Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels written by British author J. K. Rowling. The novels chronicle the lives of a young wizard, Harry Potter, and his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The main story arc concerns Harry’s struggle against Lord Voldemort, a dark wizard who intends to become immortal, overthrow the wizard governing body known as the Ministry of Magic and subjugate all wizards and Muggles (non-magical people).
The series was originally published in English by Bloomsbury in the United Kingdom and Scholastic Press in the United States. All versions around the world are printed by Grafica Veneta in Italy. A series of many genres, including fantasy, drama, coming of age, and the British school story (which includes elements of mystery, thriller, adventure, horror, and romance), the world of Harry Potter explores numerous themes and includes many cultural meanings and references. According to Rowling, the main theme is death. Other major themes in the series include prejudice, corruption, and madness.
The series follows the life of a boy named Harry Potter. In the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry lives in a cupboard under the stairs in the house of the Dursleys, his aunt, uncle and cousin. The Dursleys consider themselves perfectly normal, but at the age of eleven, Harry discovers that he is a wizard. He meets a half-giant named Hagrid who invites him to attend the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry learns that as a baby, his parents were murdered by the dark wizard Lord Voldemort. When Voldemort attempted to kill Harry, his curse rebounded and Harry survived with a lightning-shaped scar on his forehead.
Harry becomes a student at Hogwarts and is sorted into Gryffindor House. He gains the friendship of Ron Weasley, a member of a large but poor wizarding family, and Hermione Granger, a witch of non-magical, or Muggle, parentage. Harry encounters the school’s potions master, Severus Snape, who displays a dislike for him; the rich pure-blood Draco Malfoy whom he develops an enmity with; and the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Quirinus Quirrell, who turns out to be allied with Lord Voldemort. The first book concludes with Harry’s confrontation with 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.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets describes Harry’s second year at Hogwarts. Students are attacked and petrified by an unknown creature; wizards of Muggle parentage are the primary targets. The attacks appear related to the Chamber of Secrets, a fifty-year-old mystery at the school. Harry discovers an ability to speak the snake language Parseltongue, which he learns is rare and associated with the Dark Arts. When Hermione is attacked, Harry and Ron uncover the chamber’s secrets and enter it. Harry discovers that the chamber was opened by Ron’s younger sister, Ginny Weasley, who was possessed by an old diary in her belongings. The memory of Tom Marvolo Riddle, Voldemort’s younger self, resided inside the diary and unleashed the basilisk, an ancient monster that kills those who make direct eye contact. Harry draws the Sword of Gryffindor from the Sorting Hat, slays the basilisk and destroys the diary.
In the third novel, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry learns that he is targeted by Sirius Black, an escaped convict who allegedly assisted in his parents’ murder. As Harry struggles with his reaction to the dementors – creatures guarding the school that feed on despair – he reaches out to Remus Lupin, a new professor who teaches him the Patronus charm. On a windy night, Ron is dragged by a black dog into the Shrieking Shack; Harry and Hermione follow. The dog is revealed to be Sirius Black. Lupin enters the shack and explains that Black was James Potter’s best friend; he was framed by Peter Pettigrew, who hides as Ron’s pet rat, Scabbers. As the full moon rises, Lupin transforms into a werewolf and bounds away; the group chase after him but are surrounded by dementors. They are saved by a mysterious figure who casts a stag Patronus. This is later revealed to be a future version of Harry, who traveled back in time with Hermione using the Time Turner. The duo help Sirius escape on a Hippogriff.