Any Harry Potter fan desperate to get their hands on new details of the world of muggles and magic (and with a spare couple of million quid knocking about) should get themselves down to Sotheby's auction house tomorrow, where a first edition of opening instalment Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – complete with personal notes scribbled into the margins by author JK Rowling after re-reading it – is to go under the hammer .
And it seems Rowling has been at Severus Snape’s veritaserum (that’s truth serum, don’t you know), having given away valuable Hogwarts insider-info. Quidditch for example, in which Hogwartonians (that might catch on) play a sort of basketball-cum-football on broomsticks, was dreamt up after Rowling had a row with her then boyfriend. "Sport," Rowling writes, “infuriates men… which is quite satisfying given my state of mind when I invented it.”
All in all there’s an extra thousand words from the author – but that's not all she's added to the book. There are also 22 new ink illustrations, including an Albus Dumbledore chocolate frog card (Potter aficionados will know what we mean), said to showcase the characters as originally intended.
Rowling isn’t giving away all of her secrets, though, saying “For me, the whole story of how I wrote Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone is written invisibly on every page and legible only to me.” There’s bound to be a potion to uncover that, we just don’t know it. Where’s Hermione when you need her?
Now if Harry Potter has taught us anything, it’s not to trust random books with strange writing in them – that’s a first class ticket to a meeting with Lord Vol… ahem, He Who Shall Not Be Named. But that’s by the by when there’s a definitive copy of Harry Potter up for grabs, eh? Plus, given that Rowling's spin-off novel The Tales of Beedle the Bard sold for almost £2m at auction in 2007, the book is bound to bring in a hefty sum for the nominated good causes, literacy charity English PEN and Lumos, founded by Rowling to help disadvantaged children.
Dr Phillip Errington, director of printed books and manuscripts at Sotheby’s, said of the unique item going up for auction “The personality of the author leaps from these pages and we are treated to a remarkable insight into her creative genius.”
Now if only we could magic up some money...
JK Rowling’s book will be sold by Sotheby’s on May 21 as part of the First Editions: Second Thoughts sale, which also includes texts by Julian Barnes, Seamus Heaney, Yann Martel, Hilary Mantel, Ian McEwan and Sir Tom Stoppard