Rare illustrated Harry Potter book on special display at the Bodleian

30 May 2013 

P_stone_02_smallA rare first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is the latest addition to the Bodleian’s exhibition Magical books: from the Middle Ages to Middle-earth which opened to the public on 23 May. The book is on display in the Bodleian exhibition room until 10 June.

The volume, which includes annotations and drawings by author J.K. Rowling, was sold at a Sotheby’s auction for the record price of £150,000 last Tuesday, 21 May in aid of English PEN and J.K. Rowling’s own charity Lumos.  Due to the great generosity of the new owner who is a friend of the Bodleian, the volume made it from the saleroom to the Bodleian exhibition room in less than 24 hours, just in time for the public opening. It now complements perfectly a stellar line-up of illustrious authors of children’s fantasy literature featured in the exhibition: C.S. LEWIS, J.R.R. TOLKIEN, SUSAN COOPER, ALAN GARNER and PHILIP PULLMAN.

Rowling's personal annotations cover forty-three pages and include references to the Harry Potter series as a whole and also the film adaptations. In the Bodleian exhibition, the book is open at the title page where J.K. Rowling noted below the title that this book ‘changed my life forever’.

This rare edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone sits alongside a selection of Tolkien’s original artwork for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and his manuscript of a previously unknown poem, ‘The Fall of Arthur’; C.S. Lewis’s ‘Lefay notebook’ and his map of Narnia, and manuscripts of novels and poems by Alan Garner, Philip Pullman and Susan Cooper, many of which are exhibited here for the first time.

Richard Ovenden, Deputy to Bodley’s Librarian, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford said: ‘An exhibition on children’s fantasy literature could not have been complete without Harry Potter, the series which has captivated the imagination of the latest generation of children.  The Bodleian Libraries are extremely grateful to the new owner of this rare first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for the opportunity to display the book for the first time for thousands of visitors to view over the next couple of weeks. ’

The volume was sold at auction together with other annotated first edition books by 50 UK and Commonwealth writers to raise funds for English PEN, the founding centre of a global literary network which campaigns for freedom of expression.

Image courtesy Sotheby's 


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