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Just ran into this exchange on some forum:

... The only problem is, Harry's scar is described as being in the middle of his forehead, not the side. It's on the side in the movies....

Actually, they never mention where the scar is exactly on Harry's forehead.

Now, I'm curious - was the second response correct? Did the book texts truly never mention where on Harry's forehead the scar was? (movies don't count)

  • I wonder if the forehead bullet shots in two Agatha Christie novels are relevant. – b_jonas Mar 24 '14 at 14:35
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Rowling's own illustrations for an annotated special edition show the scar squarely in the middle of his forehead

enter image description here

As does this pen & ink sketch

enter image description here

In the original book illustrations (which were hand-chosen by Rowling (but not drawn by her)) the scar is also depicted as being in the middle of his forehead.

enter image description here

That all being said, she apparently changed her mind by the time she wrote Order of the Phoenix where his scar is described as causing a pain above his right eye. From the context it's possible (albeit unlikely) to read the passage as referring to a normal stress headache.

Rain pounded on the windowpanes as they strode along the empty corridors back to Gryffindor Tower. Harry felt as though his first day had lasted a week, but he still had a mountain of homework to do before bed. A dull pounding pain was developing over his right eye. He glanced out of a rain-washed window at the dark grounds as they turned into the Fat Lady’s corridor. There was still no light in Hagrid’s cabin.

Note also that when asked to consult on the Harry Potter films, JKR drew the scar in above Harry's right eye:

Columbus wondered early on where to put Harry's lightning-bolt scar, a souvenir from his infancy, when he had his first run-in with the evil Lord Voldemort, who killed his parents. Editions of the books all over the world showed the scar in various places, so the director went to the source. "I drew a face with a wizard hat, and I had her draw in the scar," says Columbus. She described it as "razor sharp" and drew it vertically down the right side of Harry's forehead.

  • Actually, unless I'm completely cross eyed, the top illustration shows the scar a bit off to the right, though not as far as movie scar was. Now, the quote is a lot more telling. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 6 '14 at 23:20
  • 2
    I'm wondering why you say it's unlikely that the headache described is just a regular headache. Unless I'm misremembering the context of that quote, I have personally always just read it as him developing an annoying headache from being overworked and under-rested—I never associated it with his scar. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 16 '16 at 20:44
  • @JanusBahsJacquet - I'll happily admit that sometime a headache is just a headache – Valorum Feb 16 '16 at 21:09
  • That's what I get for sharing an image in chat before I finish posting my answer. – ibid Dec 3 '17 at 6:56
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If the cover art counts, the cover art in the first book (the one I had read) showed it slightly off centre, but it's different in different versions
This page has a list of cover arts
cover arts

This seems to give a hint about where Rowling wanted the scar (for the first movie at least):

Rowling discussed the facial blemish at length with director Chris Columbus, requesting that it be ''razor sharp, just off center.''

Link

  • Sorry, I was interested in text (it's well known that cover pics aren't always under authors' direct control - we had an amazing Q&A on the topic recently, for Orson Scott Card's Ender books covers). OTOH, the JKR quote is great, +1! – DVK-on-Ahch-To Mar 23 '14 at 1:45
  • @DVK: posted this answer before reading your comment. Added other links now – user13267 Mar 23 '14 at 1:48
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Over his right eye

Rain pounded on the windowpanes as they strode along the empty corridors back to Gryffindor Tower. Harry felt as though his first day had lasted a week, but he still had a mountain of homework to do before bed. A dull pounding pain was developing over his right eye. He glanced out of a rain-washed window at the dark grounds as they turned into the Fat Lady’s corridor. There was still no light in Hagrid’s cabin.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Chapter 13

Most of Rowling's eight illustrations of Harry that we have do not show his scar at all. The two that do show it end over his right eye.

enter image description here
1999 BBC Children in Need character sketch (full size image)

enter image description here
Page 18 of the 2013 English PEN annotated Philosopher's Stone (see full size image)

  • They show it start over his left and end over his right. In other words, in the middle? – Valorum Dec 3 '17 at 7:10
  • @Valorum - On the right but extending a bit to the left. Enough on the right that the passage from OotP makes sense. – ibid Dec 3 '17 at 7:15
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I don’t think the location is ever specified, beyond it being on his forehead.

When it’s first introduced in Philosopher’s Stone, Harry is just a baby, and all we know is that it’s on his forehead, behind some hair.

Under a tuft of jet-black hair over his forehead they could see a curiously shaped cut, like a bolt of lightning.

It gets a few other mentions throughout the book, where it’s consistently described as “on his forehead”, but with no further detail. For example:

The only thing Harry liked about his own appearance was a very thin scar on his forehead which was shaped like a bolt of lightning. […]

Mr Ollivander touched the lightning scar on Harry’s forehead with a long, white finger.

Most of the later books make reference to it near the beginning, to refresh the reader’s memory. None that I can find refer to the position on his forehead. Here are a few examples:

In Chamber of Secrets:

He wore round glasses, and on his forehead was a thin, lightning-shaped scar.

In Goblet of Fire, a chapter called “The Scar”:

The old scar on his forehead, which was shaped like a bolt of lightning

Order of the Phoenix:

the old scar on his forehead prickled uncomfortably

Or Half-Blood Prince:

“Oho,” he [Slughorn] said, his large round eyes flying to Harry’s forehead and the lightning-shaped scar it bore. “Oho!”

All the way to the end of Deathly Hallows:

He lowered his hand absentmindedly and touched the lightning scar on his forehead.

None of these quotes make any reference to the location of the scar, and there are others like them throughout the book. This isn’t a proof that it isn’t described in the books somewhere, but most descriptions seem to omit it, so I don’t think it’s there.

(Which is not to say JKR did not have an idea of where it was – as the quote in user13267’s answer shows, she had some thoughts on it – merely that it doesn’t show up in the books.)

0

Rowling herself didn't even know the actual answer, she picked these images at first because she had this feeling that it will be the Harry Potter she's searching for. But the other books came out after the first movie, and since the first movie says it's above the right eye, she had to repeat how Harry Potter is supposed to look like in readers mind.

  • 1
    Interesting points, do you have a source or references for Rowling herself didn't know...? – Möoz Feb 25 '15 at 4:32
  • Rowling clearly had some ideas. She hand-drew at least one of the pictures above... – Valorum Feb 25 '15 at 10:17

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