IT was the height of Cool Britannia.

Tony Blair swept into Downing Street in a blaze of glory following Labour's landslide victory in the General Election.

The Spice Girls, clad from head to toe in union jack dresses and animal print, were ruling the airwaves with the likes of Viva Forever, Spice Up Your Life and Stop. In the world of Oasis, Liam and Noel Gallagher were still speaking to each other, but not to Blur.

The Titanic movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet sailed into box office history.

The year was 1997 and a lot has changed in two decades.

But the popularity of one boy wizard has never waned.

Incredibly, it's 20 years this week since author JK Rowling published the first book in her seven-part series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

It became an overnight success, spawning blockbusting films, theme parks and all manner of merchandise. The Hogwarts hero has even waved his magic wand in the West End and on Broadway with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child still proving the hottest ticket in town.

Potter has gone from living in a broom cupboard under the stairs of his mean Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon Dursley in Privet Drive to being the head of a franchise valued at a cool £19 billion.

I've no idea what it is, but there's just something so perfect about the magical adventures of Harry, Ron, Hermione and their mythical band of bizarre characters and creatures.

Put simply, the stories are spellbinding.

I know the books, one of which I recall reading from cover to cover on a 24 hour flight home from Sydney, captured my imagination aged 18 and up in a way that no book before or since ever has.

Whatever it is, Harry is doing something right. Us muggles remain forever under his spell.

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