J.K. Rowling's books seem to demonstrate to me that she is very widely read. There are small references in all of the 'Harry Potters' which bring to mind children's books I read as a child (we are a similar age): Tim and the Hidden People, Shelia McCullough to name but one series.
Rowling's ideas are original but some common underlying themes seem to be similar. For example there are 'muggles' (although this word isn't used) and then a secret, magic world of 'hidden people' in this series. Tim, the hero, has 'magic' powers due to his association with the hidden 'magic' world & through him in a tense, angry moment a 'non-magic person' (what Rowling might deem a 'muggle) floats to the ceiling in the kitchen and narrowly misses floating away through a kitchen window. There are winged horses in the magic kingdom, a tall, dark villain complete with Hogwarts-like castle and cape and much more besides. Tim even looks like Harry. He's an orphan, living in a tiny attic room at the top of a house, treated with indifference and benign neglect by his Aunt. He's an outsider at first. There's even a bus that he travels on at night which is driven very recklessly - it's invisible to those in the 'real' world. Tim ends up falling out when the magic wears off. Tim rides on a broomstick with a talking cat, Tobias. There's an unpleasant bully who lives very close who generally makes Tim's life difficult. There are other 'witch genre' type stories which have similar themes, Worst Witch springs to mind.
There's also a scene - I think in Milly Molly Mandy? Where a phone box travels down through a pavement? Someone might correct me if I'm wrong.
A wider point would be that Rowling seems very well educated to me - knowledge of Greek/Latin? Is it me or are there 'in jokes' about the various characters names too? Umbridge - was someone famous I think & using the name in the context she does is funny/clever (I forget who - perhaps a character?) and the below has always struck me:
William Topaz McGonagall (March 1825 – 29 September 1902) was a Scottish weaver, doggerel poet and actor. He won notoriety as an extremely bad poet who exhibited no recognition of or concern for his peers' opinions of his work.
He wrote some 200 poems, including the infamous "Tay Bridge Disaster", which are widely regarded as some of the worst in British history.
McGonagall has been acclaimed as the worst poet in British history. The chief criticisms of his poetry are that he is deaf to poetic metaphor and unable to scan correctly. In the hands of lesser artists, this might generate merely dull, uninspiring verse. McGonagall's fame stems from the humorous effects these shortcomings generate. The inappropriate rhythms, weak vocabulary, and ill-advised imagery combine to make his work amongst the most spontaneously amusing comic poetry in the English language.
It is as if Rowling has used so much of everything she's ever read & mixed it all up together to create Harry Potter & there's nothing wrong with that
I just wondered if anyone else had thought similar?
I also wonder if more general knowledge/classics etc would have been taught to Rowling at school that has largely disappeared from the curriculum now? Will future literature suffer because children are now generally much less widely read?
That reminds me of the lady who one Who Wants to Be A Millionaire - Judith (?) - everyone said how brilliant she was when really she reminded me of many of my mother's generation who had been taught 'knowledge', Latin, some Greek, classical mythology and literature etc. This seemed to me (on a very brief glimpse) to be her real skill. Is this knowledge going to largely die out and be valued less and less in time?