by J. K. Rowling
and the Deathly Hallows
Before the seventh book was published, fans speculated wildly about it. At first, all speculation was drawn from the few comments Rowling had made about the book and from reasonable extrapolation of what would likely occur in the next school year. As each previous book was released, the direction of the story became more clear and speculation grew and grew. When the title was announced, much time and effort was spent by fans trying to work out what "deathly hallows" might mean. Some weeks later, the cover art was revealed and fans immediately tried to guess what each detail represented. As was the case with every previous Harry Potter book, most speculation was wrong because the images and titles refered to situations, locations, or concepts which had not been previously introduced or which had been mentioned or described very obliquely.
Here is a sampling of the speculation which the Lexicon published during the lead up to the publication of book seven on July 21, 2007:
About the title:
- "Two figures, pearly white as ghosts, fluid as smoke, unfurled themselves from the fragments of broken glass upon the floor and each began to speak. Their voices vied with each other, so that only fragments of what they were saying could be heard over Malfoy and Bellatrix's shouts.December 21 is the Winter Solstice, and since this is the final book in the series, "none will come after."
'...at the Solstice will come a new...' said the figure of an old, bearded man....
'...and none will come after...' said the figure of a young woman.
The two figures that had burst from the shattered spheres had melted into thin air (OP35)."
'Deathly' can be a synonym for 'deadly,' but more often it is a description not of something that causes death, but of something that is subject to death, or mortal. It can also be used to describe something that resembles death - Voldemort's fingers are described as being "deathly white" (OP26).
In the middle ages, the word 'hallows' was used to describe relics of saints; if someone was to "seek hallows" it meant they were visiting the shrines or relics of saints. It was believed that the saints themselves were present within these objects, and that the objects served as a sort of vessel through which the saint was present on earth.
Hallows also played a role in British legends - for more on this, see Bandersnatch's essay, The Grail Hallows and Harry Potter.
JKR said at the Harry Carrie & Garp reading in NY that she was trying to decide between two titles, and a third occured to her in the shower that day. In an interview with the Today Show on July 26th she revealed what those title options were. (More to come...)
What we expected (before publication) about the book:
- The last word of the seventh book, according to
"scar." She says that she has written the very last chapter already
and that the last chapter
contains details of what happens to each surviving character.
JKR: "This is the thing that I was very dubious about showing you... (T)his is the final chapter of book seven. This is really where I wrap everything up, it's the epilogue. And I basically say what happens to everyone after they leave school - those who survive - because there are deaths - more deaths coming. It was a way of saying to myself, "Well you will get it, you will get to book seven one day. And then you'll need this!" So I'd just like to remind all the children I know who come around my house and start sneaking into cupboards that it's not there anymore - I don't keep it at home anymore for very, very, very obvious reasons. So there it is." (HPM)
- Harry will be in his seventh and final year in book seven. The events of book seven will take place between July 31, 1997 and the end of the school year, which presumably will be June, 1998.
- Harry will go back to the Dursleys one last time before his 17th birthday. He plans to visit Godric's Hollow and also to attend Bill and Fleur's wedding in July.
- Harry will turn seventeen on 31 July 1997, and therefore will be of age in the wizarding world and old enough to obtain a license to Apparate. Neville Longbottom will likewise be of age at the end of July 1997. Ron and Hermione are already 17.
- We will learn something very important about Lily
in book seven:
JKR: "Now, the - the important thing about Harry's mother - the really, really significant thing - you're going to find out in two - in two parts. You'll find out a lot more about her in book five, or you'll find out something very significant about her in book five, and you'll find out something incredibly important about her in book seven." (Con)
There is no university after Hogwarts and will be no further Harry Potter books.
JKR: (T)here's no University for Wizards. At the moment I'm only planning to write seven Harry Potter books. I won't say "never," but I have no plans to write an eighth book (Sch1).