Sunday, September 01, 2013

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Release Date

Original Book Cover artwork by Mary Grand Pre

Following more than five years of penning Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (as originally titled in the UK) in cafes, the world was set ablaze with this series by a then-unknown writer named Joanne Katherine Rowling. The novel was picked up by UK publisher Bloomsbury for roughly 2,000 pounds ($4,000).

At an annual book industry auction in Italy, enormous interest of the novel gained such notoriety that American children's publishing house Scholastic was adamant about buying the rights. Editorial director Arthur A. Levine took a big gamble on a small book with a lot of heart and magic offering $100,000. He won.

As Harry Potter was being published in England, and then the United States, publishers requested that Joanne change her name to J.K. Rowling in fear that her feminine name would detract young male readers. Rowling compromised and her name was changed to J.K. Rowling.

But this wasn't the only name compromise.  The title itself Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was an issue with Scholastic, fearing that readers wouldn't take kindly to the term Philosopher. So the word was thus changed to Sorcerer. The boy who lived had made a huge impact in England in 1997. A year later, the wizarding world arrived across the pond in the United States. Hence, on September 1st, 1998, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone arrived on bookshelves around the country.

The tale that started it all began with an evil powerful wizard Voldemort who tried to kill  parents Lily and James Potter as well as their son, Harry. His spell backfiring left only the baby to survive. Living with his relatives Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and son Dudley on Privet Drive practically as a second class citizen, baby Harry is 11 years old when he receives a letter from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry discovers he is a wizard, and his first year attending the magical boarding school leads him and us readers into a world of Quidditch games, death day parties, and a perilous adventure for the sorcerer's stone.

Through 1999 and 2000, the first book of Rowling's series stayed on top of NY Times bestsellers list. Rowling earned top prizes for her first major published work. Its success ignited a section for childrens' books in the bestseller's category in media outlets across the world. It also ignited intense backlash from religious groups citing that the series was sparking the use of witchcraft in children.

Neverthless the beginning of the phenomenon and certainly when the series reached its end several years later, Professor McGonagall's declaration came true: there isn't a person in the world who doesn't know Harry Potter.

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