Potterheads, this is JK Rowling's original pitch letter for Harry Potter

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Megan Murray
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Considering the empire that JK Rowling, has created from the Harry Potter series, it’s hard to believe that her original pitch for The Philosophers Stone was rejected by not one, not two, but 12 publishers before the author, Twitter legend and women’s rights spokesperson was finally signed by Bloomsbury 20 years ago.

Now, to celebrate the past two decades of magic since Harry Potter hit bookshelves in July 1997, The British Library is hosting an exhibition dedicated to the fantastical world Rowling created.

As well as the original manuscripts and sketches on display at the Harry Potter: A History Of Magic exhibition, you can also take a peep at that original pitch letter which was sent to all of those publishers many moons ago.

The original pitch reads as follows (via Cosmopolitan):

“Harry Potter lives with his aunt, uncle and cousin because his parents died in a car-crash — or so he has been told. The Dursleys don't like Harry asking questions; in fact, they don't seem to like anything about him, especially the very odd things that keep happening around him (which Harry himself can't explain).

The Dursleys' greatest fear is that Harry will discover the truth about himself, so when letters start arriving for him near his eleventh birthday, he isn't allowed to read them. However, the Dursleys aren't dealing with an ordinary postman, and at midnight on Harry's birthday the gigantic Rubeus Hagrid breaks down the door to make sure Harry gets to read his post at last. Ignoring the horrified Dursleys, Hagrid informs Harry that he is a wizard, and the letter he gives Harry explains that he is expected at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in a month's time.

To the Dursleys' fury, Hagrid also reveals the truth about Harry's past. Harry did not receive the scar on his forehead in a car-crash; it is really the mark of the great dark sorcerer Voldemort, who killed Harry's mother and father but mysteriously couldn't kill him, even though he was a baby at the time. Harry is famous among the witches and wizards who live in secret all over the country because Harry's miraculous survival marked Voldemort's downfall.

So Harry, who has never had friends or family worth the name, sets off for a new life in the wizarding world. He takes a trip to London with Hagrid to buy his Hogwarts equipment (robes, wand, cauldron, beginners' draft and potion kit) and shortly afterwards, sets off for Hogwarts from Kings Cross Station (platform nine and three quarters) to follow in his parents' footsteps.

Harry makes friends with Ronald Weasley (sixth in his family to go to Hogwarts and tired of having to use second-hand spellbooks) and Hermione Granger (cleverest girl in the year and the only person in the class to know all the uses of dragon's blood). Together, they have their first lessons in magic — astronomy up on the tallest tower at two in the morning, herbology out in the greenhouses where the…”

Harry Potter
Merlin's Beard, we're excited!

Although the words changed a fair bit by the time the final copy was published, Rowling describes a scene that all Harry Potter fans are familiar with, the first time Harry meets Hagrid and learns of his wizard heritage.

And it’s simply glorious, isn’t it?

Unsurprisingly, we’re not the only ones who think so. 

One Instagram user posted an image of the pitch, writing, “The actual pitch letter J.K. Rowling sent to 12 publishers who turned down Harry Potter”.

While another said that seeing the original synopsis was “emotional”, writing, “Seeing the first script of Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone is very emotional”.

Harry Potter: A History of Magic is open until the 28 February 2018, so you have plenty of time to go and see the magic for yourself. 

Tickets are priced at £16.50 for adults and £8 for students, but you’ll have to be quicker than a mischievous blue pixie to nab one as they’re already selling out fast.

Images: Warner Bros. Pictures


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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a senior digital writer for, who enjoys writing about homeware (particularly candles), travel, food trends, restaurants and all the wonderful things London has to offer.