A special new edition in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, with a stunning new cover illustration by Caldecott Medalist Brian Selznick. Harry Potter has never been the star of a Quidditch team, scoring points while riding a broom far above the ground. He knows no spells, has never helped to hatch a dragon, and has never worn a cloak of invisibility. All he knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley - a great big swollen spoiled bully. Harry's room is a tiny closet at the foot of the stairs, and he hasn't had a birthday party in eleven years. But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to an incredible place that Harry - and anyone who reads about him - will find unforgettable. For it's there that he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic in everything from classes to meals, but a great destiny that's been waiting for him... if Harry can survive the encounter. This gorgeous new edition in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone features a newly designed cover illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Brian Selznick, as well as the beloved original interior decorations by Mary GrandPré.
About the Author
J.K. Rowling is the author of the record-breaking, multi-award-winning Harry Potter novels. Loved by fans around the world, the series has sold over 450 million copies, been translated into 80 languages, and made into eight blockbuster films. She has written three companion volumes in aid of charity: Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (in aid of Comic Relief and Lumos), and The Tales of Beedle the Bard (in aid of Lumos), as well as a screenplay inspired by Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which marked the start of a five-film series to be written by the author. She has also collaborated on a stage play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two, which opened in London’s West End in the summer of 2016. In 2012 J.K. Rowling’s digital company Pottermore was launched, where fans can enjoy news, features, and articles, as well as original content from J.K. Rowling. J.K. Rowling is also the author of The Casual Vacancy, a novel for adult readers, and the Strike crime series, written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. She has received many awards and honors, including an OBE and Companion of Honour, France’s Légion d’honneur, and the Hans Christian Andersen Award.
Brian Selznick’s books have garnered countless accolades worldwide, and have been translated into more than 35 languages. He is the Caldecott Medal-winning creator of the #1 New York Times bestsellers The Invention of Hugo Cabret, adapted into Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning movie Hugo; and Wonderstruck, adapted by celebrated filmmaker Todd Haynes, with a screenplay by Selznick; as well as The Marvels and Baby Monkey, Private Eye (co-written with Dr. David Serlin). Selznick divides his time between Brooklyn, New York, and San Diego, California.
Mary GrandPré has illustrated more than twenty beautiful books, including The Noisy Paint Box by Barb Rosenstock, which received a Caldecott Honor; Cleonardo, the Little Inventor, of which she is also the author; and the original American editions of all seven Harry Potter novels. Her work has also appeared in the New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, and the Wall Street Journal, and her paintings and pastels have been shown in galleries across the United States. Ms. GrandPré lives in Sarasota, Florida, with her family.
Date of Birth:July 31, 1965
Place of Birth:Chipping Sodbury near Bristol, England
Read an Excerpt
The Vanishing Glass
Yet Harry Potter was still there, asleep at the moment, but not for long. His Aunt Petunia was awake and it was her shrill voice that made the first noise of the day.
"Up! Get up! Now!"
Harry woke with a start. His aunt rapped on the door again.
"Up!" she screeched. Harry heard her walking toward the kitchen and then the sound of the frying pan being put on the stove. He rolled onto his back and tried to remember the dream he had been having. It had been a good one. There had been a flying motorcycle in it. He had a funny feeling he'd had the same dream before.
His aunt was back outside the door.
"Are you up yet?" she demanded.
"Nearly," said Harry.
"Well, get a move on, I want you to look after the bacon. And don't you dare let it burn, I want everything perfect on Duddy's birthday."
"What did you say?" his aunt snapped through the door.
"Nothing, nothing . . ."
Dudley's birthday - how could he have forgotten? Harry got slowly out of bed and started looking for socks. He found a pair under his bed and, after pulling a spider off one of them, put them on. Harry was used to spiders, because the cupboard under the stairs was full of them, and that was where he slept.
When he was dressed he went down the hall into the kitchen. The table was almost hidden beneath all Dudley's birthday presents. It looked as though Dudley had gotten the new computer he wanted, not to mention the second television and the racing bike. Exactly why Dudley wanted a racing bike was a mystery to Harry, as Dudley was very fat and hated exercise - unless of course it involved punching somebody. Dudley's favorite punching bag was Harry, but he couldn't often catch him. Harry didn't look it, but he was very fast.
Perhaps it had something to do with living in a dark cupboard, but Harry had always been small and skinny for his age. He looked even smaller and skinnier than he really was because all he had to wear were old clothes of Dudley's, and Dudley was about four times bigger than he was. Harry had a thin face, knobbly knees, black hair, and bright green eyes. He wore round glasses held together with a lot of Scotch tape because of all the times Dudley had punched him on the nose. The only thing Harry liked about his own appearance was a very thin scar on his forehead that was shaped like a bolt of lightning. He had had it as long as he could remember, and the first question he could ever remember asking his Aunt Petunia was how he had gotten it.
"In the car crash when your parents died," she had said. "And don't ask questions."
Don't ask questions - that was the first rule for a quiet life with the Dursleys.
Uncle Vernon entered the kitchen as Harry was turning over the bacon.
"Comb your hair!" he barked, by way of a morning greeting.
About once a week, Uncle Vernon looked over the top of his newspaper and shouted that Harry needed a haircut. Harry must have had more haircuts than the rest of the boys in his class put together, but it made no difference, his hair simply grew that way - all over the place.
Harry was frying eggs by the time Dudley arrived in the kitchen with his mother. Dudley looked a lot like Uncle Vernon. He had a large pink face, not much neck, small, watery blue eyes, and thick blond hair that lay smoothly on his thick, fat head. Aunt Petunia often said that Dudley looked like a baby angel - Harry often said that Dudley looked like a pig in a wig.
Harry put the plates of egg and bacon on the table, which was difficult as there wasn't much room. Dudley, meanwhile, was counting his presents. His face fell.
"Thirty-six," he said, looking up at his mother and father. "That's two less than last year."
"Darling, you haven't counted Auntie Marge's present, see, it's here under this big one from Mommy and Daddy."
"All right, thirty-seven then," said Dudley, going red in the face. Harry, who could see a huge Dudley tantrum coming on, began wolfing down his bacon as fast as possible in case Dudley turned the table over.
Aunt Petunia obviously scented danger, too, because she said quickly, "And we'll buy you another two presents while we're out today. How's that, popkin? Two more presents. Is that all right?"
Dudley thought for a moment. It looked like hard work. Finally he said slowly, "So I'll have thirty . . . thirty . . ."
"Thirty-nine, sweetums," said Aunt Petunia.
"Oh." Dudley sat down heavily and grabbed the nearest parcel. "All right then."
Uncle Vernon chuckled.
"Little tyke wants his money's worth, just like his father. 'Atta boy, Dudley!" He ruffled Dudley's hair.
At that moment the telephone rang and Aunt Petunia went to answer it while Harry and Uncle Vernon watched Dudley unwrap the racing bike, a video camera, a remote control airplane, sixteen new computer games, and a VCR. He was ripping the paper off a gold wristwatch when Aunt Petunia came back from the telephone looking both angry and worried.
"Bad news, Vernon," she said. "Mrs. Figg's broken her leg. She can't take him." She jerked her head in Harry's direction.
Dudley's mouth fell open in horror, but Harry's heart gave a leap. Every year on Dudley's birthday, his parents took him and a friend out for the day, to adventure parks, hamburger restaurants, or the movies. Every year, Harry was left behind with Mrs. Figg, a mad old lady who lived two streets away. Harry hated it there. The whole house smelled of cabbage and Mrs. Figg made him look at photographs of all the cats she'd ever owned.
"Now what?" said Aunt Petunia, looking furiously at Harry as though he'd planned this. Harry knew he ought to feel sorry that Mrs. Figg had broken her leg, but it wasn't easy when he reminded himself it would be a whole year before he had to look at Tibbles, Snowy, Mr. Paws, and Tufty again.
"We could phone Marge," Uncle Vernon suggested.
"Don't be silly, Vernon, she hates the boy."
The Dursleys often spoke about Harry like this, as though he wasn't there - or rather, as though he was something very nasty that couldn't understand them, like a slug.
"What about what's-her-name, your friend - Yvonne?"
"On vacation in Majorca," snapped Aunt Petunia.
"You could just leave me here," Harry put in hopefully (he'd be able to watch what he wanted on television for a change and maybe even have a go on Dudley's computer).
Aunt Petunia looked as though she'd just swallowed a lemon.
"And come back and find the house in ruins?" she snarled.
"I won't blow up the house," said Harry, but they weren't listening.
"I suppose we could take him to the zoo," said Aunt Petunia slowly, ". . . and leave him in the car. . . ."
"That car's new, he's not sitting in it alone. . . ."
Dudley began to cry loudly. In fact, he wasn't really crying - it had been years since he'd really cried - but he knew that if he screwed up his face and wailed, his mother would give him anything he wanted.
"Dinky Duddydums, don't cry, Mummy won't let him spoil your special day!" she cried, flinging her arms around him.
"I . . . don't . . . want . . . him . . . t-t-to come!" Dudley yelled between huge, pretend sobs. "He always sp-spoils everything!" He shot Harry a nasty grin through the gap in his mother's arms.
Just then, the doorbell rang - "Oh, good Lord, they're here!" said Aunt Petunia frantically - and a moment later, Dudley's best friend, Piers Polkiss, walked in with his mother. Piers was a scrawny boy with a face like a rat. He was usually the one who held people's arms behind their backs while Dudley hit them. Dudley stopped pretending to cry at once.
Half an hour later, Harry, who couldn't believe his luck, was sitting in the back of the Dursleys' car with Piers and Dudley, on the way to the zoo for the first time in his life. His aunt and uncle hadn't been able to think of anything else to do with him, but before they'd left, Uncle Vernon had taken Harry aside.
"I'm warning you," he had said, putting his large purple face right up close to Harry's, "I'm warning you now, boy - any funny business, anything at all - and you'll be in that cupboard from now until Christmas."
"I'm not going to do anything," said Harry, "honestly . . ."
But Uncle Vernon didn't believe him. No one ever did.
The problem was, strange things often happened around Harry and it was just no good telling the Dursleys he didn't make them happen.
Once, Aunt Petunia, tired of Harry coming back from the barbers looking as though he hadn't been at all, had taken a pair of kitchen scissors and cut his hair so short he was almost bald except for his bangs, which she left "to hide that horrible scar." Dudley had laughed himself silly at Harry, who spent a sleepless night imagining school the next day, where he was already laughed at for his baggy clothes and taped glasses. Next morning, however, he had gotten up to find his hair exactly as it had been before Aunt Petunia had sheared it off. He had been given a week in his cupboard for this, even though he had tried to explain that he couldn't explain how it had grown back so quickly.
Another time, Aunt Petunia had been trying to force him into a revolting old sweater of Dudley's (brown with orange puff balls). The harder she tried to pull it over his head, the smaller it seemed to become, until finally it might have fitted a hand puppet, but certainly wouldn't fit Harry. Aunt Petunia had decided it must have shrunk in the wash and, to his great relief, Harry wasn't punished.
On the other hand, he'd gotten into terrible trouble for being found on the roof of the school kitchens. Dudley's gang had been chasing him as usual when, as much to Harry's surprise as anyone else's, there he was sitting on the chimney. The Dursleys had received a very angry letter from Harry's headmistress telling them Harry had been climbing school buildings. But all he'd tried to do (as he shouted at Uncle Vernon through the locked door of his cupboard) was jump behind the big trash cans outside the kitchen doors. Harry supposed that the wind must have caught him in mid-jump.
But today, nothing was going to go wrong. It was even worth being with Dudley and Piers to be spending the day somewhere that wasn't school, his cupboard, or Mrs. Figg's cabbage-smelling living room.
While he drove, Uncle Vernon complained to Aunt Petunia. He liked to complain about things: people at work, Harry, the council, Harry, the bank, and Harry were just a few of his favorite subjects. This morning, it was motorcycles.
". . . roaring along like maniacs, the young hoodlums," he said, as a motorcycle overtook them.
"I had a dream about a motorcycle," said Harry, remembering suddenly. "It was flying."
Uncle Vernon nearly crashed into the car in front. He turned right around in his seat and yelled at Harry, his face like a gigantic beet with a mustache: "MOTORCYCLES DON'T FLY!"
Dudley and Piers sniggered.
"I know they don't," said Harry. "It was only a dream."
But he wished he hadn't said anything. If there was one thing the Dursleys hated even more than his asking questions, it was his talking about anything acting in a way it shouldn't, no matter if it was in a dream or even a cartoon - they seemed to think he might get dangerous ideas.
It was a very sunny Saturday and the zoo was crowded with families. The Dursleys bought Dudley and Piers large chocolate ice creams at the entrance and then, because the smiling lady in the van had asked Harry what he wanted before they could hurry him away, they bought him a cheap lemon ice pop. It wasn't bad, either, Harry thought, licking it as they watched a gorilla scratching its head who looked remarkably like Dudley, except that it wasn't blond.
Harry had the best morning he'd had in a long time. He was careful to walk a little way apart from the Dursleys so that Dudley and Piers, who were starting to get bored with the animals by lunchtime, wouldn't fall back on their favorite hobby of hitting him. They ate in the zoo restaurant, and when Dudley had a tantrum because his knickerbocker glory didn't have enough ice cream on top, Uncle Vernon bought him another one and Harry was allowed to finish the first.
Harry felt, afterward, that he should have known it was all too good to last.
After lunch they went to the reptile house. It was cool and dark in there, with lit windows all along the walls. Behind the glass, all sorts of lizards and snakes were crawling and slithering over bits of wood and stone. Dudley and Piers wanted to see huge, poisonous cobras and thick, man-crushing pythons. Dudley quickly found the largest snake in the place. It could have wrapped its body twice around Uncle Vernon's car and crushed it into a trash can - but at the moment it didn't look in the mood. In fact, it was fast asleep.
Dudley stood with his nose pressed against the glass, staring at the glistening brown coils.
"Make it move," he whined at his father. Uncle Vernon tapped on the glass, but the snake didn't budge.
"Do it again," Dudley ordered. Uncle Vernon rapped the glass smartly with his knuckles, but the snake just snoozed on.
"This is boring," Dudley moaned. He shuffled away.
Harry moved in front of the tank and looked intently at the snake. He wouldn't have been surprised if it had died of boredom itself - no company except stupid people drumming their fingers on the glass trying to disturb it all day long. It was worse than having a cupboard as a bedroom, where the only visitor was Aunt Petunia hammering on the door to wake you up; at least he got to visit the rest of the house.
The snake suddenly opened its beady eyes. Slowly, very slowly, it raised its head until its eyes were on a level with Harry's.
Harry stared. Then he looked quickly around to see if anyone was watching. They weren't. He looked back at the snake and winked, too.
The snake jerked its head toward Uncle Vernon and Dudley, then raised its eyes to the ceiling. It gave Harry a look that said quite plainly:
"I get that all the time."
"I know," Harry murmured through the glass, though he wasn't sure the snake could hear him. "It must be really annoying."
The snake nodded vigorously.
"Where do you come from, anyway?" Harry asked.
The snake jabbed its tail at a little sign next to the glass. Harry peered at it.
Boa Constrictor, Brazil.
"Was it nice there?"
The boa constrictor jabbed its tail at the sign again and Harry read on: This specimen was bred in the zoo. "Oh, I see - so you've never been to Brazil?"
As the snake shook its head, a deafening shout behind Harry made both of them jump. "DUDLEY! MR. DURSLEY! COME AND LOOK AT THIS SNAKE! YOU WON'T BELIEVE WHAT IT'S DOING!"
Dudley came waddling toward them as fast as he could.
"Out of the way, you," he said, punching Harry in the ribs. Caught by surprise, Harry fell hard on the concrete floor. What came next happened so fast no one saw how it happened - one second, Piers and Dudley were leaning right up close to the glass, the next, they had leapt back with howls of horror.
Harry sat up and gasped; the glass front of the boa constrictor's tank had vanished. The great snake was uncoiling itself rapidly, slithering out onto the floor. People throughout the reptile house screamed and started running for the exits.
As the snake slid swiftly past him, Harry could have sworn a low, hissing voice said, "Brazil, here I come. . . . Thanksss, amigo."
The keeper of the reptile house was in shock.
"But the glass," he kept saying, "where did the glass go?"
The zoo director himself made Aunt Petunia a cup of strong, sweet tea while he apologized over and over again. Piers and Dudley could only gibber. As far as Harry had seen, the snake hadn't done anything except snap playfully at their heels as it passed, but by the time they were all back in Uncle Vernon's car, Dudley was telling them how it had nearly bitten off his leg, while Piers was swearing it had tried to squeeze him to death. But worst of all, for Harry at least, was Piers calming down enough to say, "Harry was talking to it, weren't you, Harry?"
Uncle Vernon waited until Piers was safely out of the house before starting on Harry. He was so angry he could hardly speak. He managed to say, "Go - cupboard - stay - no meals," before he collapsed into a chair, and Aunt Petunia had to run and get him a large brandy. Harry lay in his dark cupboard much later, wishing he had a watch. He didn't know what time it was and he couldn't be sure the Dursleys were asleep yet. Until they were, he couldn't risk sneaking to the kitchen for some food.
He'd lived with the Dursleys almost ten years, ten miserable years, as long as he could remember, ever since he'd been a baby and his parents had died in that car crash. He couldn't remember being in the car when his parents had died. Sometimes, when he strained his memory during long hours in his cupboard, he came up with a strange vision: a blinding flash of green light and a burning pain on his forehead. This, he supposed, was the crash, though he couldn't imagine where all the green light came from. He couldn't remember his parents at all. His aunt and uncle never spoke about them, and of course he was forbidden to ask questions. There were no photographs of them in the house.
When he had been younger, Harry had dreamed and dreamed of some unknown relation coming to take him away, but it had never happened; the Dursleys were his only family. Yet sometimes he thought (or maybe hoped) that strangers in the street seemed to know him. Very strange strangers they were, too. A tiny man in a violet top hat had bowed to him once while out shopping with Aunt Petunia and Dudley. After asking Harry furiously if he knew the man, Aunt Petunia had rushed them out of the shop without buying anything. A wild-looking old woman dressed all in green had waved merrily at him once on a bus. A bald man in a very long purple coat had actually shaken his hand in the street the other day and then walked away without a word. The weirdest thing about all these people was the way they seemed to vanish the second Harry tried to get a closer look.
At school, Harry had no one. Everybody knew that Dudley's gang hated that odd Harry Potter in his baggy old clothes and broken glasses, and nobody liked to disagree with Dudley's gang.
©1998; J. K. Rowling; reprinted with permission of Scholastic, Inc.
Table of Contents
- Two The Vanishing Glass
- Three: The Letters from No One
- Four: The Keeper of the Keys
- Five: Diagon Alley
- Six: The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-quarters
- Seven: The Sorting Hat
- Eight: The Potions Master
- Nine: The Midnight Duel
- Ten: Halloween
- Eleven: Quidditch
- Twelve: The Mirror of Erised
- Thirteen: Nicolas Flamel
- Fourteen: The Norwegian Ridgeback
- Fifteen: Forbidden Forest
- Sixteen: Through the Trapdoor
- Seventeen: The Man with Two Faces
- Three: The Letters from No One
What People are Saying About This
"A charming, imaginative, magical confection of a novel." Boston Globe
"Harry is destined for greatness." The New York Times
On Friday, March 19th, barnesandnoble.com welcomed J. K. Rowling to discuss HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE.
Moderator: Welcome, Ms. Rowling. We are so happy that you could join us from England this afternoon to discuss your hit children's book HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE. Is this your first online chat?
J K Rowling: It is my second online chat, in fact, but first in America!
Miss Osgood's 2nd graders from Graland CDS, Denver: Thank you for your book. It is complicated and wonderful! What got you interested in magic, wizards, and mystical stuff?
J K Rowling: I have always been interested in it, although I don't really believe in magic. I find it in a picturesque world. There is also a lot of potential for humor with magic. And thanks very much for the compliment. I think it is great that people like complicated books. I do!
Andy from Illinois: I know that you are going to publish a third book, because I can already order it, but why is it not coming out until July?
J K Rowling: The books are always published in Britain first, and the pub date in Britain is July 8th...it won't be available anywhere until that time.
Holly Varley from Cincinnati: Have you ever read Jane Yolen's WIZARD HALL? It is another story about a boy in wizard school who saves his school from a terrible beast created by a former teacher. That's where the similarities end. I like Harry much more!
J K Rowling: I am really glad you like Harry more! No, I have never read that book.
Jake from Reno, TX: Is Harry a compilation of a few little boys you have known? Perhaps your own child?
J K Rowling: No, Harry is the only one of the three major child characters -- Harry, Ron, and Hermione -- who isn't based on a real child. Harry came fully formed out of my imagination, but there is obviously a lot of me in Harry.
Jenny from San Francisco: What were you like as a little girl, Ms. Rowling? I am sure you had a great imagination. Did you believe in fairies and magic?
J K Rowling: I don't believe in magic in the sense that I write about it, but I do believe that extraordinary things can happen in the world for which we don't yet have an explanation. I was a little bit like Hermione in the book when I was young. I wasn't as clever, and I really hope I wasn't as annoying. I did consciously base her on me when I was about 11.
Mary Ann from Great Falls: What is the inspiration for Harry Potter? What's the story behind your amazing book? I love it!
J K Rowling: Thank you for loving it. I never get tired of hearing that! Explaining where the story came from is always very difficult, because I don't really know. The idea came to me very suddenly on a train journey from Manchester to London in 1990, and I have been writing about Harry ever since.
Miss Osgood's 2nd graders from Graland CDS, Denver: How did you decide what to name your characters and places?
J K Rowling: I collect unusual names. I have notebooks full of them. Some of the names I made up, like Quidditch, Malfoy. Other names mean something -- Dumbledore, which means "bumblebee" in Old English...seemed to suit the headmaster, because one of his passions is music and I imagined him walking around humming to himself. And so far I have got names from saints, place-names, war memorials, gravestones. I just collect them -- I am so interested in names.
Dorothy B. from Hanover: Who are some of your favorite heroes and heroines in children's literature? Why?
J K Rowling: My favorite book when I was about 8 was THE LITTLE WHITE HORSE, and the heroine, Maria, because she was a very interesting heroine -- she wasn't beautiful, she was nosy, she had a temper. She was human, in a word, when a lot of girl characters tend not to be. I really like Eustace in THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER by C. S. Lewis (third in the Narnia series). He is a very unlikeable character who turns good. He is one of C. S. Lewis's funniest characters, and I like him a lot.
Michael S. from Illinois: How many more sequels will you be writing about Harry Potter?
J K Rowling: There are going to be seven Harrys all together. He will be 17 in the final book, which means he will have come of age in the Wizarding World. In Book 7, he will become a full wizard, and free to use his magic outside school. I am currently writing Book 4, and Book 3 will be out in July.
Jan from Miami: Harry Potter has become somewhat of a hero for kids. Do you think fictional characters can be effective role models for kids? Perhaps as effective as real-life people?
J K Rowling: Interesting question. Yes, definitely. The advantage of a fictional hero or heroine is that you can know them better than you can know a living hero, many of whom you would never meet. You can have a very intense relationship with fictional characters because they are in your own head. Having said that, I didn't set out to preach to anyone; if people like Harry and identify with him, I am pleased, because I think he is very likeable. But I truly didn't set out to teach morals, even though I do think they are moral books.
Jill from Reno, NV: You said earlier that Harry is the only character who is not based on someone you have known. Did you have friends like Ron and Hermione when you were growing up?
J K Rowling: As I said, Hermione is a caricature of me. Now Ron, that is interesting. I didn't mean to base him on anyone, but after I had been writing a bit, I realized he was a lot like a childhood friend of mine from school.
Cynthia from Middlebury, VT: Stayed up until 4am reading HARRY POTTER last night -- loved it! Do you write strictly fantasy?
J K Rowling: The Harry books are the first things I ever had published, and I am so pleased I gave you a sleepless night!
Dr. Jessica Mayberry from New York: So many of the most beloved characters in children's literature begin their lives being raised by wicked adults -- James in JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH, Cinderella. Why is this such a classic fairy tale format? Why do you think it works so well?
J K Rowling: All through literature -- and not just children's -- the hero has been removed from the family setting. In Greek myths you have the extreme with Romulus and Remus. It serves the important function of enabling the hero to act without the fear of destroying his family and disappointing people who love him, or -- which is very important -- having to expect frailties in his parents. I think that it serves an important function for readers, particularly child readers, to be able to explore adult cruelty, whether or not they are experiencing it themselves.
Ms. Tallman's class from Graland CDS, Denver: Why did you name Harry Potter -- Harry Potter?
J K Rowling: Because Harry is one of my favorite boy's names. But he had several different surnames before I chose Potter. Potter was the name of a brother and sister who I played with when I was very young. We were part of the same gang and I always liked that surname.
Kari Sime's third grade class from Bitburg Elementary School: We are reading your books as fast as we can get them! Which books did you enjoy when you were a child?
J K Rowling: I am sorry I am not writing faster. A book I loved when I was younger was Paul Gallico's MANXMOUSE, which is a funny, magical, very imaginative book. I really loved it. I don't know if it is still in print. I also liked anything by E. Nesbit. Anything by her! Her life and everything just strikes a chord with me.
B. J. from Illinois: The last time you visited America, did you notice a difference [between] American kids and English kids?
J K Rowling: No. I was delighted to find that when I did readings, you laughed at exactly what English kids laughed at. I was nervous at what the reaction would be, but I think it was really identical. My favorite question from an American child was "Do you know the Spice Girls?"
B. J. from Illinois: Who is the illustrator for your Harry Potter books?
J K Rowling: I have about 15 illustrators, because in every country where Harry is published there is different artwork, and there will be still more. It is wonderful to see different representations of Harry from all these different cultures. The illustrator in the USA is one of my favorites, and she is called Mary Grandpre.
Kelly from Illinois: What progress is being made in the movie version of HARRY POTTER?
J K Rowling: Slow but steady progress. It is at a very early stage, but I will be coming over to Hollywood in about a week to meet with the film people. But they haven't started auditioning for kids -- so there is still time!
Kelly from Illinois: Are you pleasantly surprised by the success of HARRY or did you realize a void for this book?
J K Rowling: I am astounded by the success of Harry. I never thought much past publication. All my energies were concentrated on seeing the book in print. So it has been a very pleasant shock.
Daniel from Lexington, MA: I want to know what Dudley does with his life.
J K Rowling: That is a question I would love to answer, but it will ruin some surprises. I will only say that Dudley's privileged existence starts to change for the worse in Book 4.
Kids in Mrs. Kahling's class at RWS, Illinois: My class wanted to know how your daughter was taking all the fame of Harry Potter books, and also if she likes reading them. Thank you.
J K Rowling: My daughter is only 5, so I haven't read them to her yet. She has got a very vivid imagination like her mother, and I think they might give her nightmares. I have promised that I will read them to her when she is 7.
Sean Thomas from Chicago: Do you have any tips on writing or any interesting habits you undergo when you write?
J K Rowling: Whenever someone younger asks me for advice in writing, I always say "Read!", because that will teach you what good writing is like, and you will recognize bad writing too. As for me, I can write almost anywhere. I don't need to be in a study. I am used to writing with a lot of background noise and when I only have an hour to spare.
Michael N. from Illinois: Did you think of CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY when you were writing HARRY POTTER? I thought of it when I was reading it. (I read it in three days, and my friend who is with me read it in one, and he has read it five times.)
J K Rowling: I love your friend and no, I didn't think of CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. I think that Charlie and Harry are quite different characters, although I do think that CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY is a wonderful book.
Zach from Towson, MD: What's going to happen in the next book? I heard that you can get it in England, but I can't wait to read it. Can you tell us a little?
J K Rowling: In Harry's second year, he discovers that he has a very unusual power which is normally associated with dark wizards, and he also has to solve a mystery involving voices that only he can hear.
Steven P. from Illinois: Your books are awesome, but what is the name of the third book of Harry's adventure?
J K Rowling: Awesome -- what a great word, especially when applied to Harry. The third book is called HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN.
Holly V. from Cincinnati: Hi, Ms. Rowling. How does a Muggle-born like Hermione develop magical abilities?
J K Rowling: Nobody knows where magic comes from. It is like any other talent. Sometimes it seems to be inherited, but others are the only ones in their family who have the ability.
Kyle from Illinois: What was your favorite part of the book?
J K Rowling: I have got several favorite parts. One is Harry's first quidditch match. Another is the chapter in which Harry finds the magical mirror. There are other bits I like, but I don't want to spoil things for those who haven't finished the book (but if you finished it, you'll know what I mean).
Hannah from Detroit: I heard that they changed the cover in England to appeal to an adult audience. How do you feel about this? What do you think is the perfect age to discover Harry?
J K Rowling: It wasn't my decision to repackage the book for adults. It was my British publisher's. They took that decision because it had become apparent that adults were reading Harry too. They wanted to reach more adults by getting it into the adult section of bookstores. As far as the perfect age is concerned, I am bound to say any age.
Miss Osgood's 2nd graders from Graland CDS, Denver: Sometimes when we are writing, we ask ourselves, What is in my character's pockets or backpack? It helps us find out what kind of person that character is. What is in Harry Potter's pockets? What is in Voldemort's?
J K Rowling: OK...in Harry's pockets there are some chocolate frogs just in case there is a wizard card inside one of them that was missed. His wand, of course, and probably the latest quidditch ball from the Daily Profit. Voldemort at the moment doesn't have pockets because he is a kind of spirit, but once he gets his pockets back I don't think any of us want to know what is in there.
Kate from Portland, OR: Why did they change the name of the book from HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE to HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE in the US?
J K Rowling: Well, once again that was my American editor's choice. He felt "philosopher's stone" gave a false impression of what the book was about. He wanted something more suggestive of magic in the title, so we tried a few alternatives and my favorite was "sorcerer's stone."
Miss Osgood's 2nd graders from Graland CDS, Denver: When are you going to have a web page? Soon, we hope!
J K Rowling: Well, Scholastic has a Harry Potter page. One of the pages is: www.scholastic.com/tradebks/harrypotter. There might be another web page for Harry at some point, but that is likely to be related to the film.
Andy S. from Illinois: How did you think of all the strange things that wizards do, like the post arriving by owl, or floo powder, or what unicorn blood is used for?
J K Rowling: I spent a lot of time inventing the rules for the magical world so that I knew the limits of magic. Then I had to invent the different ways wizards could accomplish certain things. Some of the magic in the books is based on what people used to believe really worked, but most of it is my invention.
Wendy from Lexington, MA: How would you describe your personality? Are you outgoing or quiet?
J K Rowling: I can be very outgoing with the right people, but I have always liked to spend time alone. I have got the perfect temperament for a writer, because I don't need to be surrounded by people all the time.
Patti from Illinois: Will there be, or have there been, any "late blooming" students in the school who come into their magic potential as adults, rather than as children? By the way, I loved meeting you, and hearing you speak, when you came to Anderson's in Naperville. I can hardly wait until you tour again.
J K Rowling: Ahhh! I loved the event at Anderson's. It was one of my favorites. That is completely true. No, is the answer. In my books, magic almost always shows itself in a person before age 11; however, there is a character who does manage in desperate circumstances to do magic quite late in life, but that is very rare in the world I am writing about.
Brian Kidd from Eastgate, OH: How much input do you have concerning the movie version of Harry? Are you contributing to the screenplay?
J K Rowling: I script approval, and the producer has been keen to hear my ideas, so I do have some input, but the greatest power you have as a writer or novelist is to sell the rights to the people you believe will make the best film, and I believe I have done that.
Jim from Jersey City, NJ: I have always loved reading tales that bring the world of fantasy to life. Did you have any idea that Harry Potter would appeal as much to adults as it does to kids?
J K Rowling: In one way it did surprise me, but that was because I had never imagined a lot of people liking the book. And in another way it didn't surprise me, as I really wrote the book for myself -- and I am after all an adult, just barely!
Moderator: Well, you have many fans out there who were thrilled to chat with you this afternoon, J. K. Rowling. Thanks so much for taking the time to hang out in our Auditorium this afternoon, and we hope you'll come back soon. Do you have any final words of wisdom for the online audience?
J K Rowling: Thank you very much for all your questions. I just wish I could see your faces.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Ever since I saw the HARRY POTTER movies, I’ve always wanted to start reading the book that started it all. I really enjoyed reading the book and recalling parts from the movie in my head. I was literally cheering, laughing and anxious to read to see what happens next. Now off to the next book. If you love HARRY POTTER, you’ve got to read this.
In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (1998), the extraordinary New York Times bestselling author J.K. Rowling unpacks a thrilling fantasy world full of magic, action, and humor. This book will please young adults and adults alike as the plot twists and turns while Harry begins his new life in the wizarding world, learning incantations and gaining courage. Rowling presents the idea of courage, showing that you can face your greatest fears, even if you don’t know what they are yet. At Hogwarts, Harry’s new school, there are four houses: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Harry is put into Gryffindor house because of his bravery, “You might belong in Gryffindor, where dwell the brave at heart, their daring, nerve, and chivalry set Gryffindors apart” (118). Bravery is a main theme in the book, and is present often, really striking its importance. The book is exhilarating, mystical, and breathtaking. With characters that practically leap off the page, and twists that will cause both fear and joy. Rowling wrote some very contrasting characters into the story, making them feel even more believable and real. With twists, Rowling builds up one expectation, letting you think that you know what will happen only for that vision to be shattered, and something different to happen. Full of imaginative situations, sympathetic characters, and key theme, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a five out of five star book. The Thematic topic of courage is ever present, and as Dumbledore once said: “There are all kinds of courage,” (306). A magnificent read that you will not fancy putting down.
Recently, I read Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K Rowling. J.K Rowling lives in Scotland with her husband and her 3 children. She has written over 25 books but Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone was her first book published. The main character's name is Harry Potter and Harry hates his life on Privet Drive with his aunt, uncle, and cousin. Harry has been told all his life that his parents died in a car accident and he was not to bring up the subject. So when a half-giant called Hagrid shows up at his door with a letter that tells him he is a wizard who has been accepted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry he cannot believe it. Then Harry goes to Hogwarts and makes friends but faces Lord Voldemort once again. J.K Rowling didn’t really have a meaning for writing this book. She wrote the book for people's enjoyment. The only similarity between J.K Rowling’s life and the book was that it takes place in Britain. J.K Rowling never mentioned exactly why she wrote the book though. I thought that the book was incredibly interesting and had a lot of thought put into it. I would not change a thing about this book. Harry Potter books inspire me, they help me understand things that I have never noticed before. Harry Potter never lets me down. I would recommend this book to people from the ages of 11 and 16. If you read this book you must believe in magic and witches and wizards. Do not read this book if you are worried about your parents, the world ending, or death because this book WILL give you nightmares. You must be mature enough to handle the language and actions in this book. But otherwise, read the book; you will not regret it.