The first book of the Harry Potter series went on sale in the U.K. 20 years ago today. It offers a convenient excuse to reacquaint yourself with a world before anyone on this side of the Atlantic had heard of muggles, horcruxes or pensieves, before tourists would crowd into London’s Kings Cross railway station simply to peer wistfully at the space between Platforms Nine and Ten.
Here’s the first story NPR ever aired about Harry Potter — a wonderful piece by the late Margot Adler, from All Things Considered in 1998.
Some gems, from that bygone era:
- “Most people in the U.S. have never heard of Harry Potter. It’s not a title you see in the window at your local Barnes & Noble.”
- Rowling’s recollection of how Harry came to her while she stared out a train window at some cows.
- Margot Adler’s uncannily accurate prediction that the word “muggle” will become a Whole Big Thing.
- A Q and A session in which a kid asks Rowling about her writing, and Rowling reads the Reptile House scene from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
- A quote from a bookstore manager marveling at the fact that they’ve sold “hundreds” of copies.