Good news for all the wannabe witches and wizards out there still waiting for their Hogwarts letter – because there are two (count ‘em, TWO) new Harry Potter books in the works to mark the 20th anniversary of the publication of first book Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
However, they do come with a catch – because the books are background texts about the historical context of magic and the franchise rather than new stories, and neither are written by JK Rowling herself (who’s pretty busy with the Fantastic Beasts sequels at the moment). Oh well.
Still, from what we can tell there’s plenty to be excited about in these new tomes. The first, commissioned to tie in to a British Library exhibition, is called Harry Potter – A History of Magic: The Book of the Exhibition, and promises readers “a fascinating journey through the subjects studied at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry – from Alchemy and Potions classes through to Herbology and Care of Magical Creatures."
A longer description of the book adds:
Each chapter showcases a treasure trove of artefacts from the British Library and other collections around the world, beside exclusive manuscripts, sketches and illustrations from the Harry Potter archive. There's also a specially commissioned essay for each subject area by an expert, writer or cultural commentator, inspired by the contents of the exhibition - absorbing, insightful and unexpected contributions from Steve Backshall, the Reverend Richard Coles, Owen Davies, Julia Eccleshare, Roger Highfield, Steve Kloves, Lucy Mangan, Anna Pavord and Tim Peake, who offer a personal perspective on their magical theme.
Readers will be able to pore over ancient spell books, amazing illuminated scrolls that reveal the secret of the Elixir of Life, vials of dragon's blood, mandrake roots, painted centaurs and a genuine witch's broomstick, in a book that shows J.K. Rowling's magical inventions alongside their cultural and historical forebears.
The second book, called Harry Potter – A Journey Through A History of Magic is also a British Library tie-in, and is described as “an irresistible romp through the history of magic, from alchemy to unicorns, ancient witchcraft to Harry's Hogwarts – packed with unseen sketches and manuscript pages from JK Rowling”.
A longer description adds:
This spellbinding book takes readers on a journey through the Hogwarts curriculum, including Herbology, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Astronomy, Divination and more. Discover the truth behind making the Philosopher's Stone, create your very own potion and uncover the secret of invisible ink. Learn all about the history of mandrake roots and dragons, discover what witches really used their brooms for, pore over incredible images of actual mermaids and read about real-life potions, astronomers and alchemists.
Both books will be released on the 20th October this year, and can be pre-ordered on Amazon now – unless of course you’d rather pick it up yourself from Flourish & Blott’s on release day. Up to you.