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Harry Potter: A Journey Through a History of Magic - Book Review

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by Marisa Quinn-Haisu (subscribe)
My name is Marisa. I am a fiction writer, a blogger, and a freelance journalist.
Published March 21st 2018
Learn about the real life inspiration for Harry Potter
Harry Potter a journey through a history of magic
British Library


It was my Dad who got me into Harry Potter. He started me off on the third book. He knew I wanted to be a writer and said to me "I hope these books inspire you, Rissa."

I was immediately hooked. I loved Harry Potter and his magical world. There was something about these books that just pulled you into them. JK Rowling put an amazing amount of effort into them. I read and re-read them countless times throughout High School and as a young adult. These books helped to shape me as a writer. They absolutely did inspire me. Thanks Dad.

Harry Potter: A Journey Through a History of Magic is a Harry Potter companion book that was published in 2017 by Bloomsbury.

It includes original drawings by JK Rowling, draft chapters of Harry Potter, illustrations by Jim Kay, historical facts about real-life witchcraft and wizardry, explores myth and folklore, and has pictures of artefacts from the British Library's exhibition Harry Potter: A History of Magic. This book is aimed at younger readers over the age of 10 but would appeal to adult fans of Harry Potter as well.

I knew as a kid that JK Rowling got a lot of inspiration from mythologies from all over the world. Fluffy, for example, is based off Cerberus from Greek Mythology.

But I had no idea until reading this book how many things in Harry Potter's world really exist in real life. Did you know that Mandrakes, the plants in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets that look like babies and shriek really loudly, are real?

It's true! Mandrakes are a real thing! In real life, they are ugly plant roots that can look like muddy, screaming babies. There is a picture of one in the book that looks like a small person kneeling and clawing at their face. It's fascinating and a little bit creepy.

Mandrakes have a lot of legend surrounding them. According to lore, the root screams when dug up and will kill anyone who hears it. There is a lot of medieval literature about how to safely dig one up.

Another part of the book that I found interesting was that Nicolas Flamel, a character from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, was a real person in real life. The real Nicolas died in 1418 and was buried in Paris. There is a picture of his gravestone and a memorial to him in the book. His wife in real life was Perenelle, just like in the Harry Potter books.

Harry Potter: A Journey through a History of Magic reads like a book from the Hogwarts curriculum. There are sections on Herbology, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Astronomy, Divination and more. But what's really fascinating is each section also includes the real-life facts about all of those subjects. You will learn about real Herbology, real Divination, real Defence against the Dark Arts and more.

For an added bit of fun, the book also lists activities suitable for young kids that would be a lot of fun in a classroom. In the section on Potions and Alchemy, there is an activity to make your own potion!

Harry Potter: A Journey through a History of Magic celebrates twenty years of Harry Potter's magical world. It would make a wonderful gift for anyone who loves the 'Boy Who Lived'.
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Why? This book contains original Harry Potter illustrations by JK Rowling, hand-written chapters and sheds some light on the research JK Rowling did to bring Harry Potter to life
When: This book is perfect for younger Harry Potter fans
Where: Available from your local bookstore or online retailer
Cost: $13 - $20
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