Final 'Potter' Title Announced

By Tracy Grant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 21, 2006; 1:46 PM

J.K. Rowling announced the title of the seventh and final book in the hugely popular Harry Potter series on her web site this morning, but "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" may raise more questions than it answers.

"Oh I think that's a really good name. . . . I'm guessing it's about [Godric's] Hollow, so that tells you a real place where the book is set," said 10-year-old Nicklaus Wilcher of Springfield, Va., referring to the place where the boy wizard's parents were killed.

Good guess, Nick, but it's hallows in the title, not hollows. And that's causing a fair amount of confusion.

When asked what the title meant, a spokeswoman for Scholastic, which publishes the Potter books in the United States, admitted that people in her office had rushed to an unabridged dictionary. "[Hallows] means holy person or saint. But we really don't know what the title means," admitted Kristen Moran.

That is, perhaps, just how Rowling wants it. The book isn't finished yet, she said on "I'm now writing scenes that have been planned, in some cases, for a dozen years or even more. . . . I am alternately elated and overwrought. I both want, and don't want, to finish this book, (don't worry, I will)."

The publication date also remains a mystery. But the titles of the two previous books have been announced in December with books hitting store shelves with a multi-million-dollar thud the next summer.

Speculation has been rampant on Harry Potter Web sites for months that the seventh book in the series would be published on 7/7/07.

Whenever the book comes out, look for it to be a cultural milestone, said Dara La Porte, children's book manager at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C.

"A universal community has grown up around these characters. Readers think of these characters as people they've gone to school with, people who have been their friends for 10 years."

No doubt there will be months of speculation about who might die as the epic story of the boy wizard draws to its conclusion.

"I've known for a long time that Harry or [his evil nemesis] Voldemort would die. But maybe Ron or Hermione will die," worried 10-year-old Sabrina Palilcchini of Springfield, Va., this morning.

All the discussion about who may or may not die misses the point, La Porte said.

"It's really the resolution of the story [that matters]. How do we solve this problem of tremendous evil is what's really interesting. Maybe no one will die," La Porte said -- before admitting she thinks Rowling will kill off at least one significant character.

The Potter series has sold more than 300 million copies worldwide and has been translated into more than 60 languages.

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