Happy birthday, J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter! The author of the beloved fantasy novel series turns 49 on July 31. She shares her birthday with her most famous character, The Boy Who Lived.
In our house, and a million others around the world, Harry Potter was simply magic. My eight-year-old hated to go to bed. Then I heard about a new captivating children’s book by an unknown British author. I hit upon the idea to read it to him, which I hadn’t done since his preschool years. Aw, Mom! By the end of the first chapter, he was hooked, and so was I. The rule was: no reading ahead. We had to read it together (Dad was in bed with us every evening by chapter three). We devoured each Potter book. My son’s creative writing improved, his vocabulary increased, he aced the SAT’s and went off to college. Thank you, J.K. Rowling!
Of course, we all now know how this story goes: J.K. Rowling’s wizard grew into a worldwide phenomenon with 450 million books sold, 7.7 billion world-wide movie gross, a theme park in Orlando, Florida, and a formerly destitute single mom author whose net worth now is nearly a billion dollars US.
But it all started with The Sorcerer’s Stone, that first book Rowling spent six long years writing longhand at her neighborhood the coffee shop while her baby daughter napped. As an author, I admire her determination and stamina. Six years is a long time to persevere on a single writing project. However, I’m sure she kept herself engaged by writing snippets of upcoming books in the series. She says she knew every bit of the plot before she started writing.
So to honor J.K. and Harry’s birthdays, I’ve put together this list of my favorite Harry Potter quotes:
1. “I can teach you how to bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses. I can tell you how to brew glory and bottle fame, and even put a stopper in death.” ~Professor Severus Snape, The Sorcerer’s Stone.
Oh, Professor, how I love thee. Your character hooked me from the start—as did Alan Rickman, your screen persona.
2. “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we are, far more than our abilities.” ~Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, The Sorcerer’s Stone.
3. “To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” ~Albus Dumbledore, The Sorcerer’s Stone.
4. “We’ll be needing a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher…Dear me, we do seem to run through them, don’t we?” ~Albus Dumbledore, The Half-Blood Prince.
5. “Well – it’s just that you seem to be laboring under the delusion that I am going to – what is the phrase? – come quietly. I am afraid I am not going to come quietly at all, Cornelius. I have absolutely no intention of being sent to Azkaban. I could break out, of course – but what a waste of time, and frankly, I can think of a whole host of things I would rather be doing.” ~Albus Dumbledore, Order of the Phoenix
Dumbledore is my other favorite character. Deep thinker, but with a wicked sense of humor. Caring but ruthless. Just before the sixth movie came out, JK revealed Dumbledore was gay. “I was in a script read through for the sixth film,” she said, “and they had a Dumbledore line to Harry early in the script saying, ‘I knew a girl once, whose hair…’ [laughter]. I had to write a little note in the margin and slide it along to the scripwriter.”
She was asked if Dumbledore was ever truly in love, and she said yes, he loved Gellert Grindelwald. The two made plans to find the Deathly Hallows and wield their new-found power as Masters of Death and lead a revolution to create a benevolent global order. Their partnership fell apart after the two were involved in a three-way duel with Aberforth Dumbledore that resulted in Ariana Dumbledore’s death.
6. “I’ve already read chapter two,” said Hermione.
“Well then, proceed to chapter three.”
“I’ve read that too. I’ve read the whole book.”
Professor Umbridge blinked but recovered. ~Hermoine Grainger, Order of the Phoenix.
Hermoine, the little know-it-all with the big heart. Rowling says there is a bit of Hermoine in her. I’d like to think there’s a bit of her in all of us.
7. Flitwick: “You do realize we can’t keep out You-Know-Who indefinitely.
Minerva McGonagall: “That doesn’t mean we can’t delay him. And his name is Voldemort, so you might as well use it, he’s going to try and kill you either way.”
Much like seeing Yoda grab a light saber and fight in the Star Wars prequels, seeing Professor McGonagall take a stand against the Hogwarts takeover by the Ministry and face off against Severus Snape was a big, badass moment in the Harry Potter series. Sure, Harry fought his share of battles and would have probably relished the chance to fight Snape (before finding out what his motivations really were). But by having McGonagall fight Snape showed that this had stopped being just Harry’s war. It also showed that Rowling write female characters who were equally effective warriors. And it made Snape extremely uncomfortable, always a good scene.
8. “Oh yes,” said Luna, “I’ve been able to see them ever since my first day here. They’ve always pulled the carriages. Don’t worry. You’re just as sane as I am.” ~Luna Lovegood, Order of the Phoenix.
Luna’s talking about Thestrals, a breed of winged horse with a skeletal body, reptilian face, and wide, leathery wings like a bat. According to The Care of Magical Creatures, Thestrals got a bad rap, becoming known as omens of misfortune and aggression by many wizards because they are visible only to those who have witnessed death at least once (and fully accepted the concept). They prefer dark places like forests. I’m pretty sure there is a tiny herd in our forest. It’s just a matter of time until one appears.
9. “The origin of Avada Kedavra? It’s an ancient spell in Aramic, and the origin of abracadabra, which means ‘let the thing be destroyed.” ~J.K. Rowling, answering audience questions during a reading of The Half-Blood Prince.
10. “You have to be careful if you get friendly with me, because you tend to turn up in my books. If you offend me, your character is often nasty.” ~J.K. Rowling interview.
Joanne, I’m willing to take my chances and would love to know you personally. In the meantime, happy birthday to you and Harry.
Readers, if you could ask one Harry Potter question, what would it be? Do you have a favorite Harry Potter quote I didn’t mention?