When I got an email back in April all about the Harry Potter: A History of Magic Exhibition at the British Library, I snapped up those tickets pretty quickly. If I wasn’t able to get tickets to Harry Potter & The Cursed Child then I was going to find something else London based to fill the Harry Potter shaped hole in my life. 7 months later, the day rolled around for me to attend the exhibition (which I was unfortunately unable to photograph) and I took my first steps into the British Library, and behind the scenes of the history of Harry Potter.
When the tickets were released for the Harry Potter: A History of Magic, very little was explained when it came to exactly what it was. I didn’t really know what to expect, other than a little bit of behind the scenes. If you want to know about Harry Potter itself, then this isn’t the exhibition for you. But if you want to know the books that JK Rowling referenced during her time writing the series, or the history of the subjects that Hogwarts proudly teaches, then this is the exhibition you’ve been looking for.
It’s been 20 years since the publishing of Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone, but the series began back in 1990. Some of the first drawings of characters and early chapters are on display in the rooms of the British Library and it’s a pleasure to see. For example, did you know that Fudge wasn’t originally going to be the Minister for Magic, and instead the Muggle Prime Minister in early drafts? And that Vernon Dursley worked for him? Secrets are revealed at this exhibition, and books that are over 500 years old are displayed telling us all about the use of mandrakes, unicorn hair, and the first sight of witches.
In partner with Bloomsbury, this exhibition takes you back to the start of magic, not just the start of Harry Potter. If you’ve got time, you can learn all about the making of the Philosopher’s Stone, find out more about the art of divination, and gaze and the stars and constellations that various Potter characters are named after. I had no idea that Bellatrix Lestrange was named after a star, which is named after the latin for female warrior!
And do you love the illustrated versions of Harry Potter? I personally think they’re stunning (although I’ve not got my hands on them yet), and you can see Jim Kay’s original hand drawn pictures of the teachers we know and love exclusively in this exhibition. And a beautiful sketch of his idea of Diagon Alley. It’s a marvel!
I believe all weekend tickets are sold out to the Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition, but the books that have been released alongside the exhibition give you most of the detail. Having a flick through the books (because I couldn’t not purchase both), there are a couple of bits missing but most of the information is there.
Harry Potter: A History Of Magic talks about the books and tales that inspired the content of the Harry Potter series. The real life plants, the witch folklore and the mythical creatures. This book showcases much of the historical books and items that are found in the exhibition at the British Library. Harry Potter: A Journey Through A History Of Magic looks more into the history of the Harry Potter series itself. With deleted book excerpts and unseen JK Rowling original sketches, this is a must have for any HP fan.
If you can manage a weekday visit then you’ve got until the 28th February 2018, so catch it whilst you can!