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I've recently begun reading the Harry Potter series, but having already seen the movies I know more about the plot than any first time reader really should, and this has caused me to notice a few odd things. As far as I'm aware Rowling never planned to get seven books out of this series, and yet a number of things come up in the first book that have me either suspect that Rowling got her ideas from rereading her earlier books or that they were edited back in later. For example, Philosopher's Stone has Sirius Black, Hagrid's expulsion, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, and the dragon in Gringotts, mentioned very early on, despite many of them not being of importance to that book.

Long story short, did any of the books receive any noteworthy edits after publication? I'd check an original copy against the version that I'm reading, but I don't have access to one.

  • It's worth pointing out (you may or may not be aware), that the modern British school system of five years until you take your GCSE exams and then a further 2 years for A-levels (which traditionally weren't always done in the same school, if they were done at all - but certainly could be) is deliberately mirrored in Harry Potter. I mean you don't write a book detailing the events of a character's first year at school without the inkling that, all being well, you might get to bring out a book covering each of the other years do you? – Au101 Mar 1 at 22:59
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The books did receive edits, but everything was pretty minor.

Here are lists of changes made between Bloomsbury editions. For example, the Enervate spell was changed to Rennervate. Sometimes the wrong person was mentioned, and this was also fixed. A couple of changes to numbers and days of the week were made. The "deliberate error" of calling Voldemort the ancestor of Slytherin in Chamber of Secrets was also fixed. There were also many plain old grammatical and spelling errors amended.

  • I think that you've missed the best part of your first link. At the bottom of that page, it links to pages that answer my question! – J. Mini Feb 24 at 18:50
  • @J.Mini That was the entire point of linking to it! It just happens to also have lists of changes made between UK and US versions. – Laurel Feb 24 at 18:53
  • @RoboKaren OK I switched it to something else. – Laurel Feb 24 at 21:16
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    That first edit of Enervate to Rennervate annoys me greatly! It feels like going from something elegant to something a first-grader would say. – Araho Feb 25 at 8:16
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    @Araho Except "enervation" means "nervous fatigue" (i.e. the nerve signals weakening). It's like having a healing spell incanted "killius" or "murderfy"... – Chronocidal Feb 25 at 10:15
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No, those points were always there in the first edition, as part of the general world building.

As far as "never planned to get seven books" goes, that doesn't mean you can't have an idea of where your plot would go over the natural seven years of UK secondary education.

It's well documented that elements of the final book were already conceived at least when only four of them had been written.

Despite this, there have been minor errata published in later editions. The most well-known that comes to mind is when (minor spoilers) a missing character suddenly appears to yell at Dumbledore. Other than that, this page details various inconsistencies and notes which ones were later corrected.

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Can I add that the premise of your question is wrong. Surprisingly, (or perhaps unsurprisingly now you've read it and noticed these details), J. K. Rowling always did intend to write seven books, and had a significant portion of all of them planned out before beginning to write the first. These things you notice are intentional.

J.K. Rowling first had the idea for Harry Potter while delayed on a train travelling from Manchester to London King’s Cross in 1990. Over the next five years, she began to plan out the seven books of the series. She wrote mostly in longhand and amassed a mountain of notes, many of which were on scraps of paper.

Source: https://harrypotter.bloomsbury.com/uk/jk-rowling-biography/

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