Literary Allusion in Harry Potter: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Literary Allusion in Harry Potter

1st Edition

By Beatrice Groves


174 pages

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Literary Allusion in Harry Potter builds on the world-wide enthusiasm for J. K. Rowling’s series in order to introduce its readers to some of the great works of literature on which Rowling draws. Harry Potter’s narrative techniques are rooted in the western literary tradition and its allusiveness provides insight into Rowling’s fictional world. Each chapter of Literary Allusion in Harry Potter consists of an in-depth discussion of the intersection between Harry Potter and a canonical literary work, such as the plays of Shakespeare, the poetry of Homer, Ovid, the Gawain-poet, Chaucer, Milton and Tennyson, and the novels of Austen, Hardy and Dickens. This approach aims to transform the reader’s understanding of Rowling’s literary achievement as well as to encourage the discovery of works with which they may be less familiar. The aim of this book is to delight Potter fans with a new perspective on their favourite books while harnessing that enthusiasm to increase their wider appreciation of literature.


"[Literary Allusion in Harry Potter]wears its undoubted scholarship lightly, and offers both the interested and the academic reader much to ponder. The use of excerpts from interviews by Rowling is a particularly effective way to bring the discussion of the relationship between canonical texts, the author and her novels into the world of the engaged reader… [Dr Groves'] reputation and scholarship bring academic heft to the project, while her generally lucid writing style points it in the direction of its intended market."

Alison Jack, The University of Edinburgh, UK

I would enthusiastically recommend the project. I think, like its subject, it works on a number of levels, allowing a sixthformer a first introduction to Rowling’s literary forebears, or a university student to uncover the multiple layers of their childhood favourite – and indeed to have something of an insight into the study of literary allusion itself. And for general readers, it provides a light-footed, but sure, guide to a world of classic literature which Rowling freely draws upon."

Felicity James, University of Leicester, UK.

Literary Allusion in Harry Potter is a thoughtful monograph that draws attention to the intertextual connections within the Western literary tradition… [with] fascinating insights into the series… this book is a must-read for fans and scholars of Harry Potter who are interested in how the series is engaged in conversations with other texts and with Rowling's own personal experiences… Literary Allusion in Harry Potter is designed to help readers see the series in a new light and to encourage them to discover or rediscover connections between Rowling's epic and classic works.

Michele D. Castleman, Children's Literature Association Quarterly (2018)

Table of Contents


  1. Jane Austen: Rowling’s favourite author
  2. Harry Potter, Homer and storytelling
  3. Naming in Harry Potter: Plato, Shakespeare and Ovid
  4. Rowling’s medieval Hallows
  5. The Temptation in the Desert and the Harrowing of Hell: Harry Potter, mystery plays and Milton
  6. Harry Potter and Shakespeare: comedy and other genres
  7. In Memoriam
  8. Love wins: Harry Potter, Petrarch, Shakespeare and Hardy


About the Author

Beatrice Groves is a Research Lecturer and tutor at Trinity College, Oxford. In addition to teaching at Oxford University, she has published two books on allusion in Renaissance literature and numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals on the process of literary allusion (including a prize-winning essay in 2013).

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