The Harry Potter era has ended. Truly ended. All that is and all that has been and will be is over. No more books, or films. It feels weird. Future generations will be told by my generation - the 'Harry Potter' generation - of how great it was. We'll tell them about how we reserved the books months and months in advance, waited eagerly for the post man on release day, or cycled down to the nearest book shop for the moment it opened to get the book we'd all anticipated, theorised and dreamt over. In my life time I doubt that there will be another such phenomenon.
I didn't start reading Harry Potter until quite late in the cycle. The first book was published in 1997, it was when I started school at the age of 4. My primary school was a Church of England school and so banned the books and unlike other schools who read them as class texts we were highly discouraged not to read them at home either. My headteacher was very strong with the point that the books taught nothing my witchcraft and therefore were not suitable for a Christian upbringing. Subsequently she was featured on the BBC news and I am lead to believe that there is a deatheater called 'Rookwood' - apparently not a completely fictitious name. Yet, looking back on these strong opinions, I cannot think that Harry Potter is about witchcraft at all. Instead it is about love, friendship and overpowering evil rather than capturing dark magic and the supernatural.
Despite the banning of books I remember that in year 2 a lot of my friends reading 'The Chamber of Secrets'. Of course many copies got confiscated from my friends, but Harry Potter lived on. I was never a massive reader when I was younger, sure I read some Enid Blyton books, and Jacqueline Wilson books as every other 8 year old girl, but Harry Potter never featured heavily due to the banning in primary school. I'd seen the films, but I was a wimp and found them scary beyond belief. I remember watching the second film and having to sit on my mother's lap because I was so jumpy.
It was when book 4 came out that I really started to show an interest. I read it. I enjoyed it. And so my love began. I started from the beginning and became enthralled in the world that JK Rowling had created. I discussed with my mum what we thought would happen next and how Voldemort would affect the wizarding world this time.
In secondary school I found other people who shared my love for the books and I would go and see the films with them and have massive detailed discussions with them about our theories for the next books. I started to ask for Harry Potter cakes and wands for my birthday and even went to the premier for the Half Blood Prince despite the torrential rain. We made new friends and had an amazing time. I have so many memories of making up songs to do with Harry Potter and having Harry Potter birthday parties, making Weasely jumpers, Luna Lovegood earrings, writing to Warner Brothers to become and extra and surviving a whole spoiler free day of school after Deathly Hallows came out and not having read the ending due to untimely family outings!
The first book was published in 1997 and the last film is out in 2011. The Harry Potter phenomenon has spanned my whole childhood. In some ways it marks the end, in some ways it will never end. It will always be loved and the stories will always be read, but no one aside from a small selection of people born at exactly the right time can say that they have lived with Harry Potter for the whole of their childhoods.