LONDON – An 800-word prequel to the Harry Potter series, handwritten by author J.K. Rowling, sold for nearly 25,000 pounds at a charity auction Tuesday.
With the winning bid of $48,858, the absent bidder paid more than $59 a word for Rowling's short story during the event at the flagship of Waterstone's book store chain in London. Proceeds will benefit the writers' association English PEN and a dyslexia charity.
A short mystery story by acclaimed playwright Tom Stoppard raised $7,816.
Rowling was able to squeeze her Harry Potter prequel onto both sides of a piece of A5 paper, which is slightly bigger than a postcard.
The prequel to the seven-book series is set three years before Harry is born and features the characters Sirius Black and James Potter, Harry's father. They get into trouble with a policeman before escaping with broomsticks, drumsticks and a little bit of magic.
Rowling made it clear there was no hope for a new Potter novel and finished her card by writing, "From the prequel I am not working on — but that was fun!"
Twelve other authors and illustrators also contributed cards to the auction, including Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing and novelists Nick Hornby and Margaret Atwood.
Copies of all the cards will be on display in Waterstone's stores and online following the auction, and they will be collected into a book available in August.
The final installment of Rowling's seven-book Harry Potter series, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," was published last year.
Rowling has said she has no plans to write another novel about the boy wizard, but in December she sold a handwritten, leather-bound book of fairy tales she described as drawing on the series' themes for nearly $4 million at auction. The money went to the Children's Voice, a charity she co-founded in 2005.