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10 Magical Facts About Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

This spellbinding book took several tumultuous years to plan and publish - but it was so worth it! See below for 10 facts about the book that first introduced us to the magical world of the Harry Potter books...

1. J. K. Rowling received 12 rejection letters before The Philosopher's Stone was finally accepted for publication.

It took J. K. Rowling's literary agent, Christopher Little, a whole year to find a publisher - but thank goodness he persevered!

2. The book's hopes of publication were rescued by an 8-year-old girl called Alice, the daughter of the chief executive of Bloomsbury, who was given the first chapter to read and demanded to read the rest.

To J. K. Rowling's delight, Bloomsbury agreed to publish the book, writing a cheque to the soon-to-be world-famous author for just 1500 pounds (an extremely profitable investment!). Rowling was warned that she'd make no money in children's books, but in a matter of years, she would become a multi-millionaire.

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3. The book was published under the name 'J. K. Rowling' in order to keep the author's gender ambiguous.

The editor of The Philosopher's Stone believed that the book would appeal more to boys than girls, but also believed that boys preferred books by male authors, so Joanne Rowling adopted the pen name shortly before publication.

4. The Philosopher's Stone has won multiple prestigious awards.

These have included the gold medal of the Nestle Smarties Book Prize 1997 (9-11 category), the British Book Awards Children's Book of the Year 1997, and the FCBG Children's Book Award 1997 in the Longer Novel category.

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5. J. K. Rowling came up with the idea of a 'scrawny little black-haired bespectacled boy' who becomes a wizard whilst on a train journey from Manchester to London.

She'd just been flat-hunting in Manchester with her then-boyfriend. On the train, the idea came suddenly, fully-formed, into her head. She was frustrated not to have a pen to write down her ideas, but this allowed her thoughts to flow, and she came up with all the ideas for the book within the 4-hour journey - and started to write the book that very evening.

6. In The Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter turns 11 on 31 July, sharing his birthday with his creator, J. K. Rowling.

The author was born on 31 July 1965.

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7. In what is thought to be the first published review of the book, Lindsey Fraser of The Scotsman deemed it 'a hugely entertaining thriller' and J. K. Rowling 'a first-rate writer for children'.

She also praises Rowling for using 'classic narrative devices with flair and originality'. Her review was published on 28 June 1997, just a couple of days after the book was released to the general public.

8. J. K. Rowling's favourite chapter is The Mirror of Erised.

She wrote the chapter shortly after moving to Portugal to take a job as an English teacher at a language institute. She hoped to come back from Portugal with the finished manuscript of The Philosopher's Stone, but came back instead with 'something better: my daughter, Jessica'.

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9. It took six years for J. K. Rowling to write The Philosopher's Stone.

During those turbulent years, she was surviving on state benefits to care for herself and her daughter, squeezing in time for writing between her many responsibilities, and was suffering from depression. She stuck at her writing, though - and it certainly paid off in the end!

10. The book's name was changed to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in America because the American publishers believed that children wouldn't want to read a book with the word 'philosopher' in the title.

J. K. Rowling later stated that she regretted this change, but was so happy that anyone was publishing her, she was eager to keep them happy!