"Whether you come back by page or by screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home."
This is what JK Rowling had said in 2011, when she launched the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (previously known Pottermore), the extensive and interactive website for Harry Potter's world. And she kept her promise. The little world of seven books has now become a magical legacy among us - the potter heads - and the magic lives on.
The rise of the internet in the 1990s caused significant parental concern. Children stopped reading and spent more time playing video games.
However, this changed as JK Rowling's first Harry Potter novel "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" was published.
Today is the 56th birthday of Rowling, who didn't just create a piece of literature; she gave birth to a cultural phenomenon.
The book was an international best seller, and engaged an entire generation and inspired them to read.
From naming the characters and creatures, to keeping a detailed floor plan of Hogwarts in her mind; Rowling created a series that continues to stand the test of time. Even before becoming one of the most popular film series of its time, the books would wind up winning around 30 awards.
From placing the sorting hat upon a young wizard's head, to determining the house they belonged in, to seeing your children head off to platform 9 ¾ so they don't miss the train to Hogwarts - the world of Harry Potter was delicately crafted by Rowling.
It has been nearly 25 years since the first Harry Potter book was published - a children's book that was rejected by a dozen publishers has now made JK Rowling one of the most successful authors in literature and wealthier than Queen Elizabeth II.
It has been 14 years since the last full-fledged novel "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" was released, yet the fan-following surrounding the books is as manic as ever.
The author created a world we all want to live in. The Harry Potter legacy has not only lasted these past two decades, but also grown in ways previously unknown and unimagined.
Today, there are several mediums available – books, screen, stage, website, theme park – through which you can return to Hogwarts.
Or even Ilvermony, the American equivalent of Hogwarts, or with any other part of the fascinating fantasy world Rowling created when the first Harry Potter book came out back in 1997.
The esteemed author was born as Joanne Rowling on July 31, 1965. She, her sister and her parents lived in
Winterbourne, Gloucestershire, until Rowling was nine; when the family moved to Tutshill, near Chepstow. She grew up surrounded by books as both her parents loved reading.
Rowling attended Wyedean Comprehensive School and later went on to study French and Classics at the University of Exeter. Her Classics studies would come in very handy later on, when she was thinking up all the spells in Harry Potter - some of which are based on Latin.
She first had the idea for Harry Potter while delayed on a train travelling from Manchester to London King's Cross in 1990. As she later told The New York Times, "It was the most incredible feeling… out of nowhere, it just fell from above."
Suddenly the ideas for the characters inhabiting a magical world began filling her brain, starting with Harry Potter himself.
"I could see Harry very clearly; this scrawny little boy, and it was the most physical rush of excitement. I've never felt that excited about anything to do with writing. I've never had an idea that gave me such a physical response," she was quoted saying.
Rowling continued, "By the end of that train journey, I knew it was going to be a seven-book series. I know that's extraordinarily arrogant for somebody who had never been published but that's how it came to me."
Rowling spent the next five years engaged in creative iterations, developing the plots for all the seven books and writing the first one.
She toiled for years to create something great. Rowling planned, outlined and developed reference materials, going through endless iterations and drafts to get her story and characters just right. She built the universe subplot by subplot, draft by draft, scene by scene.
And the result, of course, was Harry Potter.
So, what is it that keeps the magic of Harry Potter still alive? How has the story evolved and endured, from books to beyond? How has Rowling, quite cleverly, kept up interest in her characters?
Simple, she created the Wizarding World with her imagination. The world is so detailed and magnificent that, for many, it becomes more relatable than the real world.
If you're not sure what this Wizarding World is, that's okay. Not too long ago, it was all about Harry Potter - The Boy Who Lived, and his saga to defeat Lord Voldemort.
That is until Rowling decided we hadn't seen enough of her magical world. After all, there's a lot more to it than Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic.
How often has a popular author, who has wrapped up a series, stretched their creation to something that lets you experience and inhabit the fictional world firsthand, through an interactive web portal that takes you on a journey through your screen; or a massive theme park and studio tours that recreates the universe; or through simple tie-in books that were supposed to be textbooks. Rowling has ensured that the magic has moved beyond the story.
Rowling never let us forget her magical world. She still feeds us stories and information about the Wizarding World that go beyond the movies and books.
With over 18,000 words of content, the little tidbits from the past and present of Harry Potter kept the story alive despite a new book.
Be it the backstory of beloved characters Minerva McGonagall and Remus Lupin, or "news reports" about the ongoing Quidditch World Cup, or the saucy articles by Rita Skeeter – there was always enough, new and fresh content to keep the readers' interests piqued.
For a fandom devoid of a new book for years, these little morsels kept them satisfied.
For example, just a few weeks back, Rowling tweeted that The Sorting Hat made only six mistakes and one of them was sorting Severus Snape in Slytherin.
Many more theories like the evil side of Albus Dumbledore and how he could have made a horcrux himself - which is his pet bird called Fawkes - or the theory about the parallel life of the members of the Order of Phoenix and Dumbledore's Army and how they represent right and wrong. Rawling even confirmed Dumbledore's sexual orientation on Twitter.
The mesmerizing trails of mind-boggling information will never let you come out of the world Rowling created.
The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through The Ages were all written from the wizarding world's point of view and were initially written by Rowling for charity purposes.
The magic has seeped into the "muggle life" as well. Quidditch has become a real sport and there is even a Quidditch World Cup held in New York.
And then there is literary tourism to the books' real life locations – an actual Platform 9 ¾ set up at King's Cross station in London.
Rowling was a single mother when a small UK-based children's press took the chance on her book.
They undoubtedly couldn't have predicted that it would have a measurable effect on everything it touched.
Harry Potter made young adult book-to-movie franchises into one of the biggest forces in pop culture. It changed the business model for publishing books for children and it introduced an entire generation to the idea of imagination.
Today, that generation - born between 1981 and 1996 - is commonly known as Millennials and are often referred to as the "Harry Potter generation".
Millennials were exactly at the right age to appreciate the first Harry Potter book when it was published. They grew up with the books and subsequently the movies.
I'm a part of that generation and I can say I just didn't just read the books and watch the movies, I lived that magical life with Harry Potter.
Rowling didn't just create vivid, relatable characters and a tight, unpredictable plot; she had put life into an entire world for kids and adults alike to escape into.
The genius of Rowling's storytelling cannot be underemphasized. You will see the language and complexity of the book varies as Rowling wrote the first book for an 11-year-old and the last one for a 17-year-old. She made us grow up with her story.
We will always need stories - if not as a place to solve these complicated problems, than as a place to work through our own fears and anxieties surrounding them.
Harry Potter was that for me and for so many other people from my generation.
Like me, many Potterheads are just glad that it was there when we needed it and that the world of Harry Potter continues to be there whenever we need a home to return to from reality.