JK Rowling, please leave Harry Potter alone
Another week and another announcement from the world of Harry Potter – four new books.
Seeing this on social media I felt sick and my first thought was, NO PLEASE STOP, NOT AGAIN.
To be clear – JK if you’re reading – I am a huge Harry Potter fan, I love it more than a 27-year-old probably should and I also think you’re quite amazing too.
The Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit sits dust-covered in my lounge because it’s just no fun for anyone to play against me.
I won’t be naming my children Harry and Hermione but two of my cats are called Luna and Lupin.
For many fans Harry Potter is almost sacred and for the sake of its preservation I believe it needs to be left alone.
That’s right, halt all future Fantastic Beast film production and spin-off books because I say so.
I read the first book aged seven and I have read the whole series at least once a year since the last book was published 12 years ago.
On top of this for years I couldn’t sleep without listening to the Stephen Fry audiobooks.
They’re a comfort, they’re magical, they remind me of my childhood when I thought I could get a Hogwarts letter.
I’m also in no way a purist because I also love the films, I just consider them a very different, and admittedly frustrating, part of the fictional universe created by literary juggernaut JK Rowling.
I’ve been lucky enough to meet stars of the films, visit the incredible Warner Bros Studio tour and my notes for this piece are written in a Harry Potter notebook.
Thankfully the new books aren’t the disaster I feared, they aren’t the sex chronicles of Albus Dumbledore or the divorce papers of Harry and Ginny Potter, but they are still another product in the neverending additions to the Wizarding World universe.
The bitesize books will be released on Pottermore and will look at the origins of Rowling’s writing, based on the exhibition held at the British Library in 2017 .
But I, and many other people, bought the hefty A History of Magic hardback book at the end of the exhibition after paying to attend and for many paying to travel to central London.
So why do we need these now and as four more books?
There comes a time when books, films and fictional creations should be left alone and that time was 2011 but the Harry Potter creator just sped past it on a Fantastic Beasts emblazoned broomstick.
Someone on the Warner Bros studio tour once told me it was about reaching the next generation of Harry Potter fans, but this can’t be the only reason.
As a child I read every single Enid Blyton book and that wasn’t because we were on the 17th film about the Faraway Tree or there was a play about what the Famous Five did after university.
Books can live on in the way they make readers feel, like they did for my mum who passed them on to me and like how I will read Harry Potter to my children.
But I worry that legacy will be lost for the Harry Potter books because the constant additions and corrective tweets are more ways for the magical world to crack at the seams.
Cursed Child was the first indicator JK Rowling wasn’t done and the first time she let me down.
The script book lacked the depth, insight and magic we had in all the other Harry Potter books – because it was a script.
Nevertheless I sat 2,465th in an online queue to get tickets to the show and a year and half later skipped into the theatre.
The play and two Fantastic Beasts films didn’t bring back the same feelings of reading my dog-eared copy of Philosopher’s Stone at Christmas or the goosebumps on hearing the iconic opening notes of the film score.
With every addition, the magic is fading and I want it to stop, I want to go back to arguing about whether the books or the films are better, not concluding that Johnny Depp is a problematic lead and cringing at how wildly misjudged my literary hero’s tweets about Nagini were.
After recently rereading the series again I felt even worse and take issue with the constant need to change what was written 25 years ago in a 2019 attempt to tick boxes.
There is a huge lack of BAME characters in the Harry Potter books and yes JK Rowling never said Hermione wasn’t black but she never said she was either.
JK Rowling has proved to be an incredible writer outside of the Harry Potter universe and you guessed it I love the Cormoran Strike books.
So instead of trying to apologise and reinterpret something your wrote in the 1990s, create a new universe which reflects our society now or be the champion for BAME authors to reach the heights of Harry Potter.
I will always love Harry Potter, I will always be a fan but what I’m a fan of was last seen in 2011.
Just stop tweeting JK please, stop publishing unnecessary books, stop allowing more terrible films to be made, stop selling out.
One of the greatest gifts literature can give us is a fictional world with no end.
A book which concludes but does not end will live beyond the pages in our imaginations – and also our obsessively written fan fiction.
But the day all our questions are answered, is the day the magic dies and the Harry Potter magic I have loved for 20 years is starting to fade away.
Let’s keep the magic alive.
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