Books & Literature

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone 25th Anniversary Edition, by J.K. Rowling, illustrated by Thomas Taylor

MIDDLE GRADE: This glorious, Sunday Times bestselling collector’s edition of J.K. Rowling’s classic first story will take you on the magical journey of a lifetime.

A memorable anniversary edition for fans of the wizarding world of the boy who lived.

Feature image credit: Bloomsbury

I’m pretty sure this is the only first edition of Harry Potter I’ve ever owned, albeit a silver anniversary first edition. For many people, Harry Potter books and movies have been such a part of their life for such a long time, it’s quite hard to remember back to when the phenomenon began with an initial print run of just 500 copies. This first novel has since been translated into more than 70 languages and sold in excess of 120 million copies. It seems axiomatic now that Harry Potter is such a global phenomenon, but clearly it wasn’t obvious on 26th of June 1997, when this book was first published by Bloomsbury after being rejected by 12 other publishers.

This silver anniversary edition, in hardback, features the original cover illustration by Thomas Taylor on the dust jacket. The small print run and the use of a brand-new art school graduate to design it both demonstrate that little was expected of Rowling’s debut novel as this cover was Taylor’s first commission. It features the boy wizard standing in front of the Hogwarts express at platform 9¾, which has become a world-famous image.

I saw for myself how much this book still appeals to children after 25 years. When I gave it to a friend’s 10-year-old son for Christmas, he ignored other toys, his two brothers, various cousins and adults, taking himself off into a corner to read the book. Research conducted in 2005 by Waterstones, a British book shop chain, reported that over half the children surveyed said the Harry Potter books have encouraged them to read and had improved their reading ability (via The Guardian). Over 80% of teachers questioned at the time agreed with this, noting this was especially the case for boys who had previously been reluctant readers.

Before the first chapter, there is an illustration which, in my opinion, captures the spirit of the Harry Potter universe. It shows Harry, the orphaned baby, cared for by Hagrid, with Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall, which they do throughout the series of books. Following this is a sketch of the magical entrance to Diagon Alley which would have been a perfect opportunity, marking what was to be the start of an era through this anniversary edition, to add original illustrations or never before seen material. Sadly, all we see is a sketch of the first couple of shops, with no details.

However, we are treated to a glimpse of letters from children around the world expressing their delight in the wizarding world of Harry Potter. Included is the letter sent by an eight-year-old Alice Newton to her father, then chairman of Bloomsbury, who nagged him for months to publish saying, “Dad, this is so much better than anything else.”

Reviewed by Jan Kershaw

The views expressed in this review belong to the author and not Glam Adelaide, its affiliates, or employees.

Distributed by: Bloomsbury
Released: June 2022
RRP: $32.99

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