For 20 years, J.K. Rowling has been forging connections with love millions and millions all over the world in a way that can feel deeply, passionately personal( who among us hasn’t tweeted at her hoping for a fave ?).
“The online Harry Potter fandom has become a global phenomenon with its own speech and culture, its own wars and celebrations, its own luminaries, ” Rowling wrote in the prologue for Melissa Anelli’s 2008 volume Harry, A History . What she may not have realise was how integral she was to this phenomenon, from when she barely touched it to when she became the force at the center, typing texts onto the web.
On the twentieth anniversary of the original publishing of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the U.K ., it’s easy-going to see how that potent concerning the relationship between author and devotees has grown and altered in new, pioneering rooms as technology and the web has grown right alongside the beloved series.
Let’s look back.
Part 1: Life before the internet
As a society, we’re now so bad at retaining analog life that older people frequently speak to millennials as if we were clutching a smartphone fondly to our insignificant newborn chests.
There was indeed a period before the internet gave rise to unrestrained fandom, and it was in that time the Harry Potter phenomenon snuck up around us. There was no #content , no #takes , no indices of what did it huge that sourced favourite tweets and Instagram affixes. The story’s success was absolutely from word of mouth and from the numbers. Overwhelming sales exposed a so-called children’s book that was descending bestseller planneds reserved for ~*~ real literature ~*~.
And just like that, J.K. Rowling became a household name. She rarely demonstrated interviews and to this day doesn’t have an official profile or autobiography. Informal notes of the author’s Cinderella story started sounding up in bookstores next to shelves of Potter in the first few years , hitherto Rowling abode elusive.
In 1999, if you demanded connections with Rowling you could write her publisher a symbol via snail-mail. She tried to read everything, but as we know, she was about to have more love than she could ever have imagined.
Part 2: The wizarding web
As the internet began to grow, Harry Potter fandom and J.K. Rowling were ripening right along with it. Online fan communities, as we now know them, were determined by what began in sparse gatherings and supporter places in the early 2000 s, where people around the world researched for a locate where they could talk about their favorite son warlock that wasn’t time an AIM convo with their bestie.
Fan places sounded up everywhere, its most important being MuggleNet and The Leaky Cauldron. Beyond the most recent story about the next work liberate or cinema product, they became an thorough repository for repeats, epitomes, papers, and literally anything else to do with all things Harry. There was now a place for love to discuss igniting assumptions with anyone, the world over. We take it for conceded now, but prior to these places if you wanted to share your “Actually, Snape is a Vampire” theory your alternatives were limited to…your personal blog?
Rowling was aware of these locates when she launched her own( more on that below ), and every month she screamed out a follower locate that was doing extraordinary wreak. In 2005, she even invited MuggleNet’s Emerson Spartz and TLC’s Melissa Anelli( acclaimed to followers) to interview her in Scotland, connecting herself to followers on an unprecedented level in a manner that is we’d never forget. That interview was a big one for fandom in general, with Rowling recognise and reputation just how special her relationship to superfans was and, in a way, imparting us all into her home.
A opening to Jo
In the two years between pamphlet of Harry Potter and the Dictate of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince , something stupendous happened:
Abundant extents of fanfiction . JKRowling.com. It was here that Harry Potter devotees got to know the woman to whom we owed so much better it was now that Rowling became Jo for so many of us.
The site would be impressive even today: It was set up to look like her table, and poising the cursor over any part from a piece of paper to a misshapen chocolate blot led to different pages about story( working on bible six !), rumors( it’s not called Harry Potter and the Pillar of Storg !), and entertaining information( Dean Thomas is half-blood !). Seemingly innocuous objectives secrete all over the website “couldve been” opened to expose age-old writings and attracts Rowling examined to share. Compare this to, answer, the LucasFilm site or George RR Martin’s blog today. It’s an entirely different level of plot and interaction for fans.
The most crucial sheet of all on JKRowling.com contained good-for-nothing except a locked entrance with a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign hanging from it. At first , no one could make sense of it, and then one day, the indicate landed off.
In the coming years, this would become a rallying cry to the fandom: “The sign is gone, ” or “The door is open” meant “GET TO YOUR COMPUTER RIGHT THIS SECOND WE HAVE NEW BOOK INFORMATION !!!! 1! ” This is how news cracked pre-Twitter, and it was glorious.
Behind the door, we received obstacles and problems. Sometimes you couldn’t open it unless you sprayed the seed next to it or acquired a key from another part of the area. This ability of recreation that Rowling to be submitted to even a goofy part of her website cured love feel like she was in on something with them, increasing that creator/ supporter connection.
It was behind that door that Jo teased various chapter titles from Half-Blood Prince and gave us the designation of Deathly Hallows through a game of hangman. There was comfort in just knowing that she attended about the followers enough to share these dainties along with her thoughts and compassions. When the books discontinued, that gradually faded, and we were left requiring for more.
Part 3: Mistres of Twitter
Finally, in 2009, Rowling participated Twitter, and the fandom started. For years, she tweeted sporadically, and without updates to JKRowling.com or new volumes on the way, every tweet was the most significant we’d come in years to seeing that opening without the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign.
But her appearance on Twitter tagged a alteration for all of Harry Potter to the internet Harry Potter now wasn’t merely popping up in pockets of fandom seeking to write fanfiction or collecting information or geek out over the succession; it was everywhere. As she began tweeting more, it was a behavior for love to detect a personal tie with her 24/7. Fan questions wheeled in daily, and miraculously many were answered.
Who would acquire in a fight, Crookshanks or Mrs. Norris? Is Lavender Brown dead?( Jury’s still out on that one .) Social media lends itself to obsession, and haunting is what Potter followers have always done best only now we could get a friendly Twitter fave and the answer to a burning question if we haunted at the right time, which was unheard of up until this point.
This relatively unfiltered better access to our designers means they could obsess right along with us. They can tweet at one another, share their opinions and puns or photos of their pups. Rowling can express herself if she’s having writer’s obstruction or merely wheeling her seeings at the government.
Part 4: Pottermore and beyond
In 2011, Jo employed Twitter to announced Pottermore, and the interactive website is now a primary root for Harry Potter report and extras a chore that belonged, a decade ago, to fan sites and to the old-time account of JKRowling.com. Pottermore is now the authority on if Minerva McGonagall was ever in love or news about upcoming Fantastic Beasts movies and is still regularly updated.
Harry Potter is “done” now in the way that in 2017 , good-for-nothing is to be able to be done again( buckle up for four more Fantastic Beasts movies over the next handful of years ). It seems obvious now that Rowling while at the same time writing other labors will never truly leave the Wizarding World. Not that we’re complaining.
We’ve long known that Harry Potter changed the world as we know it, but the style this fandom derived right along with the internet and social media was a phenomenon in and of itself. We’ve exited from snail mail to forums to fan sites to Twitter, and now the Potter fandom continues to flourish in an period where sci-fi and fantasy regulation the realm of Reddit and beyond. In 2017, obsessing online about a fictional character isn’t mysterious at all and 20 years later, we have Rowling to express my thanks for that.