Harry Potter and the never-ending franchise: a letter to J.K. Rowling

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Dear J.K. Rowling,

Since my freshman year of high school, I have reread the entire Harry Potter series every finals week as a means of procrastination. Not only did this lead to less-than-perfect final exam scores, but it also means I have read all seven books at least 10 times (and seen all the movies at least five times). I was Hermione for Halloween four years running. My first tattoo was the “Harry Potter” page corner detail.

I grew up with these stories, I fell in love with these characters, I lived in this world — so trust me when I beg, please stop making Harry Potter movies.

As much as it pains me to say this, Harry Potter is over. I may be a purist, but I consider the seventh book to be the last-ever addition to the canon. “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” (a literal fan fiction) and “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” are, to me, just greedy producers and publishers squeezing the franchise for all they can get.

Don’t get me wrong. I too have wondered what happened 19 years later. In fact, when I was 9, I wrote my first work of fiction, “All Was Well” — two horrible chapters of ramblings about the second generation of “Harry Potter.” I have had numerous conversations debating the creation of spells and potions and how that process is recorded (there has to be a dictionary of spells somewhere; I’m positive). My friends and I have dreamed up tales of the Marauders, of Dumbledore and Grindelwald or the love story of James and Lily.

This is the magic of “Harry Potter.” You did not just write a series; you created a world, one more special  than that of Luke Skywalker or Bilbo Baggins. Unlike Tolkien or the galaxy, far, far away, the world of “Harry Potter” is our world. Muggles are us. Harry, Ron and Hermione all exist in the same world as we do, and this leads to all sorts of fabulous literary phenomena — but also devastation for 11-year-old Rebecca.

My 11th birthday was the worst birthday I’ve ever had, for when my Hogwarts acceptance letter never appeared in my mailbox (or chimney, or hand-delivered by a certain burly giant), I was finally forced to accept that this world, the world of “Harry Potter,” did not exist, at least not for me. But it could have, it still might — and this is your ultimate brilliance.

You have woven a wizarding world, with teleportation, time travel and flying animals, that is inherently tied to the human one. Wizards have a bank, currency, schools, a pseudo-government, even. We love their world because we can imagine ourselves in it. This places us in the position of creator in the Harry Potter universe. Our imagination becomes the real magic of “Harry Potter.” Even with more than 3400 pages intimately detailing their world, we still wonder about the numerous wizard positions in a muggle world or what would happen if a muggle stumbled upon a young mandrake.

Yet, every movie that is published, every new book, play, or comment you make post-publication takes away a little more of that magic. “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” balanced this very carefully, building a world without going near enough to the canon “Harry Potter” world to ruffle any feathers. But they can go no further without wreaking mayhem on the imaginations of fans everywhere. The newest Harry Potter film in the works, “The Crimes of Grindelwald,” introduces a young Dumbledore and his friend/enemy(/lover?) Grindelwald. This is a relationship and a story that I have imagined for years, and for me, there is no “true story.” My friends and I have different ideas and different stories, each as valid as the next. As soon as the movie is released, there will be a “true story,” and away goes the beauty of imagination.

My first reaction to your announcement that there will be five more Fantastic Beasts movies was horror. I do not care that you are the screenwriter of these films. Yes, the first “Harry Potter” books were your stories, but after you published them, you gave them to us, your readers. Each and every one of us created our own place in your world, and with every extra film you make, you take that away.  

In 2014, when you announced that Harry and Hermione should have been married, you broke my heart. You have the right to comment on this, as a fan of your own novels, just as anyone else could say what they think should have happened. But to use your absolute authority to negate a relationship you had built for seven novels, just because it was a decision made for “very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility,” is egregious. Do not rip the world we know and love from us. Please, I’m begging you.

You have created a wonderful, thought-provoking and vivid world and welcomed your readers into it as co-creators of that world. For this, I will be forever grateful. You have transformed my childhood in ways I cannot coherently express, and each new reading of “Harry Potter” continues to change and teach me. This is why I am begging you: Do not invalidate our beautiful creation by letting money-mongering producers convince you to write stories. Let Harry Potter stand on his own, surrounded by us, your readers. You made this world — now leave us alone to live in it.

Rebecca Gerny covers literature. Contact her at [email protected].