Just in case you didn’t know ….. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, written by J.K. Rowling, was published twenty years ago on 26 June 1997 and fans across the globe will celebrate Harry Potter’s 20th anniversary. And though the series is over, the love for it is not; it continues to draw new audiences. As the first book celebrates a major milestone, here are a few facts about the book. In 1997 only 500 copies were printed. However, to date, some 500 million copies of the series have been sold worldwide which makes it the world’s best selling series.

You probably know by now that the story tells of a young boy named Harry Potter and his time at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. On his eleventh birthday Harry learns that his parents were wizards and so is he. Consequently, he is summoned to enroll at Hogwarts where he must learn to use his magical powers. He makes two best friends, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, and they help him discover the truth behind his parents’ deaths. Harry and his friends progress is marked not just by gaining more skill in magic, they also unravel the mysteries behind his famous lightning-bolt scar and his connection with the evil ‘He who must not be named’ – Lord Voldemort. The books open doors to the world of magic giving us flying broomsticks, fabulous beasts, wands, invisibility cloaks and Quidditch (the high action sport). And in the fight between good and evil not everyone is who they appear to be. The young protagonists are sorely tested in their many trials and encounters, as is their friendship.



Read it?

So, have you read the book, yet? If not, then you can take advantage of our very special offer. From 26 June until 9 July we have unlimited e-book copies available in our Overdrive e-library.  Just sign in (https://lbrut.overdrive.com) search for The Philosopher’s Stone to download and and borrow a copy and join in the celebration. Our Cloud e-library also has copies available (https://ebook.yourcloudlibrary.com/library/richupthelib/Featured).

You can also borrow DVDs of the series or pick up biographies of Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson by reserving them here: https://richmond.spydus.co.uk


A few reminders …

J.K Rowling says the story came to her on a delayed train from Manchester to King’s Cross in 1990. She started writing the book sporadically over the next few years and it became Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. She gained worldwide attention and the Harry Potter phenomenon is still drawing new audiences.   She has been lauded for encouraging a generation of children (and many adults)

to enjoy reading. Her success is demonstrated by the fact that she is Britain’s best-selling living author and one of the wealthiest woman in the world.

The book quickly acquired cult status and became a publishing sensation. Each subsequent book in the series became a major annual event with readers waiting anxiously for their copy, and queuing overnight in their thousands outside book shops. The story has even formed its own language while the literary characters have gained symbolic status in everyday life and have been held to shape the morals of young readers.


Rowling has created an online community, Pottermore,  for her fans worldwide. She gives new details behind the story and its characters as well offering a digital platform for fans to interact and share their love for the series.

The final book of the series Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published in 2007 exactly ten years after the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Overall the series span seven books, a movie franchise, a theme park and, most recently, an award-winning theatre play.

Did You Know?
  • The book in fact was rejected by twelve publishing houses before being accepted and published by Bloomsbury.  It went on to become one of the highest selling book of all time. It has received countless glowing reviews and gained many awards.
  • Hogwarts has its origin in the name is a flower that Rowling once saw in Kew Gardens.
  • The books are loved equally by adults and have been reissued with more adult-appeal covers.
  • They have been translated into over 70 different languages.
  • The first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is worth thousands today (https://www.abebooks.co.uk/docs/harry-potter/hp-collecting-guide.shtml).
  • U.S. Publishers changed Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. They felt U.S. audiences would not understand the term ‘philosopher’ being associated with magic and wizardry.

Harry Potter series and J.K Rowling have been recipients of many awards and honours. Here are some awards that the first book has won over the years:

  • Nestle Smarties Book Prize Gold Medal 9-11
  • FCBG Children’s Book Award 1997 – Overall winner in Longer Novel Category
  • Birmingham Cable Children’s Book Award 1997
  • W.H. Smith Book of the Year 1997
  • Young Telegraph Paperback of the Year 1998
  • Carnegie Medal 1998 (Shortlist)
  • British Book Awards 1997 Children’s Book of the Year
  • Sheffield Children’s Book Award 1998
  • Whitaker’s Platinum Book Award 2001
  • Voted nation’s favourite children’s book in Reading charity Booktrust’s 100 best books for children (2013)
Further reading

You can read about the Harry Potter phenomenon in our online newspaper libraries NewsBank and News Vault by logging in with your library card. You can also save or print any article from News Vault as it appeared in the original publication.

The list of Harry Potter fan sites is too vast for us to list here. But to get a flavour of what is available online pop along to the Harry Potter Wiki:


[Sonal Basi, Library Assistant]