British Library to Celebrate Harry Potter’s 20th Anniversary With New Exhibition

Get ready for #HarryPotter20.

Harry Potter author JK Rowling at Edinburgh Castle in 2005. Courtesy of Christopher Furlong/Getty Images.

Believe it or not, 2017 will mark the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (“Sorcerer’s Stone” in the US), the first volume in J.K. Rowling’s wildly popular book series. In honor of the occasion, London’s British Library is teaming up with the famous author to present a historically-minded Harry Potter exhibition.

The Hogwarts library, of course, figures prominently in the series, with Harry and his best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, spending hours researching obscure tomes to help them in their adventures. During a moment of epiphany in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, famously-bookish Hermione exclaims, “I’ve got to go to the library!”

J.K. Rowling drew this illustration in a hand-annotated copy of <em>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone</em> that sold for £150,000 (about $228,000) at Sotheby's in 2013. Courtesy of Sotheby's.

J.K. Rowling drew this illustration in a hand-annotated copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone that sold for £150,000 (about $228,000) at Sotheby’s in 2013. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

The exhibition, “will take readers on a journey to the heart of the Harry Potter stories,” reads the press release, and will illustrate Rowling’s own reliance on library research through objects that reveal the historical basis for the magical world of the books.

Centuries-old treasures from the library collection will be on display, including “wizarding books, manuscripts and objects,” which will be paired with material from the archives of the author and her UK publisher, Bloomsbury. (Hopefully, this will include the opportunity to see firsthand Rowling’s original Philosopher’s Stone manuscript, featuring her hand-drawn illustrations, but this has not been confirmed.)

One of J.K. Rowling's original illustrations for <em>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone</em>. Courtesy of J.K. Rowling.

One of J.K. Rowling’s original illustrations for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Courtesy of J.K. Rowling.

The exhibition doesn’t appear to have a title yet, but it does have a hashtag, #HarryPotter20. The anniversary will also be celebrated with new Hogwarts house-themed editions of the first book, allowing fans to choose their favorite among Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin.

J.K. Rowling's planning chart for <em>Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix</em>. Courtesy of J.K. Rowling.

J.K. Rowling’s planning chart for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Courtesy of J.K. Rowling.

“We at the British Library are thrilled to be working with J.K. Rowling and with Bloomsbury to mark the twentieth anniversary of Harry Potter, and to inspire fans with the magic of our own British Library collections,” said Jamie Andrews, head of culture and learning at the British Library in a statement.

The exhibition is on view at the British Library from October 20, 2017–February 28, 2018.

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