There’s no mistaking it, I’m a positively HUGE Harry Potter fan, which makes this a discussion I genuinely never thought I would be capable of writing. It’s a question I would have thought inconceivable. There have been loads of Harry-Potter-related developments in recent years, and even as a super-fan, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about all of them. The time has finally come when I’ve had to ask myself, is there such as thing as too much Harry Potter?
We’ll start with the obvious, and work towards the obscure, shall we? Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was released in 1997, and I started reading the series in 1999. All of my books are the original Bloomsbury covers, and some are even First Editions (not the ones worth a small fortune, unfortunately). I’ve decided that I really want a First Edition of the first book. I’ve been keeping an eye on rare book auctions, and some of them are reasonably priced. I feel like it’s the ultimate collector’s item, and basically an investment. The perk of being an adult Harry Potter fan is that you get to spend your hard earned money on First Editions, if you want to.
Harry has had many new cover releases over the years, from really bright colours (which I hated), to adult-appropriate versions (to reduce the embarrassment of reading a “children’s book” in public), from Scholastic’s beautiful American editions (I loved these but couldn’t deal with it being “the sorcerer’s stone”), to Bloomsbury’s latest releases by illustrator, Jonny Duddle (see right). As much as I love my books with their original covers, if I wanted to preserve them as much as possible, the time came when I could really do with a new set. I eventually went for the new Bloomsbury covers. Luckily, I’m not the kind of super-fan who needs to own multiple sets of the same series. There was a logical reason for my decision to purchase a second set of Harry Potter books. But then, the illustrated edition was released…
Well. That changed everything. With an RRP of £30, there wasn’t a hope in hell I was paying that, die-hard fan or not. But of course, the book was being sold from the majority of retailers for £15. Much more palatable, and definitely worth it for this book. The quality is fantastic, and the illustrations are superb. But, this is only book one. It has been confirmed that book two, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, is being released as an illustrated edition, but I can’t seem to find confirmation that the entire series is being re-released (if you know the answer, tell me in the comments!). And if it is, surely the massive tomes that are Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, and Deathly Hallows, will require more than one book each for the illustrated versions?
I don’t currently own any of the spin-off books, though I have had my eye on “the Vault” series (Character, Artefact, Creature), whether or not I’ll ever add them to my collection? At present, it doesn’t seem likely. Until recently, I also didn’t own any of the books released for Comic Relief (Quidditch Through The Ages, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them). I picked up Fantastic Beasts last week in honour of the upcoming movie release, and I’d like to have Tales of Beedle due to its significance in the original story. I could live without Quidditch, but why not go the whole hog and have the set?? Sigh.
When the first Harry Potter movie was released in 2001, I was 11 years old and positively ecstatic.
I think I went to the cinema to watch the first 3, and drifted from them until I bought them all on DVD when I was around 21. I tend to watch them every year at Christmas-time (with the family, whether they like it or not!), and I think they are a wonderful addition to the franchise. The actors are perfection (though Richard Harris will always be my Dumbledore), that score sends chills up my spine, and considering the size of the novels, I think they did a great job at keeping the movies true to the books (I still haven’t quite forgiven them for removing Peeves).
The latest movie release, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, is an odd one for me. I initially knew hardly anything about it, is it just me or is there not that much buzz? By the time I knew there was a new movie coming out, the whole thing had already been filmed! While it’s set in the same “world” as Harry Potter, I don’t really see it as an extension of the same series, as it’s not really based on any of the original characters (correct me if I’m wrong!). So I’m excited for it, but also see it as separate from the franchise.
The Studio Tour & Theme Park:
It upsets me greatly that I still haven’t managed to go to the Studio Tour in London yet. It has to be one of the most significant to-do’s on my Bucket List. The movies really captured and brought to life the atmosphere, detail and physicality of the books, so I think any Harry Potter fan would revel in the opportunity to see that in the flesh. While I know I would need a month’s wage for the Gift Shop (I’ve had my eye on a wand for a long time), there are items in there that do seem a little silly. Life-size brooms and ridiculously over-priced House jumpers (that you can’t realistically get away with wearing in public, can you?). Yes, if I had unlimited funds and nothing better to spend my money on, I’d probably be surrounded by every Harry Potter item I could get my hands on, but some of it does feel a little extreme.
As for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Theme Park in Universal Studios, Florida. Well, it’s just a pipe dream that I’ll ever get to go there. BUT HAVE YOU SEEN IT?! I need to move on, or I’ll cry at the unfairness of it all.
I once saw an interview with J K Rowling, where she said the public would be amazed at the amount of Harry Potter merchandise ideas she rejected. From Harry Potter toilet seats, to a musical in collaboration with the late Michael Jackson. While she may have said no to many things, there is a plethora of Harry Potter merchandise available, a lot of which I’m unlikely to ever have any interest in – lunch boxes, fluffy toys, duvet covers, tapestries (?!), you name it, and I bet I can find it Harry-Potter-ified.
That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy an abundance of Harry Potter merchandise. I have a wide range of clothing, stationary, jewellery, framed posters, key rings, and a bunch of some other odds and ends… including a Quidditch set… It was a collector’s item I got on offer for £12, which will look fabulous on my bookcase. Don’t judge me.
So, now we come to the main issue that spurred on this entire post. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Initially, when news of the play broke, there was an outcry that only those who could afford to travel to London would be able to find out what happens in the story. That fear was appeased with the release of the play as a book. Twice. First, we’re getting the Special Rehearsal Edition, and I’ve heard that a second edition of the final script will also be released. Then there’s the fact that the play is split into two parts, both 2 hours and 45 minutes long (!). On top of all this, while J K Rowling is credited as an author of the work, there are two other authors. I just don’t know how I feel about all of this. Part of what makes Harry Potter so great, is J K Rowling’s ability to tell a fantastic story. I’m not sure how it will come across as a play, when viewing it or reading it. I’m reserving judgement until I’ve read it myself, but I can’t help thinking the canon is being diluted, and I don’t like it.
J K Rowling has famously said, in many interviews, that there would only be 7 Harry Potter books. She has always maintained that she would never say “never” to doing more in the future, but that she felt like Harry’s story had been told. Granted, a play isn’t quite a novel, but it is a continuation of the story, and I’m completely petrified at what she’s going to do with it. Anything Rowling says, becomes canon. What if I don’t like what she does with the story? Will I be able to pretend that it never happened, and go on living in my own little Potter bubble?
Out of the vast (and ever growing) world that is Harry Potter, there are only two things I ever truly wanted to see. The first would be a massive encyclopedia of the information Rowling gathered on all of her character backstories and futures. A behind the scenes look at the making of the books, and the world she created, and some seriously deep insight into the characters’ lives. We get snippets of this in Pottermore (yet another extension of Harry Potter, and one that I enjoy from time-to-time), but to have a definitive collection, would be something else. The second is the story of the Marauders. Novels about Sirius, James, Remus, Lilly, Snape & Co during their time at the school, and the adventures that they had. I guess I do want more set in the world of Harry, just not necessarily about him.
I’m so pleased Harry Potter has managed to survive, no thrive, for almost 20 years so far. I’m so happy that the younger generations are falling in love with Harry as much as I did. I’m so grateful that I got to be a part of it the first time round, and for the massive role Harry & Co played in my childhood. But I’m also afraid. Afraid that the magic of Harry Potter is becoming overly commercialised, and that there will be no end to the additions, extensions and collections. I just hope that I can block out the background noise, and keep Harry Potter sacred to me.
Are you a Harry Potter fan? How do you feel about the upcoming play? What about the rest of the Harry Potter world? Are you a first generation fan, or a new-comer? And does that impact how you feel about the commercialisation? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!