Now that the 7th Harry Potter book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” has been released, and the last two movies in the series are only a few years from completion, the question that everyone is wondering about is obvious:
Will Harry Potter live forever?
Not literally, of course, but in literature. We live in an era where information is being created at a fantastic rate. According to a couple estimates I found, the world’s storehouse of knowledge doubles once every 2 to 5 years, with some observers estimating that this rate will eventually quicken to doubling once every 73 days.
We live in an age when science is discovering new and exciting things every day. There are more books written and movies made than at any time before. A quick trip to the children’s section of a large book store is a trip to a huge, entertaining, exciting place.
At the moment, Harry Potter is a large part of that, a humongous part, really. J.K. Rowling has a personal fortune estimated at over 1 Billion. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” is the fastest-selling book of all time. The five Harry Potter movies have grossed close to $1.5 Billion in the United States, a number which moves to over $4.2 Billion if you take into account the entire world.
As I mentioned in a previous article, the Harry Potter series is widely considered to have been the prime motivator for an entire generation of kids to start reading.
At the moment, Harry Potter seems almost unstoppable. And some novels and books do seem to defeat the aging brought on by time. “Charlotte’s Web,” for example, is read by children of today in massive numbers (helped, of course, by the popularity of the recent movie), but other, once popular children’s authors, may not be so lucky. One author in particular, G.A. Henty, has fallen completely by the wayside.
Henty, in his day, was one of, if not THE most popular authors of children’s books, or more particularly, adventure books for boys. The titles seem outdated now, with such quaint names as “By Sheer Pluck: A Tale of the Ashanti War” and “The Tiger of Mysore: A Story of the War With Tippoo Sahib,” but in his day, up to and including during World War II, Henty was incredibly popular. Compare that to today when his books – while still available – do certainly NOT populate the Best Seller list. And this is an author who wrote more than 80 novels! He was so prolific, in fact, that in the three years after his death, Henty managed to publish seven more books!
It seems incredible to think that this could happen to someone, this immediate lapse into obscurity, but it’s possible. Henty has been dead scarcely more than a century (he was born in 1832, started publishing in the 1860s, and died in 1902), but Henty is not the only one. Even more famous authors of “classic” novels, such as Dickens, Bronte and Hugo, find it difficult to catch the imagination of today’s audience.
Would be any more surprising to find, a century down the road, that Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, while still available and possibly studied in “academic” courses, and of course available for download via the Internet, are ignored by children? That the kids of 2107 don’t have time for “old” books and are – instead – reading the books of then? As incredible as that idea seems to me, the real question, I suppose, isn’t will Harry Potter live forever, but will anyone remember he’s still alive?