John Granger is a speaker and writer whose principal focus is the intersection of literature, faith and culture. He is most well known as the author of several books analysing J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels. He writes a weblog called Hogwarts Professor.
Granger was born in Corning, New York and grew up in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey. He attended prep school at Philips Exeter Academy and holds an honors degree from the University of Chicago, where he studied classical languages and literature. He is currently writing and speaking full-time. Previously he taught Latin and English at The Asheville School, Peninsula College, and Valley Forge Military Academy.
Granger served for 6 years in the US Marine Corps including postings at the Air Ground Combat Center in 29 Palms, California, and at Camp Butler, Okinawa, Japan. He is married to Mary, is a reader in the Orthodox Church, and has seven children.
Described by his publishers as "one of the leading authorities on the Harry Potter books as read in the context of English literature," his specialist interests are iconological literary criticism, the post-modern qualities of and Rowling's use of literary alchemy and eye symbolism in the Harry Potter novels, and the allegorical and anagogical aspects of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga. In addition to How Harry Cast His Spell, Granger is the author of Unlocking Harry Potter: Seven Keys for the Serious Reader (Zossima, 2007; revised 2009), The Deathly Hallows Lectures: The Hogwarts Professor Explains Harry's Last Adventure (Zossima, 2008), and Harry Potter's Bookshelf: The Great Books Behind the Hogwarts Adventures (Penguin, 2009). He is currently writing Spotlight: A Close-Up Look at the Artistry and Meaning of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga.
He has been a featured speaker at Harry Potter conferences in Orlando, Las Vegas, Toronto, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Illinois, San Francisco, and Ottawa in addition to giving talks and classes on symbolist literature and iconological criticism at schools and other venues around the US. Granger has been a guest speaker at the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University, California, Pepperdine, Washington & Lee, La Salle, Cornell, Penn, Yale, University of Chicago, Baylor, the New York C. S. Lewis Society, New York Public Library, and the Past Watchful Dragons C. S. Lewis Conference. He has given more than 100 radio, newspaper, and television interviews.
Works about Harry Potter
Granger first became interested in Harry Potter when his daughter was given a copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. He read the book with the intention of pointing out to his daughter what was wrong with it but instead was impressed by the Christian imagery, classical references, and 'acerbic criticism of muggledom'. Granger's interest grew through discussion with friends in the Port Townsend C. S. Lewis Society. He gave lectures on the subject at the Society and the town's Carnegie Library which lectures were eventually collected into a book, 'Hidden Key to Harry Potter' (Zossima Press, 2002). That book was re-written and re-titled first 'Looking for God in Harry Potter' (Tyndale, 2004, 2006) and now 'How Harry Cast His Spell' (Tyndale, 2008).
This book in its updated and revised forms argues that the Harry Potter novels are as popular as they are because of their traditional symbolism and spiritual content. Granger believes, following Mircea Eliade, that because forms of entertainment in a secular or profane culture serve a mythic and religious function; the most popular works will be those with transcendent imagery, structure, and meaning. Granger holds, contrary to several Christian critics of the series – including Brjit Kjos and Richard Abanes – that the books' magic is incantational rather than invocational, and, as such, require and support a Christian worldview rather than undermine it.
Granger taught Harry Potter courses on the online Barnes and Noble University and as a guest in their Book Clubs from 2004 to 2007. He has also appeared as a guest in favor of the Harry Potter books on several radio and TV shows, including CNN's Paula Zahn Now, MSNBC, and A&E's The Hidden Secrets of Harry Potter (which special is on the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix DVD). Having been the first to note and explain the traditional alchemical and Christian imagery in the novels, he has become involved in the debate with those who criticize Ms. Rowling's novels, critics who believe the adventure stories encourage children to consider paganism and witchcraft as alternative faiths. In The Deathly Hallows Lectures, he explains the predominant eye symbolism of the series finale in light of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's natural theology and the consequent tradition of eye and mirror symbolism in Romantic literature.
- The Hidden Key to Harry Potter: Understanding the Meaning, Genius, and Popularity of Joanne Rowling's Harry Potter Novels (Zossima Press, 2002, ISBN 0-9723221-0-8)
- Looking for God in Harry Potter (Tyndale House, 2005, ISBN 1-4143-0091-3)
- Who Killed Albus Dumbledore? (Zossima Press, 2006, ISBN 0-9723221-1-6) – six essays, of which one is written by Granger, and the other five by five Harry Potter 'fan-theorists' (Wendy B. Harte, Sally M. Gallo, Daniela Teo, 'Swythyv', and Joyce Odell (or 'Red-hen')), and collected together by Granger. A proportion of the proceeds of the book are being donated to the Children's High Level Group, a charity co-founded by Rowling in 2005.
- Unlocking Harry Potter: Five Keys for the Serious Reader (Zossima press, 2007, ISBN 0-9723221-2-4)
- How Harry Cast His Spell: The Meaning Behind the Mania for J. K. Rowling's Bestselling Books (Tyndale, 2008, ISBN 978-1-4143-2188-2).
- The Deathly Hallows Lectures: The Hogwarts Professor Explains the Final Harry Potter Adventure (Zossima Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-9723221-7-1)
- Harry Potter's Bookshelf: The Great Books behind the Hogwarts Adventures (Penguin/Berkley, 2009, ISBN 978-0-425-22979-8)
- "Touchstone Archives: The Alchemist’s Tale". Touchstonemag.com. 25 November 2001. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
- "Hog’s Head PubCast #60: John Granger Interview, The Deathly Hallows Lectures". Thehogshead.org. 13 September 2008. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
- John Granger (6 January 2009). "The Harry Potter-Twilight Connection". Hogwarts Professor. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
- Reynolds, John Mark; Spears, Paul; Granger, John (20 October 2008). "Are the Harry Potter Novels Great Books?". The Scriptorium Daily. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
- Reynolds, John Mark; Spears, Paul; Granger, John (8 October 2008). "John Granger and Harry Potter Canon". The Scriptorium Daily. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
- "John Granger on Harry Potter « Talking with Tim". Talkingwithtim.com. 25 February 2008. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
- "Interview: John Granger". Swcp.com. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
- Reynalds, Jeremy (31 July 2007). "AD: LOOKING FOR GOD IN HARRY POTTER – Jeremy Reynalds – Nov 24, 05". Americandaily.com. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
- "Using Alchemy to Teach Christianity?". Crossroad.to. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
- "CNN.com – Transcripts". Transcripts.cnn.com. 15 July 2005. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
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- The Hogwarts Professor: John Granger's weblog
- Orthodox speakers bureau biography
- Wall street journal review of books about Harry Potter
- John Granger on Harry Potter
- Interview: John Granger
- The Alchemist's Tale
- Harry Potter and the Inklings: The Christian Meaning of The Chamber of Secrets