THERE's NO "K" IN J. K. ROWLING
Joanne Rowling's original manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was rejected by twelve publishers before Bloomsbury agreed to take a chance on it.
However, the publishers felt that boys would not want to read a fantasy book featuring a boy wizard that had been written by a woman, so they suggested she just use her initials.
As it happens, Jo Rowling, as she likes to be called, doesn't actually have a middle name, so the "K" was taken from the first name of her paternal grandmother, Kathleen.
WHY PLATFORM 9¾ IS AT KING'S CROSS STATION
King's Cross Station had very special and personal significance for J. K. Rowling. Her parents actually met on a train bound for Scotland that departed from King's Cross.
For that reason, and because of its grand sounding name, J. K Rowling never had any doubt that the portal through which Harry and the other wizards and witches would pass to board the Hogwarts Express, would be at King's Cross Station.
THE GIRL WHO SAVED HARRY POTTER
Joanne Rowling typed the last lines of her first Harry Potter book - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - in 1996, and duly sent it to the Christopher Little Literary Agency, based in Fulham.
Believing that children's books were not money-spinners, Little put the manuscript in the reject basket. Ironically, Rowling had picked-out Christopher Little because she felt that his name sounded like a character in a children's story.
However, his office manager, Bryony Evans, decided to read the manuscript, and was so impressed by it that she persuaded Christopher Little to give it a chance.
Over the next twelve months, the manuscript was submitted to twelve publishing houses, all of whom rejected it.
Finally, the manuscript was sent to Barry Cunningham at Bloomsbury.
At first, they too were dubious about the book's potential. But then, Bloomsbury's chairman, Christopher Newton, took the first three chapters of the manuscript home with him and asked his eight-year-old daughter, Alice, to read it.
An hour later, she came down from her room and prophetically observed, "Dad, this is so much better than anything else."
Over the coming weeks, she pestered her father for more chapters, and Newton, deciding to take a chance on this new, unknown author, wrote out a cheque for £2500.
Mind you, Barry Cunningham was still not convinced of the power of the book. He advised Joanne Rowling to get a job, observing, "Remember, Joanne, this is all very well, but it's not going to make you a fortune."
He could not have been more wrong!
In February, 2018 the seven Harry Potter books hit the milestone of having sold 500 million copies worldwide. According to Forbes, they have netted J. K. Rowling an estimated personal fortune of around "750 million, and have spawned a movie franchise that has grossed $7.7 billion.
But, it could be argued that Harry Potter's phenomenal success owes an awful lot to the pester-power of an 8-year-old girl. I wonder what would have happened if Alice Newton had hated it?
DANIEL RADCLIFFE'S GREEN EYES
When filming of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone began, the first scene to be filmed was actually the final scene, with Harry leaving Hogwarts at the end of his first year.
In the books, Harry is described as having "green eyes", whereas Daniel Radcliffe has blue eyes.
Since the producers wanted to keep the films as close to the books as was possible, they had a special pair of green contacts made, which Daniel Radcliffe actually wore during the shooting of the first/final scene in the movie.
Unfortunately, Daniel Radcliffe had an allergic reaction to the contacts, and his eyes began to water and turned bloodshot, which was perfect for the scene, but not particular great for Daniel Radcliffe.
They then attempted to alter the colour of his eyes digitally in post-production, but that wasn't convincing, and so they abandoned their attempts to change the colour of Daniel Radcliffe's eyes, and Harry's eyes have been blue ever since.
EMMA WATSON'S BUCK TEETH
In the Harry Potter books, Hermione Granger is described as having frizzy, untamable dark hair, brown eyes, and protruding teeth, so Emma Watson didn't quite fit with that description.
The film makers, wanting the films to be as faithful to the books as possible, had a special pair of false teeth made for Emma Watson to wear to make her appear more like the book's description of Hermione Granger.
If you watch the final scene of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone very closely, you can see that Emma Watson is wearing those specially commissioned dentures.
However, Emma Watson found it extremely difficult to speak whilst wearing them; and, furthermore, when the Chris Columbus, the director, watched the rushes, he realised that she looked silly in them, and, from that point on, Emma Watson's own teeth are the stars of the films.
HARRY'S LIGHTNING SCAR
Over the course of the eight Harry Potter films, Daniel Radcliffe had Harry Potter's lightning scar applied to his forehead many, many hundred times.
Amanda Knight, the Chief Make-up artist, recalled how, the the first two films, the scar was stenciled on using a fixed template. In the early films, Daniel Radcliffe had the habit of picking at the scar when he was in the studio's schoolroom and he would come back to the set with the scar hanging off. In the later films the scar was attached using Pros-Aide, a special adhesive used for medical prosthetic applications.
Daniel Radcliffe had the scar applied over two-thousand time, and various stunt-doubles, had it applied several thousand times as well.
THE HOGWARTS SCHOOL MOTTO
The Hogwarts school motto is, "Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus", which translates as, "Never tickle a sleeping dragon." That sounds like excellent advice to me!
J. K. ROWLING WAS ALMOST HARRY'S MUM!
When the filmmakers were considering who should play the role of Lily Potter in the magical Mirror of Erised scene in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, they decided to offer the part to J. K. Rowling.
However, Jo Rowling turned the role down on the grounds that she wasn't cut out to be an actress - "even one who just has to stand there and wave" she later recalled, "I would have messed it up somehow."
RICHARD HARRIS AND THE PHOENIX
Richard Harris, who played the part of Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, was truly impressed by the animatronic Fawkes the phoenix.
In fact, he was so convinced that it was a real bird that he went so far as to congratulate Creature Effects Supervisor, Nick Dudman, on how well trained the bird was.
Recounting the exchange in Harry Potter Page to Screen, Nick Dudman recalls, "I told Richard that Fawkes was, in essence, a puppet, but he wouldn't believe me. So I pressed a control button, bringing Fawkes to life. Richard was absolutely gob-smacked. I don't think I could have received higher praise."
GANDALF WAS OFFERED THE ROLE OF DUMBLEDORE
Following the death of Richard Harris, who played the role of Albus Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter movies, the producers offered the role to Sir Ian McKellen, who had portrayed Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings.
McKellen, however, turned the part down, because Harris had gone on record to say that he didn't approve of him as an actor.
Appearing the the BBC programme HARDtalk, in 2017, McKellen was reminded that Harris had once dismissed actors such as him, Derek Jacobi and Kenneth Branagh as "technically brilliant, but passionless."
He went on to explain how, following Harris's death, in 2002, the producers phoned McKellen and asked him if he would like to be in the Harry Potter films.
Although they didn't say what role they were considering him for, McKellen surmised that it was the part of Dumbledore and turned it down on the ground that he "couldn't take over the part from an actor who I had known didn't approve of me."
THE PLANTS OF HARRY POTTER
The plants that crop up in the pages of Harry Potter sound wonderfully quirky and totally magical. But, in fact, many of them come from a real book, Culpeper's Complete Herbal, which was published in 1653 by English botanist, herbalist, physician and astrologer, Nicholas Culpeper (1616 - 1664).
"I used to collect names of plants that sounded witchy", J. K. Rowling told 60 Minutes, in October 2002, "and then I found this, "Culpeper's Complete Herbal," and it was the answer to my every prayer: flax weed, toadflax, fleawort, Gout-wort, grommel, knotgrass, Mugwort."
If you wish to be likewise inspired, you can read the full book below.
THE BUMBLING DUMBLEDORE
Dumbledore is, in fact, an old English word for a bumblebee. According to J. K. Rowling, she chose the name Dumbledore for the Hogwarts headmaster because she imagined him humming to himself.
J. K. ROWLING
The first names of Ernie Prang and Stanley Shunpike – the conductor and driver of the Knight Bus – were the names of J. K. Rowling's grandfathers, Ernie Rowling and Stanley Volant.
MOANING MYRTLE WAS 37-YEARS-OLD
Shirley Henderson, the actress who played Moaning Myrtle was actually thirty-seven when she played the part of the bathroom-haunting ghost of the 14-year-old student, killed by a basilisk's stare in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.