Harry Potter: A Journey Through a History of Magic

By British Library

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Total feedbacks: 23
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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nikole boyda mcguinness
Wonderful addition to our Harry Potter Home Library. Such a delight to glance into the beginning of JK Rowlings' original thoughts, ideas, drafts and pen and ink drawings. Really appreciate all of her creativity, research and devotion.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
pat h
I actually have this book, which is referred to as the "family version" as well as the "adult version" of the British Library's History of Magic book. I prefer this one for flip throughs, but if you want in depth info on the items in the exhibition, and don't mind spending more, I would get the bigger version. Couldn't beat the $7 price on this when I got it, though!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
My daughter and I are both Gryffindor alumni, so this was a real fun trip down memory lane for us. The book is fun, whimsical and the artwork is pretty boss. It'll def keep a kiddo or adult kiddo entertained for a few perusals.
Explore the Film Wizardry of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them :: Hardcore Self Help: F**k Anxiety (Volume 1) :: Created To Be His Help Meet 10th Anniversary Edition- Revised :: Help and Healing for Mothers of Estranged Adult Children :: Quidditch through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J. K. Rowling
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Although I would probably rate the book 3 stars had I purchased it in print, this is one instance where the Kindle edition is horrible. The problem is that most of the content Harry Potter fans will actually be interested in is from scans of JK Rowling's handwritten pages, but the British Library put those as approximately half of their page and even at the largest size I can get on my computer (about the size of the paperback novel) it is just too small to read. On paper I can at least get a 10x magnifying lens and possibly get somewhere with my reading glasses (which I only need for reading 4 pt font in electronics).

As far as the content, there are several illustrations taken from Jim Kay's illustrated editions of the original stories.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jeroen wille
First, I like Harry Potter and his author. The format of the book does not display well on my Kindle. The book is electronically published as a exact copy of the original book, not printed as text. The print is very small and the font size can not be changed to make the print bigger.

Update: I purchased a Kindle Fire HD 10 to replace my old Kindle e-reader. The book was much better and easier to read. Color was outstanding.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
fatma al balushi
I didn't realize that this book was mostly about "muggle" history which is really disappointing. I was hoping for another window into the wizarding world but it mostly has highlights from previous books. I didn't bother reading the manuscript's since they were hand written and a little difficult to read. Although I was very impressed with JK Rowling's concept art. Overall this book fell flat and was not exciting for me and sadly as a die hard Harry Potter fan I don't recommend this book
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
This is not at all what I was expecting. There are a couple pictures of edited script, the rest is just drawings of things from the books. We can see drawings and descriptions anywhere, why did I pay for a book to see them?
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
In 2017 'The British Library' mounted an exhibition called "Harry Potter: A Journey Through a History of Magic" to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the publication of the first Harry Potter novel. This is a companion book to the library's presentation. Harry Potter fans will find much to like in this tribute, which is BEAUTIFUL to look at and FUN to read.

The book contains a variety of wonderful tidbits related to the Harry Potter series. Examples follow.

The volume contains original sketches by J.K. Rowling, drawn while she was writing the books. These include: the Hogwarts school and grounds (including the Giant Squid and the Whomping Willow); Harry and the Dursleys (I love this one - Dudley is a mini-Vernon); Harry and his friends (Neville, Ron, Hermione, and Gary....who was later renamed Dean); Professor Sprout and her magic plants; Argus Filch (looking exceptionally creepy); Nearly Headless Nick (showing why he's 'nearly headless'); Professor Snape; and more.

The book also has copies of original manuscript pages by J.K. Rowling, featuring: annotated handwritten and typed pages from 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone'; emended pages from 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince'; an edited handwritten copy of the 'Sorting Hat' song; a handwritten story from 'The Tales of Beedle the Bard'; and others.

Also included are Rowling's handwritten lists of classes and teachers at Hogwarts and a detailed plan (in chart form) for 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.'

All this shows a little of Rowling's 'writing process', which is interesting and instructive.


The book has numerous GORGEOUS drawings by Jim Kay, illustrator for the illustrated editions of Harry Potter. These pictures include: Professor Dumbledore; Professor McGonagall; a busy Platform Nine and Three-Quarters; Professor Snape; Fluffy (the three-headed dog); Professor Sprout (surrounded by mandrakes); Diagon Alley; a Hippogriff; Aragog (the giant spider); Fawkes (the phoenix); winged keys; and many many more.


The publication features examples of books, objects, and factoids that relate to 'magic', like: a bezoar stone in a gold filigree case; a cauldron from 800 B.C.; an actual mandrake root (this looks exactly like a little person); medieval books about herbology and potions; a medieval witch's broom owned by Olga Hunt of Manaton - who allegedly rode it during the full moon; an Arabic astrolabe (used by ancient astronomers to chart the night sky); a witch's scrying mirror (used for divination); a fortune telling cup and saucer (for tea leaves); magic wands; illustrations of constellations; names of stars; and innumerable others.

Snippets from - and anecdotes about - the Harry Potter stories are linked with the things mentioned above - to demonstrate how they may have inspired Rowling.


There are also miscellaneous engaging segments scattered through the book, such as: Nicholas Flamel (featured in 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone') was a real person; a man called George Ripley wrote a book about how to make a Philosopher's Stone (which apparently didn't work because he died in 1490); many modern medicines are based on plants (digoxin, quinine, aspirin); Leonardo DaVinci wrote notes in mirror handwriting (which reads from right to left); people once believed that the smell of a weasel could kill a basilisk; and lots more.


Lastly , the book includes suggested activities for children (with instructions), such as: how to make a color-changing potion; how to make flowers change color; how to make a charmed banana (sliced inside it's intact skin); and how to find the lines on your palm (for palm reading).

I'm a big Harry Potter fan and I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I highly recommend it to fans of the series, both kids and adults.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sarah andrews
I absolutely ADORED this book. I’m not a big picture book person seeing as to how I am in my twenties and in college and just don’t have time, but I love good illustrations when I see them. And y’all, this book has AMAZING illustrations. The detail is INSANE. There are actually drawings by J.K. Rowling where she put to paper exactly what was in her head when she was writing.

I really enjoyed how we got to see drafts from when Rowling was first working on this series. Yes I sat there and read them. The editing process is amazing to me because although it stays the same, it changes so much in that time frame. I also really enjoyed having that look into J.K. Rowling’s thought process with her notes and drawings of what she wanted and where she wanted the series to go. Even from the beginning she knew where she wanted it to end.

I loved how they compared Rowling’s version of things with the real life aspects, such as the mandrake and how it is actually a plant with roots that resemble a baby. Crazy right? Look it up.

I think as Harry Potter fans we jump on any and everything that is published that is HP related. I also want to point out though that I have yet to be let down by any of it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ali allam
While the ostensible reason for the publication of this book was the British Library's 20th Anniversary Harry Potter Exhibition, this is not really an exhibition catalogue. While it has many interesting tidbits and factoids from outside the immediate Potter universe, it is mostly organized along the lines of the Hogwarts curriculum and mostly goes into more detail about aspects of the magical artifacts that pop up all through that universe. That's fine by me; it just means that this is more of a Harry Potter book than a history of magic book.

The middle graders in our family who have been reading the Potter books, and who have gotten to visit Potter exhibits and theme parks and the like, (or who have had Potter themed birthday parties), just lapped this book up. It added variety and a certain amount of authenticity and weight to the Potter magic. There is a photo of an actual Bezoar Stone, and a 1491 woodcut of a potion master with his students, and so on.

We start with some backstory about the writing of the books, (for example, copies of some pages of handwritten and edited drafts of the books, and some sketches drawn by Rowling), and a great number of illustrations from Jim Kay, who illustrated the early editions. We review the course subjects that Harry followed, and learn a bit more about the topics that were touched on in those courses. We get bio's of the professors and the major characters from the books. We get loads of sidebars and short bits about just about anything magical that got mentioned in a Potter book.

This is a sharp looking, crisply printed, colorfully illustrated, and durable feeling book that very nicely complements the Potter books and stands up as more than just a puff piece. It is a nice find.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
peter tojsl
My heart is full atm.

I just had a wonderful/torturous day full of Harry Potter, having binge-watched the last 3 movies in the Harry Potter series.

In an attempt to cheer myself up after that last (INTENSE) movie, I picked up this book, and I. Couldn't. Stop. Reading. It.

The book is full of an amazing collection of annotations, drawings, deleted scenes and drafts of the HP books from J.K. Rowling's personal collection; it gives an AMAZING "historical"/mythological background to Jo's inspiration when writing about magic and witchcraft, and the general development of the fascinating world we know and love. The book also includes some of the illustrations by Jim Kay from the Illustrated Editions of books 1-3!

If you're a HP die-hard, and are always curious to know more of the "making-of" this incredible story, you should definitely pick up this book!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
beth kondonijakos
This is a delightful compilation that all Harry Potter fans will enjoy perusing. Full of beautiful illustrations and photos of magical memorabilia from the British Library exhibit, it traces the historical origins of many concepts Rowling used creating her Wizarding World. Though it doesn’t offer any new Potter-verse information, it does give a glimpse into Rowling’s creative process with pages from drafts and editorial notations. You just can’t go wrong with anything celebrating the magic of Harry Potter.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I thought the book was amazing. There were so many bright colorful pictures. There were also some original drafts of the Harry Potter books. Aside from being about witchcraft and wizardry, there isn't much about Harry himself.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
haley campbell
This book is interesting, but somewhat juvenile. It's an interesting look at the real "magic" behind the story and the Middle Ages. There's not much new to be gleaned about the series, but it was a beautifully illustrated fast read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
It appears as though the pictures are taken directly from my imagination and are based on the books, not the movies, which to me is the way it should be. There are so many pictures I was speechless, yet the test was very readable. It just enhances the books I have of already and the add ins are a wonderful bonus.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lea ann
A must have for Harry Potter fans. Full of reference material and pages of original writings and sketches by Rowling, this book will give the biggest fans new information. It does contain spoilers, so I would recommend after watching the movies and reading the books.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
forrest cox
Do you own the illustrated versions of Harry Potter? If so, you'll see a lot of those images repeated here. I felt a little cheated, since I own the illustrated editions and was not expecting these to be rehashed in another book. Now I didn't get a chance to read through the content, since this is a present for my kids, but the content looks to be interesting. I'm glad I only paid about 6 bucks for it. I'm sure my kids will love it, but the rehashed images was a surprise.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Got this as a Christmas gift, and wow did it amaze me. The artwork is very detailed, and the lore is amazing. I totally recommend this to anyone. Oh, and you get to see some of the unedited writing of the HP books. Fantastic stuff!
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
I'm sure this item is great, but the e-book would not download properly and content appeared blank. the store support was NOT able to resolve the issue. I restarted, removed, redownloaded, unregistered and reregistered my device, attempted to download via USB, cancelled the order and repurchased and nothing worked, which was as expected. I've never had this problem before and all other e-books work. My kindle is fully updated with no issues with internet connection etc. The content appeared to download and then when opened, appeared blank. After spending over an hour attempting to get it to work, customer service refused my suggesting of a small credit so I could cover the cost difference between the problematic e-book and the hardcover. I have Prime, but would still have to wait a couple days. I was willing to deal with that simply to get the content. I've never had such poor service from the store. Be aware that if your content appears blank, you will not receive any help from the store. Just delete it, get a refund, and get the hard copy. If the book isn't available, then well... you're outa' luck.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Book #89 Read in 2017
Harry Potter: A Journey Through a History of Magic

This book would make a nice gift for Harry Potter lovers. It details the history of magic that is mentioned throughout the books. It gives a close up on various professors. It contains beautiful illustrations and is a very pretty book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kathleen rush
it is the beat book in the world you have to read it please read it pleasefddjsks ajsiuss ajsjfafa sjsggjs skirtsgs ujzsjfjs sjjwjfjafa ajsjsfsa sjswwtwf sgtitwka sjajnfwnc ajsffcvdjdn dv d s ddvvd evdvd d e c e c ee dc
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I HAVE NOT READ THIS BOOK YET! I know your all thinking, boy! Why you writing a review then. Well, the answer is I know it will be great, by reading yall's reviews so I will read it. I am already like a huge Harry Potter fan so, I know that it will be good from reading J.K. Rowling. I just wanted to thank you guys for all your awesome reviews you have inspired me to read it, I can't wait!(^_^)ௐ
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
beth moore
This is admittedly a beautiful book. It combines history with Harry Potter lore. Included are sketches by Jim Kay, rough drafts by J.K. Rowling, and all manner of behind the scenes images. It is organized by the Hogwarts curriculum: Potions & Alchemy, Herbology, Astronomy, Divination, Defense Against the Dark Arts, and Care of Magical Creatures. I suppose I should have guessed that it would include Divination but, since it was not explicitly stated in the summary, I did not think about it. As a huge Harry Potter fan who is also a Christian I had a lot of difficulty with the Divination section. Much of it was history but there was an Activity section (as there were in other subjects). It encouraged you to find palm lines on your hand which is the starting point for palmistry. I always felt a little uncomfortable with the inclusion of Divination in the HP series as it is something practiced today and is spoken against in the Bible but the characters in the series emphasize how woolly a subject it is, how unreliable it can be, and the Trelawney is not exactly the HP character people want to emulate.

I know that plenty of people will disagree but I felt like the inclusion of an activity in the Divination section and it being treated with the same level of veracity as subjects like Astronomy made me feel uncomfortable. I bought it for a school but it won't be going in the collection now. Still love the Harry Potter universe and it is a lovely book but, in my opinion, it crosses a line.
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