The Harry Potter Books
"It's literature, it is about what we are like, about deeper things
than just telling stories. It's just that it's aimed at an audience who
don't drink a lot of chardonnay."
The Harry Potter books are a series of stories written by Scottish author
Joanne Rowling. She writes under the pen name of J.K. Rowling, although
in reality she has no middle name (the inital 'K' was borrowed from
The books tell the story of a boy named
Harry who was raised by an
abusive aunt and uncle from age 1
until age 11. On his 11th birthday, he learns to his amazement that he is
actually a wizard and that he will be attending
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
The books tell of his years at
Hogwarts, one book
for each of the seven years.
As Harry learns more and more about
his true indentity, he also learns that he is part of a larger saga, an
almost legendary confrontation between good and evil, between him, along
with his friends and allies, and the greatest Dark wizard of the age,
Harry discovers his place in this
great struggle as his years at
Hogwarts go by and as he
finds himself becoming enmeshed in battles and conflicts.
The Harry Potter books are available in a number of editions, including
hard cover, soft cover, and audio books.
also released the books in adult editions, but these are identical to the
"children's" editions in all respects except the covers. If you're
interested in purchasing any of the books through Amazon.com, click on the
book covers on the page for that book.
Chronology of Publication
Rowling on the books
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
(Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone) (U.S. title)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The "School Books"
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Quidditch Through the Ages
About the Harry Potter books
in Rowling's own words:
These are comments drawn from the published interviews with JKR. All of
these interviews are copyrighted to their various sources.
Interview by Borders Online 1999
A Conversation With J.K. Rowling
How did you get the idea for Harry Potter?
J.K. Rowling: I was taking a long train journey from
England and the
idea for Harry just fell into my head.
At that point it was essentially the idea for a boy who didn't know he was a
wizard, and the wizard school he ended up going to.
How long did it take to write the first book?
JKR: Five years, although during that time I was also planning and writing
parts of the six sequels.
What did you have to do to make sure readers could start with
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
and not be confused?
JKR: It's becoming more of a challenge to keep new readers up to speed with
every new Harry book (I'm currently writing the fourth).
In the case of Chamber of Secrets,
matters were relatively straightforward; I tried to introduce information
about Harry and his first year at
Hogwarts in as natural a way
as possible. However, by the time I reach books V
and VI, this is going to be much harder. It
makes me think of "Previously on ER..." when you have to watch 30 minutes of
clips to understand that week's episode. Maybe I'll just write a preface:
"Previously in Harry Potter..." and tell readers to go back and read
What kind of manuscript changes had to be made to make the U.S. version more
understandable to American readers? Specific things, like the title change
of the first Harry Potter book?
JKR: Very few changes have been made in the manuscript.
Arthur Levine, my
American editor, and I decided that words should be altered only where we
felt they would be incomprehensible, even in context, to an American reader.
I have had some criticism from other British writers about allowing any
changes at all, but I feel the natural extension of that argument is to go
and tell French and Danish children that we will not be translating Harry
Potter, so they'd better go and learn English. The title change was
idea initially, because he felt that the British title gave a misleading
idea of the subject matter. We discussed several alternative titles and
Sorcerer's Stone was my idea.
Did you always plan to write Harry's
story in more than one book? If so, how many?
JKR: I always conceived it as a seven-book series because I decided that
it would take seven years -- from the ages of 11-17, inclusive -- to train
as a wizard, and each of the books would deal with a year of
Harry's life at Hogwarts.
Any hints you could share about what to expect in future Harry Potter
JKR: The theme running through all seven books is the fight between good
and evil, and I'm afraid there will be casualties! Children usually beg
me not to kill Ron whenever I tell them this; they seem to think he is
most vulnerable, probably because he is the hero's best friend!
SCHOLASTIC INTERVIEW February 3, 2000
Did you make up the plot in every aspect first by charting the characters
and knowing exactly what you would do with them, or did you just piece a
lot of it together as you wrote?
I always have a basic plot outline, but I like to leave some things to be
decided while I write. It's more fun. :-)
How did you come up with Harry Potter?
Harry just sort of strolled into my
head, on a train journey. He arrived very fully formed. It was as though I
was meeting him for the first time.
Do you write every day, and for how long do you write?
I write nearly every day. Some days I write for ten or eleven hours. Other
days I might only write for three hours. It really depends on how fast the
ideas are coming.
Why did you choose the lightning bolt as a trademark for
Just because I decided that it would be an interesting and distinctive mark.
Do you still write in cafes, or do you have to stay out of public places
while you write so people won't bother you?
I still write in cafes, but I go to different ones now!
SCHOLASTIC INTERVIEW (October 16, 2000)
My impression is that the Harry books are getting "darker" somehow.
Is this because he is growing up, and his readers have to do the same?
It's really because Voldemort is
getting more powerful, but yes, also because
Harry is fourteen now. At fourteen,
you really do start realising that the world is not a safe and protected
place - or not always.
Can you give an example of a surprise in your writing
process, such as a character you weren't expecting?
Yes, it was a big surprise to me that
Mad-Eye Moody turned out the way
he did. I really like him. I didn't expect to.
How did you think of all the cool things that happened to
Sometimes the ideas just come to me. Other times I have to sweat and almost
bleed to make ideas come. It's a mysterious process, but I hope I never
find out exactly how it works. I like a mystery, as you may have noticed
Do you ever get writer's block? What do you do when this happens?
I've only suffered writer's block badly once, and that was during the
writing of Chamber of Secrets. I had my
first burst of publicity about the first book
and it paralysed me. I was scared the second book
wouldn't measure up, but I got through it!
Do you have a favorite passage from one of your books?
Hard to choose. I like chapter twelve of
Sorcerer's Stone (The Mirror of Erised), and I am proud of the
ending of Goblet of Fire.
How did you get the idea to send Harry
to a wizard school?
The idea as it first came to me was about a boy who didn't know he was a
wizard until he got his invitation to wizard school, so there was never a
question that Harry would go anywhere else!
Has the huge popularity of Harry Potter changed the direction of the plot
in any way?
No, not at all. People have asked me whether
Rita Skeeter was invented for that
purpose, but in fact she was always planned. I think I enjoyed writing her
a bit more than I would have done if I hadn't met a lot of journalists,
Did you write Harry Potter because you like fantasy
books, or just because the idea came to you?
The latter. In fact, I am not a great fan of fantasy
books in general, and never read them!
Do you imagine the pictures or images in your head
before you write, or do you have to draw them?
I imagine them very clearly and then attempt to
describe what I can see. Sometimes I draw them for my own amusement!
Which book was the most fun for you to write?
Prisoner of Azkaban, without a doubt. But that
doesn't necessarily mean it's my favourite book. I love them all, but
bizarrely the two that were most difficult to write,
Chamber of Secrets and
Goblet of Fire - are my favourites.
Do you like being a writer?
I love being a writer. I am very lucky my life's
ambition turned out to be just as much fun as I thought it would be.