Harry Potter at N-Y Historical Society

By Peggy Roalf   Thursday October 4, 2018

The depth and reach of the Harry Potter novels is inestimable. Facts like: more than 400 million copies sold translated into more than 60 languages only scratches the surface. The seven novels by JK Rowling, first launched with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, 20 years ago, changed the face of publishing. The story, and the characters who told it, changed the reading habits of young readers and adults alike. 


The magic promised in the titles of these books was so complete that the book launches—at midnight, in specific bookstores—created a new type of media frenzy as thousands of fans would gather for these events. The underlying story was always about overcoming impossible odds, with plenty of excitement, and a little violence—always bringing people together in the process. With object lessons cloaked in action and mystery, and a giggle to keep the reader engaged, the series became a publishing phenom.

This weekend the New-York Historical Society launches its fall season with a wrap-around experience of exhibition, programs, books and events titled Harry Potter: A History of Magic, imported from the British Library, and continuing though January. Info Above: installation view.

Rowling has written about her influences for the series as grounded in the history of magic through traditions of alchemy. She used ancient texts to help create the mysterious ingredients of the potions, and spells taught at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which made the stories even more riveting through these truths.

But I’d like to add another observation made during a visit to the Jules Verne house museum in Amiens, France—a short hop from London on the Eurostar. Among the many beautiful exhibits there, including evidence of Verne being possibly the first author to have franchised merch based on his work—as in Parker Pen Company's Around the World in 80 Days fountain pen—were original posters from film adaptations of the novels. Among them were Maitre du Monde(Master of the World), featuring Harry Piel, a boy-detective who looks a lot like Daniel Radcliffe. See for yourself (left).

So grab your broomstick and fly over to  HarryPotter | A History of Magicat The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, NY, NY Info



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now