“Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” celebrates its magical 25th anniversary


LONDON, June 23 (Reuters) – When Bloomsbury Publishing (BLPU.L) founder Nigel Newton brought home a manuscript of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by a then-unknown JK Rowling, his daughter Alice described it as “perhaps one of the best books an 8/9 year old could read”.

Twenty-five years later, it’s one of the best-selling novels of all time after capturing the hearts and imaginations of children around the world.

“I gave it to Alice who took it upstairs… We had the chapters up to Diagon Alley at this point,” Newton told Reuters.

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“She kind of came down the stairs an hour later saying, ‘Dad, this book is better than anything you showed me’.”

Sunday marks the 25th anniversary of the publication of Rowling’s first book on the magical world of witches and wizards.

Rowling had been rejected until Bloomsbury took her job with a £2,500 lead. Her story became a huge hit around the world, spawning a whole series of books and a massive movie franchise.

“Did we know it would sell over 500 million copies by the summer of 2022? No, but we knew it was great text,” Newton said.

“It was the children and not their parents who were the first to adopt this book. It was a completely popular phenomenon.”

These children would queue for hours outside bookstores waiting for the latest episodes of Harry’s Adventures, which culminated in 2007’s ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’.

For some, like Jacqueline Hulbert, now 23, it has also helped them enjoy reading.

“It was just phenomenal. It was nothing I had tried to read before because the story was compelling enough that I wanted to keep trying to read it,” Hulbert said.

“Because unbeknownst to muggles (those who lack magical powers in the books) and like everyone we know, there was like this hidden world in plain sight, almost.”

The image of Harry in front of the Hogwarts Express, the train that takes him to the famous magic school, is one of the most recognizable book covers in children’s literature.

It was made by author and illustrator Thomas Taylor when he first commissioned work. Taylor, then 23 and working in a children’s bookstore, had dropped off a sample portfolio depicting dragons in Bloomsbury.

“A few days later… the phone rang and it was (publisher) Barry Cunningham of Bloomsbury asking if I would like to cover a new book by a new author that no one had heard of,” Taylor, known for Eerie-on-Sea children’s books, said.

“And so I was pretty excited so I said yes. And of course I had no idea what this was going to become.”

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Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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