It’s been 20 years since the very first Harry Potter book was released, but you’d never guess it’s been that long! Harry Potter is still as pervasive as ever. New movies like Fantastic Beasts and theme park expansions help keep the series alive. But ultimately, the popularity of the books hasn’t waned at all.
Author J.K. Rowling commercially released Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on June 26, 1997. If that name sounds unfamiliar, it’s because the first book went by a different name in the United States: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Rowling faced loads of rejection before getting published. But once the series took off, the rest was history.
So far, the Harry Potter books, which culminated in a series of seven stories, sold more than 450 million copies. The books were even translated into more than 60 languages. Rowling herself is credited with helping kids get into reading again, with 84% of teachers saying the spectacled magician had a “positive impact on children’s reading abilities.”
Financially, Harry Potter rescued J.K. Rowling from poverty. In fact, she became the first female novelist to become a billionaire. However, she lost her billionaire status by donating so much of her wealth to charity.
Of course, the movies about the boy wizard helped expand the series’ popularity. There were originally eight movies, with the seventh book being split into two different parts. The original series grossed over $7.7 billion at the worldwide box office.
Expanding the Universe
Now, Warner Bros. is expanding the movie universe to include the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them series. Though these films don’t feature Harry Potter himself, they are set in the same world.
Financial success aside, Harry Potter has impacted the lives of millions of readers around the world. In honor of the 20th anniversary of the series, we’re raising our wands in celebration of one of the greatest wizards of all time.