Happy 39th Birthday To Hermione Granger

My favorite 'Harry Potter' character is 39 this year — let’s celebrate by recounting some of her biggest moments.

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Hermione Jean Granger’s birthday is today (Sept. 19). Can you believe the fictional feminist Harry Potter character (played by Emma Watson in the HP movies) is just a year shy of 40? This month also marks the 20th anniversary of author J.K. Rowling’s first book in the series. The Muggle-born Gryffindor was there to hold my hand and make life a little more interesting (read: bearable) in my pre-teens and throughout my 20s. True story: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final book in the series, came out right before I went on a family trip to Costa Rica. I was 20 years old and read it on the plane, in the car from the airport to our hotel, and in bed until I finished it. I laughed, cried, and didn’t say a single word to anyone until I reached the conclusion.

As the strong-willed and clever witch we all wanted (maybe still want) to be, Hermione was Harry’s confidante and advisor, Ron’s loyal friend (and love interest), and a steadfast champion for equality and women’s rights.

She never failed to speak up for herself and others, no matter how much trouble they got her into. Below, I've shared a few things I love, love, LOVE about Hermione.

After all, there’s no way Harry would have survived without her.

  • 1

    Her Patronus is an otter

    Happy 39th Birthday To Hermione Granger

    Not because the aquatic mammal matches her personality, but because it’s Rowling’s favorite animal. It makes sense: Hermione is one of Rowling’s favorite characters in the series. I love how the author injects her own personality into the story in the most unexpected places and how adaptable she made Hermione.

    "They are sort of nice, aren’t they?" Hermione once said of the animal.

  • 2

    Her name, pronounced Her-My-Oh-Knee, comes from the Greek name "Hermes"

    Hermes was a messenger god known for his sharp wit and ability to transition between worlds. This makes perfect sense since, at the age of 11, Hermione transitioned between the Muggle and wizarding worlds (and continued to go back and forth when necessary). She's also quite the smarty pants. Fans were confused (myself included) for… let’s just say a long time on how to pronounce it. However, in the fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Hermione comes out and spells her name phonetically for a perplexed schoolmate. Phew.

  • 3

    She's an animal lover

    Remember Crookshanks? Hermione had a cat before being a cat mom was cool. Of course the smartest girl in school would have a pet with smarts to match. The half-Kneazle (Kneazle is a magical feline creature related to felines) cat loved chasing gnomes and was very discerning. He even had the ability to recognize untrustworthy people, whether or not they were transfigured. It took Ron and Harry a while to take a liking to him, though.

    "You bought that monster?" Ron once asked her, to which Hermione replied, "He's gorgeous, isn't he?"

  • 4

    On Broadway, her character is played by Noma Dumezweni

    Happy 39th Birthday To Hermione Granger

    The British actress (born to South African parents) won an Olivier Award (the British version of a Tony) for her role in 2006’s A Raisin in the Sun and for playing Hermione. Oh, and she’s Black. There was some backlash when casting was announced in 2015, but Rowling shut protesters down by tweeting Hermione's description in the novels: "Brown eyes, frizzy hair, and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione."

  • 5

    She's a hero for those with smaller voices

    Happy 39th Birthday To Hermione Granger

    She’s an elf-rights activist and founded S.P.E.W., the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare, in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

    "I’ve been researching it thoroughly in the library. Elf enslavement goes back centuries," she once told Ron. "I can’t believe no one’s done anything about it before now."

    Not only is she an activist in the series, but she’s become a strong feminist symbol to real women everywhere.

"The intense, clever, in some ways not terribly self-aware girl is rarely the heroine, and I really wanted her to be the heroine,” Rowling has said of Hermione, who reminds her of her younger self. The author made a point to highlight Hermione’s integrity, her strong sense of humanity, and her intelligence instead of her physical characteristics. A star student who consistently outperformed boys in school, Hermione was one of the most (if not the most) important characters in the resistance against Voldemort. She managed to save both Ron and Harry’s lives more than a couple times. This all sounds awfully familiar when compared to what’s going on in our society today, am I right?

During last year’s Women’s March on Washington, signs were spotted reading "Without Hermione, Harry would’ve died in book 1" and "When Voldemort is president, we need a nation of Hermiones!" I couldn’t agree more.

We need more girls like Hermione — fictional or otherwise —as constant reminders that anything they can do, we can do better, and that following your brain and heart equally is always the right way to go.

Happy 39th birthday, Hermione!