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20 Years of Potter

Harry Potter was born to the world 20 years ago on Monday, but how has his story continued to live on with each new generation?

When author J K Rowling arrived in Edinburgh, in 1993, she had with her three chapters of what would become the highest grossing franchise in the world of literature.

Eight years later, the boy wizard would find his way to the big screen, thus creating another billion dollar franchise only surpassed by the full extension of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

But while the films will eventually grow old, grainy and uninteresting to the younger generations to come, her books have proved timeless, enchanting young and old alike.

The young sorcerer's road to stardom was a rocky one, having been rejected by a number of literary agents before receiving an answer.

"It was the best letter I had ever received in my life," she said. Bloomsbury agreed.

The books have been a consistent bestseller for the publisher, scoring more than 500 million copies worldwide.

It allowed Bloomsbury to reposition itself as an academic and professional publisher, while holding on to its golden goose.

Last year, it launched an illustrated version of the first book, Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, and saw its children book's revenues grow by 57%.

But what makes this young adult story of a boy predestined for magic such an inter-generational success?

1. Everyone can relate to it

Whether you are more of a Hufflepuff or a Gryffindor, there is enough room at the Hoggwarts School of Witchcraft to accommodate every personality.

Even among the three main characters, Harry, Hermione and Ron, there are three very dissimilar moulds for the young reader to relate to.

And the "Potterverse" is full of well-crafted secondary characters, which often steal the spotlight from the young hero.

2. It balances politics and morals

While most young adult series are set in an alternate future where the hero has to fight an oppressive regime or a corrupt government, J K Rowling managed to very wisely base Potter's politics in moral, not in ideals.

While you can see Hermione Granger fighting for the rights of house elves, or an evil lord trying to rid the world of the half-blooded, you never read heartfelt political speeches or radical militias trying to bring down an empire.

Even Dumbledore's Army, arguably the most organised movement in the books, is just a group of wizards coming together to fight evil.

This is because the politics in Harry Potter are not about left or right, but right or wrong.

This has not stopped many real life groups from appropriating Potter themes for their political campaigns. From anti-Trump to anti-Corbyn, Potter references have been used by both sides to criticise the other.

3. It is too violent for children

One of the reasons why children love the Potter books so much, is that they are often more violent and serious than any other young adult series.

Tackling issues like childhood trauma, death, fear, evil, deceit and the danger of losing yourself in front of a magic mirror, the books have a very mature approach to coming of age.

Killing not one, not two, not three, but four of its most beloved characters in just seven books is as bold as it is honest.

4. It has great villains

Just like in comic books, a hero is only as captivating as the sum of his baddies.

Spider-Man is hardly the best comic book hero, but has undoubtedly the best villains.

In the Potter series, we are just as attracted to the complex characters from the Order of the Phoenix, as we are to the followers of the Dark Lord.

The mad Bellatrix Lestrange, the evil educator Dolores Umbridge, the miserable Peter Pettigrew and, of course, Lord Voldemort himself.

He Who Should Not Be Named is not a two dimensional villain who wants to inflict chaos in the world, he was once a very intelligent boy, who grew up in an orphanage.

His hate for muggles (non wizards) derives from his hate for his own origins, since he is a half-blood himself.

5. It is really, really good

Let's be fair, most YA novels will never be considered literary classics. But Rowling, while not among history's greats, does have a writer in her.

The Potter novels are not just a commercial formula crafted cunningly by their author, they are great because they are original, beautiful, creative, well-written books.

Because words, you see, are "our most inexhaustible source of magic".

Sky News (c) Sky News 2017:

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