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You Can Finally Read the Harry Potter Synopsis J.K. Rowling Sent to Publishers 20 Years Ago

I’m not crying, you’re crying.

Last week Forbes named J.K. Rowling Europe’s highest-paid celebrity. This week we got a little glimpse of just what it took for her to get there.

The Harry Potter creation story has become almost as fabled as the books themselves.

Before she was earning $95 million a year (yes, you read that right), Rowling was a struggling single-mother trying to get her book about a little magic orphan published.

To commemorate the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, The British Library has unfolded a new exhibit, Harry Potter: A History of Magic.

One included artifact is the synopsis Rowling sent to publishing houses, which accompanied the first several chapters of Harry Potter.

The book was turned down by 12 publishers, before it landed in the hands of the good people at Bloomsbury.

The exhibit also includes the first drafts of HP chapters written on unlined paper, in ball-point pen (old school, I dig it).

The synopsis name-drops many of the central characters in HP, though it fails to mention my man, Dumbledore.

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Read the synopsis here:

“Harry Potter lives with his aunt, uncle and cousin because his parents died in a car-crash—or so he has been told. The Dursleys don’t like Harry asking questions; in fact, they don’t seem to like anything about him, especially the very odd things that keep happening around him (which Harry himself can’t explain).

The Dursleys’ greatest fear is that Harry will discover the truth about himself, so when letters start arriving for him near his eleventh birthday, he isn’t allowed to read them. However, the Dursleys aren’t dealing with an ordinary postman, and at midnight on Harry’s birthday the gigantic Rubeus Hagrid breaks down the door to make sure Harry gets to read his post at last. Ignoring the horrified Dursleys, Hagrid informs Harry that he is a wizard, and the letter he gives Harry explains that he is expected at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in a month’s time.

To the Dursleys’ fury, Hagrid also reveals the truth about Harry’s past. Harry did not receive the scar on his forehead in a car-crash; it is really the mark of the great dark sorcerer Voldemort, who killed Harry’s mother and father but mysteriously couldn’t kill him, even though he was a baby at the time. Harry is famous among the witches and wizards who live in secret all over the country because Harry’s miraculous survival marked Voldemort’s downfall.

So Harry, who has never had friends or family worth the name, sets off for a new life in the wizarding world. He takes a trip to London with Hagrid to buy his Hogwarts equipment (robes, wand, cauldron, beginners’ draft and potion kit) and shortly afterwards, sets off for Hogwarts from Kings Cross Station (platform nine and three quarters) to follow in his parents’ footsteps.

Harry makes friends with Ronald Weasley (sixth in his family to go to Hogwarts and tired of having to use second-hand spellbooks) and Hermione Granger (cleverest girl in the year and the only person in the class to know all the uses of dragon’s blood). Together, they have their first lessons in magic — astronomy up on the tallest tower at two in the morning, herbology out in the greenhouses where the…”

Rowling also tweeted pictures of two rejection letters sent to her by uninterested publishers. They are addressed to Robert Galbraith, the pen name she has used intermittently throughout her storied career.

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Thank you Bloomsbury for taking a chance on an unknown author. Without you I may never have spent Friday nights in high school writing fan fiction!

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