Today begins a series of anniversaries for Harry Potter that will carry on over the summer, as each of the books released in June, July, and August reach various milestones.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone turns 20 today and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will turn 10 in just a couple of weeks (July 7th). And in September, the infamous "19 years later" date will arrive.
To celebrate, Pottermore has opened a Wizarding World book club this month for its fans to sign up and read along as the site explores the themes within each book. The plan is to reread all seven Harry Potter books before September.
And as part of today's anniversary, Pottermore dives into Chapter One of the very first book: "The Boy Who Lived." And as it notes, Harry Potter is a book hung over with grief from the very beginning:
What's so apparent in the first chapter of Philosopher's Stone is that there's a sadness hanging over it. What could be some simple world-building is actually a deeply poignant and emotional moment for McGonagall, Dumbledore, Hagrid and even unwitting baby Harry. At the time, we were pulled into the mystery of this chapter, but now we see it's melancholic value.
The entire first novel is a bit of a meditation on mortality. As Pottermore also notes in its overview of Philosopher's Stone, the book is one that teaches us about death, but in a way that reminds us it's nothing to be frightened of. As Dumbledore tells Harry at the end of the novel:
To one as young as you, I'm sure it seems incredible, but to Nicolas and Perenelle, it really is like going to bed after a very, very long day. After all, to the well-organised mind, death is but the next great adventure.
Happy 20th Anniversary Harry Potter, and thank you, J.K. Rowling, for introducing us to your world. For millions of us, Hogwarts will always be our home.