Why Harry Potter is still casting a spell, as star Daniel Radcliffe turns 30
PUBLISHED: 18:00 26 July 2019 | UPDATED: 18:06 26 July 2019
Why are we all still wild about Harry Potter? As Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe turns 30, our readers and staff say why they still love the wizarding world.
The junior wizard first picked up his wand in 1997, with the publication of JK Rowling's first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Quickly, the books became a phenomenon - and the films, starring Daniel Radcliffe, were also massive hits.
The Fantastic Beasts films and the stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child have seen the magic continue.
Katie Stafford, who works in Norwich, said: "For me, Harry Potter is pure escapism, more believable as it incorporates the real world, a British film series for a change, set in the UK and manages to entertain all ages. It's quite involving of its audience.
"My favourite film is Prisoner of Azkaban. I don't have a solid favourite character but I do like the Weasley Twins and Luna. I'm also really fond of Buckbeak the Hippogriff!"
Suzanne Day, from Suffolk, said: "When I was younger, I loved the Harry Potter books because they dealt with real-life issues like teenage romance at the same time as transporting you to a magical land.
"When the last Harry Potter book came out, one of my best friends and I queued up to wait for it outside one of the big Waterstones stores in London - I read it on the train home way too quickly. I am definitely more of a fan of the books than the films (though the films do get better as the actors get older)."
'Harry holds a special place in my heart'
Rory Mellon, a dedicated follower from Norfolk, wrote: "Like anyone who grew up in the late 90s to early 2000s, the world of Harry Potter undoubtedly holds a special place in my heart.
"I have countless childhood memories that are intertwined with the series, from the giddy excitement of midnight launches at the local bookstore, to feverishly rewatching trailers for the movie adaptations or crying when someone spoilt the climatic moment of Half-Blood Prince on the playground.
"Even as an adult, my love for all things Potter remains, and I think that's because the series has transcended the paper pages of the books where it originated from and has become something more personal to me.
"It's a generational touchstone for millions, and an endless source of adolescent daydreaming. Who hasn't imagined their own Hogwarts letter of acceptance coming to whisk them away from the mundanity of ordinary muggle life?"
Earlier in 2019, it was revealed that Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was one of the 10 books which went missing most often from Norfolk Libraries over the past year.
It was claimed that being marked missing does not necessary mean the item has been stolen or lost - simply that it could not be located by staff - but the book's place in the most-missing list still underlines the popularity of the series.
'I can remember the buzz and the waiting list to read the books'
School librarians are also full of enthusiasm for the series and the way it encourages children to love reading.
Sarah Hodge, librarian at Hillside Primary School in Ipswich, said: "Personally, I think it's a testament to the power of good storytelling that the books are still popular today.
"I bought and read the first book before I was working within libraries and loved it, going on to buy each subsequent book as soon as it was released. The later books were released when I was working in a high school, and I can remember the buzz and the waiting lists for children to read them.
"They are still popular now, and it seems that once one child in a class has started reading them, others soon follow on. Perhaps today the films have a bearing on this, as several children will come to the books having watched the film first. But this does not detract from their enjoyment, and once they start the series they usually go on to read them all."
Harry Potter Night in February is a cue for many celebrations each year. Pupils at Neatherd High School in Dereham took part in a special event this year, including meeting real owls, and trying wizarding duels and pong Quidditch. Publisher Bloomsbury attended and filmed a promotional video.
Neatheard school librarian Lorraine Gill said at the time: "It's getting back to basics - a lot of them haven't read the books, so it's bringing them to a new generation and it's something they can share with their families. It's a nice way for them to share in the magic."
Jayne Gould, secretary of Ipswich Children's Book Group, said: "Ipswich Children's Book Group has organised several Harry Potter-themed events and the popularity of these, and those held by Suffolk Libraries to celebrate Harry Potter Night, is testament to the enduring appeal of the young wizard and his companions."
Jayne, also librarian at Broke Hall Primary School, added: "Harry Potter is quite simply one of the best series for encouraging children to read. Borrowing has undergone something of a resurgence in my library in the past few years and the books are rarely on the shelves.
"Full of magic, friendship and adventure, the characters and places come alive as you read and lose yourself in the world of Hogwarts. As you can probably guess, I have been a fan since the publication of the first book!"
Another Ipswich school librarian, Rose Palmer from The Oaks Primary, added: "And to think that amazing series achieved phenomenal success and somehow struck a chord with children and adults totally without the influence of social media, which authors and publishers rely on so much these days!"
Magical shop is a Potter paradise
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Did you know that Ipswich has its own "secret" Harry Potter shop? However, more people are being let in on the secret now!
The magical shop in St Peter's Street has a host of Hogwarts gear. It originally opened before Christmas last year, and is one of four shops owned by the Manning family on the street, including The House in Town and Maud's Attic.
The Harry Potter Shop is currently located in the garden of Merchant House Interiors over the summer months, offering a huge selection of official merchandise, from earrings to school trunks.
"There has been a lot of interest. Harry Potter is still very popular and we have had people travelling from as far as Great Yarmouth," Robert Manning said.
"The most popular items include cereal bowls, cauldron mugs and Harry Potter jewellery."
He said he had been doing research into the Potter universe so that he could answer customers' questions.
Robert's brother, John, is the shop owner, and said last autumn: "We decided to open the Harry Potter shop to offer the whole family a shopping experience, as it's something the kids can interact with whilst the adults look at more serious homeware."
You can find the shop on Facebook by searching for @robsHPshop.
Harry's East Anglian birthplace
Harry's film birthplace was in the famous Suffolk village of Lavenham - and, what's more, it could be yours, for £950,000.
The Grade 1-listed De Vere House, in Water Street, featured in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, as part of Gordric's Hollow
The Water Street house, which is on the market with Carter Jonas, appears as the young magician's birthplace in the movie Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part One, and was also 'cut up' using various shots and used to create the entire Godric's Hollow village, the home town of Albus Dumbledore.
The front door is now one of the most frequently photographed in the country, up there with 10 Downing Street.
However, actors Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson did not actually film in Lavenham, as the film footage was converted into computer-generated images and used as backdrops in studio shots.
Another historic house linked with the same film which is currently on the market is the Old Vicarage in Eye, said to be one of the oldest houses in England. It is currently owned by Ian Kelly, who took the role of Hermione's father in Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part One. The house is being marketed by Savills, with a guide price of £1.25 million.
A special Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts Day is coming up at Dovercourt Skating Rink in Essex on August 10, from 11am to 4pm.
Organisers say there will be potions, beasts, magic and actors from both films. For more details, search for @DovercourtSkate on Facebook.
Later in the year, a Harry Potter Christmas Party Experience and New Year's Eve Party are being held at The Boudicca Hotel, Restaurant and Bar in Norwich, organised by Norfolk Christmas Party.
Guests will be treated to the ultimate Harry Potter experience with the chance to drink potions and enjoy a banquet in the Great Hall.
The themed events take place on selected dates from November 29 to January 4. Fancy dress is encouraged and there are also dates available for private hire.
For junior wizards, Norfolk Christmas Party will also be running Potter-inspired afternoon teas on January 11 and 12 2020,
Harry Potter actors linked to the region
Many Harry Potter actors have links with the area, including Ralph Fiennes, who played arch-villain Lord Voldemort. He was born in Wangford, near Southwold, as a member of a very creative family, and spent his first six years in Suffolk before the family moved to Ireland.
The late, great Sir John Hurt played Mr Ollivander, the character who gives Harry his first sword, in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, and reprised his role in Deathly Hallows. He moved to north Norfolk in 2009 and fully embraced life in the area, becoming patron of Cinema City in Norwich and the first chancellor of Norwich University of the Arts. Noma Dumezweni, who played Hermione in the original West End production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, grew up in Felixstowe, while Sam Clemmett, from Brundall, and Poppy Miller, from Norwich, were also members of the original London cast, playing Harry Potter's son Albus and wife Ginny. All three went on to re-create their roles in the Broadway version.
Chris Rankin, who played Percy Weasley in the films, was a pupil at Northgate High School and Dereham Sixth Form College in Dereham. He now lives in South Wales and is a performer, director and producer.
Rohan Gotobed, who played young Sirius Black in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, has just completed a Drama and English Literature degree at the University of East Anglia.
And Rupert Grint, known to millions as Ron Weasley, might not be local - but he teamed up with another famous redhead, Suffolk superstar Ed Sheeran in the video for the single Lego House!
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