Very early version of JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book sells for £11,000

A proof of the original Harry Potter book, initially bought for pennies, has sold for £11,000 ($13,900) after being found in a primary school.

Last summer, an uncorrected proof of JK Rowling’s debut Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was rediscovered at St Kenelm’s Primary School in Minster Lovell, Witney, Oxfordshire.

The proof, which was originally bought for 40p in 1997 and is one of just 200 printed by Bloomsbury before the books became popular, went to auction at Hansons Auctioneers on Tuesday (5 September), but the bid of £13,000 fell short of the reserve price.

British auctioneers Hanson‘s revealed that the first-edition copy was sold to a private UK buyer for a hammer price of £11,000 and a total of £14,432 including a sales premium.

Jim Spencer, head of books at the auction house, said the copy’s inside title page mistakenly stated the author’s name as “JA Rowling” instead of JK Rowling.

“This book so deserved to do well. This proof copy is where the Harry Potter phenomenon began,” Spencer said, adding: “This is the very first appearance in print of the first Potter novel.”

Explaining how the book came to be purchased, St Kenelm’s former head teacher Bob Alder, who rediscovered the copy, said the publishers sold the proof in a bookshop sale to provide an “early taste” of Rowling’s wizarding world.

Alder said the school decided to auction the book in an attempt to “further develop” its students’ love of literature through updated equipment.

A first edition ‘Harry Potter’ novel has been sold for £11,000 (Hanson’s)
A first edition ‘Harry Potter’ novel has been sold for £11,000 (Hanson’s)

In July 2023, a battered Harry Potter book bought for just 30p sold for £10,500, after it turned out to be an extremely rare first edition.

The copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was snapped up after a Wolverhampton library withdrew it from use, and it was revealed to be one of only 500 published by Bloomsbury in 1997 and one of just 300 sent to libraries around the UK.

Harry Potter is one of the most bankable franchises of all time, estimaedt to have amassed a total of $25bn (£19.7m).