I was nine when the first Harry Potter came out, but didn’t actually read any until after the third book was released. I was given books 1 and 2 in paperback, and a special signed hardback edition of the 3rd as a birthday or christmas present. Probably by my Godfather, who is always much more up to date with what’s popular than I have ever been, though I honestly can’t remember now.
So I was probably about eleven when I first read Harry Potter, and I quite literally grew up with him.
I don’t think that means I’m the biggest Harry Potter fan, or that it was any more influential on my life than it has been on those born after me, but it was a massive part of my childhood. I was obsessed with the books, obsessed with the wider world available on the internet – fan fiction, fan art, speculation about the next book. One of the highlights of my teenaged writing career was when someone reading my Harry Potter Fan Fic asked me if I was actually JK Rowling (I was always very good at imitating other people’s style, not so good at finding a voice of my own back then). My sister and I used to make up Harry Potter stories in bed and talk about them for hours.
I actually don’t like Harry the character much. I always thought Rowling intended to kill him off by the end, but became a victim of her own popularity and had to change her plans. And I always like the people in the background more, anyway. But the world she created is genius. Who hasn’t wanted to go to Hogwarts? Playing Harry Potter Lego is about as close as I’ll ever get, unless I can persuade the Fiancé to take me to the attraction in London.
Harry Potter really lit a fire under me in terms of writing, and I’ll always be grateful to Rowling for that. For all the flaws that you can find in the books, it inspired generations of young people to read and write, and for that reason it deserves its place as a classic of children’s literature.