From the editors of Instyle US
Rowling was turned down by 12 different publishing houses before British independent publisher Bloomsbury took a chance on her and the boy who lived.
Now the original synopsis that Rowling sent to all those publishers back in 1995 is on display at the British Library as part of its Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition, which celebrates the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
The placard under the synopsis in the exhibit explains that the pitch was circulated to prospective publishers alongside the first few chapters of the book. Only the first page is visible in the display, and it begins with an introduction to Harry, the Dursleys, Hagrid, Ron, Hermione, and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
‘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 – ‘
The details are familiar to any fan of the series, and it’s hard to imagine reading this today that any publisher wouldn’t jump at the chance to secure the rights to the manuscript. We’re willing to bet some of those publishers wish they had a time turner to go back and scoop this pitch up when they had the chance. And we salute Bloomsbury for bringing Rowling and her work to the world.
Business Insider first reported the news.