It wasn’t just the fact that James and Lily Potter were a beautiful couple with extraordinary wealth and power that made the Dursleys hate them. Oh no, there was bad blood between these blood-related
families, and that’s why poor Harry Potter had to live in a closet for the majority of his stay with the fat, bloated Muggle antagonists of the Harry Potter novels.
Author J.K. Rowling occasionally returns to the Harry Potter back-story well to release well-timed tidbits aimed at keeping the Potterverse pot simmering, and this Tuesday, the story of the Dursley-Potter falling out went live on its official fansite: Pottermore.
In this update, Rowling details how Vernon Dursley believed all wizards must be living on the dole if they had no “real” jobs, and how Lily was excluded from her sister’s wedding for fear of being magically upstaged on what should be Petunia’s one “magical” night.
People hearing news about the Dursleys are going to fall into two general categories: “Who? Oh, more Harry Potter stuff? Isn’t that old?” and “YES! Now we know! Please, can we get Nearly Headless Nick’s story next?” Some people might even wonder if Rowling’s seeming obsession with back-story (she’s revealed in the past tidbits like “Dumbledore is gay,” and “Harry should have married Hermoine.”) puts her at risk at becoming the literary version of George Lucas: harming original fans’ memories of the story they love as the price for gaining new fans and telling new stories about old characters.
In the preface to The Deerslayer – one of America’s earliest prequels — James Fenimore Cooper pointed out that if some people were offended that he spent so much time with this one character, it was to a large part the fault of his readers, who constantly demanded more.
The pictures of (Leather Stocking’s) life were already so complete as to excite some desire to see the study from which they were drawn.
In some way this must be the same reason why J.K. Rowling continually returns to the Potterverse with more back-story features. Her readers demand it – and they are the largest collective reading group on the planet, outside of church-goers. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is the 5th highest selling book – of all time, and the Potter books hold seven spots on the top twenty books of all-time list. For a reading base that rabid, you’ve gotta keep putting meat in the stew.
What’s next, though? The untold story of Hermoine’s dentist father?