Why couldn't it be in the 1940s? Were there any special events happening in 1980-1990 that relate to the story? I'm doing this for school and I couldn't find anything.

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    I suspect the answer is JKR writing it in the early 90s, and setting the plot around the time of writing, though given how much she talks about HP, she might have commented in not setting it earlier in our times. – Jenayah Feb 28 '19 at 0:13
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    Possible duplicate of When did the Harry Potter books take place? – Oni Feb 28 '19 at 0:27
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    Your teacher will almost certainly want you to mention that the book's target audience will find it much easier to relate to a contemporary setting. That's why books like Percy Jackson, Worst Witch, etc are set in the here-and-now. – Valorum Feb 28 '19 at 0:46
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    @Oni meh... the present question knows when the books take place, it's just asking why JKR chose it to be this way. Not really a dupe, voted to leave open. – Jenayah Feb 28 '19 at 0:47
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    Hi close voters, what is primarily opinion-based in an author making a decision about when her story takes place? (okay, that's my interpretation of the question, I'll give you that. But still, "why is X set in <year>" doesn't seem POB.) – Jenayah Mar 5 '19 at 23:04

The first Harry Potter book is set in 1991. There's no deep thematic reason for that year. It's just the year when J.K. Rowling started writing the book. Harry Potter himself was born in 1980 but that was just so he'd be eleven in 1991.

But in 1990, my then boyfriend and I decided to move up to Manchester together. It was after a weekend's flat-hunting, when I was travelling back to London on my own on a crowded train, that the idea for Harry Potter simply fell into my head.

J.K.Rowling Official Site, Section: Biography (archived)

...well actually there was one significant thing that happened right at the start of 1991 (technically December 30th 1990). J.K. Rowling's mother died. And we do know how important the death of Harry's mother is to the story.

  • This certainly sounds credible, but can you offer any specific evidence that this is the case. Why, for example didn't she update it over the many years that she was writing it? – Valorum Feb 28 '19 at 0:32
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    @Valorum what do you mean, update? Once it began in 1991 and by a "1 book = 1 year" progress you can't do much updating can you? (although with JKR math... :-) ) – Jenayah Feb 28 '19 at 0:34
  • @Jenayah - Well, she started plotting out HP1 in 1990, actually wrote three chapters by 1993 and finally published in 1997. So why didn't she update the year/setting at any point over those 7 years? Alternately, in her other writings, does she have a track-record of not changing the setting after starting writing? – Valorum Feb 28 '19 at 0:36
  • @Valorum ah, perhaps keeping the 1991 had something to do about being able to tell what happened between 91 and 97, then. (that's only speculation, though) – Jenayah Feb 28 '19 at 0:37
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    The thing is: Rowling is known to be horrible in maths. She probably just didn't want to recalculate all that dates that had already been written. It is easier to mess something up by missing one or two dates in the text instead of just leaving it as is... – Torsten Link Feb 28 '19 at 8:32

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