Twenty years ago, the world was introduced to the first Harry Potter book and fell in love.
Author J.K. Rowling went on to produce six more installments from there, sparking a seemingly endless supply of merchandise, a movie franchise, a stage show and even a spin-off film series in "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them".
Unsurprisingly, it’s made her one of the richest women in Britain (tied with the Queen).
It sounds like a dream run for one of the world’s most acclaimed writers but as her fame grew, Rowling never shied away from sharing stories of her humble beginnings with fans — and all the rejections she experienced before finding success.
In honor of the anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’s release, the British Library in London has launched its very own exhibition, which contains the original pitch the author once sent to countless publishers.
Of course, the brief description marked the very first introduction of Harry Potter to the world.
It reads: “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).”
Of course, this note passed through many, many hands before it was finally accepted by a publisher.
A few years ago, Rowling even told a fan on Twitter that “loads” of people had rejected it before it became a success.