With seven books, eight movies, a massive studio tour, and even its own theme park, Harry Potter is easily the most successful franchise in the world.
But, of course, none of it would have been possible without the genius that is J.K. Rowling and here are ten things that have been revealed about her decisions, inspirations, and things about Harry Potter that aren’t given away in any of the books.
1. Hedwig (Harry’s Snowy Owl), isn’t completely accurate.
Only after Rowling had finished the first book and it was set for publication did she find out that snowy owls are actually silent, which in the books Hedwig is not. She admits she made a research mistake but says that readers are free to assume that Hedwig communicates because of her magical nature. Also, although Hedwig is female, she is played by a male in the films because male Snowy Owls are completely white, unlike females.
2. Hermione’s name was almost “Hermione Puckle.”
Rowling considered this name but changed it because she thought it had quite a sour tone, which didn’t suit Hermione’s character. The author also admits that Hermione has part of herself in the character as she was also quite a know-it-all child. In addition, Hermione was going to have a younger sister, but Rowling never found an appropriate time to place her into the books.
3. Gilderoy Lockhart, the vain professor and celebrity from The Chamber of Secrets, was based on someone Rowling knows in real life.
The rumour was that she based him on her ex-husband, but she has completely denied that. Speaking of the man she did base him on, she said “He used to tell whopping great fibs about his past life, all of them designed to demonstrate what a wonderful, brave and brilliant person he was. Perhaps he didn’t really believe he was all that great and wanted to compensate, but I’m afraid I never dug that deep… He’s probably out there now telling everybody that he inspired the character of Albus Dumbledore. Or that he wrote the books and lets me take the credit out of kindness.”
4. Fred and George Weasley were born on April Fool’s Day.
Well, this one is pretty self-explanatory with their constant pranking! Here’s another Weasley fact; there was originally a Weasley cousin named Mafalda, but she was edited out of The Goblet of Fire to make room for the invasive journalist, Rita Skeeter. Hence the backstory that Ginny Weasley is meant to have been the first girl born into the Weasley family for several generations.
5. Rowling has always had a habit of collecting unusual and interesting names and words.
She admits that she loves to read lists of them, from baby name books to war memorials, and some of her favourites made it into the Harry Potter books. She also makes up her own words including “quidditch”, “Voldemort” and “Malfoy”. She filled up five pages of made-up words beginning with “Q” before she decided on “quidditch”.
6. If a muggle were to happen across Hogwarts, all they would see is nothing but a ruined castle with large signs on it saying ‘Keep Out, Dangerous Building.’
Don’t deny that you’ve always wondered what a muggle would see if they came across Hogwarts! But it seems it is well disguised. The UK is rife with castle ruins, so nothing would be out of the ordinary to those non-wizard folk.
7. Harry, Ron, and Hermione all have wand cores based on their birthdays.
Sort of like how we assign gemstones today, the Celts assigned trees to people based on their birthdays. She accidentally assigned Harry and Draco the “right type of wood” for their wands, but Ron and Hermione both purposefully receieved wands based on their birthdays. However, she did not continue this with all of the characters.
8. Mrs. Norris (Filch’s cat) takes her name from the Jane Austen book Mansfield Park.
It works well as this cat is also rather sour and bitter.
9. Snape was partially based on a teacher J.K. Rowling once had.
She likes to write him, though, because she finds him such a pathetic creature.
10. King’s Cross Station (where the young wizards catch the Hogwarts Express) holds a special meaning to J.K. Rowling: it’s where her parents met.
Rowling’s parents were both headed to Arbroath in Scotland and met on the train which is why King’s Cross was intentionally chosen as the gateway to Hogwarts in acknowledgement to her parents.