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Harry Potter and Me

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"I just thought maybe the moment has come just to just to say how it happened. Truthfully. And then I can at least go easy to my bed and think, well the truth's out there. And people can take it or leave it."
-- Jo Rowling

The BBC did an interview with Rowling and turned it into a television special. This special, called “Harry Potter and Me,” was exciting for fans for a number of reasons. Probably the most exciting part was when she showed bits from her notes. Rowling was shown revisiting some of the places she lived when she was growing up and commenting on how it felt to be back, which was fascinating. She made a number of comments about the books which were very informative, including some comments about whether she believes in witchcraft and a discussion about the last chapter of the last book.

Memorable lines

JKR [at King's Cross]: For me, King's Cross is a very very romantic place. Probably the most romantic station, purely because my parents met here, so that's always been part of my childhood folklore. My dad had just joined the navy, my mom had just joined the R.E.N.'s, they were both traveling up to Arbroth in Scotland -- from London -- and they met on the train pulling out of King's Cross. So I wanted Harry to go to Hogwarts by train; I just love trains, I'm a bit nerdy like that. And obviously therefore it had to be King's Cross.

JKR: Like a lot in the Harry Potter books it was reality with a twist I wanted to find another entrance to the magical world, but I didn't want a kind of time-warp thing, I like the entrances to be places that you can only find if you have the knowledge. So anyone who ran at the barrier with enough confidence would be able to break through onto this platform between platform 9 -- platform 10.

JKR: I wrote Platform 9 3/4 when I was living in Manchester, and I wrongly visualized the platforms, and I was actually thinking of Euston, so anyone who's actually been to the real platforms 9 and 10 in King's Cross will realize they don't bear a great resemblance to the platforms 9 and 10 as described in the book. So that's just me coming clean, there. I was in Manchester, I couldn't check.

JKR [in her office]: It was five years from the train journey, where I had the original idea, to finishing the book. And during those five years this massive material was generated -- some of which will never find its way into the book, will never need to be in the book. It's just stuff I need to know for my own pleasure -- partly for my own pleasure and partly because, I like reading a book where I have the sense that the author knows everything. They might not be telling me everything, but you have that confidence that the author really knows everything.

Discarded first chapters of book one: I reckon I must've got through fifteen different alternative chapters of book one. The reason for which I discarded each of them were: They all gave too much away. And in fact if you put all those discarded first chapters together, almost the whole plot is explained. This is an old notebook in which I worked out -- and again, I don't want you to come too close on this -- [flashes paper] That is the history of the Death Eaters! Where's my Portuguese diary? God... There it is! So this is a Portuguese diary, as you can see. Not filled in, because I've never filled in a diary in my life, but it had paper in it to write on, so we have another draft of book one, chapter one.

I drew a lot of pictures. I drew them for no one but me -- I just wanted to know what the characters looked like. [shows several drawings] So, anyway, that was Argus Filch; No prizes! Snape, obviously; That is Harry arriving in Privet Drive with Professor McGonagall and Hagrid and Dumbledore; There's a Gringotts' cart; Mirror of Erised; That's the Weasleys; Professor Sprout. And I like this one -- I thought I'd lost this picture, actually, because I was gonna show it to Chris Columbus, and true to form I only found it when it was no use and they'd already they'd already filmed that bit anyway... This is how the entrance to Diagon Alley works in my imagination. So Chris is gonna murder me when he finds out I had it there all along, and he was asking me how it worked, but it was buried in a box.

JKR: I don't believe in witchcraft. Though I've lost count of the number of times I've been told I'm a practicing witch. Nine...ty... let's say ninety-five percent, at least, of the magic in the books, is entirely invented by me. And I've used things from folklore, and I've used bits of what people used to believe worked, magically, just to add a certain flavor -- but I've always twisted them to suit my own ends; I mean I've taken liberties with folklore to suit my plot. Witches and wizards are a huge part of children's literature, it'll never go away. I don't think it will ever ever ever go away. Hundred years, two hundred years' time there'll be another kind of wizard story.

Sean was the first of my friends to pass his driving test and he had this old Ford Anglia -- claptop Ford Anglia turquoise, some white, which is now quite famous as the car that the Weasleys drive -- I was obviously going to give the Weasleys Sean's old car. And that car was freedom to us. My heart still lifts when I see an old Ford Anglia, which is a bit sad...

JKR: He was the coolest man in school, he had a turquoise [they're laughing] Ford Anglia, and you were pretty cutting edge, I think.

SH: And -- of an evening she'd phone up and say Come pick me up, and I'd drive down there, and we'd head off somewhere else in the car, so the car became --

JKR: -- and sit under the Severn Bridge.

SH: Sit under Severn Bridge, or or elsewhere.

JKR: And discuss Life! And drink.

SH: Absolutely.

JKR: It's a very sad life, isn't it? This, this is what we thought was exciting when we were seventeen. We used to sit down here in a Ford Anglia. Yeah, those urban kids, they don't know what they miss! [laughing]

JKR [in Nicholson's café]: I am loving writing Book Five. Harry gets to go to places in the magical world we haven't yet visited. More boy-girl stuff, inevitably. They're fifteen now; hormones working overtime. And Harry has to ask some questions that I hope the reader will think, "Well, why hasn't he asked that before?" Harry finds out a lot more, a lot more, in this book about his past.

This is the thing that I was very dubious about showing you, and I don't really know why because what does this give away? [It's a big folder] But this is the Final Chapter of book seven. Um ... [laughs] which I'm still dubious about showing you, I don't know what I feel like, the camera's gonna be able to see through the folder. So this is it, and I'm not opening it for obvious reasons. 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 here, 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 round my house and start sneaking into cupboards that it's not there, anymore. I don't keep it at home any more for very very very obvious reasons. So there it is.

Other Canon Notes

The Class List:

Rowling showed a page from her notebooks which details every student in Harry's year. This list was the source for a lot of speculation and guessing by fans over the years, in a large part because so many of the names were difficult to read on the image from the television special. Many years later (2013), Rowling wrote a short essay about this list for Pottermore. In that essay she gives the actual list and discusses some background to why she wrote it. Because many details changed from this version, the list cannot be considered fully canon. However, much canon information can be gleaned from a careful study of it.

Harry's Year
Hufflepuff Bones, Susan Boot, Trevor Brocklehurst, Mandy Brown, Lavender Bulstrode, Millicent Corner, Michael Cornfoot, Stephen Crabbe, Vincent Davis, Tracey Entwhistle, Kevin Finch-Fletchley, Justin Finnigan, Seamus Goldstein, Anthony Goyle, Gregory Granger, Hermione

Here is Rowling's actual list with a few notes. Please follow this link to Pottermore for a much more detailed description.

  • Abbott, Hannah
  • Bones, Susan
  • Boot, Trevor (became Terry)
  • Brocklehurst, Mandy
  • Brown, Lavender
  • Bulstrode, Millicent
  • Corner, Michael
  • Cornfoot, Stephen (never appeared in canon)
  • Crabbe, Vincent
  • Davis, Tracey (never appeared in canon)
  • Entwhistle, Kevin (never appeared in canon)
  • Finch-Fletchley, Justin
  • Finnigan, Seamus
  • Goldstein, Anthony
  • Goyle, Gregory
  • Granger, Hermione
  • Greengrass, Queenie (became Daphne, both she and her sister Astoria are mentioned in an interview (TLC))
  • Hopkins, Wayne (never appeared in canon)
  • Jones, Megan (never appeared in canon)
  • Li, Sue (never appeared in canon)
  • Longbottom, Neville
  • MacDougal, Isobel [original name Katrina crossed out] (became Morag)
  • Macmillan, Ernest
  • Malfoy, Draco
  • Malone, Roger (never appeared in canon)
  • Moon, Lily (never appeared in canon, although see Rowling's notes)
  • Nott, Theodore
  • Parkinson, Pansy
  • Patel, Madhari (became Padma/Pavarti)
  • Patel, Mati (became Padma/Pavarti)
  • Perks, Sally-Anne
  • Potter, Harry
  • [Puckle, Hermione - crossed out, name changed and reinserted, above]
  • [Puff, Neville - crossed out, name changed and reinserted, above]
  • [Quirrel, crossed out, subsequently used for teacher]
  • Rivers, Oliver (never appeared in canon)
  • Roper, Sophie (never appeared in canon)
  • [Sidebottom, Neville crossed out]
  • Smith, Sally [Georgina crossed out]
  • [Spungen, changed to Spinks, Draco, all crossed out, re-inserted above]
  • Thomas, Gary (became Dean)
  • Turpin, Lisa
  • Weasley, Ronald
  • Zabini, Blaise

Characters Introduced

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The Harry Potter Canon