Everyone loves Harry Potter, but some people love Harry Potter more. A first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the first book in J.K. Rowling's phenomenally selling 7-part series, has been acquired for 150,000 pounds (or $227,421) at a London charity auction held by Sotheby's and organized with the English PEN writers' association.
This is not just any Harry Potter, it's a special one, because only 500 first editions of the book, published in 1997, exist (they are dear!). And this particular tome is more special yet, because it includes handwritten notes and original illustrations from Rowling, as well as "a 43-page 'second thoughts' commentary by the author," reports Reuters' Piya Sinha-Roy. "Rowling’s personal annotations range from notes on the series as a whole and the film adaptations, to commentary on the unpopularity of the first chapter and an anomaly in chapter four about snapped wands. Her illustrations include a sleeping baby Harry on the Dursleys’ door step, an Albus Dumbledore Chocolate Frog Card, and Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback dragon," writes Eileen Kinsella at ArtInfo. Oh, and there's "a note on how she came to create the game of Quidditch."
In accordance with all this extra good stuff, $227,421 is the highest price to date for one of Rowling's print books. The new owner of the book has not been identified, but he or she outbid the rest — there was a bidding war, of course — via telephone.
The auction included 50 first editions with their own author annotations and commentary, among them, Roald Dahl's Matilda, featuring new illustrations by Quentin Blake, for $45,470; Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day for $27,278; and Julian Barnes' Metroland for $21,216, as well as books by Margaret Atwood, Helen Fielding, Nadine Gordimer, Seamus Heaney, Lionel Shriver, Tom Stoppard, Jeanette Winterson, and others. The entire auction brought in 439,000 pounds ($665,410) to benefit English PEN, a global literary network that promotes freedom of expression.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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