16 Books That Inspired J.K. Rowling to Write Harry Potter

Posted by Hayley on July 30, 2016
J.K. Rowling may be a Muggle (as far as we know), but she creates magic with the written word. Instead of a wand, she wields a pen, and in place of a Hogwarts education, she has years of voracious reading under her belt.

We've collected a list of books the beloved Harry Potter author has said inspired her as a child and as an adult. How many have you read?

I Capture the Castle
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I Manxmouse
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The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
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The Iliad
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Emma
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The Wind in the Willows
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The Sword in the Stone
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The Enchanted Castle
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Do you and Rowling have similar reading tastes? Let us know in the comments! And discover more magical adventures on Listopia: What to Read After Harry Potter.

Comments Showing 1-50 of 89 (89 new)


message 1: by Daniel (last edited Jul 30, 2016 11:36AM) (new)

Daniel She probably forgot "Wizard of Earthsea" and "Books Of Magic" most likely intentionally. ;-)


message 2: by KQ (new)

KQ Clicking on Decca: The Letters of Jessica Mitford redirects to the Harry Potter page


message 3: by Kendall (last edited Jul 30, 2016 02:50PM) (new)

Kendall Moore Gotta say, I never would have guessed that she had such an eclectic range of inspirational sources. Kudos!


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

How did "Catcher in the Rye" inspired her?


message 5: by Al (new)

Al Kendall wrote: "Gotta say, I never would have guessed that she had such an electic range of inspirational sources. Kudos!"

This does seem like a diverse list, doesn't it? I haven't heard of half of them!


message 6: by Racheal (new)

Racheal Looks like they left off the biggest "inspiration" - Wizard's Hall by Jane Yolen.


message 7: by Ketutar (new)

Ketutar Jensen I have read 2/3 of these and I have read lots of similar books. but I have never heard of The Books of Magic or Wizard's Hall by Jane Yolen.
Has J.K. said she has read those books?
Also, both Neil Gaiman and Jane Yolen say they don't feel "stolen from", and claim the similarities to be due to the same taste in literature. As Neil Gaiman said "I thought we were both just stealing from T.H. White"
So - what ever her inspiration was, if you think she stole something, go ahead and repeat the feat. I'd love to read more books like that.


message 8: by Tezar (new)

Tezar Yulianto happy birthday nevile longbottom, harry potter and jk rowling


message 9: by Katie (new)

Katie Ketutar wrote: "I have read 2/3 of these and I have read lots of similar books. but I have never heard of The Books of Magic or Wizard's Hall by Jane Yolen.
Has J.K. said she has read those books?
Also, both Nei..."


I'm rather wishing Goodreads had a "Like" button. To borrow a phrase from Austin Kleon (who I think borrowed it from someone else), J.K. Rowling steals like an artist.


message 10: by Phil (new)


message 11: by Ellie (new)

Ellie Arpit wrote: "How did "Catcher in the Rye" inspired her?"

to capture the characters' teenage angst in the later years?


message 12: by Sammm (new)

Sammm IAmBroke wrote: "[...] Pretty sure Goodreads displayed the exact same blog post last year."
You are CORRECT!

I felt the same way, but I didn't want to comment until I found the evidence, and I did! I especially remember the blog because I had just joined Goodreads during the same month the blog was published!

https://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/519

It makes me wonder if the one I saw also wasn't the first time it was being posted, but alas I do not have that much time going through all the previous blogs.


message 13: by Katie (new)

Katie Strange how Susan Cooper's books in the Dark is Rising series aren't on here as there are some dynamic paralells.


message 14: by Maura (new)

Maura Flood Katie wrote: "Ketutar wrote: "I have read 2/3 of these and I have read lots of similar books. but I have never heard of The Books of Magic or Wizard's Hall by Jane Yolen.
Has J.K. said she has read those books?..."


Yolen's books are great. If you liked Potter, you would enjoy them. I think all of us carry each of the books we have read inside us. They become part of us. We might borrow inadvertently, or borrow as a way of giving homage.


message 15: by Anthony (new)

Anthony Mayor I have read several of the books and I can see where she would get some of her ideas from. I do not see that LOR by J.R.R. Tolkein is listed and I do see a number of ideas in Harry Potter that come out of Tolkein.


message 16: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli It's really difficult even for a writer to remember where all the ideas come from.

And ideas in common may mean parallel evolution, or coming from a common source, or even that the ideas passed through the hands of other writers before

I note that Hogwarts is much more like a mundane school than the one in A Wizard of Earthsea; I would put more credit to mundane school books than to Le Guin's.


message 17: by Sara (new)

Sara Ketutar wrote: "I have read 2/3 of these and I have read lots of similar books. but I have never heard of The Books of Magic or Wizard's Hall by Jane Yolen.
Has J.K. said she has read those books?
Also, both Nei..."


I had also read that she stole from Dianna Wynne Jones so I read some of those books: not even close!


message 18: by Michael (last edited Jul 30, 2016 10:10PM) (new)

Michael Perkins Ketutar wrote: "I have read 2/3 of these and I have read lots of similar books. but I have never heard of The Books of Magic or Wizard's Hall by Jane Yolen.
Has J.K. said she has read those books?
Also, both Nei..."


Yes, T.H. White. Why isn't the Once and Future King on this list?


message 19: by hayls 🐴 (new)

hayls 🐴 The Catcher in the Rye for Harry's angst and tortured teenage existence in Order of the Phoenix YES


message 20: by Ahmed (new)

Ahmed  Ejaz Got it. I will must read these books one day!


message 21: by Amit (last edited Jul 31, 2016 01:36AM) (new)

Amit Umm. There's another old Indian mythological book. King was cruelest king/demon ever. There was a prophesy that a kid yet to be born will arrive and kill him. King imprisons the mother. Kid gets born anyway and his father gets him to escape and puts another child in its place. Kid faces multiple attempts on his life throughout childhood. When kid reaches age of 16, he goes and kills the evil King/demon and fulfills the prophesy. That's the story of Krishna as in the Srimad Bhagavad. Seems like an obvious inspiration.


message 22: by Soumya (new)

Soumya Amit wrote: "Umm. There's another old Indian mythological book. King was cruelest king/demon ever. There was a prophesy that a kid I yet to be born will arrive and kill him. King im prisons the mother. Kid gets..."

OMG yeah totally!! Krishna's story is so much like that!! Just that Harry was seventeen but yeah. Gosh.


message 23: by Jocelyn (new)

Jocelyn IAmBroke wrote: "Daniel wrote: "She probably forgot "Wizard of Earthsea" and "Books Of Magic" most likely intentionally. ;-)"

Shots fired!!
"


Not to mention Groosham Grange by Anthony Horowitz unless he copied ideas from someone else.


message 24: by Jocelyn (new)

Jocelyn Ellie wrote: "Arpit wrote: "How did "Catcher in the Rye" inspired her?"

to capture the characters' teenage angst in the later years?"


She does a damn fine job in Order of the Phoenix. I almost cannot stand it. It's like being punched in the gut.


message 25: by Maria Amparo (last edited Jul 31, 2016 02:01AM) (new)

Maria Amparo ¿And maybe The books of Magic by Neil Gaiman? It's a comic, but I think Tim Hunter is a clear influence...


message 26: by Maria Amparo (new)

Maria Amparo Jocelyn wrote: "IAmBroke wrote: "Daniel wrote: "She probably forgot "Wizard of Earthsea" and "Books Of Magic" most likely intentionally. ;-)"

Shots fired!!
"

Not to mention Groosham Grange by Anthony Horowitz un..."


Agree


message 27: by Kaj (new)

Kaj Samuelsson Happy Birthday J.K. Rowling


message 28: by Lucian (new)

Lucian Vaizer No Lord of the Rings? Really?


message 29: by Ioana (new)

Ioana Katie wrote: "Ketutar wrote: "I have read 2/3 of these and I have read lots of similar books. but I have never heard of The Books of Magic or Wizard's Hall by Jane Yolen.
Has J.K. said she has read those books?..."


I was just thinking about this. Quite the difference between stealing and stealing like an artist.


message 30: by liquid soap (new)

liquid soap ew this discussion is really gross. stole? nothing is original and everything's already happened, no need to be rude and undermining the hours of hard work she put into her creation.


message 31: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli Amit wrote: "That's the story of Krishna as in the Srimad Bhagavad. Seems like an obvious inspiration. "

Only if your knowledge of stories of prophesied children is extremely limited. That tale is Legion. Pointing out one as the "obvious" source needs a lot more than it has the bare bones of the common plot.


message 32: by Mackay (new)

Mackay Perkinsmike wrote: "or the Once and Future King. Why isn't TH White on the list?" It is - "The Sword in the Stone" is the first book of Once and Future.


☯ DαякєηRнαℓ  ❛ ᶜʳᵒᵘᶜʰᶤᶰᵍ ʰᵘᵐᵃᶰ ; ʰᶤᵈᵈᵉᶰ ᵗᶤᵗᵃᶰ ❜  I've only read one... But considering it's C.S. Lewis, I'd say I'm still good lol


message 34: by Sam (new)

Sam Prominently missing: Under the Volcano.


message 35: by L8blmr (new)

L8blmr Lucian wrote: "No Lord of the Rings? Really?"

I thought the same thing. Ring wraiths and Dementors? Come on!


message 36: by Julia (new)

Julia  B She actually took a lot of stuff from the LOTR.


message 37: by Tinah (new)

Tinah Ivanesca wrote: "ew this discussion is really gross. stole? nothing is original and everything's already happened, no need to be rude and undermining the hours of hard work she put into her creation."

Thank-you! I've been thinking the same thing. You want to go down that road then you try making a completely original story and then come back and say you didn't use an idea from something else to inspire your story.


message 38: by Sigourney (new)

Sigourney Nothing is truly original anymore. She wrote a brilliantly compelling story that many people adore. Everyone nitpicking about 'stealing' - jealous much?


message 39: by Stella (new)

Stella Racheal wrote: "Looks like they left off the biggest "inspiration" - Wizard's Hall by Jane Yolen."

The first Harry Potter book was published before 'Wizards hall'



message 40: by N.E.S (new)

N.E.S Tezar wrote: "happy birthday nevile longbottom, harry potter and jk rowling"

yep....to bad i can't give them birthday punches =(


message 42: by Keiry (new)

Keiry Ko I've read only one of this books and the others were already in my to-read list. (:


message 43: by Madeline (new)

Madeline Osigian 5/16 isn't bad, right?


message 44: by Nadia (new)

Nadia Ketutar wrote: "I have read 2/3 of these and I have read lots of similar books. but I have never heard of The Books of Magic or Wizard's Hall by Jane Yolen.
Has J.K. said she has read those books?
Also, both Nei..."


Well said :).


message 45: by Tommy (new)

Tommy Hancock Sorry if this was already addressed,, but I think some people are mixing up "books that are similar" and "books that inspired". Let's say, not for argument's sake, just example's sake, that JK never read Books of Magic or Wizard Hall, then went on to write similar books. If she read, say, The Baby Sitter's Club and drew from a character in those books for one of Hermione's character traits, then that's an inspiration, despite the books being nothing alike.

Elvis can inspire Kurt Cobain, who in turn can inspire Justin Bieber, who in turn can inspire the next great metal band. Their sounding nothing alike has nothing to do with their inspiration, just that they led to them doing what they do.

*Note: Before anyone jumps on me, none of the examples are meant to be facts, mere hypothetical.


message 46: by Tinah (new)

Tinah Tommy wrote: "Sorry if this was already addressed,, but I think some people are mixing up "books that are similar" and "books that inspired". Let's say, not for argument's sake, just example's sake, that JK neve..."

Good point


message 47: by Soheil (new)

Soheil I wonder why lord of the rings isn't one of the books in the list as I am almost sure she drew inspiration from it as well. Let me elaborate one of the similarities:

Sauron's spirit enduring in the One Ring / Voldemort's spirit enduring in objects


message 48: by Maria Amparo (new)

Maria Amparo Sam wrote: "Prominently missing: Under the Volcano."
hahahahaha


message 49: by Rosa (new)

Rosa Don't forget the Chronicles of Narnia.


message 50: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Tommy wrote: "Sorry if this was already addressed,, but I think some people are mixing up "books that are similar" and "books that inspired". Let's say, not for argument's sake, just example's sake, that JK neve..."

Right on! The post is based on books J.K. Rowling named as inspirations. It isn't her complete reading list and it isn't going to cover the entire range of books that contain similar themes, structures, or plot elements. We can't be sure she read all of the books people in this thread are convinced have "inspired" her work. Those authors may have been inspired by cultural landscapes similar to the one Rowling was immersed in.

For the record, drawing from existing texts to transform them into other works is as old as storytelling. Most of Shakespeare's plots come from other sources (ex. most of the comedies are transformations of pre-existing Italian plays), but he worked his own particular magic to make them the classics we admire so much today. I would hate to live in a world where imaginative transformation, repurposing, reimagining, and rebirth didn't happen. Think of it as the consciousness of the human race refining our understanding of existence through countless iterations. It's one of the things that excites me about literature.


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