Auctions | March 5, 2020

Unique Harry Potter First Edition Coming up at Bonhams

Courtesy of Bonhams

ROWLING (J.K.), Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, first edition, first impression, inscribed by the author "to Bryony... the first person ever to see merit in Harry Potter. With huge [underlined 4 times] thanks. J.K. Rowling", Bloomsbury, 1997. Estimate: £70,000-90,000.

London — A rare first edition of one of the most popular books ever written, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone signed by author J. K. Rowling “to Bryony... the first person ever to see merit in Harry Potter” is to feature in Bonhams Fine Books, Atlases, Manuscripts & Photographs sale on 11 March in Knightsbridge, London. It has an estimate of £70,000-90,000.
Bryony Evens was the office manager for the literary agent Christopher Little, when in 1996, she picked up a three-chapter submission from the slush pile and started reading. Instantly hooked, Bryony asked Little to request that the author send the rest of the book. They soon received the full manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by the then unknown J.K. Rowling, and the rest is history.
Having been rejected by twelve publishers, the book was sold to Bloomsbury for £2,500 in 1996, and in 1997 was published in an edition of five hundred hardback copies, going onto be the most successful book, and subsequent franchise, in publishing history.
Though Evens had since left the agency, she received a copy of the book upon its publication. Despite her and Rowling having corresponded previously, she did not actually meet the author until 1998 when she queued up for a signature at the Cheltenham Literary Festival and introduced herself. Rowling was there to promote her second book Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Upon hearing to whom the copy of her first book should be inscribed, Rowling leapt up and gave Evens a hug of gratitude. She signed the copy to ‘To Bryony – who is the most important person I have ever met in a signing queue & the first person to see merit in Harry Potter.  With huge thanks. J K Rowling”. The word ‘huge’ is underlined the four times.
Bonhams Fine Books and Manuscript Specialist, Luke Batterham, commented: “This is a truly unique copy of a highly desirable rare first edition of the book that introduced millions of adoring fans to J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world. Bryony’s story is world famous – she even appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show – and her copy really is a little piece of Harry Potter history. You can sense Rowling’s gratitude, in this inscription, to the person who saved Harry Potter from the rejection pile.”