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20 years of the boy wizard: Harry Potter

It’s hard to imagine a world without Harry Potter, but 20 years ago nobody had heard of the boy wizard that would go on to become an international sensation. There are lots of ways to indulge your love of Harry, Hermione, Ron and life at Hogwarts on a visit to London, but a new exhibition is one of the best.

From 20 October to 28 February, you and your family can find out about the myths, traditions and folklore that inspired JK Rowling’s magical world. The British Library has put together a fantastic selection of items from its collection to mark two decades since Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was first published.

Subjects taught at Hogwarts

The exhibition has been carefully arranged into sections, with each area representing one of the subjects that witches and wizards study at Hogwarts. Potions, Care of Magical Creatures and Defence Against the Dark Arts are all represented.

Interactive elements within the displays are sure to capture the kids’ imaginations. From having their Tarot cards read to looking into a crystal ball and trying to decipher the symbol inside, there’s plenty for kids of all ages to enjoy.

Broomsticks and wands

They’re also likely to spot recognisable props, including wands and Harry’s broomstick, which have helped to bring the adventures of the boy wizard to life over the years. There’s even a few pages that didn’t make it into the first Harry Potter book – deleted scenes – in which the flying car crashes into a lake full of mermaids.

Handwritten lists and drawings

Among the fascinating artefacts that show how the Harry Potter books came into being, included is a handwritten list of the Hogwarts teachers from JK Rowling’s personal archive. There are also drawings by both the author and Jim Kay, who illustrated the books.

Those familiar with the rags to riches tale of the books’ writer, who was rejected by multiple publishers, will also be keen to see a note written by Alice Newton. This scrap of paper changed the course of literary history, as the eight-year-old daughter of the Bloomsbury founder wrote: “The excitement in this book made me feel warm inside. I think it is possibly one of the best books an 8/9-year-old could read.”

Ancient objects

Many of the elements found within the books are based on traditions from throughout history and the exhibition allows you to explore them in more detail. There is one of the earliest known records of the word ‘abracadabra’ being used as a charm and a 16th-century scroll explaining how to create a philosopher’s stone.

As well as the main exhibition, the British Library is also holding a series of special events relating to the displays, including talks, quizzes and courses.

 Image credit: themacx via iStock

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