Books and Writing

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

- Book 2

"I've only suffered writer's block badly once, and that was during the writing of Chamber of Secrets. I had my first burst of publicity about the first book and it paralysed me. I was scared the second book wouldn't measure up, but I got through it!"
-- J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the second book in the series of Harry Potter novels by J.K. Rowling.

First British printing: July 2, 1998, Bloomsbury Books

First American printing: June 2, 1999, Scholastic, Arthur A. Levine Books

U.S. illustrations by Mary GrandPré, 1999

Word count:
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – 85,141 words
Official Word Count Provided by Scholastic Inc TM & © 2004-1996. All rights reserved.


Reader’s Guide to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

A complete chapter-by-chapter guide with notes and commentary

Chapter 1: The Worst Birthday

In which we are reminded of the happenings during Harry’s first year at Hogwarts, uncle Vernon has a very important dinner guest coming, dinner plans are made, and Harry’s birthday is forgotten again.

Chapter 2: Dobby’s Warning

In which Dobby, a house elf, arrives in Harry’s room to warn him not to return to Hogwarts, the Dursleys’ dinner party is ruined by Dobby’s antics, and Harry is locked securely in his room.

Chapter 3: The Burrow

In which Ron, Fred, and George Weasley break Harry out of his room with the car and whisk him away to the Burrow. Harry helps de-gnome the garden after Mrs. Weasley speaks her mind.

Chapter 4: At Flourish and Blotts

In which Harry and the Weasleys receive their required book lists from Hogwarts and go to Diagon Alley via Floo Powder. There Harry arrives in Knockturn Alley, overhears the Malfoys, is found by Hagrid, meets author/teacher Gilderoy Lockhart, and Arthur Weasley and Lucius Malfoy come to blows.

Chapter 5: The Whomping Willow

In which the entire Weasley family and Harry cram into the Ford Anglia and drive to King’s Cross Station. Harry and Ron cannot get through to the train and decide to fly the car to Hogwarts. The trip is uneventful until the end, when they lose power and crash into the Whomping Willow.

Chapter 6: Gilderoy Lockhart

In which Ron receives a howler, they learn about mandrakes in Herbology, Colin Creevey asks for an autographed photo, Lockhart is the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, and they learn about Cornish Pixies.

Chapter 7: Mudbloods and Murmurs

In which Harry begins Quidditch practice, words are exchanged with the Slytherin team, Ron’s spell backfires, Harry and Ron serve detention, and Harry hears a voice.

Chapter 8: The Deathday Party

In which Harry is caught dripping mud on the carpet by Filch, is taken to Filch’s office, discovers Filch is not a wizard, and Nearly Headless Nick invites him to his Deathday Party which Harry, Ron and Hermione attend on Hallowe’en night. Leaving the party, Harry hears voices again, and following the sound with Ron and Hermione discovers writing on the wall and a petrified Mrs Norris.

Chapter 9: The Writing on the Wall

In which Harry, Ron and Hermione are questioned about the petrified cat, Hermione asks about the Chamber of Secrets, they return to the scene of the crime, consult Moaning Myrtle, and puzzle about the mystery.

Chapter 10: The Rogue Bludger

In which a note from Lockhart gets Harry, Ron and Hermione into the Restricted Section of the library and a book on making Polyjuice Potion. At the Quidditch match, a rogue bludger chases Harry, breaking his arm but not stopping him from getting the snitch. Lockhart’s attempt to heal Harry removes the bones from his arm. Madam Pomfrey begins to heal him, Dobby pays a visit, and Colin Cheevey is petrified.

Chapter 11: The Duelling Club

In which Harry is cured, goes looking for Ron and Hermione in the girl’s toilet where they are brewing the Polyjuice Potion, Hermione steals the ingredients from Snape’s office when Harry creates a diversion in class. A duelling club is started by Lockhart and Snape during which Harry learns he is a Parselmouth when a snake is conjured up by Malfoy. Rumours fly suggesting that Harry is responsible for the attacks on students, a rumour which is strengthened when he stumbles on the bodies of Justin Finch-Fletchley and Nearly-Headless Nick.

Chapter 12: The Polyjuice Potion

In which Harry is hauled before Dumbledore, witnesses the phoenix burning, and learns Dumbledore does not suspect him of wrongdoing. Christmas Day, presents are opened, the Polyjuice Potion is ready, Crabbe and Goyle are drugged and hair stolen and the potion drunk by Harry, Ron and Hermione. Disguised as Crabbe and Goyle, Ron and Harry quiz Draco Malfoy and find he has nothing to do with the Secret Chamber. Upon returning to the girls’ toilet they find Hermione has taken on cat features.

Chapter 13: The Very Secret Diary

In which Myrtle’s toilet floods, Harry finds Tom Riddle’s diary which he shows to a now fur-free Hermione, and they begin a search to discover who the owner was. Lockhart stages a Valentine’s party complete with dwarfs as cupids. That night Harry learns the secret of the diary, goes back in time and discovers that it was Hagrid who last opened the Chamber of Secrets.

Chapter 14: Cornelius Fudge

In which Harry, Ron and Hermione decide not to confront Hagrid, as time passes and there are no more attacks. Second-year students choose their courses for the next year, Quidditch practice becomes more frequent, Harry returns to his dormitory to find his belongings ransacked and the diary gone. Harry hears the voice again, Hermione runs to the library, and Gryffindor’s match with Hufflepuff is cancelled when Hermione and another girl are attacked. Harry and Ron visit Hagrid and overhear a conversation between Dumbledore, Fudge, and Lucius Malfoy. Hagrid is taken away and Dumbledore suspended as the Ministry tries to stop the attacks.

Chapter 15: Aragog

In which tension mounts in Hogwarts as everyone fears another attack – except Draco Malfoy, who is enjoying the situation. Acting on Hagrid’s hint about following spiders, Harry and Ron go into the Forbidden Forest, find the Ford Anglia, are captured by huge spiders, learn more about the Chamber of Secrets, and are rescued by the car.

Chapter 16: The Chamber of Secrets

In which the students learn that exams will be held as usual, Ginny acts strangely, Harry and Ron visit Hermione in hospital, find she has the answer to the Chamber’s secret (a basilisk), eavesdrop on the teachers, and learn Ginny has been taken by the monster. Lockhart attempts to flee, but Harry and Ron force him to accompany them to the Chamber via Moaning Myrtle’s toilet to rescue Ginny. They unlock the secret of the entrance. Lockhart attempts to escape by using Ron’s broken wand, but it backfires and blocks the tunnel. Harry goes on alone.

Chapter 17: The Heir of Slytherin

In which Harry finds an unconscious Ginny, meets Tom Riddle (who has had Ginny in his power through the diary) and hears his story. Fawkes the phoenix arrives with the Sorting Hat. Riddle (Voldemort) calls the basilisk to kill Harry, but the phoenix attacks and together they kill it, and by driving a serpent fang through the diary, get rid of Riddle as well.

Chapter 18: Dobby’s Reward

In which Harry tells his story to McGonagall and Dumbledore, Ginny and Lockhart are sent to the hospital, Lucius Malfoy and Dobby arrive, and Harry tricks Lucius Malfoy into freeing Dobby.

Calendar and Dates

The events of the book take place between 31 July 1992 and approximately 19 June 1993, covering Harry's second year at Hogwarts. During this year the school is plagued by dangers small (a wacky Defense Against the Dark Arts professor) and great (a monster loose in the school petrifying students).


For Seán P. F. Harris, getaway driver and foul-weather friend.

Seán Harris was a friend of JKR's while she attended school at Wyedean. Seán owned a turquoise Ford Anglia and the two of them would escape in the car to hang out under the bridge by the Wye River, drinking and talking about life. Rowling has said that in many ways the character of Ron Weasley is similar to that of Seán, although she didn't intentionally use him as a model for the character. Obviously the Anglia owned by Mr Weasley has its origins in the old car Seán drove.

Interesting facts and notes

Bloomsbury (Britain) covers

Bloomsbury cover (front)

Bloomsbury cover (back)

Notes from the title pages:

First published in Great Britain in 1998

Copyright (c) Text J.K. Rowling 1998

Copyright (c) Cover Illustration Cliff Wright 1997

The moral right of the author has been asserted

Cover design by Michelle Radford

Scholastic (U.S.) Edition covers

cover art

This cover of the US edition, by Mary GrandPré, shows Fawkes flying Harry, Ron, and Ginny (Lockhart is not shown) to safety after the defeat of Riddle in the Chamber of Secrets. This is unusual since most covers show the flying car.

Characters Introduced


Rowling's title for the first draft of this book was Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. She changed the title for the second draft as all the references to the Half-Blood Prince storyline were removed and saved for book six. She wrote:

I have been engulfed by an avalanche of questions on the subject of 'Prince' having once been a title of 'Chamber'. I am therefore attempting to answer most of them under this heading, which I think just about covers all the answerable variations (the unanswerable ones include questions such as 'who's the Half-Blood Prince?' 'what happens in the Half-Blood Prince?' and 'what does Half-Blood Prince mean?')

The plot of 'Prince' bears no resemblance whatsoever to the plot of 'Chamber', nor is it an off-cut of 'Chamber'. The story of 'Prince' takes off where 'Phoenix' ended and does not hark back to four years previously. True, mention is made to events that happened in 'Chamber,' but of course, mention is also made of events that happened in 'Stone', 'Azkaban', 'Goblet' and 'Phoenix'.

'The Half-Blood Prince' might be described as a strand of the overall plot. That strand could be used in a whole variety of ways and back in 1997 I considered weaving it into the story of 'Chamber'. It really didn't fit there, though; it was not part of the story of the basilisk and Riddle's diary, and before long I accepted that it would be better to do it justice in book six. I clung to the title for a while, even though all trace of the 'Prince' storyline had disappeared, because I liked it so much (yes, I really like this title!). I re-christened book two 'Chamber of Secrets' when I started the second draft.

The link I mentioned between books two and six does not, in fact, relate to the 'Half-Blood Prince' (because there is no trace left of the HBP storyline in 'Chamber'.) Rather, it relates to a discovery Harry made in 'Chamber' that foreshadows something that he finds out in 'Prince'. (JKR: FAQ)

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