NLM Exhibition Showcases Medicine and Magic in “Harry Potter”

Harry Potter, the boy wizard at the center of British writer J.K. Rowling’s seven-book best-selling series, is part of a fantasy world solidly grounded in history, medicine and magical lore. To help shape and sustain her stories, Rowling drew from important works in alchemy and early herbal medicine.

Through November 30, an exhibition by the NLM History of Medicine Division (HMD) spotlights seven of these beautiful, centuries-old treasures. One, a valuable, illustrated botanical from the History of Medicine collection, explains mandrake, the common name for the plant genus Mandragora, which is mentioned in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.