Find the Hidden References in Our Chapter Titles!


Bet you’ll never guess how The Beatles are related to Harry Potter and the Art of Spying…

Check out the last of our sneaky chapter titles! The Beatles, Milton, and (of course) Shakespeare feature prominently in these chapters exploring the very end of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Chapter 33 Into the Forbidden Forest—How to Turn Friends (or Neutrals) into Enemies—A Little Help from a Really Big Friend

With a Little Help from My Friends” (originally titled “A Little Help from My Friends”) is a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, released on the Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967. The song was written for and sung by the Beatles’ drummer Ringo Starr as the character “Billy Shears“.

Chapter 34 The Flight of the Thestrals—The Magic of Code Breaking—My Kingdom for a Map!—Leaving Magic Breadcrumbs (on Doors!)—A Prophecy (and Curiosity) Kills the Dog, and Maybe Harry’s Friends, Too!

The Flight of the Phoenix is a 1964 novel by Elleston Trevor. The plot involves the crash of a transport aircraft in the middle of a desert and the survivors’ desperate attempt to save themselves. The book was the basis for the 1965 film The Flight of the Phoenix starring James Stewart and the 2004 remake entitled Flight of the Phoenix.

“My kingdom for a horse” comes from Richard III, a historical play by William Shakespeare believed to have been written in approximately 1592. Richard the III is the King of England from 1483 until his death in 1485at the Battle of Bosworth Field, after Lord Stanley and his followers desert Richard’s side, Richard is soon unhorsed on the field at the climax of the battle, and cries out, “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!”  This exact language is taken from Richard III, Act V, Sc. 4, line 13  The play depicts the Machiavellian rise to power and subsequent short reign of Richard III of England.

Leaving a trail of bread crumbsrefers to”Hansel and Gretel” is a well-known fairy tale of German origin, recorded by the Brothers Grimm and published in 1812. Hansel and Gretel are a young brother and sister whose parents try to abandon them in the woods.  The second time this occurs, Hansel takes a slice of bread and leaves a trail of bread crumbs to follow home. However, after they are once again abandoned, the children find that birds have eaten the crumbs and they are lost in the woods. The children are threatened by a cannibalistic witch living deep in the forest in a house constructed of cake and confectionery. The two children save their lives by outwitting her.

Curiosity killed the cat” is a metaphor used to warn of the dangers of unnecessary investigation or experimentation. The original form of the metaphor, now little used, was “Care killed the cat”. In this instance, “care” was defined as “worry” or “sorrow.” The earliest printed reference to the original metaphor is attributed to the BritishplaywrightBen Jonson in his 1598 play, Every Man in His Humour, which was performed first by William Shakespeare.  By 1902 there are printed references to the transformed phrase, “curiosity killed the cat.”


Chapter 35 The Order of the Phoenix and the Death Eaters Do Battle—The Consequences of Mistaken Intelligence Analysis and Hubris—A Prophecy Lost (But Perhaps Regained)

Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton (1608–1674). The first version, published in 1667, is considered by critics to be Milton’s major work, and helped solidify his reputation as one of the greatest English poets of his time. The poem concerns the Biblical story of the Fall of Man: the temptation of Adam and Eve by the fallen angelSatan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Milton’s purpose, stated in Book I, is to “justify the ways of God to men.”

Paradise Regained is a later poem by English poet John Milton, first published in 1671. Paradise Regained is connected by name to his earlier and more famous epic poemParadise Lost, with which it shares similar theological themes; indeed, its title, its use of blank verse, and its progression through Christian history recall the earlier work. However, this effort deals primarily with the temptation of Christ as recounted in the Gospel of Luke.

Chapter 38 The Press Finally Prints the Truth—Dumbledore Returns—Death Be Not Proud

Death Be Not Proud” is a poem by English metaphysical poet John Donne, written around 1610 and first published posthumously in 1633.  The 14 lined sonnet asserts that death is conquered by eternity:

Death be not proud, though some have called thee

Mighty and dreadful, for, thou art not so,

. . .

One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And Death shall be no more, death thou shalt die!

Chapter 54The Value of Spies and Spying: A World Worth Saving

A world worth saving is the title of an essay by Edward Hoagland (born December 21, 1932 in New York) best known for his nature and travel writing.   His essay “A World Worth Saving” appeared in Life magazine in the Oct. 1989 edition which “includes a richly nostalgic essay by Edward Hoagland deploring the havoc that change, speed and greed are working in our daily lives; the loss of space, of privacy, of innocence, of the sense of home.”  (Jack Smith LA Times 9-27-89)  His love of nature and solitude may be in part due to his difficulty in speaking (he has a sever stammer).

Click here if you liked these and missed our earlier Hidden References posts. 

Hidden References in Harry Potter and the Art of Spying Chapter Titles!

James Bond a View to Kill

What do James Bond, the Bible, and Shakespeare’s Othello have in common? They are all referenced in Harry Potter and the Art of Spying. Check out the secrets behind some of our most inventive chapter titles.

Chapter 21 Hagrid’s Unseen Lesson—Harry’s “Wet” Kiss—A Snake’s-Eye View to a Kill

A View to a Kill (1985) is the fourteenth spy film of the James Bond series, and the seventh and last to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. Although the title is adapted from Ian Fleming‘s short story “From a View to a Kill“, the film is the fourth Bond film after The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker and Octopussy to have an entirely original screenplay. In A View to a Kill, Bond is pitted against Max Zorin, who plans to destroy California’s Silicon Valley.

Chapter 22 Seeing through the Eyes of the Enemy—Slithering Toward Bethlehem—A Portrait Is Worth a Thousand Words

The Second Coming is a poem composed by Irish poet W. B. Yeats in 1919, first printed in The Dial in November 1920. The poem uses Christian imagery regarding the Apocalypse and second coming allegorically to describe the atmosphere of post-war Europe.  Its last two lines are:

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? 

Slouching Towards Bethlehem is a 1968 collection of essays by Joan Didion and mainly describes her experiences in California during the 1960s. Joan Didion is an American author best known for her novels and her literary journalism. Her novels and essays explore the disintegration of American morals and cultural chaos, where the overriding theme is individual and social fragmentation. A sense of anxiety or dread permeates much of her work.

A picture is worth a thousand words” is an adage that refers to the notion that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single still image. It also aptly characterizes one of the main goals of visualization, namely making it possible to absorb large amounts of data quickly.  The expression “Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” appears in a 1911 newspaper article quoting newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane discussing journalism and publicity.

Chapter 23To Be or Not to Be (a Snake)—Bravery, Risk, and the Consequences to Those Who Serve—Keeping, Revealing, and Acknowledging Family Secrets

To be or not to be…” is the opening phrase of a soliloquy in the “Nunnery Scene” of William Shakespeare‘s playHamlet.  In the speech, a despondent or feigning Prince Hamlet contemplates death and suicide. He bemoans the pains and unfairness of life but acknowledges the alternative might be still worse. The speech functions within the play to explain Hamlet’s hesitation to directly and immediately avenge his father‘s murder (discovered in Act I) on his uncle, stepfather, and new king Claudius.

Chapter 25 Young Love in Shambles—The Green Monster of Jealousy—Bribing Someone Who Bugs You—Using the Press

Green-Eyed Monster may refer to jealousy, a phrase possibly coined by Shakespeare in Othello (Act III, scene 3, line 169):

IAGO         O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-ey’d monster

Chapter 31 Let the Test Be with You—Theory Meets Practice—Toad-Face Meets Old Wizarding Faces—A “Stunning” Observation from the Astronomy Tower

Let the Test Be with You refers to the Star Wars mantra and farewell, “May the force be with you.” The expression “May the Force be with you” has achieved cult status and is symbolic of the Star Wars legacy. The line has been said by at least one character in each of the Star Wars movies. The famous line is actually said by General Dodonna after explaining the Death Star attack plan to the Rebel pilots. It is said again by Han Solo to Luke, right before the attack on the Death Star battle station. The line is also said by Luke Skywalker at the end of The Empire Strikes Back.

More Literary References in HARRY POTTER AND THE ART OF SPYING Chapter Titles!


Last week, we revealed the hidden meaning in the five chapter titles from Harry Potter and the Art of Spying. Here are five more!

Chapter 10  Strangers in a Strange Land—An Introduction to Luna Lovegood

Stranger in a Strange Land is a 1961science fiction novel by American author Robert A. Heinlein. It tells the story of Valentine Michael Smith, a human who comes to Earth in early adulthood after being born on the planet Mars and raised by Martians. The novel explores his interaction with—and eventual transformation of—terrestrial culture.

 Check out the book that was banned in Texas for its adult themes:

Chapter 12  Professor Umbridge—Liar, Traitor, Soldier, Spy

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a 1974 spy novel by British author John le Carré, featuring George Smiley. Smiley is a taciturn, middle-aged intelligence officer who has been forced into retirement. He is recalled to hunt down a Soviet mole in the “Circus”, the highest echelon of the British Secret Intelligence Service.

 Did you see the movie in 2011?

Chapter 13  Cruel and Unusual Punishment, or, Getting to the Point about Lying

Cruel and unusual punishment is a phrase describing punishment which is considered unacceptable due to the suffering, pain, or humiliation it inflicts on the person subjected to it.  . . . These exact words were first used in the English Bill of Rights in 1689, and later were also adopted by the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution (ratified 1791) and British Leeward IslandsSlavery Amelioration Act (1798).         


Chapter 16  Harry Takes the Lead—A Not-So-Secret Meeting—We Band of Brothers (and Sisters)

“We band of brothers” comes from William Shakespeare‘s play Henry V in Act IV Scene iii 18–67, where Henry V delivers his famous  St. Crispin’s Day speech wherein he states:

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother;

 See the whole (epic) speech 

Chapter 19  Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones . . . But Your Temper May Get You Banned from Quidditch

“Sticks and stones will break my bones” is an English language children’s rhyme. It persuades the child victim of name-calling to ignore the taunt, to refrain from physical retaliation, and to remain calm and good-natured:

Sticks and stones will break my bones
But words will never harm me.

Click here for more hidden references!

Death, Dreams, and Prophecies: How J.K. Rowling paid Homage to the Bard

Happy Birthday William Shakespeare!

Yes, on April 23, 2014, Shakespeare turns 450 years old!

Celebrations are occurring all over the world, particularly in England, which makes it a great time to discuss some of the many Shakespeare references in the Harry Potter series.

First, let’s discuss Harry’s nightmares about Cedric’s death in Order of the Phoenix:

Harry Potter: Hey Big D. Beat up another 10 year old?

Dudley Dursley: This one deserved it.

Harry Potter: Five against one. That’s very brave.

Dudley Dursley: Well you’re one to talk, moaning in your sleep every night. At least I’m not afraid of my pillow. “Don’t kill Cedric!” Who’s Cedric, your boyfriend?

Dudley’s taunting is immediately followed by a dementor attack which makes Harry’s fears and nightmares come alive even as he seems to approach a kind of death at the hands of the dementors. This brings to mind that famous Hamlet quote that conflates death and dreams:

To sleep – perchance to dream.  Ay, there’s the rub,

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Must give us pause.

Hamlet, Act III, Sc. 1, line 73-76.

And then there’s the passage in Macbeth where Banquo cannot sleep for fear of what he may dream:

A heavy summons lies like lead upon me,

And yet I would not sleep, Merciful powers,

Restrain in me the cursèd thoughts that nature

Gives way to in repose.

Macbeth, Act II, sc. I, ll. 6-9.

At this point in Macbeth, Banquo cannot sleep because he is afraid of the prophecy given to Macbeth in the form of a riddle by three witches known as the weird sisters.

Witches, prophesies, riddles?  Sound familiar? Keep in mind that the Order of the Phoenix is the book in which Harry finally learns about the prophecy that led to his parents’ deaths.

Lest you think we are reading too much into all of this, do you remember the name of the band that plays at the Yule Ball?

You guessed it! The Weird Sisters (GF 419, OP 286, 867, H-BP 316)

Need even more proof? Check out this excerpt from HARRY POTTER AND THE ART OF SPYING:

The Background of J. K. Rowling

As you may already know, Joanne Kathleen Rowling—who was born on July 31, 1966 (which would be Harry’s birthday, fourteen years later!)—attended Wyedean Comprehensive School, a middle school. She did quite well there; she was popular and outgoing and got good grades. In what we would call her eleventh year, at Stratford-upon-Avon, Rowling saw her very first play, Shakespeare’s King Lear, and was “absolutely electrified by it”—her words. She also saw The Winter’s Tale, featuring a character named Hermione!

Excerpt from Harry Potter and the Art of Spying by Lynn M. Boughey and Peter Earnest (forthcoming September 2014).

This information is derived from Marc Shapiro’s J.K. Rowling: The Wizard Behind Harry Potter 17, 34, 38–39, 48, 64 (2007), and Lindsey Fraser’s Conversations with J. K. Rowling, 31–32 (2000).

So tip your hat, cloak, or wand not only to the Bard, but to J. K. Rowling’s wonderful use of Shakespeare throughout the series!

Want to know more?

Shakespearegirl has a lot to say about the similarities between Rowling’s tale and Shakespeare’s plays.