Dreamed up on a train to London in 1990, honed over the next few years in various cafes and cities - most notably Edinburgh - The Philosopher's Stone was finally published in 1997, with an initial release of just 500 copies.
Little did anyone know then that it'd become a global phenomenon, a multi-billion dollar movie franchise, and the first in the biggest-selling book series of all-time (The Philosopher's Stone alone has sold over 100 million copies worldwide).
There is, however, a simple reason for that: the books are brilliant. Rowling is a genius storyteller, and built an incredible world that children and adults alike delight in spending time in.
All of the books in the series are good, but a few are truly great, and others have their drawbacks. That said, some of them do fare better than others. So to mark Harry Potter's birthday, here's how they stack up...
Honourable Mentions. The Non-Harry Books
J.K. Rowling released two textbooks for Comic Relief back in 2001: Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Both taken from the Harry Potter books, they're a fun read which help expand the lore (and have some wonderful margin notes), but it's unfair to really judge them since they're not actually stories, even if one has inspired a franchise.
The Tales of Beedle the Bard are stories, but still stand apart from the rest due to the fact they don't involve Harry and co, but are instead wizarding world fairytales. Again, they're an entertaining read for Potter completists, if not totally essential.