The Boy Who Lived is Going Strong Eighteen years on

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Wide eyed (L-R) Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley and Emma Watson as Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Wide eyed (L-R) Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley and Emma Watson as Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

In the summer of 1997, a literary meteor struck the world of fantasy fiction and the world was never to be the same again. Harry Potter, the orphaned 11-year-old who stayed with the boorish Dursleys at 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey, entered our lives. He was, as the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone claims, The Boy Who Lived. Eighteen years hence, seven books and eight films later, Harry has indeed lived on and how.

The facts are out there. Last counted the books have sold 450 million copies worldwide, and have been translated into 73 languages. The last four books in the series have trumped each other; breaking records set by the previous book to becoming the fastest selling books in the history of the publishing industry. Then came the films, growing stronger at the box-office with every new instalment. Such was the dedication of the Potter fan-base that the last book The Deathly Hallows had to be divided into two films to keep them happy and the party going for a little bit longer. Surely enough, the Potter films’ sped past all the other superhero movies that are tailor-made to become blockbusters, to become the highest-grossing franchise.

It has been eight years since the last book hit the bookstores and four since the last film was released. But the magic of Harry Potter refuses to be subdued. Every once in a while, news surfaces of prequels of the books being planned, or stage adaptations being conceived. JK Rowling herself had tried to re-invent her persona with pseudonyms — under the name of Robert Galbraith she published The Cuckoo’s Calling — or adult fiction — a tolerably well-written novel, The Casual Vacancy — but the ghost of Potter’s fame catches up with her.

For Rowling, then a newly single mother, the journey started in 1990 during the course of a fateful train ride from Manchester to London, when she could not stop seeing a “scrawny, black-haired, bespectacled boy who did not know he was a wizard” in her head. Eventually, she had to wait it out patiently as her manuscript was turned down by eight publishers before Bloomsbury agreed to take it up. The rest as they say is history.

If anyone suspected that the world would want to read about a mousy little boy trying to understand what it means to be a wizard, by the third book the world had already sat up and taken notice. Anurima Roy, a senior manager with Bloomsbury India, marketing and publicity says, “The sales of Harry Potter have been incredible and growing over the years. There are many different box sets, series that we’ve launched since and they’re all doing well in the market. The fully illustrated Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone will be released worldwide on 6 October 2015 and we greatly anticipate that sales will be terrific for this book as well. With the illustrated edition, the reading age of Harry Potter is going down a little and that adds many more readers to the pool!”

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