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Who he is
Fictional character, a boy wizard created by British author J.K. Rowling.
Books in the Harry Potter Series
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997; also published as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone; film 2001, also released under both titles)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998; film 2002)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999; film 2004)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000; film 2005)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003; film 2007)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005; film 2009)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007; film part 1 2010, part 2 2011)
Early life (1980-1991)
Harry James Potter was born on 31 July 1980, to James and Lily Potter (née Evans), two members of the original Order of the Phoenix at the height of the First Wizarding War, only hours after his classmate-to-be Neville Longbottom.
Lily and James went into hiding in late 1979 when they discovered she was pregnant. When Harry was born, Lily held a christening; it was quiet and quick, with only James, Lily, Harry, and Sirius Black in attendance. Harry spent his infancy in hiding with his parents in the Potter Cottage at Godric's Hollow in the West Country, England.
For Harry's first birthday, Sirius bought him a toy broomstick. In Lily's letter to Sirius, it mentioned that this broomstick had been Harry's favourite present and that he had smashed a horrible vase that had been a gift from Petunia.
In the letter, Lily also included a picture of Harry flying around on the broom and James chasing after him. Lily also stated in the letter that Harry looked pleased with himself while flying around on the toy broom.
Lily and James also hosted a very quiet birthday tea. The only ones in attendance were them, Harry, and Bathilda Bagshot. Bathilda also used to dote on infant Harry. The Potters owned a cat, but it is unknown what happened to it after Voldemort's attack.
To keep them safe from Lord Voldemort, who had marked them for death after hearing of a prophecy regarding his downfall at the hands of a male child born at the end of July in 1980, Albus Dumbledore suggested they use the Fidelius Charm. Dumbledore even offered to be the Potter's Secret Keeper, but the Potters had planned to make Harry's godfather Sirius Black their Secret Keeper instead.
On Sirius' advice, they changed this designation to Peter Pettigrew, whom they thought would be less suspicious. In a terrible turn of fate, Pettigrew was a spy and Death Eater for Voldemort and barely a week later betrayed the Potter's and gave their whereabouts.
Attack at Godric's Hollow (1981)
On the evening of Hallowe'en in 1981, Lord Voldemort arrived at Godric's Hollow and murdered James and Lily. He murdered James first, who tried to distract the Dark Lord; unfortunately, he did not have his wand with him and was killed immediately.
Voldemort then advanced on Lily, who died trying to protect Harry. Her sacrifice prevented the Killing Curse from working on Harry, resulting in her love for Harry becoming a barrier to protecting him. When Voldemort attempted the curse on Harry it backfired on the caster and instead of murdering Harry, Voldemort lost all his powers and his physical form was obliterated.
Voldemort was saved from death by the five Horcruxes he had made up to that point, including his diary, Gaunt's ring, Slytherin's locket, Hufflepuff's cup, and Ravenclaw's diadem.
Later this also included Harry himself, because a piece of Voldemort's unstable soul latched onto the only living being present. This gave him some of Voldemort's abilities such as the ability to speak Parseltongue.
This event made Harry the only person to have survived the Killing Curse, thus giving him the title the "Boy Who Lived". The failed curse left a lightning-bolt scar on his forehead marking him as Voldemort's equal. The scar would be a bane and also a blessing to Harry in the years to come, as it opened a telepathic link between Lord Voldemort and himself, giving each some awareness of each other's thoughts.
Rubeus Hagrid rescued Harry from the house, partially destroyed by Voldemort's faulty killing curse, and was given specific orders from Albus Dumbledore to take him to his aunt and uncle. As Hagrid left, he was intercepted by Sirius Black, a close friend of the Potters, who pleaded for Hagrid to give the baby to him, as he was the chosen guardian in the event of James and Lily's death. Hagrid refused, saying that he was under orders from Dumbledore to take Harry to his relatives. Sirius, though reluctant, relented and gave Hagrid his flying motorcycle to take Harry to Privet Drive, and left to find Peter Pettigrew, who subsequently faked his death and framed Sirius for his death and the death of twelve Muggles.
Later this encounter with Hagrid was used to support the idea that Sirius Black betrayed the Potters to Voldemort.
Hagrid delivered Harry to Dumbledore late on the evening of 1 November 1981. Dumbledore left a letter of explanation to the Dursleys, but they never relayed it to Harry. Instead, Harry spent the next decade of his life in their strict and miserable home without knowing that he was a wizard.
Life at Privet Drive
As Harry's aunt and uncle, the Dursleys, were Muggles, and they had no understanding of magic, and even though his aunt and uncle knew about his lineage, they wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. The Dursleys proudly considered themselves a "normal" family and despised anything out of the ordinary.
They lied to Harry about his parents' death, claiming they had died in a car crash. They also claimed that the lightning-bolt scar on Harry's forehead (which he had received from Voldemort's failed Killing Curse, and could vaguely recall as if he 'strained his memory' a green flash of light and a high, cold, laugh.) was from the same car crash his parents died in.
He tried to understand what it was, or if it was from the car crash, but he simply could not. Petunia and Vernon forbade Harry from asking questions, particularly those regarding his parents. In addition, the Dursleys refused to have pictures of Lily and James, and did their best to avoid the subject of Harry's parents altogether.
They resented Harry for his magic, which was sporadic, but evident and strongly discouraged any sort of imagination. They neglected Harry, verbally and emotionally abused him, and inflicted cruel punishments like depriving him of meals and locking him into the cupboard under the stairs on him whenever something "unusual" occurred.
The Dursleys spoiled and pampered their son Dudley and paid almost no attention to Harry; indeed, what little attention they did pay to him was negative in its entirety. All his clothes were hand-me-downs from Dudley and were far too large for Harry. He was made to sleep in the cupboard under the stairs, while his cousin got two bedrooms to himself (one for sleeping in and one for storing all his toys).
They also made Harry do household chores for them, such as making food and getting the post. In time, Dudley started bullying Harry. The Dursleys took Dudley and Piers Polkiss to someplace spectacular every year for his birthday, but the only thing Harry ever got for his birthday was one of Vernon's old socks or a coat hanger.
The Dursleys always hid evidence of Harry's existence by not having pictures of him in the house. Among the few people who did know about Harry were Petunia's friend Yvonne and Vernon's sister Marge, the latter of whom the boy was forced to consider an aunt to him despite not being a relative of his. Aunt Marge showed the most dislike for the frail boy while visiting Privet Drive during Dudley Dursley's fifth birthday, when she whacked Harry around the shins to stop him from beating Dudley at musical statues, and on holidays like Christmas, when she brought a computerised robot for Dudley and a box of dog biscuits for Harry.
She eventually made a fool out of the young Potter during Dudley's tenth birthday, when Harry accidentally stepped on the paw of her favourite pet bulldog Ripper, causing the enraged dog to chase him out into the garden and up a tree. Dudley laughed himself silly at the sight of his cousin then, and to the Dursleys' delight, Marge refused to call Ripper off until past midnight.
Harry's hardship, however, was highly necessary as by returning to live with his mother's only living blood relative, the protection that Lily gave Harry would continue. While Harry could call that place home he could not be harmed. However, the Bond of Blood charm would be broken when Harry turned seventeen years old, or when he no longer called 4 Privet Drive his home.
Unknown to Harry, one of his neighbours, Arabella Figg, was a Squib. Unfortunately for Harry, to maintain favour with the Dursleys, she was forced by Albus Dumbledore to give him a lousy time whenever she had to look after him, as the Dursleys would never have let him go if they knew Harry was enjoying himself, a possibility that infuriated them. Harry discovered her connection to the wizarding world when it was revealed during the summer before his fifth year that she worked undercover for the Order of the Phoenix to keep tabs on Harry's suffering.
On 23 June 1991, Dudley's eleventh birthday, the Dursleys went to the zoo with Dudley's best friend Piers Polkiss. Unfortunately for the Dursleys, they had to take Harry with them, as Mrs Figg had broken her leg and there was no one to take Harry, and they refused to leave him alone in their house. At the zoo, Harry spoke with a boa constrictor and unintentionally made the glass of its enclosure disappear.
Discovery of Being a Wizard
Despite Harry's aunt and uncle's desperate prevention of Harry learning about his abilities, their efforts are in vain. Harry meets a half-giant, Rubeus Hagrid, who is also his first contact with the wizarding world. Hagrid reveals himself to be the Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts as well as some of Harry's history.
Harry learns that, as a baby, he witnessed his parents' murder by the power-obsessed dark wizard Lord Voldemort, who subsequently attempted to kill him as well. Instead, the unexpected happened: Harry survived with only a lightning-shaped scar on his forehead as a memento of the attack, and Voldemort disappeared soon afterwards, gravely weakened by his own rebounding curse.
Hagrid then officially invites Harry to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, a famous magic school in Scotland that educates young teenagers on their magical development for seven years, from age eleven to seventeen.
With Hagrid's help, Harry prepares for and undertakes his first year of study at Hogwarts. Harry meets most of the main characters and gains his two closest friends: Ron Weasley, a fun-loving member of an ancient, large, happy, but poor wizarding family, and Hermione Granger, a gifted, bright, and hardworking witch of non-magical parentage. Harry also encounters the school's potions master, Severus Snape, who displays a conspicuously deep and abiding dislike for him, the rich brat Draco Malfoy whom he quickly makes enemies with, and the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Quirinus Quirrell, who later turns out to be allied with Lord Voldemort.
He also discovers a talent of flying on broomsticks and is recruited for his house's Quidditch team, a sport in the wizarding world where players fly on broomsticks. The first book concludes with Harry's second confrontation with Lord Voldemort, who, in his quest to regain a body, yearns to gain the power of the Philosopher's Stone, a substance that bestows everlasting life and turns any metal into pure gold.
Harry's Second year at Hogwarts
He and his friends investigate a 50-year-old mystery that appears uncannily related to recent sinister events at the school. Ron's younger sister, Ginny Weasley, enrolls in her first year at Hogwarts, and finds an old notebook in her belongings which turns out to be the diary of a previous student, Tom Marvolo Riddle, later revealed to be Voldemort's younger self, who is bent on ridding the school of "mudbloods", a derogatory term describing wizards and witches of non-magical parentage. The memory of Tom Riddle resides inside of the diary and when Ginny begins to confide in the diary, Voldemort is able to possess her.
Through the diary, Ginny acts on Voldemort's orders and unconsciously opens the "Chamber of Secrets", unleashing an ancient monster, later revealed to be a basilisk, which begins attacking students at Hogwarts. It kills those who make direct eye contact with it and petrifies those who look at it indirectly.
The book also introduces a new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Gilderoy Lockhart, a highly cheerful, self-conceited wizard with a pretentious facade, later turning out to be a fraud. Harry discovers that prejudice exists in the Wizarding World through delving into the school's history, and learns that Voldemort's reign of terror was often directed at wizards and witches who were descended from Muggles.
Harry also learns that his ability to speak the snake language Parseltongue is rare and often associated with the Dark Arts. When Hermione is attacked and petrified, Harry and Ron finally piece together the puzzles and unlock the Chamber of Secrets, with Harry destroying the diary for good and saving Ginny, and, as they learn later, also destroying a part of Voldemort's soul. The end of the book reveals Lucius Malfoy, Draco's father and rival of Ron and Ginny's father, to be the culprit who slipped the book into Ginny's belongings.
Harry's Third year at Hogwarts
It is the only book in the series which does not feature Lord Voldemort in any form, only being mentioned. Instead, Harry must deal with the knowledge that he has been targeted by Sirius Black, his father's best friend, and, according to the Wizarding World, an escaped mass murderer who assisted in the murder of Harry's parents.
As Harry struggles with his reaction to the dementors – dark creatures with the power to devour a human soul and feed on despair – which are ostensibly protecting the school, he reaches out to Remus Lupin, a Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher who is eventually revealed to be a werewolf.
Lupin teaches Harry defensive measures which are well above the level of magic generally executed by people his age. Harry comes to know that both Lupin and Black were best friends of his father and that Black was framed by their fourth friend, Peter Pettigrew, who had been hiding as Ron's pet rat, Scabbers.
In this book, a recurring theme throughout the series is emphasised – in every book there is a new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, none of whom lasts more than one school year.
During Harry's fourth year of school (detailed in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), Harry is unwillingly entered as a participant in the Triwizard Tournament, a dangerous yet exciting contest where three "champions", one from each participating school, must compete with each other in three tasks in order to win the Triwizard Cup.
This year, Harry must compete against a witch and a wizard "champion" from overseas schools Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, as well as another Hogwarts student, causing Harry's friends to distance themselves from him.
Harry is guided through the tournament by their new Defence Against the Dark Arts professor, Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody, who turns out to be an impostor – one of Voldemort's supporters named Barty Crouch, Jr. in disguise, who secretly entered Harry's name into the tournament. The point at which the mystery is unravelled marks the series' shift from foreboding and uncertainty into open conflict.
Voldemort's plan to have Crouch use the tournament to bring Harry to Voldemort succeeds. Although Harry manages to escape, Cedric Diggory, the other Hogwarts champion in the tournament, is killed by Peter Pettigrew and Voldemort re-enters the Wizarding World with a physical body.
the Order of the Phoenix
In response to Voldemort's reappearance, Dumbledore re-activates the Order of the Phoenix, a secret society which works from Sirius Black's dark family home to defeat Voldemort's minions and protect Voldemort's targets, especially Harry.
Despite Harry's description of Voldemort's recent activities, the Ministry of Magic and many others in the magical world refuse to believe that Voldemort has returned. In an attempt to counter and eventually discredit Dumbledore, who along with Harry is the most prominent voice in the Wizarding World attempting to warn of Voldemort's return, the Ministry appoints Dolores Umbridge as the High Inquisitor of Hogwarts and the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. She transforms the school into a dictatorial regime and refuses to allow the students to learn ways to defend themselves against dark magic.
Hermione and Ron form "Dumbledore's Army", a secret study group in which Harry agrees to teach his classmates the higher-level skills of Defence Against the Dark Arts that he has learned from his previous encounters with Dark wizards. Through those lessons, Harry begins to develop a crush on the popular and attractive Cho Chang.
Juggling schoolwork, Umbridge's incessant and persistent efforts to land him in trouble and the defensive lessons, Harry begins to lose sleep as he constantly receives disturbing dreams about a dark corridor in the Ministry of Magic, followed by a burning desire to learn more.
An important prophecy concerning Harry and Lord Voldemort is then revealed, and Harry discovers that he and Voldemort have a painful connection, allowing Harry to view some of Voldemort's actions telepathically. In the novel's climax, Harry is tricked into seeing Sirius tortured and races to the Ministry of Magic. He and his friends face off against Voldemort's followers (nicknamed Death Eaters) at the Ministry of Magic. Although the timely arrival of members of the Order of the Phoenix saves the teenagers' lives, Sirius Black is killed in the conflict.
the Half-Blood Prince
Harry and his friends are relatively protected from that danger at Hogwarts. They are subject to all the difficulties of adolescence – Harry eventually begins dating Ginny, Ron establishes a strong infatuation with fellow Hogwarts student Lavender Brown, and Hermione starts to develop romantic feelings towards Ron.
Near the beginning of the novel, lacking his own book, Harry is given an old potions textbook filled with many annotations and recommendations signed by a mysterious writer titled; "the Half-Blood Prince". This book is a source of scholastic success and great recognition from their new potions master, Horace Slughorn, but because of the potency of the spells that are written in it, becomes a source of concern.
With war drawing near, Harry takes private lessons with Dumbledore, who shows him various memories concerning the early life of Voldemort in a device called a Pensieve. These reveal that in order to preserve his life, Voldemort has split his soul into pieces, used to create a series of Horcruxes – evil enchanted items hidden in various locations, one of which was the diary destroyed in the second book.
Draco, who has joined with the Death Eaters, attempts to attack Dumbledore upon his return from collecting a Horcrux, and the book culminates in the killing of Dumbledore by Professor Snape, the titular Half-Blood Prince.
the Deathly Hallows
Lord Voldemort has completed his ascension to power and gained control of the Ministry of Magic. Harry, Ron and Hermione drop out of school so that they can find and destroy Voldemort's remaining Horcruxes. To ensure their own safety as well as that of their family and friends, they are forced to isolate themselves. A ghoul pretends to be Ron ill with a contagious disease, Harry and the Dursleys separate, and Hermione wipes her parents' memories and sends them abroad.
As the trio searches for the Horcruxes, they learn details about an ancient prophecy of the Deathly Hallows, three legendary items that when united under one Keeper, would supposedly allow that person to be the Master of Death. Harry discovers his handy Invisibility Cloak to be one of those items, and Voldemort to be searching for another: the Elder Wand, the most powerful wand in history.
At the end of the book, Harry and his friends learn about Dumbledore's past, as well as Snape's true motives – he had worked on Dumbledore's behalf since the murder of Harry's mother. Eventually, Snape is killed by Voldemort out of paranoia.
The book culminates in the Battle of Hogwarts. Harry, Ron and Hermione, in conjunction with members of the Order of the Phoenix and many of the teachers and students, defend Hogwarts from Voldemort, his Death Eaters, and various dangerous magical creatures. Several major characters are killed in the first wave of the battle, including Remus Lupin and Fred Weasley, Ron's older brother.
After learning that he himself is a Horcrux, Harry surrenders himself to Voldemort in the Forbidden Forest, who casts a killing curse (Avada Kedavra) at him. The defenders of Hogwarts do not surrender after learning of Harry's presumed death and continue to fight on. Harry awakens and faces Voldemort, whose Horcruxes have all been destroyed. In the final battle, Voldemort's killing curse rebounds off Harry's defensive spell (Expelliarmus), killing Voldemort.
An epilogue "Nineteen Years Later" (set on 1 September 2017) describes the lives of the surviving characters and the effects of Voldemort's death on the Wizarding World. In the epilogue, Harry and Ginny are married with three children, and Ron and Hermione are married with two children.