We all like a good rags-to-riches story, and J(oanne) K(athleen) Rowling, the creator of the Harry Potter series, gives us a great one: now one of the (if not the) richest woman in England thanks to her publishing success, she got the idea for Harry Potter while she was living on welfare as a single mother in the Scottish city of Edinburgh (source). But J.K. Rowling remains totally willing to poke fun at her popular image as an up-from-nothing star. In an interview, she commented:
I had an American journalist say to me, "Is it true you wrote the first novel on napkins?" I really wanted to say, "No, on teabags. I used to save them." [...] The real story, like most of what appears in the press, there is an element of truth and there is an element of huge exaggeration. (source )
It's exciting to think of Rowling snatching up napkins (or tea bags) and scribbling down the inspiration for Harry Potter (in part because it makes us think we might get so lucky one day). But the truth of it is a little less glamour and a little more sweat: Rowling had to work her butt off for hours every day for years to plan the overall shape of Harry's world.
The stakes are particularly high with the fourth book in the series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. By the time Goblet of Fire was published in July 2000, Rowling's first three Harry Potter novels had already sold 35 million copies (source). Imagine the disappointment of the world if it had been a flop? (Which it definitely was not.)
What's more, in terms of the plot of the whole series, Goblet of Fire is absolutely key. It's exactly halfway between the first and last Harry Potter books, which means it has to leave enough loose ends for future books while satisfying longtime fans who have followed along this far. It's also the book when Harry really begins to become an adult, with adult responsibilities (and a love life!). So there's a lot to accomplish in Goblet of Fire.
Not everyone thinks Rowling did a great job with Goblet of Fire – we read a particularly nasty review that accuses Rowling of "paper-chewing verbosity" (a.k.a. too many words) (source). But we happen to think every page is worth it. As Rowling puts it,
I knew from the beginning it would be the biggest of the first four. You need a proper run-up to what happens in the end. It's a complex plot, and you don't rush a plot that complex, because everyone's gonna get confused. (source)
We here at Shmoop can remember bringing the hardcover edition of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire home on a hot summer's night in July 2000. We stayed up all night reading it, even if it's over seven hundred pages long. We still feel that same enthusiasm about it now, many years later. So we think that every page of Goblet of Fire feels necessary – it's jam-packed with all the magical details and developments that make the Harry Potter series so awesome year after year, book after book.
It's odd to go back and watch the first Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, because the actors who play Harry, Hermione, and Ron all look so tiny: they're really just kids. But once you hit Goblet of Fire four years later, they're mature and grownup-looking – especially Rupert Grint (the guy who plays Ron), who's about eighteen feet tall. It's only a difference of four years between the release of the first movie and the fourth, but the actors look like completely different people.
We point this out because Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the novel when Harry, Ron, and Hermione also really start acting like the adults they're going to be by the end of the series, which is pretty cool to witness. Once puberty hits Hogwarts with a wallop, the entire tone of the Harry Potter novels change. Because J.K. Rowling chooses to age up her characters in a realistic way – with hopeless crushes, mixed signals, and explosive fights between people who love each other – Goblet of Fire feels darker and more serious than the previous three installments of the Harry Potter series. And, to tell you the truth, we welcome the change.
It's really honest of J.K. Rowling not to turn a blind eye to how much people grow between the ages of eleven and fourteen. She doesn't get into NC-17 territory at all (of course), but she is brave enough to admit that teenagers do think about sex – or kissing, at least. Believe it or not, Rowling has gotten some flack for bringing the birds and the bees into Hogwarts. In an interview, she recalls:
I had a very forthright letter from a woman who had heard me say that Harry was going to have his first date or something and she said "Please don't do that, that's awful. I want these books to be a world where my children can escape to." She literally said "free from hurt and fear" and I'm thinking "Have you read the books? What are you talking about free from hurt and fear? Harry goes through absolute hell every time he returns to school." So I think that a bit of snogging would alleviate matters. (source)
("Snogging" is British for kissing, by the way.) We think Rowling is absolutely right: why do so many fantasy novels insist on keeping their heroes as eternal kids? (Peter Pan and Narnia, we're looking at you.) We all have to grow up some time, and we're glad that our favorite Harry Potter characters get to go through all of the joys and embarrassments of the process, too. It makes them seem more real and less sheltered. As Rowling also points out, Harry goes through "absolute hell" at Hogwarts. He should really be allowed to get some kissing out of this whole thing too!
And why else should you care? Well, because that J.K. Rowling sure knows how to write a plot twist…
This is one of the two biggest Harry Potter fan sites out there. This site has a ton of information.
The Leaky Cauldron
This is the second of the two biggest Harry Potter fan sites.
The Harry Potter Lexicon
This is an incredible online encyclopedia of all things Harry Potter, but the maintainers of the site ran into legal hot water when they tried to publish their lexicon a couple of years ago, because J.K. Rowling may choose to come out with her own encyclopedia of Harry Potter details, she and her publishers accused The Harry Potter Lexicon of copyright infringement. Recently, the judge decided in favor of J.K. Rowling. Still, it's a seriously good website.
Harry Potter Wiki
Basically, Wikipedia for the Harry Potter series. Amazingly detailed fan-maintained site.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
This Universal Studios amusement park based on the Harry Potter universe looks incredible. We can't wait to go!
What's In A Name?
A fan site looks at the origins of names of spells, people, creatures, and places found in the Harry Potter series.
Bloomsbury's Harry Potter Site
The website for Harry Potter's UK publisher, which includes useful FAQs, info on Rowling, details on the myths that inspired some Harry Potter characters, and a fun trivia site which allows you to "Swot up on Potter."
Scholastic's Goblet of Fire Site
A great site from the American publisher, including a Pronunciation Guide (for those of us who can't figure out how to say "Firenze" properly) and a Trivia Challenge.
The Harry Potter Alliance
This charitable organization has chapters throughout the US. They use Harry Potter as a way to bring together volunteers to improve the world. Their motto, drawn from the books, is: "The weapon we have is love" – very cool.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 2005
One of the best of the film series, we think – directed by the same guy who made Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill. This one doesn't feature Hugh Grant, though.
An absolutely amazing online collection of J.K. Rowling's interviews and TV appearances since 1997. A real treasure trove!
Goblet of Fire Screenplay
Written by Steven Kloves.
"Quidditch for Muggles" (CBS News)
Well, this looks… energetic. And hilarious.
Stephen Fry Interviews J.K. Rowling
English comedian and actor Stephen Fry interviews J.K. Rowling on board the Hogwarts Express publicity tour in July 2000.
Only the one for Goblet of Fire, but you know you want to take this opportunity to go watch the others again too. We just did.
Goblet of Fire London Premiere
Lots of interviews with the Harry Potter actors as they prepare for the 2005 film to open.
Behind the Scenes
Check out some of the cast members on the set of Goblet of Fire.
Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4: Goblet of Fire
Check out a preview of the game.
Goblet of Fire A&E Special
Interviews with the actors.
Goblet of Fire Deleted Scenes
Only ten minutes long, but we'll take what we can get!
"Harry Potter Fan Fiction"
A presentation for All Things Considered on National Public Radio, Margot Adler, December 29, 2002
Morning Edition, National Public Radio, Margot Adler, October 27, 2000.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Audiobook
Purchase and download the Audiobook from Random House Audio
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Our boy's growing up!
Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint as Harry and Ron
Check out Ron's dress robes!
Robert Pattinson as Cedric Diggory
Yes, that Robert Pattinson.
Emma Watson and Stanislav Ianevski
As Hermione and Viktor Krum, of course.
David Tennant as Bartemius Crouch, Jr.
David Tennant, also known as Doctor Who #9 to British fans and to sci-fi geeks such as ourselves.
Bonny Wright as Ginny Weasley
Looking a bit younger than we last remember her!
Katie Leung as Cho Chang
No surprise Harry and Cedric vied for the gal.