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Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: Illustrated Edition (Harry Potter, 1)

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Jo moved house twice when she was growing up. The first move was from Yate (just outside Bristol in the south west of England) to Winterbourne. Jo, her sister and friends used to play together in her street in Winterbourne. Two of her friends were a brother and sister whose surname just happened to be Potter! The second move was when Jo was nine and she moved to Tutshill near Chepstow in the Forest of Dean. Jo loved living in the countryside and spent most of her time wandering across fields and along the river Wye with her sister. For Jo, the worst thing about her new home was her new school. After school, Jo attended the University of Exeter in Devon where she studied French. Her parents hoped that by studying languages, she would enjoy a great career as a bilingual secretary. But as Jo recalls, ‘I am one of the most disorganised people in the world and, as I later proved, the worst secretary ever.’ She claims that she never paid much attention in meetings because she was too busy scribbling down ideas. ‘This is a problem when you are supposed to be taking the minutes of the meeting,’ she says. When she was 25, Jo started writing a third novel (‘I abandoned the first two when I realised how bad they were’). A year later, she went to Portugal to teach English, which she really enjoyed. Working afternoons and evenings, she had mornings free to write. The new novel was about a boy who was a wizard.

When she returned to the UK, Jo had a suitcase full of stories about Harry Potter. She moved to Edinburgh with her young daughter and worked as a French teacher. She also set herself a target: she would finish the ‘Harry’ novel and get it published. In 1996, one year after finishing the book, Bloomsbury bought Jo’s first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. J. K. (Jo) Rowling was born in Chipping Sodbury in the UK in 1965. Such a funny-sounding name for a birthplace may have contributed to her talent for collecting odd names. Bloomsbury Children’s Books said, ‘Working with Jim on these wonderful books has been a magical experience. Readers feel a deep, emotional connection to his work, appreciating the stories in new ways as they marvel at the richness and artistry of each piece. We feel so grateful and privileged to have enjoyed Jim’s vision of the wizarding world, and recognise the staggering amount of dedication and work it represents. We will miss collaborating with Jim enormously, but he will always have a very special place in our Harry Potter family of unparalleled illustration talent.’ Tutshill Primary School was a very small and very old-fashioned place. The roll-top desks in the classrooms still had the old ink wells. Jo’s teacher, Mrs Morgan, terrified her. On the first day of school, she gave Jo an arithmetic test, which she failed, scoring zero out of ten. It wasn’t that Jo was stupid – she had never done fractions before. So Jo was seated in the row of desks far to the right of Mrs Morgan. Jo soon realised that Mrs Morgan seated her pupils according to how clever she thought they were: the brightest sat to her left, and those she thought were dim were seated to her right. Jo was in the ‘stupid’ row, ‘as far right as you could possibly get without sitting in the playground’.J.K. Rowling has received many awards and honours for her writing. She also supports a number of causes through her charitable trust Volant and is the founder of the children’s charity Lumos. For as long as she can remember, J.K. Rowling has wanted to be a writer, and is at her happiest in a room, making things up. She lives in Scotland with her family. When Bloomsbury Children’s Books published the first Illustrated Edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 2015, readers were instantly mesmerised by Kay’s magical and rich evocation of the Boy Who Lived. J.K. Rowling said at the time, ‘seeing Jim Kay’s illustrations moved me profoundly. I love his interpretation of Harry Potter’s world, and I feel honoured and grateful that he has lent his talent to it.’ The series established itself as an acclaimed international hit, with fans eagerly awaiting each new instalment. At school, Jo would entertain her friends at lunchtime with stories. ‘I used to tell my equally quiet and studious friends long serial stories at lunchtimes.’ In these stories, Jo and her friends would be heroic and daring. When a letter arrives for unhappy but ordinary Harry Potter, a decade-old secret is revealed to him that apparently he’s the last to know. His parents were wizards, killed by a Dark Lord’s curse when Harry was just a baby, and which he somehow survived. Leaving his unsympathetic aunt and uncle for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry stumbles upon a sinister mystery when he finds a three-headed dog guarding a room on the third floor. Then he hears of a missing stone with astonishing powers, which could be valuable, dangerous – or both. An incredible adventure is about to begin! Each Harry Potter Illustrated Edition represents a huge and unique creative endeavour to bring to life the magic of J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world. Bloomsbury is exploring exciting new directions in illustration for the last two stories in the series.

As she got older, Jo kept writing but she never showed what she had written to anyone, except for some of her funny stories that featured her friends as heroines. Bloomsbury is a leading independent publishing house. The children’s division publishes books for children and young adults in print, eBook and audio. It publishes across preschool, picture books, fiction and non-fiction. Its award-winning, diverse list includes authors such as J.K. Rowling, Benjamin Zephaniah, Katherine Rundell, Neil Gaiman, Renée Watson and Sarah J. Maas, and illustrators such as Chris Riddell, Emily Gravett, Rikin Parekh, Kate Pankhurst, Jim Kay and Tom Percival. For more information go to www.bloomsbury.com A date for the next Illustrated Edition has yet to be announced, but do sign up to our newsletter here to hear the latest news.

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