My Harry Potter obsession runs pretty deep. That's not to say I'm the world's biggest fan or that I know everything (sadly, I am not perfect...yet), but I do like to imagine that I know a fair bit about the world that J.K. Rowling created when writing the Harry Potter series.
After reading and re-reading the books, I now wish that I could read everything Rowling ever wrote on the subject because I am an addict, apparently. Here are a few fun things that were edited or omitted from the final drafts of the books for various reasons.
1. Dean Thomas was supposed to have more of a story
Dean Thomas, originally named Gary in the first drafts of Sorcerer’s Stone, had an entire backstory in the second book, but Neville’s replaced his story. As we know, Neville ended up becoming much more important in the later books and overall plot.
This was an editorial cut in the British version; my editor thought that chapter was too long and pruned everything that he thought was surplus to requirements. When it came to the casting on the film version of 'Philosopher's Stone', however, I told the director, Chris, that Dean was a black Londoner. In fact, I think Chris was slightly taken aback by the amount of information I had on this peripheral character. I had a lot of background on Dean, though I had never found the right place to use it. His story was included in an early draft of 'Chamber of Secrets' but then cut by me, because it felt like an unnecessary digression. Now I don't think his history will ever make it into the books.
I understand that Neville's storyline was crucial, but still, poor Dean!
2. We almost got a literary tour of the Malfoy Manor in book two
There was a scene that Rowling cut from both Chamber of Secrets and Goblet of Fire in which the pureblood son of a Death Eater, Theodore Nott visits the Malfoys. It showed off the opulent lifestyle of the Malfoy family, further emphasizing the difference in upbringing between Draco and Harry, as well as showed Draco interacting with students he saw as an equal. According to Rowling:
He is forced to see Theodore as such, because Theodore is just as pure-blooded as he is, and somewhat cleverer. Together these two Death Eaters' sons discuss Dumbledore's regime at Hogwarts and Harry Potter, with all sorts of stories that the Death Eaters tell about how this baby boy survived theDark Lord's attack.
Although Malfoy was pretty much an insufferable jerk in the books, I still would have been interested in hearing more about his side of growing up.
3. Nearly Headless Nick had an entire ballad
In Chamber of Secrets, Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington wrote himself a ballad which described his death, but ultimately it got the axe (pun totally intended) by Rowling’s editor.
It was a mistake any wizard could make
Who was tired and caught on the hop
One piffling error, and then, to my terror,
I found myself facing the chop.
Alas for the eve when I met Lady Grieve
A-strolling the park in the dusk!
She was of the belief I could straighten her teeth
Next moment she'd sprouted a tusk.
I cried through the night that I'd soon put her right
But the process of justice was lax;
They'd brought out the block, though they'd mislaid the rock
Where they usually sharpened the axe.
Next morning at dawn, with a face most forlorn,
The priest said to try not to cry,
"You can come just like that, no, you won't need a hat,"
And I knew that my end must be nigh.
The man in the mask who would have the sad task
Of cleaving my head from my neck,
Said "Nick, if you please, will you get to your knees,"
And I turned to a gibbering wreck.
"This may sting a bit" said the cack-handed twit
As he swung the axe up in the air,
But oh the blunt blade! No difference it made,
My head was still definitely there.
The axeman he hacked and he whacked and he thwacked,
"Won't be too long", he assured me,
But quick it was not, and the bone-headed clot
Took forty-five goes 'til he floored me.
And so I was dead, but my faithful old head
It never saw fit to desert me,
It still lingers on, that's the end of my song,
And now, please applaud, or you'll hurt me.
Sure, this book was definitely a little darker than Sorcerer's Stone, but if I had read a ballad where Sir Nicholas had to stand forty-five blows to the neck before dying then I probably would have had a bit of trouble sleeping.
4. Hedwig was named after a Saint
Hedwig was named after Saint Hedwig of Silesia who lived from 1174 to 1243. Rowling found her name in a book on medieval saints before she started writing the books. Side note: This didn't have to be added to the books at all, but I felt it would be worth including because I'm still in mourning Hedwig *tears*.
5. There was a Weasley in Slytherin
The Weasley family are notorious for getting sorted into Gryffindor, but as we know from Sirius Black, the family tree does not define the Sorting Hat's choices. There was one Weasley cousin named Mafalda who was supposed to be introduced in Goblet of Fire. Rowling was admittedly very fond of her character, but her purpose was better fit by the nosey reporter, Rita Skeeter. Rowling said of the character:
Mafalda was supposed to convey certain information about the Death Eaters to Harry, Ron and Hermione, because as a nosy, eavesdropping Slytherin who likes to impress, she does not keep her mouth shut when she overhears their sons and daughters talking. Unfortunately, however bright I made her, there were obvious limitations to what an eleven year old closeted at school could discover, whereas Rita Skeeter, whom I subsequently built up to fulfill Mafalda's function, was much more flexible.
The best thing about Mafalda was that she was a match for Hermione. To the latter's horror, Mafalda was highly gifted and a real show-off, so that Hermione was torn between deploring the rule-breaking and longing to join in and beat her.
I must admit, I would have loved to read about a character who was even close to matching Hermione's wit.
6. Harry almost met the Grangers much earlier
In the earliest drafts of Sorcerer’s Stone, Rowling didn’t have the Potter’s home in Godric’s Hollow, but instead on a remote island. And it was actually Hermione’s dad that found James and Lily’s bodies in the house after seeing an explosion at sea.
Could you imagine if that had happened instead? It would have changed so much of the central storyline! Would Harry and Hermione have met? How would the Grangers tie into Harry's life later on? So much to know!
Whether there were seven books or twenty books, I doubt I would have tired of reading J.K. Rowling's amazing work. To be fair, she's a pretty busy lady and I wouldn't dare ask for that much of her time. At least she's been kind enough to reveal even some of her edits!
What are your favorite books, chapters, or moments from the series? Or are there any characters or plot points that you wish you could have learned more about from the books? As always, be sure to me know in the comments section so we can talk about it!