Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is the first in the series of Harry Potter novels by J.K. Rowling. It was published in the U.S. as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone a year after being published in the UK.
First British printing: July 1, 1997, Bloomsbury Books
First American printing: September 1, 1999, Scholastic, Arthur A. Levine Books
U.S. illustrations by Mary GrandPré, 1998
- day by day calendar of events in the book
- differences between the British and American versions
- edits and changes to the text
Reader’s Guide to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone:
Follow the links for chapter-by chapter guides with notes and commentary
In which we meet the Dursleys and learn of the peculiar happenings surrounding the arrival of Harry Potter on their doorstep including a conversation between Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall.
In which is related the sad circumstances under which Harry has lived for the past ten years and of a trip to the zoo that goes awry.
In which Dudley gets his new uniform and a letter arrives for Harry, which Uncle Vernon destroys – prompting a veritable deluge of letters over the next few days. Uncle Vernon then attempts to outrun the delivery of the letters and eventually takes his family to an abandoned hut on an island in the ocean.
In which Hagrid arrives at the hut and informs Harry that he is a wizard and has been accepted into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry also learns the truth about the deaths of his parents and the origin of the scar on his forehead, much to the chagrin of his uncle.
In which Hagrid takes Harry to Diagon Alley in London to retrieve his inheritance and buy his school supplies, including a wand and Hedwig, a snowy owl. At the same time Hagrid gets a secret package from Gringotts vault 713, Harry meets Draco Malfoy, and Hagrid gives Harry his tickets for the Hogwarts Express.
In which Uncle Vernon takes Harry to King’s Cross Station and leaves him there. Harry meets the Weasleys, who help him get to Platform Nine and Three Quarters and settled on the train. Here he gets to know Ron and meets Hermione as the train rumbles to Hogwarts. Upon reaching the school they are met by Hagrid and the First Years are taken by boat to the castle.
In which Professor McGonagall tells the first-years a bit about the school and they are sorted into houses by the Sorting Hat. Then Dumbledore welcomes then, they have a feast and find their dormitory for their first night at Hogwarts.
In which Harry is pointed out and stared at by everyone in the school as he starts his first day of classes and meets his teachers, visits Hagrid and learns about the Gringotts break-in.
In which Gryffindor and Slytherin have flying lessons together, Neville injures himself on his broom, and Harry and Draco fight it out on brooms over Neville’s Remembrall, resulting in Harry being made Seeker of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. Later, Draco challenges Harry to a wizard’s duel but instead of dueling he tells Filch in hopes of Harry being caught and expelled. Harry and his friends evade Filch and after encountering Fluffy, the three-headed dog, are safely back in their dormitory.
In which Harry receives a Nimbus 2000 broom, learns the rules of Quidditch and begins to practice. On Hallowe’en Hermione masters levitation in Charms class but the remarks of a jealous Ron send her in tears to the girls’ bathroom, where she is trapped with a troll. Harry and Ron run to her rescue and defeat the troll. Hermione tells a lie to keep them out of trouble and the three become friends.
In which Snape takes Harry’s book, leading to Harry seeing Snape’s injured leg. Harry’s first Quidditch match against Slytherin in which someone jinxes his broom but he catches the Snitch and wins anyway. Hagrid later lets a secret slip.
In which Harry, Ron and Hermione (HRH) start searching the library for facts on Flamel, the school empties for Christmas, Ron teaches Harry wizard chess, Harry gets his father’s invisibility cloak for Christmas, tries it out at night and finds the Mirror of Erised, sees his family and is cautioned by Dumbledore.
In which Harry learns that Snape will referee the next Quidditch match, Flamel is found, Gryffindor wins over Hufflepuff when Harry grabs the snitch after only five minutes.Harry follows Snape into the Forbidden Forest where he meets Quirrell and they speak of the Philosopher’s Stone.
In which Hermione starts revising, the teachers pile on extra homework, HRH visit Hagrid, discover he has a dragon’s egg, and later watch it hatch. As the dragon grows, it becomes harder to hide the illegal pet, until Charlie Weasley agrees to have it sent to him in Romania. Norbert is shipped off from the tallest tower, but Harry and Hermione are caught by Filch on their way back to their dorm.
In which Harry’s popularity slips when his escapades lose his house 150 points, he overhears another conversation, and they serve detention with Hagrid who takes them to the Forbidden Forest in search of a wounded unicorn, which they find dead. Harry is rescued from Voldemort by a centaur.
In which the students begin their exams, Hagrid lets slip how to control Fluffy, HRH try to warn Dumbledore but he has been summoned away. Fearful that Snape is about to make his move to get the Philosopher’s Stone, HRH decide to go after it themselves. Under the invisibility cloak they make their way to Fluffy, put him to sleep and go down the trapdoor, past plants, chessmen, and potions.
In which Harry discovers it is Quirrell who is after the Stone and serving Voldemort, not Snape. Quirrell tries to use the Mirror of Erised to find the Stone but it gives it to Harry. Voldemort knows this and as part of Quirrell orders the professor to kill Harry, who blacks out in the struggle. He awakes in a hospital bed and hears many things from Dumbledore. At the end of year banquet Gryffindor is awarded the House Cup.
Original Bloomsbury cover art:
The original Bloomsbury cover by Thomas Taylor includes a curious figure on the back. The man in the picture really doesn’t match any character in the book, although fans speculated that it is supposed to represent either Dumbledore or Quirrell. In fact, the wizard wasn’t anyone in particular. The artist was asked to create a wizard for the back cover and invented this one based on his father. After a few editions and many questions to Bloomsbury, the back cover was changed with a new image, this time clearly identifiable as Dumbledore, even holding a Put-Outer:
Original Scholastic cover art:
The U.S. cover was painted by Mary GrandPré. It shows Harry about to catch the Snitch, with other Quidditch players in the far distant background. Hogwarts castle appears behind Harryand the columns through which he is flying, and Fluffy’s three vicious heads are visible in an opening in the castle wall. In the distance the forest’s pointed pine trees mirror the pointed towers of the castle, while a unicorn gallops by. It is this image of Harry — wearing a striped Muggle shirt, jeans, and trainers and with a simple cape to indicate robes, that is most familiar to fans, at least in the U.S. There are patterns in the columns, but they are very difficult to make out. If they are supposed to be actual images of things, they are too distorted to be recognizable.
Pertinent text from the title pages:
First published in Great Britain in 1997
Copyright Text Joanne Rowling 1997
Copyright cover illustration Thomas Taylor 1997
Frontispiece (US edition):
Calendar and Dates
The story starts on 1 November 1981, then jumps to 1991, where we follow Harry through his first year at Hogwarts and to his journey back to London at the end of June, 1992.
For Jessica, who loves stories,
For Anne, who loved them too;
And for Di, who heard this one first.
Jessica is Rowling's daughter, Anne is her late mother, and Di is her sister.
Interesting facts and notes
Facts and trivia:
The title refers to a stone sought after by alchemists, a stone which was reputed to turn other metals into gold and to grant immortality.
The U.S. title is changed to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Comments by Rowling about the book:
Q: Do you rewrite a lot?
A: A huge amount. Only once have I sat down, written something end to end, and let it stand. That was the chapter inPhilosopher's Stone when Harry learns to fly. I remember vividly - the old story we've heard a million times - my daughter fell asleep, it was a beautifully sunny day, I sat in a café, and wrote that chapter from beginning to end. And I think I changed two words. That's very unusual for me (Nr).
Q: Do you have a favorite passage from one of your books?
A: Hard to choose. I like chapter twelve of Sorcerer's Stone (The Mirror of Erised), and I am proud of the ending of Goblet of Fire (Sch2).
Q: Does it bother you that in America they changed the names of your books?
A: They changed the first title, but with my consent to be honest. I wish I hadn't agreed now but it was my first book, and I was so grateful that anyone was publishing me I wanted to keep them happy (CR).
Nestlé Smarties Book Prize 1997 Gold Medal 9-11 years, FCBG Children's Book Award 1997 Overall winner and Longer Novel Category winner, Birmingham Cable Children's Book Award 1997, Young Telegraph Paperback of the Year 1998, British Book Awards 1997 Children's Book of the Year, Sheffield Children's Book Award 1998, Whitaker's Platinum Book Award 2001
From the Web
what Rowling says about this book (from Accio Quote)
gallery of cover art from around the world (from SnitchSeeker.com)
chapter by chapter commentary and fan artwork (from The Harry Potter Companion)