JK Rowling's comments on the title page of a special copy of her first book


Special celebration marks 20th anniversary of first Harry Potter book  

The 20th anniversary of the landmark publication of the first Harry Potter book which went on to become a global literary sensation is being celebrated with a special “pop-up” exhibition at the National Library of Scotland. 

The star attraction in what will be a feast of Pottermania will be a rare first edition of the very first book filled with personal notes and drawings by its author JK Rowling. She famously wrote most of the book in cafes not far from the National Library in Edinburgh.

Fans of the boy wizard will be able to see Rowling’s handwritten comment on the title page of this copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone that the book “changed my life forever.” 

It will be the centrepiece of a celebration of the Harry Potter phenomenon and of the strong links its author has with Scotland’s National Library. In 2005 JK Rowling signed and donated the very first copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to the National Library of Scotland. This will also be on show on June 26.

Three years later she launched the paperback edition of The Tales of Beedle the Bard at the Library when she read extracts to a group of local school children.

The Library has a rich collection of Harry Potter material and will put a special selection on free display to the public between noon-7pm on Monday June 26, the anniversary of the first Potter publication. Visitors are being encouraged to dress up as wizards or Harry Potter look-alikes for the day to add to the sense of occasion.

The Library’s Modern Collections manager Graeme Hawley, who has organised the event said: “For many people Harry Potter was their introduction to storytelling and reading and it has had a huge impact on their lives. We want to share that with them at this important anniversary.”   

The seven Harry Potter books have sold more than 500 million copies around the world making them the best selling book series in history. They have been translated into more than 70 languages and are credited with playing a major role in inspiring children to take up the reading habit.

The display will look at the global impact and influence the books have had. There will be special editions on show, together with academic texts examining the importance of the books and a number of translations showing how Harry Potter has been presented in different cultures.  The highlights also include a copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, signed by JK Rowling.    

“The print run for the first Harry Potter book ran to only 500 copies and no one had any idea 20 years ago that it would become the phenomenon it is today,” said Graeme Hawley. “It’s something to celebrate and we hope as many people as possible will join us to mark the occasion.” 

The items will all be on display in the Library's boardroom on George IV Bridge, Edinburgh from 12 noon until 7pm on June 26. Entry is free and all are welcome.


Contact Information

Stewart Hardy

National Library of Scotland

0131 623 3739


Notes to editors

About the National Library of Scotland

The National Library of Scotland is a major European research library and one of the world’s leading centres for the study of Scotland and the Scots - an information treasure trove for Scotland’s knowledge, history and culture. The Library’s collections are of world-class importance. Key areas include digital material, rare books, manuscripts, maps, music, moving images, official publications, business information, science and technology, and modern and foreign collections. The Library holds more than 26 million physical items dating back over 1000 years in addition to a growing library of e-books, e-journals and other digital material. The collection includes over four million books, eight million manuscripts, two million maps and over 45,000 films and videos. Every week the Library collects around 4,000 new items. Most of these are received free of charge in terms of Legal Deposit legislation. Further information is available at www.nls.uk