July is a special month for Harry Potter fans. Not only were four out of the seven books of the franchise released in the seventh month of the year, the last day of the month also happens to be Harry Potter’s birthday. Many of us, who made their way back to their parents to stay out the lockdown, have turned to this beloved series from their childhood to restart their reading habit (I’m currently on book four). As 2020 marks the fortieth birthday of ‘The Boy Who Lived’ (how time has passed), we decided to gather 10 Harry Potter facts you probably didn’t know about.
1. The character’s name have a deeper meaning
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore is quite a mouthful. But ‘Dumbledore’ is actually an Old English word for ‘bumblebee’. And the reason behind the name was that the character was imagined to always be humming to himself. Similarly, in the books Harry is seen as a courageous leader. Harry is the middle-English version of Henry, which was a popular name for English kings. Ronald, on the other hand, comes from the Old Norse Rögnvaldr, a title for a ruler’s adviser. In the series, Ron Weasley is Harry’s best friend and closest confidant. Lastly, Hermione, there was a lot of conjecture on how does one pronounce the name which led to Rowling explaining it in The Chamber Of Secrets. The name Hermione comes from Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, where she is a dignified, strong character.
2. The names of the plants in the wizarding world are based on real names
We all remember Mandrake or Mandragora in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets that was used as a vital ingredient to create the restorative potions. Turns out, all the plants mentioned in the series are the result of a book written in the 17th century by English botanist and herbalist Nicholas Culpeper.
3. The magic used in The Marauder’s Map was specifically designed to repel one wizard
In the third book, Harry Potter gets caught with the Marauder’s Map by Professor Snape, who tries to reveal the secrets of the parchment only to be insulted. Apparently, that’s how it was designed. An article for on the Wizarding World website reveals, “The magic used in the map’s creation is advanced and impressive; it includes the Homonculous Charm, enabling the possessor of the map to track the movements of every person in the castle, and it was also enchanted to forever repel (as insultingly as possible) the curiosity of their nemesis, Severus Snape.”
4. Can you guess how many times the scar was painted on Daniel Radcliffe’s forehead?
The boy who lives in the cupboard under the staircase was described to have a lightning bolt scar on his forehead. And in the movies, the makeup artists applied Harry’s scar over 2,000 times, and Radcliffe went through 160 pairs of glasses. Another fun fact: Daniel Radcliffe broke about 80 wands because he kept using them as drumsticks on the set.
5. Dolores Umbridge ends up in Azkaban
In the Order of the Phoenix, Dolores Umbridge joins the new Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher. The tiny, saccharine pink-loving, cat plate-hoarder was described by Stephen King as “the greatest make-believe villain to come along since Hannibal Lecter”. However, after the books ended, we didn’t know what happened to Umbridge, until recently, when it was revealed that she ends up getting imprisoned for her actions at the Ministry of Magic, and was sent to Azkaban.
6. The motto of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry will crack you up
The Hogwarts motto is “Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus”, which is Latin for, “Never tickle a sleeping dragon”. However, the original three, who always got caught doing something wrong or in a situation they didn’t want to be in, might have missed the memo on this one.
7. You can watch the Harry Potter movie franchise in 1,169 minutes
If you’re looking to celebrate Harry Potter’s fortieth birthday by watching all the movies again—you need only about 20 hours. PSA: This doesn’t include the popcorn and loo breaks.
8. Codenames were given to the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
By the time the seventh book was going to be released, the series had become a global phenomenon with every fan on tenterhooks for final instalment. In order to make sure that the book doesn’t get leaked, Bloomsbury is said to have given it two codenames: Edinburgh Potmakers and The Life and Times of Clara Rose Lovett: An Epic Novel Covering Many Generations.
9. The actor that played Moaning Myrtle was much older than the rest of the cast
The character of Moaning Myrtle, a Hogwarts student who met an untimely death and went on to haunt the bathrooms, was played by Shirley Henderson, who at the time was 36. Pause to gasp. In an interview to BBC, she revealed, “Playing a ghost was tougher than playing a real person because of all the technical stuff it involved. I had to be strapped up to this harness so it looked as if I was flying and so I could be pushed through the air and twisted and turned over and over again. But once you block all that out, it’s great fun. Really good fun.”
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