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The History of The Books: 1990-2004

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The Harry Potter Canon

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The History of The Books: 1990-2004

by Steve VanderArk and Bob Williams

1990 Ideas for Harry Potter and the wizard world form in J.K. Rowling’s mind while she is on an interminable train journey from Manchester to King’s Cross.

1991 J.K. Rowling goes to Portugal to teach English as a foreign language. There, she writes ten different first chapters for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

1993 J.K. Rowling returns from Portugal with a suitcase half full of Harry Potter stories.

1994 J.K. Rowling continues to write the books in Edinburgh cafes.

1995 J.K. Rowling finishes the first book and types it out on an old typewriter. She sends it to an agent and a publisher. Several publishers reject the novel.

1996 Bloomsbury accepts the manuscript for publication outright. The Scottish Arts Council gives J.K. Rowling a grant to work on her books.

June 1997 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone published by Bloomsbury.

November 1997 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone wins the Nestlé Smarties Gold Award 9-11 years.

February 1998 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone wins the Children’s Book of the Year Award at the prestigious British Book Awards.

June 1998 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone wins the Children’s Book Award.

July 1998 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is published by Bloomsbury and goes straight into the no.1 slot in BookTrack bestseller list.

October 1998 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone published in the USA. Warner Bros. secures film rights to the first two books for a seven-figure sum.

December 1998 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets wins the Nestlé Smarties Gold Award 9-11 years. J. K. Rowling becomes the first author to win the Nestlé Smarties Prize two years in a row.

January 1999 A time capsule is buried at King’s Cross on publication of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in paperback. It contains predictions from children on what they think will happen in book 7.

February 1999 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets wins the Children’s Book of the Year Award at the British Book Awards.

April 1999 J.K. Rowling wins The Booksellers Association/The Bookseller Author of the Year Award.

June 1999 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets wins one of the inaugural Scottish Arts Council Children’s Book Awards. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets wins the Children’s Book Award based on votes from 60,000 children.

8th July 1999 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is published by Bloomsbury at 3.45 pm, and it topples Thomas Harris’s book Hannibal from the top of the bestseller list. It becomes the fastest selling book, with 64,000 being sold in the first 3 days.

December 1999 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban wins the Nestlé Smarties Gold Award 9-11 years and J.K. Rowling receives a special certificate to celebrate her winning of this prize for the third year running.

March 2000 J.K. Rowling reveals in a press conference that someone will die in the new book, that Harry’s hormones will start to kick in and that the Quidditch World Cup will be featured.

April 2000 The paperback edition of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is published, accompanied by cinema advertising with Pokemon and Tigger

May 2000 J.K. Rowling wins the The Booksellers Association/The Bookseller Author of the Year Award for the second year in a row.

May 2000 J.K. Rowling wins the The Booksellers Association/The Bookseller Author of the Year Award for the second year in a row.

June 2000 J.K. Rowling awarded an OBE.

8th July 2000 Publication date of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The book breaks all records to become the fastest selling book ever. The publication is accompanied by the Hogwarts Express UK tour. (This was the first time that bookstores in the US held midnight release parties. –SVA)

12th March 2001 J.K. Rowling’s two little books in aid of Comic Relief go on sale. They are entitled Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander and Quidditch Through the Ages by Kennilworthy Whisp. Printers, typesetters, paper merchants and retailers are asked to join the publishers in donating their services. And, in keeping with Comic Relief’s ‘Golden Pound’ principle, for every pound raised by the books, a pound goes directly to projects tackling poverty and promoting social justice in some of the poorest countries in the world.

May 2001 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire wins Scottish Arts Council Book Award.

June 2001 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire awarded the 2001 Children’s Book Award in the 9-11 category.

6th July 2001 Paperback version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire released in U.K.

16th November 2001 Film of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone released in U.K. and U.S.

15th November 2002 Film of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets released in U.K and U.S.

15th January 2003 Publication Date for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix announced. To read the full statement click here.

21st June 2003 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix published in the UK and US.

4th June 2004 Film of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban released in the U.S.

Commentary

Notes

This timeline, dated February 2004, gives a nice picture of the early years of the series. Coincidentally, this was also the early years of the Internet as a social platform and Harry Potter fans were pioneers at using "groups" to chat together about the books. Groups like Harry Potter for Grown-Ups encouraged fans from all over the world to discuss and theorize about Rowling's plans for the series with a sense of immediacy and personal friendship which had never been possible before. The results of these fan groups building on the Internet were websites like The Leaky Cauldron, MuggleNet, and The Harry Potter Lexicon, and not too long afterwards the first Harry Potter convention, Nimbus 2003 in Orlando. Nimbus was the first time that most of these fans had ever met each other in person -- in some cases, the first time they learned the first names or even gender and ethnicity of some of their closest friends!

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