It’s no secret that we’re huge fans of the teenage wizard and the seven increasingly lengthy stories that featured him. Published between 1997 and 2007, the books were the defining pieces of literature for a whole generation of young people.
The stories, which tell of Harry, an orphan who grows up without knowing he has magical powers, are set at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Here Harry makes friends, learns magic and fights battles against his parents’ killer, Lord Voldemort. Translated into 73 languages and now the topic of several higher education modules, the Harry Potter series had to come near the top of our list not only for its incredible popularity but also for the enduring themes of friendship, truth and power that permeate the work. Beautifully written, this immersive world will provide pop culture references for many generations to come.
The films, too, were a huge success – financially, at least. The eight-part series (the final novel was split into two films) grossed over $7.7 billion, making it the fourth-highest-grossing film series of all time. The films, which featured a predominantly British cast, were at the height of cutting-edge special effects and starred actors such as Alan Rickman, Dame Maggie Smith and Julie Walters. Whilst they didn’t entirely do the books justice, they had a fairly good go at it.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007)