Released on July 2, 1998, in the UK and June 2, 1999, in the US, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the second book in the Harry Potter series. It has 18 chapters and it is 251 pages long in the UK and 341 pages long in the US.
The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike. And strike it does. For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockheart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls’ bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley’s younger sister, Ginny. But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone–or something–starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects… Harry Potter himself?
– Back cover description
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Rowling found it difficult to finish Chamber of Secrets because she was afraid it would not live up to the expectations raised by Sorcerer's Stone. After delivering the manuscript to Bloomsbury on schedule, she took it back for six weeks of revision. When published in the UK, it immediately took first place on UK best-seller lists.
There were several large changes in editing along the way. In early drafts of the book, the ghost Nearly Headless Nick sang a self-composed song explaining his condition and the circumstances of his death. This was cut as the book's editor did not care for the poem, which has been subsequently published as an extra on J.K. Rowling's official website. The family background of Dean Thomas was removed because Rowling and her publishers considered it an "unnecessary digression," and she considered Neville Longbottom's own journey of discovery "more important to the central plot." First edition printings had several errors, which were fixed in subsequent reprints. Initially, Dumbledore said that Voldemort was the last remaining ancestor of Salazar Slytherin, instead of his descendant. Gilderoy Lockhart's book on werewolves is entitled Weekends with Werewolves at one point and Wanderings with Werewolves later in the book.
The audiobook in the US is read by Jim Dale and Stephen Fry in the UK.
Harry Potter is anxiously awaiting his return to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry at 4 Privet Drive when he receives a visit from a house-elf named Dobby. Dobby warns him that he must not return to school because something bad is going to happen. When Harry refuses to agree, Dobby creates a disturbance during a dinner party thrown by Uncle Vernon, thus motivating Uncle Vernon to lock Harry in his room permanently. One night, Ron Weasley and his brothers Fred and George, come to rescue Harry in the Weasley family's flying car and take him to the Burrow, the Weasley family home. Though Mrs. Weasley is not pleased that her sons risked getting in trouble, she and Mr. Weasley are glad to have Harry with them. The Weasleys, along with Harry, travel to Diagon Alley to purchase the children's school supplies. In Diagon Alley, they encounter a very famous wizard, Gilderoy Lockhart, who announces that he is taking over as the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts. They also encounter Harry's nemesis, Draco Malfoy, and his father Lucius. Mr. Malfoy and Mr. Weasley have a fight after Mr. Malfoy makes some remarks that demonstrate his clear distain for the Weasley family. When the Weasleys arrive at King's Cross Station to board the Hogwarts Express, Harry and Ron are separated when the gateway to the platform refuses to let them through. Rather than wait for help, they once again take the flying car to get to school, which earns them a detention for being noticed by the muggles, or "non-magical community."
Harry's second year at Hogwarts becomes increasingly troubled with every passing week. Professor Lockhart, it turns out, is a subpar teacher who spends most of his classes talking about himself. During his first quidditch match against Slytherin, Harry is attacked by a rogue bludger under the control of Dobby, who also prevented the gateway to Platform Nine and Three-Quarters from letting him and Ron through in a further attempt to keep Harry from being killed. Harry hears a voice throughout the school that mentions wanting to kill, with each instance of hearing the voice being followed by a student being petrified. A message is written on the wall warning the the "Chamber of Secrets has been opened." According to legend, the Chamber of Secrets was built by one of Hogwarts' founders, Salazar Slytherin, and is said to be the home of a monster that is believed to be behind the attacks. Harry, Ron, and Hermione decide that they need to find out the truth about what is going on and who is behind the attacks before a student ends up dead. The trio's investigation leads Harry to discover a diary that once belonged to a student named Tom Riddle. When Harry examines the diary, he is shown a memory which suggests that the last time the Chamber of Secrets was opened, and a student was killed, it was Hagrid that was responsible. Harry and Ron go to confront Hagrid after Hermione is attacked and petrified, but that same night, Hagrid is blamed and arrested and Dumbledore is suspended by the Ministry of Magic for failing to prevent the attacks. Following a hint from Hagrid, Harry and Ron go into the forest and speak to an acromantula, Aragog, who once belonged to Hagrid. They confirm that Hagrid was innocent all along and that one of the ghosts in the castle, Moaning Myrtle, is the girl who was killed.
When Ron's sister Ginny is taken into the Chamber of Secrets, the teachers plan to close the school. Harry and Ron attempt to share what they know with Lockhart, who admits to being a fraud that takes credit for the accomplishments of others. After speaking with Moaning Myrtle, they confirm how she died and where the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets is. They find their way to the entrance for the chamber, and Lockart knocks himself out with a failed memory charm he tries to use on Harry and Ron. Harry continues into the Chamber where he is confronted by the ghost of Tom Riddle. Riddle reveals that he has been possessing Ginny through the diary all year and using her to unleash a deadly beast, the basilisk, on the students at Hogwarts. Harry also learns that Tom Riddle eventually grew up to become none other than Lord Voldemort. Riddle unleashes the basilisk on Harry, but Harry manages to fight off the beast and destroy the diary thanks to the Sword of Gryffindor, which is brought to him by Dumbledore's phoenix, Fawkes. When Harry and the others return to Hogwarts, they explain everything that has happened to Dumbledore, who has been reinstated as Headmaster. Dumbledore congratulates Harry and thanks him for his loyalty as Lucius Malfoy arrives to express his outrage, accompanied by his house-elf Dobby. Harry realizes how Dobby knew what was going to happen and deduces that Lucius Malfoy slipped Tom Riddle's diary to Ginny Weasley after his fight with Mr. Weasley. Harry then tricks Lucius Malfoy into giving Dobby a sock, the only way to free a house-elf, thus releasing Dobby from his enslavement. Hagrid is released from prison, Lucius Malfoy is fired from his job at the Ministry, all the petrified students are revived, and Gryffindor wins the House Cup for the second year in a row.
For Sean P.F. Harris, getaway driver and foulweather friend.
Jo met Sean at her secondary school, Wyedean, when she was 11. From JKRowling.com:
He was the first of my friends to learn to drive and that turquoise and white car meant FREEDOM and no more having to ask my father to give me lifts, which is the worst thing about living in the countryside when you are a teenager. Some of the happiest memories of my teenage years involve zooming off into the darkness in Sean's car. He was the first person with whom I really discussed my serious ambition to be a writer and he was also the only person who thought I was bound to be a success at it, which meant much more to me than I ever told him at the time.
- ALA Notable Children's Books, 2000
- YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 2000
- Booklist Editors' Choice, Books for Youth, 1999
- Booklist Top Ten Fantasy Novels for Youth, 1998-99
- The Booksellers Association/The Bookseller Author of the Year 1998
- British Book Awards (Nibbies), Children's Book of the Year, 1998
- CBC Not Just for Children Anymore! List
- CCBC Choices, Fiction for Children, 2000
- FCBG Children's Book Awards, Overall Category, 1999
- FCBG Children's Book Awards, Longer Novel Category, 1999
- Children's Choices, 2000
- Young Adult Choices, 2000
- Nestlé Smarties Book Prize, Gold Award, 9–11 Years, 1998
- North East Book Award, 1999
- North East Scotland Book Award, 1998
- Publishers Weekly's Best Books, 1999
- School Library Journal's Best Books, 1999
- Scottish Arts Council Awards, Book of the Year, 1999
- Whitaker Platinum Book Award, 1999
- Carnegie Medal Shortlist, 1998
- Guardian Children's Fiction Prize Shortlist, 1998
The illustrated edition of Chamber of Secrets was released on October 4, 2016, by Bloomsbury and Scholastic. It features over 115 color illustrations provided by award-winning artist Jim Kay. The cover of the hardcover edition depicts the blue Ford Anglia flying toward the Burrow. The cover of the UK illustrated paperback edition, released on August 22, 2019, depicts a different version of the same image. The hardcover edition also includes a ribbon marker and illustrated endpapers.
Deluxe Illustrated Edition
Released on October 10, 2016, by Bloomsbury and Scholastic, the deluxe illustrated edition of Chamber of Secrets features a red cloth cover and a slipcase adorned with gold foil-stamped artwork by Jim Kay. This edition also includes special features such as premium-grade paper with gilt edges, a two-and-a-half-foot-wide accordion-folded removable poster, and two ribbon bookmarks.
The new and magical edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets illustrated by graphic designers Eduardo Lima and Miraphora Mina was published simultaneously by Scholastic and Bloomsbury on October 26, 2021. The detailed cover is filled with highlights from the book, such as spiders crawling across it, Ron's broken wand, a mandrake plant, and Harry and Ron's epic journey to Hogwarts. This 400-page edition is packed with illustrations of bubbling Polyjuice Potion, powerful charms, the terrifying basilisk, and more.