At platform 9-3/4, Harry Potter fans mark 20 years of magic | Reuters

By Estelle Shirbon

LONDON Twenty years to the day after the first book in the Harry Potter series was published, fans gathered online and in the real world to express their enduring love for J.K. Rowling’s magical creation.

Since “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” came out in 1997, with a first print run of just 500 copies, the series of seven novels has sold 450 million copies worldwide in 79 languages and spawned a blockbuster movie franchise.

The book appeared in the United States a year later as “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”.

On Monday, some fans took the day off work to celebrate the anniversary, heading to significant locations such as King’s Cross train station in London, which in the stories is one of the gateways into the world of witches and wizards.

The real-life station features a mock-up of Platform 9-3/4, the departure point for trains to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The mock-up is a bustling spot where tourists and fans queue to pose for photos wearing Potter-themed scarves or costumes.

“Harry Potter I think still means so much to so many people even though it’s 20 years now,” said Clara Carson, whose job at the nearby souvenir shop involves taking photos of the fans and holding up the scarves to achieve a windswept effect.

“I’m a fan myself so it’s really nice to come in and be with people that are all into the same things that you’re into,” she said. “Whether they’re kids or my age or even adults, they’re always just so excited.”

Childhood friends Charlotte Keyworth and Joanne Wylie, both 26, had come down to London from northern and eastern England for the occasion.

They were part of the first generation of Potter fans, having read the first volume as young girls and then endured the agonizing wait for each new episode as they were published over a period of 10 years.

“We’ve grown up with it, with Harry Potter,” said…

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