I’ve never been particularly bothered about celebrities. I didn’t know who half of the actors that my school mates spoke about were. I have only ever seen Gareth Gates, Busted and McFly in concert – and a couple of Classical Spectaculars. I have no desire to know the ins and outs of Kim Kardashian and co.’s lives. However, I am obsessed with books and the world they bring to life.
From the age of about 9, I have loved the Harry Potter books. I would sit in the playground, on the wall alone, reading. Page after page, chapter after chapter, book after book. I immersed myself in the wonderful world of Harry, Ron and Hermione. I identified with the characters, I identified with those who were perhaps bullied a little, who didn’t have any friends, who the teachers seemed to hate. You see, my parents evenings always went a bit like this…
“Your daughter is…well…a bit of a loner. She doesn’t make any effort to make friends.”
“She always has her nose stuck in a book. She doesn’t join in with the other kids.”
“I think sometimes that she just doesn’t really care…”
My parents told me that they were “worried” about me. They thought I believed in magic. They thought that I believed that the magical world of Harry Potter was real. I might have been young, but I wasn’t stupid.
At the age of 10, I befriended another Harry Potter fanatic. I had a friend! We would play Harry Potter in the wooded area of the car park in the playground. We always fought over who would be Hermione, of course.
Hermione Granger. A girl who, like Harry, knew nothing of her magical powers up until her 11th Birthday. A girl who had come from the Muggle world, into a completely new and strange dimension. A girl who was considered unattractive – with her bushy brown hair and big front teeth. A girl who was named know-it-all and bossy, because she liked reading and learning and school.
Hermione Granger. A girl who, despite her late introduction to magic, was considered the “greatest witch of her age”. A girl who despite her bad first impression, made some of the best friends she ever could have made. A girl who blossomed. A girl who’s knowledge was her power and strength.
Jo Rowling created a girl who was a couple of years older than me. I looked up to Hermione. I wanted to be just like her. I wanted to be smart, I wanted to have friends. I wanted to be beautiful. I watched Hermione grow up, from everything that I felt I was – lost, alone, unattractive, nerd – into everything I wanted to be – strong, independent, popular and beautiful. Jo Rowling made everything seem possible for me.
What was I? A 9 year old, chubby girl, unpopular and friendless. I was lonely, clutching Harry Potter to my chest every lunch time. Sat alone on the wall, immersed in my magical world, inspired by these fictional characters and role models. Now what am I? A 20 year old girl, not unattractive, surrounded by friends. I have a very strong sense of what is right and what is wrong. I am a little bit stubborn. I am not unintelligent. I have good morals.
Hermione helped me to become who I am today – she showed me that women are just as capable as men. She showed me that having opinions didn’t make me bossy. That showing emotions didn’t mean that I was a hysterical woman. That getting upset when boys (or anyone) let you down, is actually okay. She showed me that not having nine boyfriends before I turned 15 was absolutely fine. Jo gave me a role model, someone to aspire to be just like.
You might tell me that she’s just a fictional character, nothing more. Just words on a page – but she is more than that. Hermione is a part of my childhood. Children have the ability to imagine fiction as their small reality. I was lucky enough to have the Potter universe as my small reality.