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Melissa Anelli  

Author, Webmistress, Literary Commentator & Harry Potter Expert

When Melissa Anelli started blogging for The Leaky Cauldron, the most popular Harry Potter fansite on the internet, she had no idea that her hobby was about to become a career. Leaky is the online beacon of the Harry Potter sensation, offering deep insight into everything from Hogwarts to Quidditch for millions of dedicated fans. Affectionately called “the Harry Potter site of record” by Leaky bloggers, J.K. Rowling has called Leaky a “mine of accurate information on all things Potter,” and the touchstone for “a lot of entertaining debate.” Anelli’s career as a journalist quickly made way for her new adventure: expert historian of the Harry Potter phenomenon, webmistress of the entire Leaky site and leader of the collective Potter fandom.  Most recently, she added Senior Creative Consultant of Pottermore, the online Harry Potter reading experience from J.K. Rowling, to her resume.  She has been involved with the project since its earliest days, helping to ensure the site’s visual and textual elements accurately and lovingly represent the Harry Potter fiction.

Anelli’s book Harry, a History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon (Simon & Schuster) is quickly becoming an indispensable necessity for enthusiasts. Featuring the only foreward written by J.K. Rowling herself for a book about her series, Harry, a History takes a personal and in-depth look at the pop culture phenomenon surrounding Harry Potter. A ‘yearbook’ of fan experiences that spans the last 17 years and details the impact of the series across industries and generations, Harry, a History also follows Anelli’s journey from loyal fan to preeminent Potter expert. From watching collegiate “Quidditch” Leagues to conducting Potter trivia contests to hosting live Potter-themed podcasts all over the country, Anelli offers countless stories about “energetic” fans that have been integral to making Harry Potter a pop culture phenomenon.

As Harry Potter fandom continues to grow and with three films on the horizon, Anelli’s expertise is in high demand on college campuses. Harry Potter captivated an entire generation of students and the series is embraced as literary and academic texts on campuses nationwide. Featured in theology studies, American history, globalization and pop culture – from Yale to Georgetown to Kansas State University – Harry Pottermania has evolved from fantastic wizardry to social anthropology.

Anelli has been recognized as a wizard in her own right, turning her passion for the series into a successful media enterprise. Awarded a prestigious Webby award and a Yahoo! People’s Choice “Find of the Year” award, The Leaky Cauldron has more than 30,000 unique views a day and a million pageviews per month, making it the most popular site of its kind. Anelli has appeared on MSNBC, CNN and BBC, and has been featured in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Associated Press and USA Today.

At the podium, Anelli takes audiences behind the scenes with rare insight into the series, its cultural impact, fan journalism, the outing of Albus Dumbledore and its implications on the fandom, the challenges presented to fans by corporations and copyright and her time spent with J.K. Rowling herself. Exploring everything from Gryffindor to the power of magic, Anelli takes on “that flighty temptress, adventure” and brings Harry’s history to life. Her own personal journey is a testament to the themes cherished by Potter followers: never give up, do the right thing and believe in yourself.

Anelli is a graduate of Georgetown University and currently resides in New York City with her ferocious cat, Moochka.

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