Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone


name = Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Illustrator = Thomas Taylor (UK)
Mary GrandPré (US)
Release date =30 June 1997 (UK)
1 September 1998 (US)
Number in series = One
Page Count =223 (UK)
309 (US)
Sales = ~120 million (Worldwide)
Dedicated to = "Jessica, who loves stories,
Anne, who loved them too
and Di, who heard this one first."
Story timeline = 1981

Preceded by =
Followed by = "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets"
Chapter Count = 17

"Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" (published in the United States as "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone") is the first novel in the "Harry Potter" series written by J. K. Rowling and featuring Harry Potter, a young wizard. It was published 30 June 1997 by Bloomsbury in London, and has been made into a feature-length film of the same name. This is also the most popular of the books in terms of number sold — an estimated 120 million copies worldwide. As of January 2008, the book is number twelve on the best selling book list of all time, and is the third best-selling non-religious, non-political work of fiction of all time.Fact|date=March 2008


In 1990, author J. K. Rowling wanted to move together with her boyfriend to a flat in Manchester: "One weekend after flat hunting, I took the train back to London on my own and the idea for Harry Potter fell into my head... A scrawny, little, black-haired, bespectacled boy became more and more of a wizard to me... I began to write 'Philosopher's Stone' that very evening. Although, the first couple of pages look nothing like the finished product." [http://www.hilary.com/career/harrypotter.html Interview with JK Rowling, Author of Harry Potter] , www.hilary.com] Then Rowling's mother died and, to cope with her pain, Rowling transferred her own anguish to the orphan Harry. After giving birth to her first child Jessica, she sent around the first chapters of her initial drafts, found an agent on her second try, and, in 1996, got her story accepted by Bloomsbury, which published the book in 1997. In May 2008, Scholastic announced the creation of a 10th Anniversary Edition of the book to be released September 2008 to mark the original American release. [ [http://www.mugglenet.com/app/news/full_story/1638 Scholastic Reveals Sorcerer's Stone Anniversary Edition] ]


The novel begins with the Wizarding world's celebration of the downfall of Lord Voldemort, an evil, powerful and cruel Dark wizard. After he killed Lily and James Potter, Voldemort attempted to murder their one-year-old son, Harry. The magical curse rebounded and destroyed Voldemort's body, leaving only a lightning-bolt scar on Harry's forehead. Harry is placed in the care of his Muggle (non-wizard) relatives, the Dursley family.

The book skips the next ten years and resumes shortly before Harry's eleventh birthday. The Dursleys had kept Harry's heritage from him. However, the truth comes in the form of Rubeus Hagrid who tells Harry that he is a Wizard and has been accepted at Hogwarts in the fall. One month later, Harry takes the train to Hogwarts from Platform Nine and Three Quarters at King's Cross Station. On the train, Harry sits with Ron Weasley. They are visited briefly by Neville Longbottom and Hermione Granger who are in search of Neville's missing toad, Trevor. Later on in the journey, Draco Malfoy comes into Harry and Ron's compartment with his friends Crabbe and Goyle and introduces himself to Harry. After Ron laughs at Draco's name, Draco offers Harry friendship, but Harry declines.

Upon arrival, the Sorting Hat places Harry and Ron in Gryffindor House, one of the four houses at Hogwarts. After a broom-mounted game to save Neville's Remembrall, Harry joins Gryffindor's Quidditch team as their youngest Seeker player in over a century.

Shortly after they start school, they discover that someone had broken into a previously emptied vault at the Wizarding bank, Gringotts. The mystery deepens when they discover a monstrous three-headed dog, Fluffy, that guards a trapdoor in the forbidden third floor passageway. On Halloween, a troll enters the castle and traps Hermione in one of the girls' bathrooms. Harry and Ron rescue her, but are caught by Professor McGonagall. Hermione defends the boys and takes the blame, which results in the three becoming best friends.

Harry's broom becomes jinxed during his first Quidditch match, nearly knocking him off. Hermione believes that Professor Snape has cursed the broom and distracts him by setting his robes on fire, allowing Harry to catch the Snitch to win the game for Gryffindor.

At Christmas, Harry receives his father's Invisibility Cloak from an unknown source. He also discovers the Mirror of Erised in an unused classroom, a strange mirror which shows not just Harry, but Harry surrounded by his entire family. Shortly thereafter, Harry gets to know that Nicolas Flamel is the maker of Philosopher's Stone, a stone that gives the owner eternal life. [Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. J. K. Rowling. pg. 237-238. ISBN 1-55192-700-4] .

Harry sees Professor Snape interrogating Professor Quirrell about getting past Fluffy, which seemingly confirms Harry, Ron and Hermione's suspicion that Snape is trying to steal the Philosopher's Stone in order to restore Lord Voldemort to power. The trio discover that Hagrid is incubating a dragon egg, which shortly thereafter hatches a Norwegian Ridgeback dragon, Norbert. Since dragon breeding is illegal, they convince Hagrid to let Norbert go live with other dragons of his kind. Harry and Hermione are caught returning to their dormitories after sending Norbert off (Ron was in the hospital wing after suffering a bite from the dragon) and are forced to serve detention with Hagrid in the Forbidden Forest. Harry sees a hooded figure drink the blood of an injured unicorn. Firenze, a centaur, tells Harry that the hooded figure is in fact Voldemort.

Hagrid, while intoxicated, tells Harry, Ron and Hermione how to get past Fluffy and they rush to tell Professor Dumbledore what they know, only to find that Dumbledore has been called away from the school. Positive that Dumbledore's summons was a red herring to take him away from Hogwarts while the Philosopher's Stone is stolen, the trio set out to reach the Stone first. They navigate a series of complex magical challenges set up by the school's faculty. At the end of these challenges, only one person can move forward and hence Harry enters the inner chamber alone only to find that it is the timid Professor Quirrell, not Snape, who is after the Stone. The final challenge protecting the Stone is the Mirror of Erised. Quirrell forces Harry to look in the mirror to discover where the Stone is. Harry successfully resists, and the Stone drops into his own pocket. Lord Voldemort now reveals himself; he has possessed Quirrell and appears as a ghastly face on the back of Quirrell's head. He tries to attack Harry, but merely touching Harry proves to be agony for Quirrell. Dumbledore arrives back in time to save Harry, Voldemort flees and Quirrell dies.

As Harry recovers in the hospital ward, Dumbledore confirms to him that Lily died while protecting Harry as an infant. Her pure, loving sacrifice provides her son with an ancient magical protection against Voldemort's lethal spells. Dumbledore also explains that the Philosopher's Stone has been destroyed to prevent future attempts by Voldemort to steal it. He then tells Harry that only those who wanted the Stone to protect it but not "use" it would be able to retrieve it from the mirror, which is why Harry was able to retrieve it. When Harry asks Dumbledore why Voldemort attempted to kill him when he was an infant, Dumbledore promises to tell Harry when he is older. [This occurs in the fifth book, "Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix".]

At the end-of-year feast, where Harry is welcomed as a hero, Dumbledore gives a few "last-minute additions," granting enough points to Harry, Ron, Hermione and Neville for Gryffindor to win the House Cup, ending Slytherin's six-year reign as house champions.


In the book, Rowling introduced an eclectic cast of characters. Most of the actions centre on the eponymous hero Harry Potter, an orphan who escapes his miserable childhood with the Dursley family. Rowling imagined him as a "scrawny, black-haired, bespectacled boy who didn't know he was a wizard","cite web|url=http://www.jkrowling.com/textonly/en/biography.cfm| title=J. K. Rowling Official Site – Section Biography|accessdate=2007-08-15] " and says she transferred part of her pain about losing her mother to him. During the book, Harry makes two close friends, Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger. Ron, as the former is called, is described by Rowling as the ultimate best friend, "always there when you need him". [ [http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/2001/1201-bbc-hpandme.htm "Harry Potter and Me" (BBC Christmas Special, British version), BBC, 28 December 2001] ] Rowling has described Hermione as a "very logical, upright and good" character [http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/2004/0804-ebf.htm J K Rowling at the Edinburgh Book Festival, Sunday, August 15, 2004.] "Accio-quote.org" Retrieved on 23 April 2007.] with "a lot of insecurity and a great fear of failure" beneath her "swottiness".

Rowling also imagined a supporting cast of adults. Headmaster of Hogwarts is powerful but kind wizard Albus Dumbledore, who becomes Harry's confidant; Rowling described him as "epitome of goodness". [ [http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/2000/0700-hottype-solomon.htm 2000: Accio Quote!, the largest archive of J. K. Rowling interviews on the web ] ] His right hand is severe Minerva McGonagall, who is "under that gruff exterior... a bit of an old softy, really" [ [http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/2000/1000-scholastic-chat.htm "About the Books: transcript of J.K. Rowling's live interview on Scholastic.com," Scholastic.com, 16 October 2000] ] according to the author, and Harry's saviour from the Dursley family, friendly half-giant Rubeus Hagrid. Also, teacher Professor Quirrell originally meets Harry in the Leaky Cauldron, prior to the school year beginning.

Main antagonists are Draco Malfoy, a racist, elitist classmate, drawn from Rowling's experience with real-life bullies, [ [http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/1999/1099-connectiontransc2.htm#p12 Lydon, Christopher. J. K. Rowling interview transcript, The Connection (WBUR Radio), 12 October, 1999] ] , cold-hearted professor Severus Snape, inspired by a disliked teacher from her own childhood, [http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/1999/1099-connectiontransc2.htm J. K. Rowling interview transcript, The Connection (WBUR Radio), 12 October, 1999] ] and Lord Voldemort, the most powerful evil wizard who for some reason has been disembodied when he tried to kill baby Harry: "According to a 1999 interview with Rowling, Voldemort was invented as a literary foil for Harry Potter, the main protagonist of the series, and that she intentionally did not flesh out Voldemort's backstory at first. "The basic idea … Harry … didn't know he was a wizard … and so then I kind of worked backwards from that position to find out how that could be, that he wouldn't know what he was.… When he was one-year-old, the most evil wizard for hundreds and hundreds of years attempted to kill him. He killed Harry's parents, and then he tried to kill Harry — he tried to curse him.… Harry has to find out, before we find out. And — so — but for some mysterious reason, the curse didn't work on Harry. So he's left with this lightning bolt shaped scar on his forehead and the curse rebounded upon the evil wizard, who has been in hiding ever since." [cite web|url=http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/1999/1299-wamu-rehm.htm|title="J.K. Rowling on The Diane Rehm Show, WAMU Radio Washington, D.C., October 20, 1999"]

Publication impact

In June 1997, Bloomsbury published "Philosopher’s Stone" with an initial print-run of 500 copies, three hundred of which were distributed to libraries. [ [http://www.tomfolio.com/PublisherInfo/HarryPotter.asp Publishers Info: The Phenomenon of Harry Potter] ] "Philosopher's Stone" was a great critical success.


Five months after publication the initial book won its first award, a Nestlé Smarties Book Prize. In February, the novel won the prestigious British Book Award for Children’s Book of the Year, and later, the Children’s Book Award. "The Mail on Sunday" rated it as "the most imaginative debut since Roald Dahl"; a view echoed by the "Sunday Times" ("comparisons to Dahl are, this time, justified"), while "The Guardian" called it "a richly textured novel given lift-off by an inventive wit" and "The Scotsman" said it had "all the makings of a classic". [cite book|title=Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets|author=J. K. Rowling|year=1998|pages=253|publisher=Bloomsbury]

Rowling's book was also short-listed for many other awards including the 1997 Carnegie Award and the "Guardian Children's Award". [cite web|publisher=Arthur A. Levine Books| url=http://www.arthuralevinebooks.com/awards.asp| title=Awards| first= Levine| last=Arthur| accessdate = 2006-05-21] In October 1998, Scholastic published "Philosopher’s Stone" in the US under the title of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone" because it was thought that a child would not buy a book with the word "philosopher" in the title. [http://www.hp-lexicon.org/about/books/ps/book_ss.html Harry Potter Lexicon] ] Rowling claimed that she regretted this change and would have fought it if she had been in a better position at the time. [http://www.darkmark.com/c.c?l=interview2&t=J.K.%20Rowling:%20BBC%20Online%20Chat J. K. Rowling: BBC Online Chat] . BBC. March 2001. Accessed 19 March 2006.] The book became an unprecedented smash hit, selling over five million copies by 2001. [ [http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA187127.html All-Time Best-selling Children's Books] ] In time, so-called Pottermania swept the globe, setting up a hitherto unknown hype for the following six "Harry Potter" books and making it one of the best-selling works of fiction of all time. As homage to the books, the odd "Platform 9¾" from the book was commemorated in the real-life King's Cross railway station with a sign between tracks 9 and 10.

Financial rewards

In 2001 a film based on the book was released and after becoming the highest grossing film ever in the UK [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6903111.stm BBC NEWS Business | How Rowling conjured up millions ] ] it went on to earn $976.5 million at the worldwide box office [cite web|url=http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=harrypotter.htm|title=Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone|accessdate=2007-05-29|publisher=Box Office Mojo] making it the second highest grossing film in history at the time. [cite news|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/cbbcnews/hi/tv_film/newsid_1828000/1828977.stm|title=Potter makes movie chart history|accessdate=2007-07-11|date=2002-02-19|publisher=Newsround] As of 2008, it is the fourth highest-grossing film of all-time, behind "Titanic", ', and '. [cite web|url=http://www.boxofficemojo.com/alltime/world/|title=Worldwide Grosses|accessdate=2007-05-29|publisher=Box Office Mojo] Further films based on the subsequent books have made Harry Potter the highest grossing film series of all time, ahead of the "James Bond" and "Star Wars" franchises. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/6988671.stm BBC NEWS Entertainment | Potter takes film franchise crown ] ] The success of the series and its tie-in merchandise, have led the Harry Potter brand to be valued at $15 billion, [ [http://www.exchange4media.com/kids/KidsFullStory.asp?news_id=26820&tag=21718 India media news marketing India advertising Indian brands tv media newspapers ] ] and J. K. Rowling becoming the UK's richest woman, [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/cbbcnews/hi/uk/newsid_3234000/3234903.stm CBBC Newsround UK | Potter author UK's richest woman ] ] thought to be worth more than one billion US dollars. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/6320733.stm BBC NEWS Entertainment | Rowling unveils last Potter date ] ]


The book was retitled to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone for publication in the United States. The main reason for this retitle was that the U.S. publishers thought that a child would not want to read a book that sounded as though it was associated with philosophy.

JK Rowling gives this explanation:

Arthur Levine, my American editor, and I decided that words should be altered only where we felt they would be incomprehensible, even in context, to an American reader... The title change was Arthur's idea initially, because he felt that the British title gave a misleading idea of the subject matter. In England, we discussed several alternative titles and Sorcerer's Stone was my idea.


External links

* [http://www.hp-lexicon.org/about/books/ps/book_ps.html Background information and storylines] from the Harry Potter Lexicon
* [http://www.bookpoi.com/harry_potter_and_the_philosopher_s_stone_by_j._k._rowling_first_edition_identification.html Identify first edition copies of Philosopher's Stone] Dead link|date=October 2008

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