[FROM THE PAPER] Harry Potter and Me: How I Grew and Changed with the Wizarding World

Ellie Sutcliffe - Reporter

I’m a Potter fan.

Although a muggle by nature I am content in the fact that I still have the traits of a wise old Ravenclaw and I’ve recently learned that my Patronus is a Manx Cat. My relationship with JK Rowling’s famous and fantastical world came on quite gradually. I wasn’t one of the first people to come across it.

In fact, by the time I started to enjoy the books, the first film was already out and the fandom was patiently waiting for the release of ‘Order of the Phoenix’. When I first discovered Harry Potter, I was adamant that I wouldn’t read it. Why? Because at the time I was a petulant teenager convinced that the media was telling me what to like and I protested by refusing to buy into the hype.

But the first time I was swayed towards the series was way back when videotapes were still a thing, and I was stood in a little shop called Woolworths waiting for my mum to get some Christmas shopping. The film was playing in the video section, and it was the first time I’d actually seen it from the beginning.

I watched as Daniel Radcliffe fought hard to catch a Hogwarts letter before his Uncle Vernon snatched them away to the hut and as Robbie Coltrane burst through the door and declared “yer a wizard Harry”. After that, I was hooked! I began to pour through the first four books in rapid succession and, once I’d finished them I re-read them.

A thirst began to develop in me, I needed more.

So, I became a net nerd. I listened to podcasts, went on sites like Mugglenet and The Leaky Cauldron and theorised with the legions of other fans about what was coming next.

I stepped it up a gear in 2003 when I took my first lone trip to London to stand outside of the Odeon, Leicester Square at the premiere of Prisoner of Azkaban.

The atmosphere was amazing. I stood within a sea of bodies, all craning to catch a glimpse of the stars, and I saw them Although I’m a very small person, I managed to view through the shoulders of the much taller crowd and saw all of the young stars, the older cast and JK Rowling herself.

My love of the series reached through to the end of the books and films and beyond. I pride myself in making a Potterhead out of my best friend, someone who hates fantasy in general but is now a devoted Gryffindor with more merchandise than I have!

Three years ago we went to the Studio Tour and hope to one day visit the theme park in Florida. For me, Harry Potter means a great deal. Not only was the story encapsulating but I enjoyed the sheer joy of being a fan during those long years.

It was so much fun to be a part of a community and spending hours theorising plot points and finding clues in the story so that we could guess what was coming next. I was inspired by the intelligence and strength of characters like Luna and Hermione and wished that I could have had friends like them when I was at school. As the Potterverse grows and moves forward I’m interested to see how the new characters and expanded universe show the Wizarding World in a new light.

By migrating to the US, we get to see the magical side of New York City and also get to see American Wizards for the first time. It will no doubt be a great adventure.

As for the future, I’m intrigued to see what Fantastic Beasts has in store and I know that wherever I am in life, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome me home.

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