There you are. Go as a recluse and you could wear anything outrageous; who could contradict your sartorial choice? Especially if you write SF. 🙂

  4. revgeorge says

    I always liked going to things as a werewolf in human form. 🙂

  5. Given that Ms. Rowling’s only clothing choices that have received public attention have been the several times, well, you know, I hope very much that we never see a Running of the Rowlings.

  6. Elizabeth says

    Indeed, John! Perhaps with proper exercise garments, it would be family friendly (certainly more so than a few of the more intoxicated Hemigways)! I was thinking more along the lines of harried-looking young mothers in sweatpants with strollers and big purses loaded with pens and notebooks racing with their mugs to the coffee shop for refills and inspiration before the baby wakes up. But then, glamorous, rich Rowling would be more flashy, sort of like choosing the older, sequined Elvis over the young T-shirt and jeans verson!

  7. Louise Freeman says

    RevGeorge: Hee! At the HBP launch party, my non-costumed friends decided they were the Dursley neighbors Petunia was always spying on.

  8. Don’t forget Dickens. California has (or has had, not sure of the current state of their finances) Dickens Fairs to go along with the Renaissance Faires, and what’s a Dickens Fair without Dickens?

    Hogwarts Portraits are a fun idea for costumes. Can I call dibs on the Fat Lady who guards the Gryffindor Common Room? Or Sir Cadogan as soon as I figure out the horse part?

  9. maggiemay says

    what a fun discussion-this was the highlight of my week! We may be getting to the remotest regions of literary merit, but, hey, it’s summer! Will try not to feel too guilty..If I resembled JK Rowling, I’m sure I would try to capitalize on her “assets.” But no, I settled for a Professor Trelawney kind of look at the Barnes and Noble midnight party for DH. Was with my easily-embarrassed teenage daughter, so couldn’t go overboard! Had my great-grandmother’s “death pin” one of those large pins that holds the hair of a deceased relative, and added a shawl. Saw an adorable pre-schooler dressed like Hagrid and a creepy young man in a very short pillowcase as Dobby(or Winky!)

  10. Moonyprof says

    Well, I didn’t start as someone who dressed up in character–professorial gravitas and all that–but I already have a Cambridge robe from when I went there and already have a closet full of tweed. It wasn’t all that much extra trouble to slap on a mustache and draw on two scars with eyebrow pencil: brown hair and dark circles under the eyes strictly home-grown. Unlike real cosplayers, who try to act the role, I’m just wearing a costume for a bit of the fun parts of the conference, and it’s a bonus that it’s of a character I admire and often write about. One nice side bit is that people want to come up and talk to you and make friends, and I enjoy that. I like it that the HPEF conferences mix authors, academics, k-12 teachers, students, and fans. I think it’s a richer experience for everyone that way.

    At the Harry’s Birthday Party today, I settled for a Marauder’s Map T shirt, but saw a baby dressed as a Golden Snitch!

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