LONDON (Reuters) - Twenty years to the day after the first book in the Harry Potter series was published, fans gathered online and in the real world to express their love for J.K. Rowling's magical creation.
Since Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone came out in 1997, with a first print run of just 500 copies, the series of seven novels has sold 450 million copies in 79 languages and spawned a movie franchise.
On Monday, some fans took the day off work to celebrate the anniversary, heading to significant locations such as King's Cross train station in London, which in the stories is one of the gateways into the world of witches and wizards.
The station features a mock-up of Platform 9-3/4, the departure point for trains to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
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The mock-up is a bustling spot where tourists and fans queue to pose for photos wearing Potter-themed scarves or costumes.
"Harry Potter I think still means so much to so many people even though it's 20 years now," said Ms Clara Carson, whose job at the nearby souvenir shop involves taking photos of the fans and holding up the scarves to achieve a windswept effect.
Childhood friends Charlotte Keyworth and Joanne Wylie, both 26, had come down to London from northern and eastern England for the occasion.
They were part of the first generation of Potter fans, having read the first volume as young girls and then endured the agonising wait for each new episode as they were published over a period of 10 years.
Ms Wylie said the Potter stories still bring her joy and comfort.
"It was always something that just sort of boosted your spirits and made you realise you could get past the dark points," she added.
Her sentiments were widely echoed on social media, with fans posting their favourite quotes or video clips, or just thanking Rowling for the memories.
Rowling, who has 10.8 million followers on Twitter, also took to the medium to mark the anniversary. "20 years ago today a world that I had lived in alone was suddenly open to others. It's been wonderful. Thank you." she wrote.