The British Library is celebrating 20 years since the publication of Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone with a special exhibition (Harry Potter: A History of Magic) which features ancient texts and artworks that fit into Harry Potter lore.


The exhibition, which opened on 20th October, showcases amazing items from throughout history, which reveal the real life myths and legends than inspired JK Rowling's tale.

But what's on offer for fans of the novels who are eager to find out more about Rowling's story itself, and the way in which she crafted it?

We took a sneak peek to bring you the highlights...

1. JK Rowling's original summary of Harry Potter's story

The typed summary of the plot of the first Harry Potter novel is on display as you enter the exhibit – and it's a real treat.

Getty, SL

2. The author's own vision for the Dursley family

Harry Potter illustrator Jim Kay's works of art aren't the only masterpieces dotted throughout the exhibition. There's also a selection of Rowling's own drawings, including a portrait of the Dursley clan.

3. A detailed sketch of Hogwarts and the Forbidden Forest

Speaking of Rowling's doodles, her original plans for the Hogwarts castle and the Forbidden Forest are also on display. You can see her vision for the school and its grounds, including the giant squid in the lake.

4. Harry's arrival at Privet Drive

Rowling's depiction of Harry's arrival on his aunt and uncle's doorstep is a real treat.

Real Privet Drive Harry Potter films
The real-life Privet Drive (Warren Little/Getty Images, SD)

5. A deleted scene from Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets

Did you know Harry and Ron originally crashed the flying Ford Anglia into the Hogwarts lake when they missed the train to school in The Chamber of Secrets? It was there that they were supposed to first encounter the mermaids who we met in Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire.

6. A scrapped meeting between Hagrid and a Muggle Minister called Fudge

In a very early draft of Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone, Hagrid was set to meet a Muggle minister by the name of Fudge. The Hogwarts groundskeeper visited him to warn him of the threat posed by an unnamed villain.

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The scene was scrapped, Fudge became Minister for Magic instead, and it was he who went to meet with the 'Other Minister' (aka the Muggle Prime Minister) in Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince instead.

The Sorting Hat on the set of Harry Potter
The Sorting Hat on the set of Harry Potter (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images, SD)

7. Original sketches of the Sorting Hat

You can actually see how Rowling envisioned the famous hat – and sneak a peek at her original drafts of its famous song.

8. Harry, Ron and Hermione's first meeting with Fluffy

The author's own drawing of the trio's first encounter with the three-headed dog is quite impressive.

9. An annotated copy of Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone

Rowling scribbled down her reflections on the Harry Potter books and films in a specially annotated copy of the first novel in the series, which was auctioned to raise money for charity. It's now on display in the exhibition and is a real sight to behold.

Annotated copy of JK Rowling's Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone
An annotated copy of JK Rowling's Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone (NEIL HANNA/AFP/Getty Images)

10. A very personal portrait of Professor Sprout

In the documentary which accompanies the exhibition Rowling speaks with great emotion about her portrait of Professor Sprout, which she drew on the night her mother died. She's loaned it to the exhibition and it's rather endearing.

11. A scribbled upon screenplay for Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

The author's first draft of the script – complete with notes – might just give fans some insight into the screenwriting process.

12. Rowling's planning pages for Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix

How do you work out where every Hogwarts student is going to be on every single day of the school year? Or who will die at what point?

You can see JK Rowling's workings – chapter by chapter.

Harry Potter: A History of Magic Exhibition Launch
Harry Potter: A History of Magic Exhibition (John Phillips/Getty Images, SD)

13. And a list of Hogwarts teachers who never made it into the novels

Did you know the roster of Hogwarts teachers originally included a Professor Enid Pettigrew? It's fascinating stuff, really.


For more information about the exhibition you can visit the official website.