Retrospective of Harry Potter Book Covers

Harry Potter's adventures in the wizarding world will stand the test of time. As such, the series's covers have been through many changes over the years. How has the look of the novels changed? Well, we're taking a step back in time to browse through the amazing artwork featured in the UK and the United States versions. (In upcoming retrospectives we'll showcase covers from around the world and companion books.) What are your favorite covers? I'd love to know your thoughts in the comments!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (1997) was published in the U.K. Its book was originally illustrated by Thomas Taylor. Cliff Wright illustrated Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban, Giles Greenfield created Goblet of Fire, and Jason Cockcroft designed the last three books.

In 1998, Scholastic in the United States took notice of the series popularity and began publishing the series. The title Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was changed to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. All 7 books were illustrated by Mary Grand Pre.

Notably recognized as a children's series, headlines often criticized adults reading the series as if they should be embarrassed. While the United States's adult readers could proudly read the series with the covers above by Mary, in the UK, adults could "conceal" their interests. These were only published until the fourth book and then were replaced with the second set of covers below.

Unlike the imaginative artwork used to draw in child readers, more grim photography and mature font tried to appeal to maturer customers.


For the signature edition in 2010, the UK welcomed a new re-release of covers for the paperback series. Illustrated by Scotland linocut artist Clarie Melinsky.
Combining the original paperback books, the UK hardcover collectors versions were deluxe. The title and JK Rowling's signature was emboldened with gold. The United States version was similar; leather bound with gold embellishment.

In celebration of the Sorcerer's Stone 15th anniversary, Scholastic re-released the paperback series with a new award-winning illustrator, Kazu Kabushi, designing the covers. When the spines of the redesigned covers are placed together as a set, a glowing silhouette of Hogwarts makes for a nice view on any Potterheads bookshelf!
In 2015, adult versions received also received a major update with illustrations. Woodcut artist Andrew Davidson created beautifully intricate covers that are a bit difficult to see underneath the cover and text. You can see the incredible full black and white details here.

June 26th, 2017 marked the 20th anniversary since Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was first published in the UK. To mark the occasion, Bloomsbury released special house editions of the book decorated in the Hogwarts houses and their famed colors. The same anniversary for the United States will be in 2018 - no word yet if Scholastic will release the book again, but anything's possible.

In 2015, British illustrator Jim Kay brought new life to the series as the publisher's embarked on making illustrated versions. Unlike any version released before, our favorite characters, classes, objects, and places have been transformed into brand new artwork chapter-by-chapter. Sorcerer's Stone was released first in October 2015, with the next installments coming out every following year. So far Chamber of Secrets has been released, Prisoner of Azkaban will be next in October 2017.

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