Philip Errington on the “Potter” publishing history and new book “J.K. Rowling: A Bibliography”

Last year we announced that Bloomsbury UK would be publishing an academic bibliography of J.K. Rowling called J.K. Rowling: A Bibliography 1997 -2013. The book, by Philip Errington, was released yesterday, February 26, and our friends over at Always J.K. Rowling have an exclusive interview with the author.

JK Rowling A Biblography

In the interview, Errington talks about J.K. Rowling’s comments on the book, as well as what he’s discovered along the way and what he loves about Jo’s work.

On Jo’s response, Errington said,

I have kept J.K. Rowling and Neil Blair, her agent, fully informed of progress over the five years it has taken to write the bibliography. They have seen various drafts at several important moments. J.K. Rowling described the book as ‘slavishly thorough and somewhat mind-boggling’. That’s possibly the highest praise for which a bibliographer could wish.

Errington further revealed that he had been lucky enough to spend time

trawling through many archive boxes at Bloomsbury. When someone packs material in a box and sends it off to storage it’s frequently an exercise in reclaiming desk space. They don’t imagine future researchers will sit in a corner sifting through the piles of paper. That was tremendously rewarding. But also the opportunity to ask others to access information has been invaluable. The staff at [t]he Blair Partnership have been exceptionally helpful in trying to uncover precise facts.

Errington also shares a little-known fact about the Harry Potter series and its original publication:

One of the big facts is the number of hardback and paperback copies printed of the first edition of the first book. Both were published on the same day with 500 hardbacks and 5,150 paperbacks. In the past there have been stories of a total of 500 hardbacks and paperbacks. I’m also delighted to describe what appears to be the first appearance in print of any Harry Potter. Most people would assume this would be the proof printing, but no. Bloomsbury published a volume of forthcoming highlights in early 1997. The complete fourth chapter of Philosopher’s Stone was included.

And why should you buy this book? Errington says that his book will interest fans who want to know

the basic facts. There will also be those who want to work out if they have a rare edition. All [of] the information to tell is in the bibliography. A bibliography is, of course, a guide to an author. But who knew that there are four issues of [t]he Daily Prophet […] published by Bloomsbury for the Harry Potter fan club, and each of these was written by J.K. Rowling. There’s also a section in the bibliography entitled ‘Books and Pamphlets with contributions by J.K. Rowling’ [since] it’s worth remembering that the author has published other material outside [of] her own books. Indeed, this section has twenty entries. Where would you need to look to find a letter written by Jo (aged 45) to her 16[-]year-old self? Or perhaps, telling us about great books to read aloud? Of course, the bibliography doesn’t include these texts – but the book does identify the canon.

Thanks once again to Always JK Rowling for sharing the interview with us. You can read the original piece here, where more fascinating bits of information are revealed. It certainly sounds like a very impressive piece of work – after all, it took five years to put together! You can find out more about the book and buy it here.

Will you be buying J.K. Rowling: A Bibliography?

Let us know in the comments!