In the novel Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Remus Lupin teaches how to fight the boggarts, which are "amortal shape-shifting non-being that takes on the form of the viewer's worst fear."

In IT by Stephen King, the nature of the antagonist evil monster is explained by itself before the adults final fight: IT (or Pennywise, Robert Gray) is a kind of alien that changes its shape, working like a "mirror", that reflects the worst fear of the victim.

So, boggarts and IT are really similar even though they have some important differences.

Was JK Rowling influenced by the nature of IT to create the boggarts?

  • 6
    A Boggart is a creature from folklore.
    – Mithical
    Feb 12 '16 at 13:44
  • 8
    you might want to ask a new question "was SK's IT inspired by boggarts from real-life folklore ? Feb 12 '16 at 13:54
  • 2
    Wasn't The Hogfather published before HPaPA? Feb 12 '16 at 20:40
  • 3
    The idea of a creature that uses fear to weaken/stun it's victims is a pretty old trope - most effectively used IMHO in the Little Red Riding Hood pastiche "The Nonesuch" by Larry Niven. (Read it if you can - lovely twist ending ). Feb 20 '16 at 2:17
  • 3
    Fully agree with @Covertwalrus here - there are dozens of examples of such tropes in the literature - check tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/IKnowWhatYouFear . Neither Rowling or King were the first authors to use it.
    – Yasskier
    Mar 8 '16 at 2:10

A Boggart is an established creature from folklore.

Boggart is one of numerous related terms used in English folklore for either a household spirit or a malevolent genius loci inhabiting fields, marshes or other topographical features.

As we know, JKR took many of the creatures in the book, and references, from existing mythology. (Like Fluffy -he's almost 100% for sure based off of Cerberus, from Greek mythology. Hagrid gets him from 'a Greek chap'.)

So, it's safe to assume that she based the name of the Boggart on... boggarts.


The boggarts of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series are unlike most boggarts of British folklore. Their closest parallel, in being able to change shape at will, is probably to be found in a reference to a Lancashire boggart in the book Lancashire Folklore of 1867.

To put it clearly: It looks as though she took this the way she did most other things: She took the name it from existing Mythology/Folklore. However, it looks like she did not take the attributes of the boggart from existing mythology - or anything - but made up her own creature with a name from existing folklore.

According to @CreationEdge, Rowling never read that much scifi, and can't say that anything was inspired by what she read. She says as much:

THE question you are most frequently asked as an author is: "Where do you get your ideas from?" I find it very frustrating because, speaking personally, I haven't got the faintest idea where my ideas come from, or how my imagination works. I'm just grateful that it does, because it gives me more entertainment than it gives anyone else.

  • JKR has said she didn't read much scifi and couldn't say any one thing was inspired by any books she read. You can find something to that effect on Accio Quote
    – user31178
    Mar 8 '16 at 2:44


Boggarts in "Harry Potter" are a relatively harmless creatures that can reflect their victims fears, Pennywise from "It" is an eldritch abomination, that seems to be older than the time itself, who is using phobias to paralyze and later devour his victims.

The trope about using worst fears against someone is much older than both books - please check (TV TROPES WARNING!!!!!!) this nice little site for few examples.

Also (as provided by @Richard in this answer) Rowling doesn't like to mention any key influences.


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