ULS brings Harry Potter historian to campus

What began as an outlet for her love of blogging and broomsticks has now turned into a lucrative career for Melissa Anelli, a Harry Potter fan turned well-respected expert.

Anelli, a Harry Potter historian and New York Times bestseller, will speak about muggles and wizards alike in the Oval Theater tonight as the fourth speaker in USF’s fall 2010 University Lecture Series (ULS).

Anelli, who currently works as a freelance journalist, has been known as an icon of Potter knowledge since 2001, when she became webmaster of the-leaky-cauldron.org, the series’ most popular fan site.

The site gets thousands of unique hits each month and has been recognized by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling as a “well-designed mine of accurate information on all things Harry Potter.” Anelli has met with Rowling on several occasions, including interviews for the Leaky Cauldron blog and the release of the sixth novel in the series, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”

But Anelli doesn’t just limit her writing to the Internet. She has also published her own bestseller, “Harry, a History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon” – the only Potter history book with a forward by Rowling.

ULS Programming Director Catlin Layton said Anelli was chosen in part because of Friday’s release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.”

“Melissa Anelli wrote about the book (series), and she also wrote about the influence this book (series) has had on culture,” Layton said. “Harry Potter’s a pop culture icon, and we think it’ll be a really interesting lecture for students to hear.”

Layton said the lecture should pique Potter fans’ interest and inspire aspiring creative writers and bloggers.

“(Anelli)’s met with J.K. Rowling, who wrote the Harry Potter series and is a hugely influential person in our society today with these books, and she’s very successful,” Layton said. “Also, Melissa Anelli has a blog … and I think she can give us a lot of information about blogging.”

Anelli will sign copies of her book, which will be available for purchase in the campus bookstore, after the lecture.

The lecture will begin at 7 p.m. and cost $9,800 in student-paid Activity and Service fees, Layton said.