If this illustration of Harry from the

If you don’t know who Harry Potter is, you might just be a Muggle.

Not to worry, though, because in this lesson you’ll have the chance to meet the author of the series, along with some of her characters, who have captivated readers for nearly two decades.

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Notable Characters in Harry Potter

What’s a muggle? What’s Harry Potter about? Let’s take a closer look at the characters in the Harry Potter series, along with some facts about the series and its author.Harry Potter, as you might guess, is the series’ protagonist.

Rowling’s seven books focus on the magical and often perilous adventures of this young bespectacled boy who is the son of James and Lily Potter. He was orphaned as a baby and forced to live with his maternal aunt, Petunia, and her husband Vernon Dursley and cousin Dudley. Despite the Dursleys’ attempts to hide his true identity, Harry finally learns of his magical heritage on his eleventh birthday when he is summoned to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Once there, Harry quickly learns of his fame in the magical community, as he is easily recognizable by the lightning bolt-shaped scar on his forehead.

The characteristic scar and glasses are immediately evident in this illustration of Harry from the first book.
Lord Voldemort-the dark wizard and nemesis of Harry Potter
Statue of Lord Voldemort displayed at the 2010 Comic-Con in San Diego

About the Author

The mistress of magic herself, J.

K. Rowling

Photo of Ms.</p>
<p> Rowling reading exerpts from her book during the White House Easter celebration” /></td>
<p><b>Joanne</b> (a.k.a. ‘Jo’) <b>Rowling</b> was born on 31 July 1965 and grew up in Chepstow, Gwent in England. She attended Exeter University, where she earned her degree in Classics and French. Jo authored the Harry Potter series and several other books under the pseudonym ‘J.</p>
<p>K. Rowling’ to mask her identity, since her publisher thought young boys might be deterred from reading a series written by a woman. She continues to write under this name and as ‘Robert Galbraith,’ even recently working on the screenplay for <i>Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them</i>. Ms.</p>
<p> Rowling is devoted to many charitable projects and has won numerous awards, including the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award and France’s <i>Légion d’Honneur</i>.</p>
<h2>Fun Facts</h2>
<li>Since their first publication in June 1997, the <i>Harry Potter</i> books have enjoyed record-breaking success, selling over 400 million copies.</li>
<li>Due to their worldwide fame, the books have been translated into over 70 languages, even including Latin and Ancient Greek.</p>
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Latin translation of the first book in the Harry Potter series
Cover to the Latin translation of the first book in the series
  • Speaking of Latin and Ancient Greek, Rowling’s background as a classicist is evident everywhere throughout the series, from characters’ names (i.e. Professor Minerva McGonagall, named for the Roman goddess of wisdom) to the various spells and potions used in the books.
  • There are now eight movies made from the books, as well as a myriad of online content and even a theme park devoted to the much loved series.
  • The Harry Potter series has had such an impact on popular culture that new words have had to be added to the dictionary! For instance, the term, muggle, created by Rowling to describe Hermione and others of non-magical blood or ability, now has its own entry in the Oxford English Dictionary.

    The O.E.D. defines a ‘muggle’ as a person who is not conversant with a particular activity or skill.

The recreated Hogwarts at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-the newest theme park from Universal Studios
Recreation of Hogwarts at Universal Studios-The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

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