What's New

Reading between the lines… and backwards!


With the addition of the zoom feature in the Scrapbook on JKRowling.com it’s now easier to view the minute details of the Potterania extra content. On the “Very early page of Philosopher’s Stone” you can see the faint shadow of backwards typewritten words. This is probably typed on the back of the sheet of paper and showing through due to the process used in making the image. Secca from the forums at Potterskeys.com has attempted to transcribe what it might say. I’ve posted a copy of his work at the bottom of the Transcript page here. Thanks Secca and Jimmy!

We welcome your comments and ideas on what this could mean. If you recognize any references, please post your thoughts in the Pensieve. 🙂


Pensieve (Comments)

  • Alisha

    Wow, that’s some serious code breaking! I would actually have no idea what this all means, but it seems to me it’s completely unrelated to HP. By why would she type up something like that? My only guess is that she’s thinking about a different book idea altogether, and trying to keep characters straight. What is nice to see is on a few more of the pages in the scrapbook, you can see writing underneath, like on the page 2 of doodles. I know that is related to HP since I see Harry mentioned, but it’s in her handwriting and hard to read.

  • roonwit

    I wonder if it is related to fiction at all. Jo could be reusing some random piece of paper, perhaps some lesson plan, or teacher training coursework.

  • roonwit

    I did have a look at the reverse of the more idle jottings (page 1) at one point, and read enough to decide it was the same sort of thing as on the front.

  • My immediate thought was that she was reusing paper. Not exactly writing on napkins 😉 but using what was handy. Perhaps it is scrap paper from something. I’m wondering if the “shares of water” makes sense to anyone?

  • clark

    I did the reverse image thing myself. My thought at the time was that JK was using salvaged paper due to her financial situation while writing book one and the typing was totally unrelated.

  • roonwit

    The water provision in the UK was privatised in (I think from google) 1989. I assume the reference is to buying shares in a water company, which was presumably being created in this privatisation.

  • Secca

    Well, what I thought when I did this, was that it could be notes from an interview… she said the page was from 1991, which puts her either in Manchester or Portugal…
    ~~ But I also thought it could be notes for another book… perhaps notes to keep the plotlines of a mystery novel straight in her mind?

    ~~ “Shares of water” – yes, if this weren’t so clear in two spots, I would think it was wrong,as it makes no obvious sense to me

    – stockholder in Perrier? – can water supplies be privately owned? –

    ~~ Glad to hear some other input on this whole thing 🙂

  • Secca

    BTW – wish I’d had that nice reversed image when I did my initial work! 🙂

  • Reader2

    To me the fragments of sentences from the other side of the page sound like pieces of a typical essay from a teaching school.
    JKR had been a teacher, so it makes perfect sence for her to have that kind of material on her desk.

    Regarding the draft itself, I’m more curius about the name Argus Pyrites.

    In the edits section of her site, JKR mentions an servant of Voldemort name Pyrites, a dandy in white gloves.
    Could this be the same guy?

  • Maureen from Aus

    Jo has back stories on all the characters – maybe this is a back story for one of them (or their parents?)

  • Secca

    Thanks Roonwit for that information on the privitisation of water in the UK. 1989 would be just about right, IF this page is indeed contemporaneous with the PS draft on the front…
    Course, if the re-using scrap paper idea is right, then this might not be Mrs. Rowling’s work at all!

  • eupho

    Like others, I think it’s probably non-HP related and perhaps just good use of old scraps of paper. Remember Jo wasn’t very well off at the time.

    If it is to do with HP I thought it might have something to do with the Dursleys, but if it was she obviously never pursued the train of thought.

  • Deborah Hubbard

    Pyrites is iron sulphite – fool’s gold! It looks convincingly like gold, occurs in veins in rocks etc, but is valuable only as a source of sulphur. What a brilliant name for a follower of LV … looking precious and desirable but producing only that rotten-eggs smell and nothing of value at all …

    Perhaps that’s what the leprechauns use for their fake gold?

  • Cherry

    I confirm Roonwit’s suggestion that what is refered to here is the privatisation of UK water companies. As with other UK privatisations the shares were offered directly to the general public and encouraged people who had never invested in shares before to do so.

  • Hedwig June

    Wow. That is hardcore. Jo would be very impressed, then set us all off by putting it on her Rumours or FAQ or something.
    Yes, it’s sounds very Muggle-ish, so it’s either the Dursleys, or no one at all.

  • Well, I did think of the Grangers.
    But we know she likes to write in long hand, so I doubt that she would have been typing notes of that kind. Seems to me she would have been more likely jot notes in the margins than to type out a character profile of a muggle that way.

    So then I was wondering… purely out of curiosity… could it be from her work at Amnesty International? Would that be the type of thing that would be recorded there? and then discarded in a recycling pile? or from school? as a teacher? as a student?

    Now this kind of speculation makes me feel nosey, and as though I’m invading her privacy. But it’s not as though we went rifling through her garbage looking for it, she did post it on her site. And she has made savvy detectives out of us, hasn’t she?

  • Secca

    If she were to be offended, I would be mortified! – I like the Amnesty International thought, Belinda… but I found this in a biography online “After college she worked for Amnesty International researching human rights abuses in French-speaking Africa” Doesn’t seem to fit the outline that we have…

  • Secca

    New thought – from the same biography

    “While she was in Portugal she married a journalist”

    It could be his?? The time frame of the PS page seems to indicate that it was written in Portugal…

  • Pat Pat

    I have to agree with the scrap paper idea, and that the paper is from her teaching days. I can tell you, as a teacher myself, that I have probably hundreds of pieces of paper from my school that have a completely blank opposite side. I couldn’t bring myself to throw it out and “kill trees” like that, so we use it around the house as scrap paper. I can just see JKR conserving paper like that, especially since she has complained about not always having enough paper to write on!

  • delphine

    I agree that the scrap paper is the most likely, although my initial thought was of the Masons, from book 2. Isn’t this the sort of thing they would discuss with the Dursleys over dinner? But it seems out of character to have it typed up in this form, so I would have to agree with the recycled paper theory (we have lots of grocery lists on the backs of my dissertation draft that would look very odd to anyone else!)

  • whizbang121

    Delphine’d idea that it concerns a dinner discussion between the Masons and the Dursleys makes the most sense to me. Still, the Masons weren’t introduced until the next book.

    But this “early page” from PS/SS may suddenly make sense in light of the hint that JKR dropped about James having left the Invisibility Cloak with Dumbledore before he died. Remember, the other thing that Dumbledore had was the key to the Potters vault at Gringotts.

    What if James did have the Sorcerer’s Stone and he sent it to Dumbledore wrapped in the cloak along with the key so Dumbledore could hide it in the Potters vault. Or Jemes sent the key to take the Stone out of his vault and hide it in the cloak…..

    Anyway, I’m seeing three elements. The cloak, the key/vault and the Stone.

    If they knew back then that Voldemort was working on Immortality methods, they had every reason to suspect he would look for the Sorcerer’s Stone. Does the end become the beginning? Will Harry come full circle and find his own history in his search for the Sorcerer’s Stone?

  • Pat Pat

    I have a question. How did Dumbledore know to remove the Sorcerer’s stone from the vault when he did? Clearly the stone had been in the vault for a while. What made Dumbledore remove it exactly at the right time? Was this ever explained?

  • whizbang121

    Pat Pat
    Was this ever explained?

    Not to my knowledge. It did coincide with both the reintroduction of Harry to the Magical World and the return of Quirrell from Eastern Europe. Who knows what rumors Dumbledore might have heard?

    It’s not impossible that the Stone was taken from the vault periodically so Flamel could make his elixir and Dumbledore just asked Hagrid to do both errands at one time.

    I suspect it’s significant that Hagrid was Headmaster’s choice to collect both Harry and the Stone.

  • Pat Pat


    That’s an interesting theory that the stone was removed periodically do Flamel could make his elixir. And it would make sense, since obviously Flamel would have to replenish his supply every so often. But then, why this time was the stone not taken directly back to the vault? Hagrid hints that the reason it was removed was for protection, since he states that Hogwarts is safer than Gringotts. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the stone was removed RIGHT BEFORE the theft attempt. Dumbledore may have known more than he let on. Perhaps why Snape was assigned the task of watching Quirrell.

  • Ashes

    I do not have much to add, but it becomes easier to read if you invert the colors. 😉

  • Jules

    It is also possible that the writing on the reverse side if “very early page of PS” might be Jo’s Pre-Harry Potter Writing. She did start on two novels for adults, but thought they were compleate dross, so never persued publishing them, and has avowed chucking them in the bin every time she has mentioned them in interviews. Perhaps she put them to better use, using any remaining blank space for her early HP drafts!

  • Selina Yazbeck-Rizwan

    I believe..that the words are meaningless to HP …most likely some sort of assignment Jo had at one of her jobs ( i can remember similar excercises in my English as a Second Language Class a couple of years ago)..what i am intersested in speculation over this tangent plotline Jo was exploring about the Stone being found in the Potter’s vault!! Anybody got any theories what that implies?

  • Edzinsh

    Isn’t this something about her private life? Aren’t we going too far? If she’d wanted us to see that, she would have published it fair and square, I think.

  • Becca

    To me, that sounds like a list about her & her ex-husband. If so another couple as well, because Jo didn’t go to a private school. The first two sections could be talking about her & Jorge, the rest about other people. But maybe not. Who knows!