Rare Potter book has cast a spell on library

Oxford Mail: Dr Judith Priestman with the book at the Bodleian Library Buy this photo » Dr Judith Priestman with the book at the Bodleian Library

A first edition Harry Potter book that broke auction records is causing a stir at a literature exhibition.

The rare copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which is annotated and illustrated by its author JK Rowling, is the centrepiece at the Bodleian Library event.

The first in the seven-strong series sold for £150,000 at Sotheby’s two weeks ago.

It was couriered from the London auction the next day to the Oxford library in Broad Street in time for the event opening.

The book has been lent to the library by the anonymous phone bidder who bought it, and has been delighting schoolchildren from Oxfordshire on half-term holiday all week.

It is the first time the book has gone on display to the public.

Dr Judith Priestman, the exhibition’s co-curator, said: “It is enormously popular I can tell you that – it is so noisy in here at the moment, you can hear the excitement.

“I’ve just seen a group of young boys holding each other’s arms jumping up and down. “JK Rowling has written on it and done 22 of her own illustrations. They are her reflections, so they are really interesting.

“We are really lucky to have them here.”

The exhibition, Magical Books: from the Middle Ages to Middle Earth, opened on May 23 and runs until October 27, but the Potter book is only on display until Monday, June 10.

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It sits beside JRR Tolkien’s original artwork for The Hobbit, CS Lewis’ map of Narnia and manuscripts by Oxford-based author Philip Pullman.

Richard Ovenden, deputy to Bodley’s librarian, said: “An exhibition on children’s fan-tasy literature could not have been complete without Harry Potter, the series that has captivated the imagination of the latest generation of children.”

The £150,000 paid is the highest for a Potter first edition. A JK Rowling manuscript of The Tales of Beedle the Bard sold for almost £2m in 2007.

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