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Added on 29th June 2020

Author JK Rowling
First Published 1997
Publisher Bloomsbury, London, UK

Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone (1997), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003), Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (2005), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007)

Story

Harry Potter is an ordinary boy, an orphan, living a miserable life with his cruel uncle, aunt and cousin, until he discovers on his 11th birthday that he is a wizard and must go to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to study magic.

The seven book series follows Harry and his best friends, Ron and Hermione, through seven years at the school. Through a sequence of challenges, heartbreaks and perilous encounters with the evil Voldemort, Harry gradually learns who he is and why he is the Chosen One who must save the wizarding world.

Why we chose it

This is arguably the most famous children’s book series, selling over 500 million copies worldwide in over 80 languages. Credited with turning many children into readers and boosting the market for children’s literature, the books have also proved popular with adults, for whom alternative covers were designed. These school stories powerfully explore universal challenges of growing up and have introduced young readers to mythical creatures, spells and magical devices that can be traced back through fantasy literature to ancient myths and legends.

Where it came from

J.K Rowling first came up with the idea for Harry Potter while on a delayed train in 1990. She then worked on the wizarding world for several years, sometimes in a cafe while her young daughter slept, sketching out the further books in the series. One of Rowling’s favourite childhood books was The Little White Horse by Oxford author, Elizabeth Goudge.

Where it went next

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone won many prizes, including the Nestle Smarties Gold Medal, and all of the subsequent books were widely acclaimed and won further awards. The books were made into eight very successful films – for which Christ Church, across the road from The Story Museum, served as the setting for the Hogwarts stairs and dining hall. The wizarding world of the books has expanded into an immersive website, video games, board games, Lego, and endless merchandise.

Associated stories

J.K. Rowling has also written a number of related books. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, has also been the basis for a film series. A spin-off play, The Cursed Child, is hugely popular in a number of countries.

Added on 29th June 2020

Author JK Rowling
First Published 1997
Publisher Bloomsbury, London, UK