Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Harry Potter, A History of Magic at the British Library, London

Set in rooms decorated as Hogwarts classrooms and evolving around the subjects tested in OWLS and NEWTS, this turned out to be a clever blend of Harry Potter paraphernalia and the sort of real-life historical documents you expect to find at a library exhibition.

I suppose most visitors learnt things they didn't know beforehand on historical takes on herbology, astronomy, potions, magical creatures etc, and at any rate the Harry Potter artworks by Jim Kay are a delight. 
Rowlings has lent pages of handwritten and typed scripts and her personal sketches, initially intended only as memory-joggers. What stuck with me was the extent to which these pre-publication drawings were similar to the figures as we know them from the films. Directors and scriptwriters must have followed Rowlings's lead very closely.

Despite the suggestive presentation, however, this remains a literary exhibition and as such focuses on ancient books, thereby making more suitable for adult potterheads than young children.

Book in advance. It seems to be very popular.

And should the two museum gift shops prove insufficient for your merch-cravings, the 9 3/4-shop at the King's Cross is just a stone's throw away...


  1. When I read all topics already posted, I have a strong feeling of being uncultivated.
    Indeed, I have to choose a subject posted 7 month ago, and about what? Harry Potter on earth!
    Am I a young teenager? Well, I do not think so but I am certainly aside from the rest of the world.
    At least, it is a subject I wholly master.

    I really would enjoy such exhibition. Although J.K.Rowling have done a great work to develop her universe on Pottermore and HP wikia fandom (links on the bottom), it would be extremely interesting to read the original script to know how her original idea has changed all along the writing. I have so much read the seven books while I was teenager I can quote nearly every dialogue and describe every action.


    You are right and not exactly. I think it is time to remember you whole the context: first during the trip, then one and a half years later.

    Trip: If my memory is good, we stayed to Ramsgate during the trip. In the bus, after visiting a castle (I cannot remember the name), Mrs Vandichèle was bored, so she has suggested to teachers to play a game called Time’s up. They needed paper I provided to them, so I was invited to play. But you did not participate to the game while you were reading a book, a yellow highlighter in the hand.

    After the game, I went back to my seat, which was directly behind yours. At the moment, I said you that I was hoping to be in your class next year. You answered it would not be possible. I asked why and you said that you were going to take a sabbatical year to prepare the English aggregation.
    So, I have ended with “En Terminale alors!”.

    Class (1,5 years later): After writing your name on the board (with your birth name) you have said that obviously you were better at English than French so you were going to speak only in English.
    That was at the end of the lesson I asked you if you would have got it. First, you did not remember, but when I quoted the previous discussion, you talked about my memory and said yes.

    Well, maybe you have now my picture in your mind, so I finish it and give you my name.
    Forgive me for all the mistakes I have made in that post and the others. I never be a very good student in foreign language.

    1. A word of caution to begin with : Nothing disparaging about Harry Potter must be said on this blog! Though sadly (well maybe not) no longer a teenager, I am a dedicated Potterhead and reread the all books every two years or so. (Great links - and Rowlings is also wonderful on Twitter.)
      To quote one of my favourite authors, Nick Hornby; if young adult-literature is only for young adults, then detective novels should be restricted only to detectives.

      Obviously, it got easier once I saw your name, but I do remember you very well; it was Leeds Castle (I got lost in their xxx maze, it was raining), we did stay at Ramsgate and you were puzzled by my highlighted and annotated old copy of 'The Moonstone' (excellent read, btw).
      You did not like the music they played at your school dance in June (mostly crap, to be honest)and already then claimed you weren't a typical teenager. (Of course, none of you are.)
      I also remember you came back to Pagnol for an Open house-Saturday to say hi, a year or so after your graduation. Plus, I can see that your English has really improved!

      So where are you studying? And in a year, what are you going to do with your Master's degree in geriatrics (I suppose is the biology of aging? Not precisely my field although I am getting to know rather more about aging than I want to)? If you could choose anything, what would you want to be doing in the future? (Ah, to have the world as your oyster! The freedom and the stress that comes with it!..)

    2. I am not sure I understand properly you last expression " to have the world as your oyster!". Could you explain it to me please?

  2. Ah, ah ! Caution noticed. I was just mad of me. But you know, I am also an unconditional Potterhead. I have never met yet someone who has more knowledge about Harry Potter universe ans story than me. Until you, the question did not arise.

    I remember the maze: a little group with me was sent to find and lead you out. And even if I know why you have done it, writing on books remains completely inconceivable for me ;)

    My come back to Pagnol was the second year after graduation because on the first one, I was in Grenoble for my preparatory class. It was just before you moved on Paris, didn't you?(Louis Armand high school, right ?)

    I am not so far from you now. I am studying at Pierre and Marie Curie University. Much for me, it is "Sorbonne Université Sciences" since the 1st of January (damn merger, we lost our name!). But I do not prepare a Master's degree in geriatrics, it is a speciality for medicine students. No, biology of ageing (or aging, but we use the first word) concern all mechanisms and factors which are involved in senescence (at genetic, cellular and molecular levels), how to prevent them and the consequences for the organism.
    It is more or less the same destiny for all of us. Do not worry, it cannot be as bad as you think. :)

    In my dream world, I would be a gendarme officer in judicial police (my dream since I was 8). But the government change the competitive examination and scientific profiles are not desire anymore (before, we could pass maths, physics, chemistry, biology... and 15 others as the option subject).
    In the real world, I do not know. Maybe I will continue in research, with a thesis or not. My future is unclear.

    How are you in your "new" institution? Is it very different ? Better ? I suppose it is more practical for you than Pagnol.

    1. Yes it seemed to me you had spoken about the army or the gendarmerie. Strange change of policy on their part, I must say. Not too many regrets, I hope? (Regrets are bad for you. I am sure of it.)

      Biology of aging it is, then. I should have known better than to try to lecture a student on terminology, sorry! What are the options with a Master's degree in biology of aging? Do you become a doctor? Researcher?
      The saying 'the world is your oyster (huitre)' means precisely that; a lot of possibilities are open for you. (That is why the London 'passe Navigo' is called 'Oyster card' I guess) Liberating but also stressful, depending on how you see it. How do you see it?

      I do currently teach at lycée Louis Armand (I am trying not to wonder how you know that), mostly in BTS classes, which suits me fine. Business English is not as much fun as the lycée classes, where I enjoy doing art, history and geography topics, but it's a change and I like change. It's fine for now. Nice students, nice colleagues, just as was the case at Pagnol (but closer to home, indeed!).
      I am also in charge of international relations = sending students on Erasmus+ internships abroad, and of preparing the TOEIC exam, so I keep busy!

      I'm spending the coming week in London, so I will be tuning out of the internet as far as possible; nothing personal. (The blog posts are scheduled so you can keep reading!) Have a nice weekend!