CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Raise your hand if you've never heard of Harry Potter. OK, nobody. Raise your hand if you've either read at least some of the books or seen one or more of the movies. OK, most of you. The wizarding world created by J.K. Rowling was indeed magical and lured kids (and adults) all over the world back into the pages of books -- a feat few would have predicted before that first offering in 1997.
But did she do it all alone? Rowling suggested that Harry Potter walked into her mind fully formed while she was riding a train. Seven books and eight movies later, she's literally a billionaire -- richer than the queen.
But did Harry Potter walk into her mind without some nudging along the way? The long-deceased H.P. Lovecraft, if he could speak from the grave, might say, "Now wait a minute, Missy!"
Lovecraft, an early science fiction/horror writer, crafted many short stories that kept kids up late, staring into their nightlights. One collection of short stories, "The Shuttered Room," is a modest 166 pages published posthumously in the year of our Lord Valdemort 1959. It brings to light a number of "similarities," to put it mildly, with Rowling's work.
In "Witches' Hollow," the main character, a teacher, relocates to backcountry Massachusetts and encounters a promising student who refuses to study, saying it's his father's wishes that he will obey. The teacher asks around town about the boy's unusual family and is met with an enigmatic glance by one shop owner, who asks, "Never heard of old Wizard Potter?"
Coincidence? Read on.
In this story, the solution seems to be touching a "stone" to the boy's neck to break the spell his daddy has cast upon him. "These stones are among the thousands bearing the...seals of the Elder Gods."
Forget the Elder Wand in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" for a minute and focus on the stones. After the teacher questions the stones as "superstitions," the answer that follows is, "If the stone has no meaning, it has no power. If it has no power, it cannot affect young Potter."
Rowling's first book? "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," aka the Philosopher's Stone in her native England.
Coincidence? Read on, dear reader.