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Rare proof sheets of first Harry Potter book expected to sell for £20,000 | Books

A prepublication version of the first Harry Potter book by JK Rowling is expected to fetch at least £20,000 when it is auctioned this week. The galley proof (a publishing term for the printed version of a book before its final proofread) is the only known surviving copy of its kind. A first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone signed by Rowling is also up for auction and is expected to sell for at least £25,000.

The bundle of galley sheets, to be sold by Chiswick Auctions, consists of 109 pages. Accompanying the advance copy of Philosopher’s Stone are letters from 1997, the year of the book’s publication, showing correspondence between Rosamund Walker, then marketing manager at Bloomsbury Children’s Books (now Rosamund de la Hey, co-owner of independent bookshop The Mainstreet Trading Company), and children’s book reviewer Fiona Waters.

The lot, which will be part of the auction house’s Fine Books & Works on Paper sale on 28 April, has been estimated at £20,000-£30,000.

Dated 26 February 1997, the letter from Walker accompanying the galley sheets – which are laid out as the final version of the book would be – describes the plot of the book, with Walker writing: “The story then develops into an excellent knockabout tale of school capers with goodies and baddies … I simply loved it – pacy, funny, imaginative, clever and the characters are wonderfully vivid.”

The only known surviving set of original uncorrected galley sheets for JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
The only known surviving set of original uncorrected galley sheets for JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Photograph: Chiswick Auctions

In a response dated 28 March 1997, Waters wrote: “I just loved this book … There is something about Harry Potter that reminds me of Charlie Bucket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the put upon nice guy making good.”

Waters also said that the team at Bloomsbury had to get the book’s jacket right “if it is going to be picked up”, and asked for a finished copy as she “would like to tell lots of people about it”. Waters’ quote was used on the back of the first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Clive Moss, head of Chiswick Auctions printed books and manuscripts said: “We are delighted to be able to offer such a fascinating insight into what was to become an iconic work in the history of literature. This copy is not mentioned in the definitive bibliography by Philip W Errington, which records all of the activity of the works of JK Rowling. Therefore, these are the only known surviving set of galley sheets that have been seen, or offered for sale on the open market.”

Also going on sale at the auction is a signed first edition paperback of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which is accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Harry Potter specialist Adam Houston. The book is estimated to fetch between £25,000 and £28,000.

A set of first editions of all seven UK Harry Potter titles is to be sold by the auction house too, all of which are signed on the title page by Rowling and in excellent condition. The set is accompanied by a note on Rowling-headed paper explaining that this signed set has been donated by Rowling to be used for a fundraising auction in aid of the charity BSF. The set is estimated to sell for between £26,000 and £28,000.

The lots have been donated by different people for a “variety of reasons”, said Moss. “Some have realised that they are holding an item of value, some feel the market for them is right, another wants it to help towards a property purchase. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels are a phenomenon that keeps on giving and helping people in many ways”.

Also part of the sale will be a complete set of first edition James Bond novels by Ian Fleming, estimated to fetch between £40,000 and £60,000.

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