Harry Potter: A Journey Through a History of Magic (2017) – The British Library

Title: Harry Potter: A Journey Through a History of Magic
Compiled by: The British Library
Published by: Bloomsbury
Publication date: 2017
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the wonder and magic that is J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, the British Library in London, UK created an exhibition in 2017 called Harry Potter: A History of Magic. This beautifully put-together book is I guess a fantastic companion to the exhibition itself (for those that are lucky enough to have seen it), as well as simply a great addition to any serious Harry Potter fan’s collection. Now I consider myself a fairly exemplary fan, not fanatical or anything, but a fan nonetheless. I have the entire collection of the original series, and I have a collectible figurine or two. I don’t (yet) own any of those brilliant box sets, nor do I have any of the recently released illustrated versions of the series, however I am slowly building up my collection of the House Pride editions – I am a very proud Gryffindor! So yes I guess you would call me a fan…

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In this beautiful full-colour book, the British Library have gathered an eclectic mix of facts and information relating to the book series, J.K. Rowling’s personal notes and sketches, as well as the very detailed history of magic that is often merely alluded to in the series. Some of these magical topics include information on The Ripley Scroll, which contains a recipe to create the Philosopher’s Stone; definitions of Palmistry, the Chinese Zodiacs, astrology, etc; detailed lists of common ingredients used in spells and potions; and the truth behind some of the magical/mythical beasts mentioned in the series.

The structure of the book is such that each chapter deals with one of the individual subjects offered at the fictional Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In the chapter for Herbology for example we are given a brief description of Professor Sprout who is responsible for said subject, and this is paired by a stunning portrait of her by the enormously talented Jim Kay, whose work covers a majority of this book, and who is also the sole illustrator for the Bloomsbury illustrated editions I mentioned earlier. Jim Kay’s illustrations deserve all the credit as it is his work that truly makes this book spectacular. His interpretations of Nearly Headless Nick and Diagon Alley are my personal favorites.

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This book also includes information pertaining to J.K.Rowling’s additional projects that included the publication of certain fictional titles made literal, such as The Tales of Beedle the Bard (2008)and Quidditch Through the Ages (2001). It also allows a brief foray into another aspect of the Wizarding World with the newer Fantastic Beasts franchise, which has become my new favorite obsession.

This book can certainly be read from cover to cover, but with all ‘coffee-table’ books can also be simply dipped into every now and then to have a little taste of some trivia worthy info and or extra knowledge on the magical world of Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived.

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