The most important things about writing a book is not writing it or even having a good cover. It's not coming up with an awesome plot line or a superb cliff hanger. It's not your promo videos or even your blog posts. As vital as all these things are to marketing and writing your book, the most important thing is to create your world. And at risk of sounding crazy most of that happens in your dreams; both when you are asleep or just daydreaming. The best authors create a world so colourful and rich that a reader can get lost inside it for hours, days, weeks... their whole lifetime. That world is the reason that many grown adults still love their favourite childhood books. It's the reason why the Harry Potter series holds a very personal and privileged place in my heart. Because as far as creating a world is concerned, J.K. Rowling is a master. She didn't just create a world, she created a universe, so diverse and real and deep and rich that you could literally forget the real world outside of the book. She is a genius.
I read the Harry Potter books as a child and I was one of the privileged few who got to grow up with Harry or so it felt. It inspired me to learn about the different things that had inspired Rowling to create such an amazing world. I read books on mythology, I googled ideas... I wanted to know where J.K. Rowling had got her creatures, her histories... her world. It encouraged me to learn about my world - it opened my mind to the real and vibrant stories that were in my world, this world, reality.
There are references to Greek Mythology. These books are full to the brim with history, mythology, religion and folklore. Hell, there are even allusions to the Bible. I'm going to share a few references with you:
- Nicolas Flamel gained a posthumous reputation as an alchemist - real person people!
- The myth of Orpheus putting Cerebrus to sleep - this is tots Fluffy, everyone's fav three headed dog! He was even bought off a "GREEK CHAPPIE!" This is the dog that guards the gates to Hades; the kingdom of the dead. He even throws up a deadly, poisonous plant - check out the next challenge that faces the children after they pass Fluffy; devil's snare. Do you think that's just by chance? Me thinks not.
- Rowena Ravenclaw - try googling Athena...
- Merlin references like "Merlin's Beard", yup got to get the story of King Arthur and Merlin in there - very British Woop Woop!
- Percival - one of Dumbledore's middle names. Another reference to Arthur. Percival was a knight of the round table.
- Nagini, the snake, is from Hindu mythology. The female form of Naga, the serpent deities.
- The Philosopher's Stone - the elixier "drinkable gold" or "rejuvenating apples" depending on what mythology you go for... the world has always searched for immortality.
- The eleven year old's in book one have to pass several tests before they can get to the stone; another reference to Greek Mythology and being judged in Hades.
- Norse mythology also has a monster of a dog guarding the land of the dead, 'hel.'
- The Number Three is believed to be holy and mythical and it's used countlessly in book one. Three headed dog, the third floor corridor, three children; Harry, Ron and Hermione. It's the number of the gods. The Golden Trio - Zeus, Poseidon, Hades - or if you want to get Biblical Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Another number - the number seven - is used a lot too. Seven players in a game of Quidditch... seven tasks... the teachers in the first book represent the Seven Wise in Greek Myth.
- You could even compare Harry to the heros of Greek mythology; born of a woman and a god; a muggle-born and a wizard, worshipped by the common man, Harry is famous from day one and fights a monster; HELLO VOLDIE!
- The incantation Morsmordre is French.
- Boggart legends originated in Northern England.
- The lightening scar - reference to Hercules? Son of Zeus?
- Hippogriffs - google griffins...
- Grindylows - this is a Northern England thing too.
- For more on Horcruxes check out Slavic mythology or liches.
I think we should be celebrating the world that J.K, Rowling creates not describing it as a means to make money. From what I can see that has never been Rowling's aim. She wanted to tell a story. She wanted to create a world. She has done both brilliantly. The lady who sat writing in a cafe in Scotland has inspired imagination, enriched knowledge, and transformed a generation into readers.