As the Harry Potter era comes to a close with "The Deathly Hallows: Part 2," fans are soaking in as much of the wizarding world as the muggle world will allow. Many have read and reread the "Harry Potter" series, but over the years J.K. Rowling has spilled the beans on her decisions about characters, her personal connections to characters and her inspirations. Here are 10 facts about the series you may not know.
J.K. Rowling wrote the last chapter of the series sometime during the 1990s. But when she wrote "Order of the Phoenix" (book 5), Rowling decided to give Arthur Weasley a reprieve from death in exchange for killing two others during the Battle of Hogwarts in "Deathly Hallows."
Since the U.K. release of "The Philosopher's Stone" ("The Sorcerer's Stone" in the U.S.) in 1997, more than 400 million copies of books within the series have been sold worldwide. All seven books have been translated in 67 languages.
With the worldwide popularity of Harry Potter, several universities have offered courses based off the books: Frostburg State University in Maryland offered an honors seminar called "The Science of Harry Potter," Swathmore College in Pennsylvania offered a class called Battling Against Voldemort, and even Yale University offers a course called "Harry Potter and Christian Theology."
Quidditch has become a popular sport among Potterheads. In the International Quidditch League, there are 272 registered teams in the U.S., with other teams spread across the world in Brazil, the U.K., South Africa, Australia and several other countries.
Because of the enormous popularity of the Harry Potter series and the domination of the series on the New York Times' best-sellers list, the Times created a separate list for children's books before "The Goblet of Fire" (book 4) was released. "The time has come when we need to clear some room," said Charles McGrath, editor of the Book Review.
Rowling married a Portuguese journalist when she moved to Portugal for a teaching post after graduating from Exeter University. However, the marriage was short-lived and was followed by a devastating divorce. When she returned to the U.K. with her 4-month-old daughter, Rowling was subjected to some of the darkest moments of her life. It was from this experience that Rowling came up with the Dementors, first seen in "The Prisoner of Azkaban," noting that the hooded creatures suck the happiness and personalities out of their victims.
The first book begins with the deaths of Lily and James Potter, and throughout the series Harry continues to lose those close to him. Rowling was driven by the theme of death because of the loss of her own mother, who battled with multiple sclerosis and died at 45 years old. "I so understand why Voldemort wants to conquer death. We're all frightened of it," she said in an interview with the Telegraph.
"Chamber of Secrets" is dedicated to Sean Harris, who was not only one of Rowling's inspirations for Harry's ginger best friend, Ronald Weasley, but he was also the owner of a real turquoise Ford Anglia, exactly like the car Harry and Ron rode to Hogwarts in during the second book.
Though Rowling admits that several of her characters are an extension of herself, she said Hermoine is the one closest to her own personality, especially when she was younger. "I did not set out to make Hermione like me, but she is a bit like me. She's an exaggeration of how I was when I was younger," Rowling said in an interview at the Edinburgh Book Festival in 2004.
From the very beginning, Rowling said Severus Snape was one of her favorite characters to write. In 1999, she told a classroom of young fans that Snape was one of her favorite characters behind Harry Potter, because "he's a deeply horrible person." She also expressed the difficulty in writing Snape's character because of the hints she had to drop throughout the entire series about his past and character.