It’s clear to everyone who reads the Harry Potter books that J.K. Rowling is an accomplished wordsmith and a big fan of wordplay. She clearly delights in choosing just the right names for characters and other things in the wizarding world. With that in mind, I’d like to take a moment today to look at some examples of anagrams to be found in the series.
J.K. Rowling first introduced the idea of wordplay with the Mirror of Erised in Philosopher’s Stone, where a simple reversal of letters gives us the word ‘desire.’ She upped the ante a little in Chamber of Secrets where we see that Voldemort himself engaged in a little anagram fun with ‘Tom Marvolo Riddle’ becoming ‘I am Lord Voldemort.’
That was all the encouragement fans needed to set them off searching for other anagrams within the books, hoping to stumble upon one that might reveal a clue to a future plot line. It certainly helped to generate lots of fan theories back in the days when we were waiting years for the next book release.
While not giving away any future plots, eagle-eyed readers noticed that the title of the first chapter of Goblet of Fire – “The Riddle House” – anagrammed to Three Should Die; a nice summation of the events of the chapter.
In Order of the Phoenix, when Neville visits his parents in the closed ward at St. Mungo’s, his mother presses a gum wrapper into his hand. Rearranging the letters in ‘Droobles Best Blowing Gum’ gives you ‘Gold bribe below St. Mungo’s’ which led to a complicated theory suggesting that Neville’s parents weren’t really insane but were being deliberately kept in that state by some evil plot! While the idea turned out to be incorrect, it was a lot of fun speculating.
To me, one of the most awe-inspiring anagrams comes not directly from the books, but from the movies. The director of the fourth film was Mike Newell, so it could be referred to as, “Mike Newell’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” Take those letters and rearrange them, and you get, “Enthralling film, yet we prefer to read the books.” Trust me, it really works! Write it down and try it for yourself. Someone once said that anagrams never lie, and I don’t think any of us could argue with that one!
In an upcoming episode we’ll look at whether anagrams can provide hidden meanings to some of our favourite characters.
In the Harry Potter Lexicon Minute podcast you’ll hear the voices of our editors sharing some of the many little things which delight us about the Wizarding World. In each podcast, just a couple of minutes in length, we’ll talk about anything from cool trivia and interesting canon passages to the latest Wizarding World news. We hope you’ll join us! And we’d love to hear from you as well. Feel free to use the comment section on the blogpost for each podcast to post your thoughts.
And if you want to create a podcast of your own, check out PodBean's hosting service.
Music: "Winter Chimes" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License