The first-ever “Harry Potter” was a short story published in communist Poland in 1972. The boy who lived had, in fact, lived ever since 1972.A short story entitled “Harry Potter” was published in a communist Poland, on March 19, 1972, in a literary magazine Życie Literackie. Its author, Jan Rostworowski (1919-1975), was a Polish poet and short story writer.
In 1940, as a soldier of the Polish Army, he came to Great Britain, where he spent twenty-eight years. Rostworowski’s text published 25 years before Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone tells a story of a seventeen-year-old Harry Potter who, unlike JK Rowling’s protagonist, does not receive his Hogwarts letter.
In fact, his life is rather ordinary – as a shopkeeper, he delivers the original Cracovian sausage and pickles. He is not quite talkative, as he replies mostly with “Oh yeah” and “Oh no.” In the end – he suddenly vanishes. Bogusław Rostworowski, the son of Jan Rostworowski, explained that the story was, in fact, the poet’s memory from times when he used to deliver meat to an English shop. The character of Harry Potter was to depict the shop owner.
Rostworowski made the name up – however, it is important to highlight that the surname “Potter” was rather popular in England at that time.Apart from the name of the protagonist, the only similarities to JK Rowling’s works which can be found in the Polish text are two passages. One of them is: “The telephone in Harry’s house does not ring, but chirps like a baird” – which for the Potterheads might resemble magical carrier owls. The other is that the narrator casts a curse on “Mr P” Apart from that – the texts are not at all alike.
Is it possible that JK Rowling had ever seen Rostworowski’s work before publishing the Harry Potter series? It’s highly unlikely because when the Polish Harry Potter story was published, Rowling was merely seven years old, and was living near Bristol, in a small village Winterbourne.
When asked from where she got the name for Harry Potter, JK Rowling in an interview in 2000 said, “Harry has always been my favourite boy’s name, so if my daughter had been a son, he would have been Harry Rowling. Then I would have had to choose a different name for “Harry” in the books, because it would have been too cruel to name him after my own son. “Potter” was the surname of a family who used to live near me when I was seven years old and I always liked the name, so I borrowed it”.