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Harry Potter: A History of Magic at the British Library

Muggles welcome.

Twenty years ago, readers of all ages were first introduced to the Boy Who Lived on the doorstep of Number Four, Privet Drive. Since then, devoted Harry Potter fans have followed the Chosen One from Sorting Hat songs to Triwizard Tournament tasks, midnight duels to face-offs with Voldemort. To celebrate the past two decades of author J.K. Rowling’s ever-growing universe (and perhaps console those of us still awaiting a Hogwarts letter), the British Library will host a new exhibition from October 20 until February 28, 2018, called Harry Potter: A History of Magic.

The exhibit leads visitors through rooms themed after Hogwarts classes designed accordingly with the likes of floating teacups for Divination and Herbology’s wooden greenhouse. Debuting original sketches and drafts from J.K. Rowling herself, the exhibit weaves together Rowling’s wizarding world with rare books and artefacts about the longstanding traditions of magic from the British Library, including items on loan from the British Museum and Bocastle’s Museum of Witchcraft and Magic.

Guided by familiar Potter-related terms in the exhibit, guests will delve further into the history and folklore behind Rowling’s magical universe: alchemical manuscripts explore the fact behind the fiction of Nicholas Flamel and the Philosopher’s Stone; within the Astronomy chamber lies the myths behind the Black family’s namesakes constellations; meanwhile, those who haven’t completely discounted Divination will relish in Chinese oracle bones and ancient Egyptian fortune-telling techniques. Those with a keen eye might spot a Golden Snitch or two, and there are even examples of “real-life magic”, one of the exhibit curators attests of some broomsticks and cauldrons on display.

Details on the exhibit are shrouded in mystery and tickets are selling fast, but two companion books to the exhibit are due for release, with essays by Potter academics and the screenwriter behind the majority of the films as well as the secret to the Elixir of Life. Although all of this is only currently available in U.K., those across the Atlantic can save their Floo Powder: the exhibit will arrive in the U.S. next year after its London run. Until then: nitwit, blubber, oddment, tweak.

Harry Potter: A History of Magic runs from October 20, 2017 until February 28, 2018 at the British Library, PACCAR Gallery, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London, NW1 2DB.


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