Today’s a big day in Harry Potter-land. J.K. Rowling has said in interviews that Harry’s birthday is July 31, and the author’s own birthday is today, too. (She was born July 31, 1965.)

Harry’s birth year is a bit more mysterious. Lifted from FactMonster.com:

“Near the beginning of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone it says that ‘tomorrow, Tuesday, was Harry’s eleventh birthday.’ July 31 doesn't fall on a Tuesday very often. Most readers of that first book assumed that, because it was published in 1997, Harry attended Hogwarts during the 1990s. In 1990, July 31 fell on a Tuesday. This would mean that Harry was born in 1979. . . . But wait—this theory is contradicted by evidence in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, in which Harry helped celebrate Nearly Headless Nick’s deathday anniversary on October 31, 1992. Harry was 12 at that time. So this would mean that Harry was born in 1980.”

So according to these theories, today is either Harry’s 30th or 29th birthday. Either way, it’s a reason to celebrate Rowling’s phenomenal books (which have sold more than 400 million copies!).

BookPage has featured quite a bit of Potter coverage through the years. Here is an interview with actor Jim Dale, the voice of the Harry Potter audio books, a review of Chamber of Secrets (from 1999!), and a feature about Half-Blood Prince.

And just for fun, let’s revisit some of Rowling’s best birthday-themed prose.

From Goblet of Fire:

“Aunt Petunia didn’t know what was hidden under the loose floorboard upstairs. She had no idea that Harry was not following the diet at all… on Harry’s birthday (which the Dursleys had completely ignored) he had received four superb birthday cakes, one each from Ron, Hermione, Hagrid, and Sirius.”

And Chamber of Secrets:

“Harry left through the back door. It was a brilliant, sunny day. He crossed the lawn, slumped down on the garden bench, and sang under his breath: ‘Happy birthday to me… happy birthday to me…’ No cards, no presents, and he would be spending the evening pretending not to exist.”

Anyone have a favorite Harry Potter scene they’d like to share? Or thoughts on the new movie?

—Eliza Borné

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