Transcript #567


MuggleCast 567 Transcript


Transcript for MuggleCast Episode #567, ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ Illustrator Thomas Taylor Reveals the Secrets Behind the Cover

[Show music plays]

Andrew Sims: Welcome to MuggleCast, your weekly ride into the wizarding world fandom. I’m Andrew.

Eric Scull: I’m Eric.

Micah Tannenbaum: I’m Micah.

Laura Tee: And I’m Laura.

Thomas Taylor interview

Andrew: And this week we have a very special guest, someone who we actually teased during Quizzitch last week, whose work is instantly recognizable and who was present at the very beginning of the Harry Potter phenomenon. We are thrilled to speak to author, artist, and illustrator Mr. Thomas Taylor. He is the illustrator of the very first Harry Potter book in the UK, and it went on to be the cover in many countries around the world. Welcome, Thomas, to MuggleCast.

Thomas Taylor: Hi, hi. Thank you for inviting me on.

Andrew: Absolutely. You have a five-star zoom background, by the way…

[Micah and Thomas laugh]

Andrew: … all the books, perfectly organized, colorful.

Thomas: Oh, thank you.

Andrew: Is a lot of that your own work?

Thomas: Yeah, a lot of it. I do a lot of zoom calls into schools with my own fiction series, so I have a lot of nautical things behind me. Often more than this, even. I toned it down a bit.

[Andrew, Eric, and Thomas laugh]

Andrew: That’s amazing.

Eric: You were like, “Ah, that’s too many krakens in the back. I’ve got to take them off the shelf.”

Thomas: Absolutely.

[Laura and Thomas laugh]

Andrew: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Thomas: Yeah, so I’m Thomas Taylor. I’m an author and illustrator of of children’s books. I like to think that I’m best known as the author of the Eerie-on-Sea mysteries, but I know that I’m also best known as the artist who did the cover art for the very first British edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone back in 1996. I painted that, and I guess that’s the reason why you invited me on. And it’s great because I don’t often actually talk about it, or I haven’t over the years that often talked about it, so it is good to come out of the woodwork and discuss it a bit.

Eric: That’s what surprised me. There was a recent article in the Observer on the Guardian website that actually Micah sent to me, about you, interviewing you. And I was like, “I never thought to ask… this guy…” I didn’t know who you were. I didn’t know name recognition. “Yeah, surely there’s some guy out there who drew this,” and I had no idea. But come to read in the article, it’s this wonderful interview about your inspiration about some things we’ll be asking you about on this interview. And I said, “We have to reach out and see if this guy is interested in talking to us,” because MuggleCast is the first Harry Potter podcast. We started this in 2005, as podcasts were first starting out. And I like to think that we’re a little OG about Harry Potter fandom, but I never dreamed that we’d be speaking with somebody that was really there prior to even Harry Potter in America. Harry Potter in America was not a thing when you were doing that work. So it’s really a very, very special opportunity to interview our most OG guest yet.

Thomas: [laughs] You make me feel ancient.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Oh, sorry, sorry, sorry.

Thomas: No, but it’s true. I think I must have been one of the first people in the world to read the book. And I hadn’t really stopped to think about that until quite recently, [laughs] so it is quite an extraordinary thought.

Andrew: Yeah, we have a very special kinship here. You had the first cover; we had the first podcast. [laughs]

Thomas: Excellent.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: So actually, another reason that I’m assuming there’s been a lot of press around this recently, is because there is a wonderful rerelease in hardcover of your Harry Potter book cover, along with a – yep, there it is…

Andrew: He’s got it.

Eric: … a 25th anniversary Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone edition published by Bloomsbury in the UK. I actually got a copy as well, from, which people don’t really realize; the last time I was on there was probably to buy a paperback boxset of the original first four Harry Potter books. So because American fans… it’s like, “Are you really a Harry Potter fan if you don’t buy the UK covers?”

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: And so back in 2002 or 2003, I was like, “I need the British ones,” and then I got the boxset. But interesting to see it in hardcover. I haven’t had hardcover of that book at all, so it’s wonderful to finally have that.

Thomas: Oh, okay. Yeah, there weren’t many published when it was first published. I think it was 500, maybe 400 hardbacks of that very first edition. It’s a very rare book. So it is fun to see it come back in the anniversary edition.

Laura: You were 23 years old when you designed this book cover and fresh out of art school. Is that right?

Thomas: Yeah, I was, and I worked in a children’s bookshop. So I got a job straight away in the children’s book industry, but in a bookstore. And I could see that Bloomsbury, the publisher, were creating children’s lists for the first time. So they didn’t previously publish children’s books, so they were creating a list. They were publishing a lot very quickly. And I thought, “Well, I could probably find an opportunity there. I can go in with my portfolio of sketches, leave it there, and then…” which you could do at the time and hope somebody would find something of interest in there. Maybe give me my first professional commission. And of course, that is what happened. I had some drawings of wizards and dragons in there by chance – I think more dragons than wizards, but still – and then a few days later, I was in the bookshop and the phone rang. I think somebody else answered it, but they passed it to me. And it was Barry Cunningham, who was the editor at Bloomsbury, saying, “Well, we’ve got a book by an unknown author, a completely new book. Do you fancy having a go at doing the book cover?” So of course, I was very excited. And it was my first job, so I mean, I was over the moon. I had no idea that it was going to be what it became. So I went into London and I met him, and he gave me this great big printed stack of paper, huge, only printed on one side, and that was Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and he asked me to do the cover.

Andrew and Laura: Wow.

Laura: Obviously, at this point, nobody had any idea that Harry Potter was going to be Harry Potter. Was there ever a point when the series was first blowing up, where you had that reflection of “Oh my God, I was part of this from the very early stages”? Did it feel overwhelming? Was it exciting? How did you feel about it?

Thomas: I think to start with it, nothing really happened for a few months after it was published. But then it started to appear in papers, and I could see it in the newspaper. I could see occasionally there would be talks about it on television, usually in quite a small way, but people would mention it. And then of course, people would be coming in the shop, asking for it, and my colleagues would put me over towards this customer and sort of hold up the book and say, “And he did the cover art.”

[Laura laughs]

Thomas: Of course, that didn’t seem very convincing to the average customer, so it was a bit awkward. And I had to tell people to not do that, please, because they didn’t believe it. You could tell they didn’t believe it. A few asked me to sign the book, but you could tell they weren’t sure. [laughs] So it was a bit awkward. And in fact, my early experiences of Harry Potter, as it became really big, were quite negative for me, really. So that’s partly why I’d buried it a little bit, because it’s a big thing for your very first illustration job. Normally when you start out as an illustrator, you want your first work to be quietly forgotten, because it’s not your best, you know?

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: Right, right.

Thomas: [laughs] In my case, the very first thing I did. Here I am 26 years later, talking about it still, so it’s there warts and all, and I have to live with that. But now it’s fine. I mean, I quite enjoy talking about it and thinking about how I was there at the beginning, and that’s a great thing. I mean, it’s really exciting. But at the time, it was a bit tricky. Because it was so big, it became so big that for someone like me trying to grow a career organically moving from one job to the next, the fact that my very first job kept on jumping back and overshadowing everything else was a bit tricky. But I’ll just say now, it’s great fun to think about.

Eric: Kind of like that feeling like you peaked in high school over everything else.

[Thomas laughs]

Eric: We started this podcast and were traveling the world while we were still in high school, so it’s like, “Oh, how do we get out from under our own shadow?”

[Andrew, Eric, and Thomas laugh]

Andrew: How do you beat that? Yeah. That’s so interesting.

Eric: Well, but it does speak that you had a great deal of hustle there. I mean, if you’re talking about dropping your portfolio directly at Bloomsbury, which you could do, working in a children’s bookstore, you must have had some inkling that that was your trajectory. And it seems like you really made a lot of effort to make that happen for yourself, which is really cool. I really admire the ambition there and putting yourself out there like that.

Thomas: Yeah, thank you. And it wasn’t pure chance, because I had thought of the opportunity and gone out to try and seize it, but of course I didn’t know how that would pan out. But yeah, I mean, you can’t sit around waiting for things to happen; you have to go out there and find them. But what’s quite funny… I mean, you were talking about being the first person to read it; of course I didn’t know that as I sat on a train going home from London reading this manuscript on my lap. And of course, my station to go home from London was King’s Cross Station.

Laura: Wow.

[Andrew laughs]

Thomas: And the platform my train left from was platform 9, and so I was reading about Platform 9 3/4 – I mean, I’d already left [laughs] – but I was reading and realizing that I catch the train right next door to this magical portal that takes wizards to Hogwarts. So that was quite an interesting thought.

Andrew: It was destiny.

[Thomas laughs]

Eric: It’s almost like the book was written for you. [laughs]

Micah: Did you ask the conductor to stop the train so you could go back and then try and get through 9 3/4?

[Everyone laughs]

Thomas: Yeah, “On the wrong train. I should’ve run through the wall just next to where I was,” yeah.

[Eric and Thomas laugh]

Andrew: Did you get to keep that manuscript?

Thomas: I knew you’d asked me about that. So can you guess what I did with that manuscript?

Andrew: Uh-oh, you got rid of it and you regret that now.

Eric: Recycled it?

Thomas: [laughs] Yeah, well, it was blank on one side, so obviously, I’d used most of it as rough for sketching.

Eric: Oh my gosh.

Thomas: And then I threw all of it away in the recycling bin in the end. So it was covered in drawings, and it also had notes in the margins from the editor. But it all went to be recycled, so there you go.

Andrew, Laura, and Micah: Wow.

Thomas: That would be quite something to have now. That would be a unique thing to have now, but of course…

Andrew: Absolutely, and you having sketches on the back sides of these pages? Oh my gosh.

Eric: Oh man.

Thomas: [laughs] I know. But that just goes to show how I had no idea. I didn’t know what it was going to be.

Andrew and Eric: Yeah.

Micah: How did you feel, though, when you were reading it? Did you get a sense that this was going to be a success? Were you fully engaged in the story? Or were there maybe even some doubts when you were going through, saying, “Eh, I’m not quite sure if this is going to be a success”?

Thomas: Well, I mean, I’ve always loved fantasy stories. I grew up reading Tolkien and Pratchett and so it was in my courtyard; this was the kind of thing I liked. So I was pretty excited about it. And I was pleased to be… I mean, I wouldn’t have drawn those sample drawings if I wasn’t already interested in that kind of subject matter. And I enjoyed it, I enjoyed it very much. But I didn’t know it was going to go and become so massive. I had no idea about that. I’ve always admired how the author captures that sense of warmth, of friendship; I think she writes about friendship really well. And I remember thinking about that, even when I was reading it for the first time, that these friends are great to read about.

Micah: Definitely.

Laura: I love that.

Eric: Yeah, the character dynamics, definitely what drew, I think, a lot of us in as kids too. We wanted… they were our friends, too.

Laura and Thomas: Yeah.

Micah: Was there a character that jumped out at you at all?

Thomas: I don’t know that there was. I think Dumbledore was always a very impressive character because I’ve always been drawn to Gandalf, the sort of Gandalfian presence in the story. But of course, completely unrelatable to me at the time, but somebody very impressive. Always, always imagined there must be this rich backstory to a character like that. But I just liked Hogwarts Castle. I liked Peeves the ghost. There were so many details that were really likable in the story. And Diagon Alley. I mean, just the idea of Diagon Alley just seemed really, really great.

Andrew and Laura: Yeah.

Eric: As far as getting back to the cover real quickly, I know in the book, which is the 25th anniversary edition, you actually get a write-up at the back, which is really cool. And you get into very specifics about the materials used for the cover. But could you reiterate just how did you create what became the book cover?

Thomas: Yeah, so I had worked… I mean, I had done samples before, so I had a technique. I used watercolor paper and concentrated watercolors. This was before digital media was really good enough, and I hadn’t really trained in it. So I’d come out of art school using traditional media, and so that’s what I did. I painted it. It’s concentrated watercolors. It’s Charisma soft crayon for the black line. It’s cold press watercolor paper, which was stretched over a board. And it took me about two days to paint the picture. I did a kind of first pass, and then… this was after sending in sketches. So I used a fax machine, if anybody remembers what one of those is…

[Andrew and Eric laugh]

Thomas: … to fax drawings into Bloomsbury. Guys, you can hardly believe these things existed. And so I did some drawings for Barry Cunningham, who was the editor, and I should just say Barry was the one who asked for that scene. So he said to me, “Could you please draw the train, draw the Hogwarts Express? Please draw Harry approaching the train. Draw Platform 9 3/4.” I don’t know why he liked that, but I mean, fair enough. And so I was basically just trying to get my first professional job done, trying to get it done properly, and I think maybe if I’d been more experienced, I might have said to him, “Well, I could do that. But I could also draw Hogwarts Castle, or I could do Diagon Alley with all the shops, so I could do some magic happening.” But at the time, I just did what he wanted, because I wanted to get the job done properly. So I’ve always regretted that I didn’t put a bit more magic into it. But like I said, first jobs, you know?

Andrew: Interesting. Yeah, yeah. Well, that was going to be my next question, how you chose that scene, and you just answered, the editor asked you to do that. But I really like that scene, actually, because it is sort of Harry’s first entry into the wizarding world, at least one of them. It’s the starting point.

Eric: The humble beginnings.

Andrew: Yeah, to me it feels appropriate that he’s seeing that train for the first time on the cover. But you wanted to do something…. maybe him approaching Hogwarts, are you thinking?

Thomas: Something with a bit more drama, maybe, but I was very, very inexperienced, and not really in a position to start throwing my weight around. And I mean, it’s fine; I’m not really criticizing it. And I know there’s a lot of attachment to that image and it’s got a really strong and nostalgic charge for people, so that’s great. I’m not trying to run it down. But as an artist who’s gone on to do other things, looking at it now, I think, “Oh gosh, why didn’t I do something…? Wow, why didn’t I do…?” And of course, Jonny Duddle has gone on to illustrate the whole series, I think in the US as well – I don’t know, actually, in the US – anyway, and he’s done such a great job. He’s done the kind of thing I could have aspired to try to aspire to do. He’s done it brilliantly. So it’s all worked out okay. But yeah, I was asked to paint that scene. And on the back, I know you were curious about the wizard on the back. So I was also just asked, kind of offhand, as I left the meeting with Barry, he said, “Oh, well, just do a wizard for the back. We need a wizard to just decorate the back.”

Eric: I want to talk about that wizard in a moment. Sorry to cut you – I want to talk about that wizard in a moment. But actually, just talking about trying to put more magic in the cover, I did notice there are a lot of stars on the front…

[Thomas laughs]

Eric: … in between billows of smoke, and that’s very magical to me.

Thomas: Yeah, there are, and I remember being criticized for those stars, actually, quite early on.

Laura: Really?

Eric: I think they’re great.

Thomas: Somebody said, “They look like they’re pieces of paper floating around.” [laughs]

Eric: They’re perfectly serviceable stars. [laughs]

Thomas: Thank you. Well, the thing is, the image is much bigger than this, actually. This is a detail from a much bigger image that was supposed to be full bleed; it was supposed to go right to the edge, and the text was actually just written across the smoke. So there was a lot more going on in the original image. And they created this graphic border to offset it; I’m not quite sure why. I didn’t see it. I didn’t see this until it was actually published. So in my mind, I’d seen a color mock-up of the cover, which they’d sent me, but I never actually saw this design until it appeared. So I didn’t recognize it to start with.

[Andrew laughs]

Eric: Right.

Thomas: Like I said, we had them in the shop because I’d done the cover. We would never probably stock the book otherwise, but because I’d worked on it, the manager bought ten copies. So we had a pile of ten hardbacks on a tabletop of a book nobody’d heard of, and we really struggled to sell them. But of course, now those books, I mean, in good condition, they go for something like 80,000 pounds each. So in fact, for a while, there was the better part of a million pounds worth of book standing there.

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Thomas: And I didn’t buy any of them. I didn’t buy a single one. [laughs]

Eric: Man.

Thomas: And no one did. And looking back, I think, “Crikey, I could be living off those if I’d bought the lot.”

Andrew: Truly.

Thomas: But it just goes to show.

Laura: Hindsight is 20/20.

Thomas: Yeah, absolutely.

Laura: I think if any of us knew then what we know now, we all would have bought a copy back in the day.

Thomas: [laughs] Absolutely.

Eric: If I could ask, what made it difficult to sell? You mentioned the bookstore wouldn’t have normally stocked them. It was a children’s bookstore, was it not? So was it just the lack of…?

Thomas: Yeah, well, they might have stocked them, but they might have had one copy maybe.

Eric: Oh, okay.

Thomas: But I think because they were a commercial bookstore, they would probably have wanted paperbacks, which were out later on. The hardback was done mainly for libraries, so they probably wouldn’t have had those hardbacks in, and people coming in initially wouldn’t have had any kind of name recognition or have understood the book as anything noticeable. It might have just been one copy on a shelf. But of course, then once it became a big bestseller, then it was different. But in those very first weeks, those books just sat there. [laughs]

Laura: I’m wondering, in those first weeks and months before Harry Potter became a household name, it was obviously a much smaller universe of people who were in the know about the stories. And I’m wondering if because of that, did you ever have an opportunity to speak to J.K. Rowling? And if so, would you be willing to share more?

Thomas: Yes, so I did meet her, actually. I didn’t meet her in the initial phases. I didn’t meet her while I was working on… it’s quite uncommon, actually, for an artist and author to to get together, because the publisher always mediates that. But a couple of years later – I forget exactly when – well, she was still doing events to promote the publication of the new books, so it would have been pretty early on. She came to the bookshop, and the manager said, “Well, you need to be the one who looks after her, and then you can talk to her and you can get to meet her.” So I did get to meet her, and that was very nice. And we talked about… yeah, we didn’t talk about books at all. We talked about gardening, I think, I seem to recall.

[Everyone laughs]

Thomas: I think we had both decided to grow tomatoes, and it wasn’t going very well. So we had something to talk about.

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Thomas: Yeah, but it was great to meet her because I’d obviously wanted to. And then being on the margins of the book industry anyway, being in the bookshop was a great opportunity to meet lots of authors, anyway.

Andrew: Yeah. And you were also like, “I accidentally recycled my manuscript. Can I get another copy of that, please?”

[Everyone laughs]

Thomas: Yeah, well, imagine that. Even if I bought one of those hardbacks, that would be my moment to say, “Could you just sign my book?”

Eric: Goodness, then it’ll be up to the 200,000 pound level, or more.

[Eric and Thomas laugh]

Thomas: But no, she was lovely. She really was. And she was great with children and everything, so it was a great example to see.

Eric: Again, for me, buying that UK addition, it really felt like I was completing my Harry Potter fanhood, my journey, because it was the original. For years, I remember seeing news articles out of the UK, and anytime somebody was talking about Harry Potter, you would pretty much see your book cover. And it was the people with those books, and that’s why it’s so ingrained in me as being just in the complete DNA of Harry Potter. And as we mentioned before, I actually have the full country list. So our friend Jacob is a collector, a listener, and he actually compiled and figured out… I asked him earlier in the week; I said, “How many other countries use that cover? Because the France cover, the US cover all have different illustrators.” But the full list he got back to me said that – he does believe this is definitive – it’s Macedonia, Wales, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ancient Greek, Sinhala, Latin, Luxembourgish, Catalonia, Valencia, and more recently, the Scots translation edition all used your art. I mean, how does it feel? I guess just, again, from the blowing up standpoint, I know it’s probably insane. But just that your work is so around the world is so… that for many people, that was their cover of their first book of Harry Potter, something which they may have taken with them throughout their lives the way we’ve done. How does that feel?

Thomas: It’s something that’s only crept up on me recently, because I did spend a period of time playing it down and not really promoting myself with this image. But then, of course, on reflection, yes, it has been used widely. It’s been used very widely around the world, and so it does feel quite extraordinary to think so many people have seen this image. And I wonder how I would have felt when I was painting it if somebody told me that it would have been seen so widely; I don’t think I would have been quite so relaxed about doing it. I think what touches me, though, is that sense of nostalgia. I pick up on this a lot, especially lately; people come and they don’t really want to hear me say how, as an artist, I would have done it better. They just want to hear about it because they were children perhaps, or they were young, or they were finding Harry Potter for the first time as adults, or whatever it was. They were finding the stories and falling in love with the characters, and they just have a lot of nostalgia and warm feelings about that image, and I’m really very proud of that. So that’s probably my strongest response to the question.

Eric: Excellent. Should we all talk about the back cover now?

[Eric and Thomas laugh]

Andrew and Laura: Yeah.

Andrew: Let’s get back to that.

Laura: I’m ready.

Eric: So there is something about a mystery around this, I think.

Thomas: Yes.

Laura: Yeah. And I think that we probably theorized about this on the show at some point way back in the day.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: “Who is that mystery man?”

Eric: I think we all had different editions. It was hard to find this guy because some of us – I think even I had the later version.

Thomas: Yes.

Eric: But images… because at MuggleNet, we had a book cover section. And I remember seeing an original book cover and I said, “That’s not who I have on my back cover. Who…? What’s going on here?”

[Laura and Thomas laugh]

Thomas: Yeah, so if your listeners aren’t sure what’s happening here. When I was asked, I said earlier – I spoiled it slightly – about that back wizard, I was told to just draw a back wizard to decorate the book. I just imagine – because I’d read the book, and really liked it, and I understood that there was a wizarding world, I just thought, “There are bound to be loads of wizards out there, I’ll just make one up.” I didn’t understand that anybody needed to see a character from the book. I just thought I understood the instruction as “Make up a wizard.”

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Thomas: So I did make up a wizard, who isn’t actually in the story at all. But of course, when the books became more and more well known, more and more successful, especially when it came on a full-on Potter mania, people began asking, “Who is this character?” Because it’s clearly not Dumbledore. And it was always that people wanted to see Dumbledore, expected to see Dumbledore, and it’s not Quirrell and it’s not Snape, so who is this? Is it Nicolas Flamel? So there were lots of questions being asked; even online things were getting quite heated in some places, and there were lots of theories. And the truth of it is, it’s just my dad. I just painted my dad as a wizard.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Aww, I love that.

Thomas: Because he is quite an eccentric character; he used to wear quite flamboyant clothing. And I liked the idea in the story that in the Muggle world, you could spot somebody who’s connected to the wizarding world by how they’re dressed or something like that. So I thought, “Well, maybe people would see my dad and maybe think he was a wizard.” So I thought, “Right, I’m going to make him a wizard.” So I painted him as a wizard, and I really didn’t think much would come of this or anybody would ask anything about it, but of course, in the end Bloomsbury were being so flooded with questions. “Who is this? Who is this person?” And then specifically, “What is that in his pocket?” Because if you’ve got an image, there’s a painting, I painted a bulge in his pocket because I just thought wizards are just going to have stuff in their pocket, some interesting stuff.

Laura: Right.

Thomas: So yeah, so in the end, I was asked to replace my dad. He was retired as a wizard and Dumbledore was put in his place.

[Andrew laughs]

Thomas: And so I came back for the project several years later and painted Dumbledore, which is on there. He’s on the anniversary edition as well. But even there, I had a little bit of fun, because – people haven’t asked about this, actually – but if you look on Dumbledore’s cloak, if you get a chance to have a look, there are Runic letters down the side of his cloak. And these are the runes that you can understand from reading The Hobbit. If you read The Hobbit, he lets you understand in the beginning of the book how you can work out the Runic alphabet from the maps in the book. So I worked out the Runic alphabet, and I wrote something on his cloak.

Andrew: Oh my gosh.

Thomas: And no one has ever asked me what it says or commented. I mean, some people might know. But yeah, so there’s a bit of mystery for you there, if you get a chance to see it.

[Laura and Thomas laugh]

Thomas: I’ve written something on the back of Harry Potter.

Andrew: Yeah, I want to ask what the message is…

Thomas: Well, I could tell you.

Andrew: Well, or should we keep it a mystery? I don’t know. I feel like people should go figure it out. [laughs]

Laura: Yeah, I’m super curious, but I also don’t want to ruin the mystique.

Thomas: It won’t take a lot to figure it out.

Andrew: Okay.

Thomas: It’s not rude; don’t worry.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: “I don’t like Harry Potter.”

Eric: That would be an all-time great, because how many hundreds of millions of copies of this book have that on it?

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Thomas: But no one else… I mean, I thought Bloomsbury would get straight back and say, “Uh, what does it say?” But they didn’t.

[Everyone laughs]

Thomas: I’d’ve said, “Don’t worry; it’s nothing shocking. It’s nothing shocking.”

Eric: Yeah, it’s probably “Hello.” [laughs]

Laura: Maybe it’s been a while since they picked up a copy of The Hobbit. [laughs]

Andrew: What does it say? I guess we may as well find out. What does it say?

Thomas: Well, it just says his name, “Albus Dumbledore.” That’s it.

Andrew: Oh, okay.

[Andrew and Thomas laugh]

Andrew: That sounds like something he would do, put his own name on his clothes.

Laura: It is. That’s in keeping with the character.

Thomas: Yeah, but I was just trying to make it clear, so that if anybody questioned who this wizard was, there was actually proof who it was on the cloak. [laughs]

Eric: Ahh, yes, yes.

Laura: I love that.

Eric: Well, honestly, for me, it’s the long hair tucked into the belt.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: I don’t know anybody else that’s done that other than Dumbledore. That’s very Dumbledore-esque.

Thomas: Yeah. And if you notice, he’s wearing the same trousers and shoes, almost, as the other one. [laughs]

Andrew: I was going to bring that up, yeah. That’s a nice tribute to your dad.

Thomas: Yeah, my dad was really touched by it, actually. And my dad lived in Denmark for many years, and when the Danish press found out about this possible connection with Harry Potter in Denmark, they actually came to interview him to see whether anything of Harry Potter had come from where he lives, from the town where he lived. And he had to tell them, “No, I don’t think so. My son’s just the illustrator of the first book. He’s not the author.”

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Thomas: But people were quite keen for any story at one point. There was a moment when it was really… people were really looking for stories.

Eric: I don’t think we said, what is it in your dad’s pocket on the back cover?

Thomas: It’s just a hedgehog.

[Andrew laughs]

Thomas: Because I thought that was quite funny.

Eric: That was my first guess. Yeah, I would’ve guessed hedgehog.

Laura: Yeah, it’s a natural guess.

Thomas: Oh, of course, yeah. If you’re a wizard, you’re going to have all these animal familiars and potion ingredients and things. But I just thought a hedgehog was funny, because how do you get a hedgehog out of your pocket? You’ve got to put your hand in your pocket, and then there’s all these spines in there.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Thomas: So it made me laugh. [laughs]

Eric: Well, it reminds me a lot of Newt Scamander, the hero of the new wizarding world film franchise, because he has a Niffler and many other animals in his pockets all the time. And it really throws it back to Hagrid, as well.

Thomas: Okay, yeah.

Eric: He’s got an owl in his pocket or something.

[Eric and Thomas laugh]

Andrew: Yeah, I was thinking about that too. It’s a nice little connection.

Eric: It’s so wonderful to be inspired. And I’m glad that your father seemed to really appreciate that.

Thomas: Yeah, he did. He passed away during the pandemic.

Andrew: Oh, I’m sorry.

Thomas: But he always, always, always appreciated that anecdote that [laughs] gave him his brief career. Well, not that brief, because he was on the back of the cover for three or four years, I think, before he was found out.

Laura: Right.

Andrew: And the original Harry Potter cover, even if they eventually replaced them with Dumbledore, that’s still incredible to be on the first cover.

Laura: It’s still iconic.

Andrew: Assuming you’ve followed Harry Potter even after the first book, what did you think of the first Harry Potter movie when it came out? And did you feel like it was a good adaptation of the first book?

Thomas: Yeah. Well, I loved it. I got to see one of the preview showings in London. I think it was the first time it was shown in London. I was invited along, and I just thought it was brilliant. I mean, I still like it. I still think it’s a great adaptation.

Andrew: It really is, yeah.

Thomas: But I mean, I haven’t even seen all the films. I mean, my experience of Harry Potter is locked into that early phase, so I haven’t even read all the books. [laughs]

Andrew: Oh, really?

Thomas: I mean, I really am very, very much… yeah. And in fact, I remember, I read the first three and I really enjoyed them. And then I remember somebody gave me a copy of the fourth one, Goblet of Fire. It was a bookseller who gave it to me early before it was released, so they shouldn’t have done that. And I think they were trying to impress me.

[Andrew laughs]

Thomas: And I remember seeing it, and I would never, never expect to be given this book. And, well, as soon as I saw how big it was, I thought, “I don’t think I’m going to read that in a hurry.”

[Eric, Laura, and Thomas laugh]

Thomas: And it’s true, I didn’t read it. But I have to say that all this talk about Harry Potter recently and the fact that I’m being interviewed a few times just made me curious about it, so I have started reading it.

Andrew: Aww.

Thomas: So I’m a few chapters in and I’m really enjoying it, so I’m sort of recapturing a little bit of that sense of how much I enjoyed it in those those early days.

Eric: Book 4 is Laura’s favorite book, I think.

Thomas: Okay.

Eric: Isn’t that right?

Laura: Yeah, it’s my favorite. And honestly, I have to say, as people who read the books when we were much younger, it is a really special experience to revisit them as adults, because you get so much more out of them as an adult. There’s just a different lens that you have. So I think you’re really going to enjoy the experience.

Thomas: Yeah, I really am so far. I mean, I’m a great believer in… I mean, I don’t really believe in a distinction between children’s books and adults’ books anyway. I just think a good story is a great story, and we all love great stories. And I’m really enjoying being back there again.

Laura: That’s amazing.

Eric: At what point did you find out that you were not going to be illustrating the sequel? The first sequel to Harry Potter? Chamber of Secrets?

Thomas: Yeah, I think… I mean, I was a bit disappointed about that initially. But then I sort of shrugged it off. I think it was when I actually saw pictures of the book cover, it was a pretty clear hint that I wasn’t going to be asked.

Eric: Oh no!

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: “I don’t remember doing that!”

Eric: “Hey, um, yeah.” [laughs]

Thomas: Yeah, I know. But I think really, there came a certain point where if I was going to be asked, I’d have been asked by now, because they’re going to need it pretty soon. But it’s fine, because the guy they replaced me with had already done some books with wizards in and was sort of a more established artist. And so I understood that world. That’s how it goes.

Andrew: You still set the tone, I think. Especially in the early books, right? I mean, you defined what these covers are going to look like.

Thomas: I hope so. I think so. Somebody told me that Gryffindor colors are defined by the scarf I painted, but I haven’t been able… I haven’t gone back through to check whether the author says what colors Gryffindor are. So I don’t know. But yeah, I mean, I wouldn’t make too many claims about it. But I just think that having had the opportunity to set an image for Harry Potter really early on, a year before it was even published, is quite something. So I am very proud of that.

Andrew: I wanted to ask about that, actually. So yeah, Harry does have a scarf on in this cover that you illustrated, and it’s red and gold. But you’re saying you didn’t know Gryffindor was going to be red and gold? Because that is the House colors.

Thomas: Yeah, I can’t remember now if it says it in the text that it’s red and gold. Because I was basing my whole illustration… I think it’s in Chapter 2, there’s a little description of Harry, and basically, I just worked off that description.

Andrew: Interesting.

Thomas: So I’d be interested if anybody could find out whether that’s true or not, but people have told me that, that there was no red and gold until… I mean, could be. I don’t know. [laughs]

Andrew: Well, because some people… and we actually brought this up on the show, I think, a while ago: Some people were like, “Well, wait a second, how does Harry already have his Gryffindor scarf if he’s seeing the Hogwarts Express for the first time so he hasn’t been to Hogwarts yet?” People are like, “Loophole!”

[Andrew and Thomas laugh]

Eric: I think the movie fixes that by establishing that when you go to buy your robes, you can buy… it’s the crest that’s the multiple color one.

Andrew: Ahh.

Laura: Yeah, you can buy it as memorabilia. But also, there’s not anything Hogwarts-specific about having a red and gold scarf; let’s be honest. [laughs]

Andrew: Right.

Laura: It’s totally possible.

Eric: Could be a coincidence. That would be a heck of a coincidence.

Thomas: But I don’t remember. I mean, I certainly didn’t paint it to be to be Gryffindor; I just painted red and gold stripes because it was a vibrant color.

Andrew: Interesting.

Thomas: I wanted something in that corner to pop out.

Laura: Yeah, it’s perfect.

Andrew: That’s a very fascinating factoid.

Micah: I think what we’re really finding out here is that Thomas is in fact Godric Gryffindor.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: The founder of Gryffindor.

Eric: Oh, in Diagon Alley, there is a… so I’m reading – this is page 22 of the US edition – it says, “They had reached a snowy white building that towered over the other little shops. Standing beside its burnished bronze doors wearing a uniform of scarlet and gold was a goblin.”

Andrew: Oh, well, there you go.

Eric: At Gringotts. Perhaps it’s the Gringotts colors.

[Laura laughs]

Thomas: It could do. I don’t remember.

[Eric laughs]

Laura: Maybe.

Eric: No, no. Very interesting stuff, though.

Laura: And because we’re talking about Houses here, we’re a Harry Potter podcast; we ask every guest this: What is your Hogwarts House? [laughs]

Thomas: Well, look, I would aim for Ravenclaw; of course I would. But I’d probably get Hufflepuff. I think I fit there best. [laughs] So I’d be happy with that.

Laura: Hey, we love Hufflepuffs. [laughs]

Eric: Hufflepuff.

Andrew: But there are two Ravenclaws on this panel. Micah and Laura are both Ravenclaws.

Thomas: Oh, okay. I remember reading it thinking, “Why would anyone not want to be a Ravenclaw?” That was my impression after reading the book.

[Eric and Laura laugh]

Thomas: “Why would you not want that?” But I don’t think I quite cut the mustard. [laughs]

Laura: No, I think so. I mean, the whole point of the Sorting Hat is there’s an element of choice involved, so I would say you’re a Ravenclaw.

Eric: You know, what’s interesting is more of the books’ villains than not are Ravenclaw, especially in the early ones. Quirrell was the Ravenclaw, and so was Professor Lockhart.

Thomas: Oh, okay, okay.

Eric: The second one. So Ravenclaws not always just the best and the brightest. They can turn dark.

[Thomas laughs]

Eric: I thought you’d appreciate that.

Laura: Hey.

Micah: Well, I would still argue they’re bright. I don’t know if they’re the best.

Eric: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Thomas: It’s a great invention. The Sorting Hat is a great narrative device for the story for how to generate story out of that element in a story. It’s great.

Eric: So I wanted to ask… I just finished The Malamander, the first book of the Eerie-on-Sea series. I really loved it. I thought this was wonderful. Very engaging, told in first person perspective, so it just grips you from start to finish. And you’re actually working on… so the fourth book is coming out this fall. Is that correct?

Thomas: Yes, that’s right. I think in the US, it’s coming out actually in the spring, but in the UK, it will come out this autumn, this fall. And yeah, I mean, I can’t quite understand where the time has gone. Because I mean, I’m already working on the fifth book, and that’s pretty much finished. So it’s been quite an exciting process. It’s a five-book series. It’s a story. I mean, obviously, sometimes Harry Potter fans ask me, “How is this connected to Harry Potter?” And I have to say, “Well, of course, it’s not. It’s not connected to Harry Potter.” [laughs] But it’s still in that sort of middle grade, magical mystery vibe that I really love. So it’s a similar sort of setup, I guess, but a mysterious seaside town.

Eric: Yeah, having read the first book, I appreciate all first books of series that focus or have something to do with a small glowing red orb with magical properties.

[Laura and Thomas laugh]

Eric: Pretty interesting, actually.

Thomas: Oh, yeah. Are you alluding to the Philosopher’s Stone?

Eric: Yeah, perhaps.

Thomas: I hadn’t ever really thought about that. Oh gosh. [laughs]

Eric: And grant some life… it seems intentional. [laughs] But I won’t get into spoilers about Malamander.

Thomas: No, but people often find things and say, “Is that because of Harry Potter?” and I have to say, “No, I’m sorry.”

[Andrew and Thomas laugh]

Eric: But based on your life. So you live by the sea.

Thomas: I do, yeah.

Eric: How much of your life experiences inspired the characters and settings of the series in general, but also Malamander?

Thomas: Yeah, well, it’s just because I moved by the sea about ten years ago, and I found out that by the sea in the winter, it’s very different. The town changes a lot. Quite creepy. It’s quite strange. And when all the fun and bright things of summer are locked up and covered in a bit of frost, and the wind is really strong, and it’s quite spooky, that can be quite creepy, really quite, to some, disturbing. And so the town of Eerie-on-Sea is based heavily on the town near where I live, and some of the characters I’ve met. And this town is beset by legends, and there are these magical creatures that people encounter. And where I live, I live one of the few places in UK where at low tide, if you’re very lucky, you can actually find dinosaur remains on the beach, just sort of rolling dinosaur bones.

Laura: Wow!

Andrew: Whoa.

Thomas: 135-million-year-old fossil bones, and even dinosaur footprints. So I’ve been inspired sort of directly to create a… you can understand why I’ve written about a sea monster, when you think that you can actually see all these theropod footprints down on the beach, and they’re wet. They’re in the stone, they’re in the rock, but it’s wet when you see them, and it almost looks like the creature has just made that mark. When you’re down there in the mist, you want to turn around and just check it’s not still there. So that was the inspiration for these mystery stories.

Laura: That’s incredible.

Eric: And how did you come up with Herbie and Violet, for instance, as characters? What was your inspiration?

Thomas: Yeah, well, Herbie is basically me. So Herbie would be a Hufflepuff, I think.

[Andrew, Laura, and Thomas laugh]

Thomas: He’s basically me, and I just sort of regressed back to childhood to write that character. And then I needed, because I’m a bit of a bit of a wuss, really, a bit bound by the rules, perhaps, but then Violet is just a kind of foil to that. So Violet is the opposite. So they work together, they complement each other, and together they are this great team. That’s the intention. And they’re named after traditional British candy. This isn’t always apparent, I think, to people in the US, but they’re named after Sherbet Lemons and Parma Violets, which are… instantly, people in the UK get where the names come from, but I have to often explain that.

Eric: Herbert, ohh.

Thomas: Herbert Lemon is Sherbet Lemon, and Parma Violets become Violet Parma.

Andrew: Got it. Yeah, we are all Americans here; that went over our heads.

[Everyone laughs]

Thomas: I actually came to the US to tour these books a little bit, and I got asked that everywhere. So I actually brought these sweets with me, and I was sort of fighting trying to stop children from just grabbing them, because I only had this very small supply and they were… [laughs]

Andrew: “Let me explain to you why I brought these first!”

[Thomas laughs]

Eric: Yeah, yeah. A wonderful book-themed candy. It’s wonderful that they made this candy based on the characters of this beloved book series.

[Thomas laughs]

Eric: Oh my goodness.

Micah: I think, actually, “Sherbet lemon” is one of the passwords to Dumbledore’s office in the series.

Eric: At some point.

Thomas: It could be, yeah. It could be. Because it’s that sort of thing that’s a very, very traditional Victorian candy.

Andrew: Ahh.

Micah: Yeah. I’m curious, though, going from illustrator to author, what that process has been like, and maybe what the most challenging aspect in that shift has been for you.

Thomas: Yeah, I think the hardest thing was getting people to take me seriously as a writer. So I did after Harry Potter, I actually had a career about ten years of working in picture books, mostly as an illustrator. And that was great, and I enjoyed doing that. But I kind of ran out of steam; I had run out of picture book-shaped ideas, and was itching more and more to write more substantial texts. Because I started to write as well as illustrate while I was working on picture books, and so making that jump to actually start working on a piece of fiction that was going to be longer, yeah, it was a psychological barrier to jump over, and then having to admit to my agent further up and say, “You know you took me on as an illustrator all those years ago. Well, I’ve written a book; would you like to read it?”

[Andrew laughs]

Thomas: And she was a very, very formidable lady and wasn’t going to take any nonsense, and she made it very clear that I would have to win her ’round, that I wasn’t going to get a literary agent by sneaking in through the illustrators door and then sitting down with the office. [laughs] I had to actually prove myself. So it was quite nerve-wracking when she read the book I wrote, which is completely unpublishable; it hasn’t been published. But she was incredibly encouraging, and so that gave me the impulse of “Keep going.” Had she said, “This is awful; go back to painting,” maybe things would be different, because I did respect her opinion. But she was incredibly encouraging.

Andrew: So illustrating or being an author, do you prefer one or the other?

Thomas: These days I think of myself as an author primarily. I do still draw a bit, so the UK editions of my books have little chapter heading drawings I do, and I draw the maps and things like that. In the US, they’re illustrated by Tom Booth, absolutely brilliantly illustrated by him, really excellently. But he’s illustrated them far more than I would like to have done. These days I don’t like to do big illustration jobs; I think I find it just a bit exhausting. I started to get repetitive strain problems in my hands; especially trying to use digital means, it gets really quite exhausting. And I find I just really love writing. You can conjure anything. You think about how long it takes to write the word “elephant,” and then think about how long it takes to draw the elephant.

[Andrew and Thomas laugh]

Thomas: You can see how writing can be so much more immediate and you can get a lot more done.

Laura: [laughs] Definitely see the appeal there, for sure.

[Eric and Thomas laugh]

Laura: Pivoting to considering your time as an author, what feedback have you most enjoyed getting from readers who read Eerie-on-Sea?

Thomas: Well, the best thing is when children dress up as my characters on World Book Day, which is just an amazing thing.

Andrew: Aww.

Thomas: As an author, if you get up for anything in the morning, that’s what you get up for. Because to get those pictures sent to me, “Here’s my little boy dressed as Herbert Lemon,” and “Here’s my daughter dressed as Violet Palma going to school,” it’s just amazing. And then children write to me, and I write back as if I’m in the Grand Nautilus Hotel, which is the hotel in Eerie-on-Sea. I write back on headed notepaper.

Eric and Laura: Ohh!

Andrew: That’s so great.

Thomas: And I’ve been told that that always creates quite a bit of an excitement when it arrives. And it looks like I’m actually in one of the rooms there, and their letters reach me there and I’m just writing back.

Laura: That’s amazing.

Andrew: I bet. That’s awesome.

Thomas: So things like that, the interaction with readers is just really, really exciting.

Laura: Wow, that is so cool. As a kid I would have flipped.

[Thomas laughs]

Laura: As an adult I would flip, honestly.

Andrew: [laughs] Yeah, yeah.

Eric: Wrapping up, what other work outside of Eerie-on-Sea, and outside, of course, the early Harry Potter journey, have you done that you’re most proud of or would like to shout out?

Thomas: I don’t know, really. A few years ago, I managed to realize an ambition to do a comic book. I’ve always wanted to do a comic book for many years. I have a friend who is an author called Marcus Sedgwick, who is very, very successful, and he and I have always talked about doing a comic book. A few years ago we did, and First Second published it in the US; it was primarily a US Publication. It’s called Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter. And yeah, he wrote the text, I did the drawings, and so that was quite exciting. And it’s out there, and that’s a bucket list item ticked off. And I really enjoyed working on it, but it kind of broke my hands working on it, because just in the actual physical work of creating panel after panel after panel for hundreds of pages was pretty exhausting. So I realized I probably am not going to do many more of those. But yeah, that’s out in the US if anybody wants to look it up, and it’s got monsters in it. So there’s always that.

Laura: I just made a note. I love comic books. So I’m definitely going to head out and get that.

[Andrew, Laura, and Thomas laugh]

Andrew: Thomas, this has been really great. Where can our listeners find you online?

Thomas: My website is I’m on Twitter quite a lot, and Instagram. On Instagram I’m on @thomskagram. I should change that, really.

Andrew: [laughs] That’s a fun name.

Thomas: But I’m quite findable. You can search me up. There are hundreds of millions of Thomas Taylors out there. Many of them have written books, but ultimately you will find me if you search.

Andrew: Yeah, okay, awesome. And so we’ll check out the 25th anniversary edition of Philosopher’s Stone over in the UK. And we’re also going to check out the Eerie-on-Sea series, and we’ll keep an eye out for the fourth book this September.

Eric: I’m very excited to keep going on the Eerie-on-Sea. I love the characters. I’m very engaged.

Thomas: I hope you enjoy the next one.

Eric: Okay.

Andrew: And stay tuned for a letter from Eric, and he’s expecting that letterhead back.

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: “Hi, um, I love the book, thanks,” waiting for him to write me back like, “Yesss.”

[Andrew and Thomas laugh]

Thomas: Well, I’ll look out for that, yeah. Thank you so much for having me on. It’s been a great pleasure. Thank you.

Andrew: Yeah, thanks.

Laura: Wow, he was delightful.

Andrew and Micah: Yeah.

Andrew: That was such a great interview. That was so much fun. Everyone, check out his series Eerie-on-Sea, and we’ll include links in the show notes. I’m still shook by this Gryffindor scarf revelation on the cover. [laughs]

Eric: Yeah, the fact that that wasn’t intentional.

Micah: We got a couple of exclusives between the Gryffindor scarf and then the Hobbit writing on Dumbledore’s cloak.

Eric: That Hobbit thing is real, yeah.

Andrew: We need to write articles about this on “What’s that code mean on the back cover?”

[Laura laughs]

Eric: “Decoding the back cover of Philosopher’s…”

Laura: As long as we don’t make it one of those annoying click-baity articles that’s like, “What does it mean?” and then the text goes on for like eight miles where we’re like, “Albus Dumbledore is the renowned headmaster of Hogwarts” before we even talk.

Andrew: Laura, that’s how we make the money! We put 30 ads before you get to the answer.

Eric: Yeah, ChloĆ© knows. She said she’s pro-click bait.

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: We also need an article on what the bulge is on the original back cover in Thomas’s dad’s pocket. [laughs]

Micah: It’s a Hobbit.

Andrew: [laughs] It’s a Hobbit.

Eric: It’s the Niffler. It’s Teddy.

Andrew: No, he said porcupine, right?

Laura: Yeah, it’s a porcupine.

Eric: A hedgehog.

Andrew: Hedgehog, right.

Micah: Sonic.

Andrew: Anyway. Well, if you have any feedback about today’s great interview with Thomas Taylor, you can write or send a voice message to If you’re going to send us a voice message, just record that message using the Voice Memo app on your phone. And you can also use the contact form on if you don’t want to do the old school email, or you can leave a voicemail on our phone. The number is 1-920-3-MUGGLE. That’s 1-920-368-4453. By the way, coming up on our Patreon today,, many of our patrons are tuned in live this morning and they got to watch our interview with Thomas Taylor, so thanks to everybody who’s joining us this morning. We are going to have a bonus MuggleCast installment to celebrate Pride Month: Gay Harry Potter pickup lines.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Eric: ‘Nuff said.

Andrew: Explicit content warning.

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: That’s all I’ll say before we go into this.

Eric: Happy Pride, everybody.

Andrew: Micah messaged us last night saying, “I’m having way too much fun writing these pickup lines.”

[Micah laughs]

Eric: Oh no, I haven’t looked since Micah has been in… oh no.

Andrew: Brace yourselves. I might… yeah, I’m going to scream a couple times. [laughs]

Micah: That’ll make it even better.

Andrew: We do a monthly bonus MuggleCast installment on our Patreon to thank everybody for their support. We did a pickup line bonus MuggleCast back in February 2021 around Valentine’s Day, but now this one is Pride Month-themed, so that’s going to be a lot of fun.


Andrew: All right, it’s time for some Quizzitch.

[Quizzitch music plays]

Eric: Last week’s question, bit of a teaser: Who illustrated the first book cover for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone published in 1997 by Bloomsbury in UK? The correct answer, of course – we just met him – Mr. Thomas Taylor. Congratulations to the few people who did enter and get it, including Jessica your friendly neighborhood Slytherin; What does the Fawkes say?; Yo I don’t want to fight Cerberus; Liz Ravenclaw; Colin Creevey’s brother; The rogue Niffler; and A small glass of firewhisky with a gilly water chaser plus a slice of lemon. Sounds good.

Micah: Oh, I’m disappointed. I entered as Jonathan Taylor Thomas. I thought I got…

Eric: I was just going to mention that!

[Everyone laughs]

Eric: Thomas Taylor, Jonathan Taylor Thomas… I’ll tell you, Micah, maybe you’re doing it wrong. This whole time I had to switch it. Where you put the name…

Micah: Yeah, I noticed I did that, yep.

Eric: Okay. Yeah, the name, the answer…

Micah: I noticed that.

Eric: Okay, okay. Just so you know. I want to make sure you can succeed at submitting to Quizzitch in the future. Next week’s question: Dumbledore’s nose appeared as though it had been broken how many times, according to the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone? Kind of on a theme there, looking back 25 years. We didn’t mention, by the way, that the actual 25th anniversary, supposedly, of Harry Potter in print being published in the UK is the 26th of June this year, which is a couple of days from when this episode will air.

Andrew: Yeah, where did you get that info from? Because I think over the years, it’s been a bit of a mystery, the exact publication date, right?

Eric: It has been, and it wasn’t until Thomas Taylor’s publicist mentioned it as being the date to shoot for with our episode. And I’m assuming she got that from Bloomsbury.

Andrew: Okay, so that’s another exclusive that we need a 8,000 word article for with the 40 banner ads.

[Laura laughs]

Eric: Yes! “When exactly was the book published? Well, it is uncertain because no good records were kept before the Internet, yes.”

Andrew: “But stay tuned; we have a theory.” 30 banner ads.

[Eric laughs]

Andrew: “So the first Harry Potter book…” blah, blah, blah.

Eric: Yeah, so happy 25th anniversary to the book that changed all of our lives. This was a great way to celebrate that.

Andrew: Yeah, he was a lot of fun, Thomas was.

Eric: So if you’re looking to enter Quizzitch, submit your answer to us on the MuggleCast website,, or go to the website and click “Quizzitch” in the menu bar.

Andrew: Make sure you’re following MuggleCast for free in your favorite podcast app so you never miss an episode, and leave us a review if you can in that podcast app. Also, don’t forget to follow us on social media. Our username is MuggleCast on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok. And once again, don’t forget to pledge on Patreon if you love what we do here and want to support the show and see it thrive. If you can’t pledge, that’s okay; we understand. Just make sure you’re following the show for free so you get every episode. If you’re interested in any of our sponsors, feel free to use those promo codes and links. It all helps. Tell a friend about the show. It all helps grow the show and support the show, so thank you. Laura, what’s coming up on next week’s episode of MuggleCast?

Laura: So on next week’s episode, we’re going to be doing a full-on “In defense of” episode in which we talk about a number of characters from the series that we’ll be playing a little bit of devil’s advocate on. I think the first one we’re going to kick it off with is James Potter. Did he mature? Are we to believe that had he lived longer, he would have been a more exemplary adult than he was a teenager? You’ll have to listen next week to find out.

Andrew: Yeah, this is sort of a follow-up to our “In defense of each of the Hogwarts Houses” series, where we’re going to support some of the characters who maybe get a bad rap, and sometimes, not deservedly so. So we’ll talk about that next week, getting back to some old school Harry Potter talk just like we did today. All right, thanks, everybody, for listening. I’m Andrew.

Eric: I’m Eric.

Micah: I’m Micah.

Laura: And I’m Laura.

Andrew: Bye, everyone.

Laura: Bye.