Released on June 26, 1997, in the UK (as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) and on September 1, 1998, in the US, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is the first book in the Harry Potter series.
Harry Potter has never played a sport while flying on a broomstick. He’s never worn a cloak of invisibility, befriended a giant, or helped hatch a dragon. All Harry knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley. Harry’s room is a tiny closet at the foot of the stairs, and he hasn’t had a birthday party in eleven years. But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to a wonderful place he never dreamed existed. There he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic around every corner, but a great destiny that’s been waiting for him… if Harry can survive the encounter.
– Back cover description
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In 1996, Jo obtained a grant of £8,000 from the Scottish Arts Council, which enabled her to finish the book and plan the sequels. She sent the book to an agent and a publisher. The second agent she approached spent a year trying to sell the book to publishers, most of whom thought it was too long at about 90,000 words. Bloomsbury accepted the book, paying Rowling an advance of around £1,500. Editor Barry Cunningham was less concerned about the book's length than about its author's name, as the title sounded like a boys' book and that boys would prefer a book written by a male author. Rowling, therefore, adopted the nom de plume J.K. Rowling.
In June 1997, Bloomsbury published Philosopher's Stone with an initial print-run of 500 copies in hardback, three hundred of which were distributed to libraries. The short initial print run was standard for first novels, and Cunningham hoped booksellers would read the book and recommend it to customers. Examples from this initial print run have become quite valuable, selling for as much as US $33,460 in a 2007 Heritage Auction.
Scholastic Corporation bought the U.S. rights at the Bologna Book Fair in April 1997 for US $105,000, an unusually high sum for a children's book. They thought that a child would not want to read a book with the word "philosopher" in the title, so the American edition was published in September 1998 under the title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Rowling claimed that she regretted this change and would have fought it if she had been in a stronger position at the time. The change lost the connection with alchemy, and the meaning of some other terms changed in translation, such as "crumpets" to "muffin" and "jumper" to "sweater." While Rowling accepted the change from both UK English "mum" and Seamus Finnigan's Irish variant "mam" to "mom" in Sorcerer's Stone, she vetoed this change in the later books.
Publishers Weekly's report in December 2001 on cumulative sales of children's fiction placed Sorcerer's Stone 19th among hardbacks with over 5 million copies sold, and 7th among paperbacks with over 6.6 million copies. The total amount of sales over the years is unknown.
Vernon and Petunia Dursley's peaceful and boring life in Surrey with their son Dudley is turned upside down one day starting with some funny stuff on the news, such as owls flying by daylight and "shooting stars." That night, a wizard by the name of Albus Dumbledore pays a visit to their home on Privet Drive. He meets with his colleagues Professor McGonagall and Hagrid on Privet Drive and shares both good and bad news. The good news: the evil Lord Voldemort appears to be gone at last. The bad news: Lord Voldemort has murdered James and Lily Potter. The most mysterious part of all this is that Lord Voldemort was unable to kill the Potter's son Harry, so now Harry must come to Privet Drive and live with the Dursleys.
Ten years later, Harry is living in the cupboard under the stairs while Dudley is being spoiled by his parents. All three Dursleys make a regular habit of bullying Harry and keeping him as miserable as possible. When they are forced to take Harry with them to the zoo on Dudley's birthday, everything is going fine until Harry accidentally frees a boa constrictor by vanishing the glass in front of the exhibit. Harry is punished, and we find out that strange events like this happen regularly around Harry.
One day, Harry receives a mysterious letter with no return address. Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia don't give Harry any answers. More and more of them show up every day and Uncle Vernon tries taking the family away to stop the letters from coming. Harry and the Dursleys are staying in a hut on a rock when they are visited by Rubeus Hagrid, the keeper of keys and grounds at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Hagrid tells Harry he is a wizard and the letters he has been sent are to tell him he has been accepted at Hogwarts. He also tells Harry the truth about how his parents died. The Dursleys try to prevent this, but Hagrid does not let them.
Hagrid takes Harry to Diagon Alley the next day to buy his school supplies. In a pub called the Leaky Cauldron, Harry learns that he is famous for surviving the attack where Lord Voldemort murdered his parents. At the wizarding bank Gringotts, Harry is shown the small fortune his parents left for him and Hagrid retrieves a mysterious package at Dumbledore's request. Harry buys his uniform, books, and supplies for school, including a magic wand. When Harry buys his wand, he learns from the wandmaker Ollivander that it shares a core with the wand that was used by Lord Voldemort.
One month later, Harry goes to King's Cross station and catches the Hogwarts Express from platform nine and three quarters. He meets the Weasley family, which includes fellow first-year student Ron. Harry and Ron become friends during the journey to Hogwarts and encounter several other first-years including forgetful Neville Longbottom, know-it-all Hermione Granger, and bullying Draco Malfoy. When they arrive at Hogwarts for the welcoming feast, the new first-years students try on the Sorting Hat to determine which school house will be theirs. Harry, along with several other students, is sorted into Gryffindor house.
During his first few weeks at Hogwarts, Harry learns that he is a natural at flying a broomstick. In fact, he shows so much talent that he is invited to be a member of the Gryffindor quidditch team. On the other hand, he finds out the hard way that his potions teacher, Professor Snape, is a very strict man who is not at all fond of him. Harry must learn to navigate being famous amongst his peers while also dealing with bullying from Draco Malfoy and his cronies, Crabbe and Goyle. One night, Harry and Ron sneak out to have a duel with Malfoy with Hermione and Neville in tow. Though there turns out not to be a duel, they end up in the forbidden third floor corridor by mistake on their way back to Gryffindor Tower. They see a large, three-headed dog and realize once they have gotten away that the dog must be guarding something.
On Halloween night, the students and staff are enjoying a feast in the Great Hall when Professor Quirrell, the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, bursts in and tells everyone there is a troll in the dungeon. Everyone makes their way back to the dormitories, but Harry and Ron find out Hermione is trapped in a girls' bathroom in the dungeons so they sneak off to save her. Harry and Ron manage to take down the troll and Hermione takes responsibility when the teachers turn up, which leads to her becoming their friend. Harry also notices that Snape, who went in a different direction from the other teachers, appears to have a leg injury. Later, he walks in on Snape having his leg mended and admitting he encountered the same three-headed dog Harry has seen already.
During the first quidditch match of the season, Harry's broom starts jerking out of control. Hermione notices Snape staring at Harry and muttering a curse, so she sets fire to his robes to distract him and save Harry. Harry, Ron and Hermione are having tea with Hagrid after the match where he insists there is nothing to fear from Snape. Hagrid reveals that the three-headed dog, his own Fluffy, is guarding something for Dumbledore. He accidentally shares that the secret package has something to do with a man named Nicholas Flamel.
Harry and Ron remain at Hogwarts for the Christmas holiday while Hermione goes home to see her parents. Harry is surprised to find that he receives presents from several people including a mysterious package containing an invisibility cloak with a note stating that it once belonged to his father. That night, Harry sneaks out under the cloak to look in the restricted section of the library for information on Nicholas Flamel. He ends up finding a room containing the Mirror of Erised, which shows his parents standing beside him. He goes back to see the mirror again and after being caught by Dumbledore one night, learns that the mirror shows whoever looks into it the deepest desire of their heart.
After Christmas break, Hermione discovers that Nicholas Flamel is the creator of the Sorcerer's Stone. Harry, Ron, and Hermione grow worried Snape is going to try to steal the stone, so they speak to Hagrid. Hagrid has since acquired a dragon egg from a stranger he met in a pub and the egg hatches into a Norwegian Ridgeback he calls Norbert. When the dragon gets too big to keep indoors, the trio help Hagrid sneak him out of the castle so Ron's brother Charlie can keep him safe in Romania. Draco tries to expose their secret while Ron recovers in the hospital wing from being bitten by Norbert, and Neville tries to warn Harry and Ron before it's too late. In the end, they are all caught by Professor McGonagall who takes 150 points from Gryffindor house and gives Harry, Hermione, Neville, and Draco detention.
For their detention, Harry, Hermione, Neville, and Draco go into the Forbidden Forest with Hagrid to try and find a wounded unicorn. Harry and Draco eventually find the unicorn along with a hooded man who is drinking its blood. Draco runs off but a centaur called Ferenze saves Harry from being attacked. Ferenze explains to Harry that the hooded figure was Voldemort and that drinking the unicorn blood is helping to keep him alive. Harry understands that Voldemort, supposedly with Snape's help, is the one who is attempting to steal the Sorcerer's Stone.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione deduce that the hooded stranger who gave Norbert to Hagrid was probably Snape getting information for Voldemort by tricking Hagrid. Hagrid confirms that he told the stranger how to get past Fluffy. The trio attempts to warn Dumbledore, but he has left the castle, so they decide to get past Fluffy and try to save the Sorcerer's Stone before anyone else steals it. They encounter a series of obstacles including a vicious plant called Devil's Snare, flying keys, a giant moving chess board, another mountain troll, and a set of potions with a complicated riddle. At the end of the obstacles, Harry is the only one going to face Voldemort so that Hermione can take an injured Ron back up to the hospital wing and send a letter to Dumbledore.
Harry comes face to face with Professor Quirrel standing in front of the Mirror of Erised. He learns that Snape has been trying to protect him from Quirrell, who has been sharing his body with Voldemort all this time. Harry is forced to look into the mirror and sees himself holding the Sorcerer's Stone, then he feels the stone drop into his pocket. Voldemort's face is revealed to be on the back of Quirrel's head and he attempts to use Quirrell to take the stone by killing Harry. When Harry touches Quirrell's face and hands, they begin to burn and dissolve away. Harry passes out as Voldemort's spirit appears to vanish.
Harry wakes up in the hospital wing with Dumbledore at his bedside. Dumbledore explains that the Sorcerer's Stone has been destroyed, though Voldemort may one day try a different way of coming back. He tells Harry that he is protected from Voldemort because of his mother's sacrifice, which is why Quirrell could not touch him. Harry wants to know why Voldemort tried to kill him in the first place, but Dumbledore tells him that he will know when he is ready.
The school year comes to a close with Slytherin in the lead for the House Cup. However, after awarding several last-minute points, the winner of the House Cup is Gryffindor. Harry must return to the Dursley's for the summer holiday, but he is hopeful that things will start to get better now that he has friends and a world where he belongs.
For Jessica, who loves stories, for Anne, who loved them too, and for Di, who heard this one first.
Jessica is J.K. Rowling's firstborn daughter, then 12 years old. Anne was Jo's mother, who unfortunately died of multiple sclerosis on December 30, 1990. Dianne, or "Di," is Jo's younger sister, to whom she read Sorcerer's Stone before sending it off to be reviewed.
- ALA Notable Children's Books, 1999
- ALA/YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 1999
- ALA/YALSA Best of the Best 100 (Selected from BBYA 1966-99)
- ALA/YALSA Top Ten Books for Teens, 1999 (Ranked #1)
- American Booksellers Association Book of the Year (ABBY)
- Anne Spencer Lindbergh Prize for Children's Literature
- Arizona Young Reader's Award, 2000
- Birmingham Cable Children's Book Award, 1997
- Blue Peter Winner of Winners Book Award, 2020
- Book Links Lasting Connections, 1998
- Booklist Editors' Choices, 1998
- Booklist: Top Ten Fantasy Novels for Youth
- British Book Awards Best of the Nibbies at 30, 2020
- British Book Awards Children's Book of the Year (NIBBY), 1997
- CBC Not Just for Children Anymore!
- CCBC Choices, 1998: Fiction for Children
- Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award, 2001
- FCBG Children's Book Award, Overall and Longer Novel Category Winner, 1998
- Great Stone Face Children's Book Award (New Hampshire), 2000
- International Reading Association: Teacher's Choices, 1999
- List International Reading Association: Children's Choices, 1999
- Michigan Reading Association Readers' Choice Award, 2001
- National Council of Teachers of English: Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts, 1999
- Nene Award (Hawaii), 2000
- Nestlé Smarties Book Prize, Gold Award, 9–11 Years, 1997
- New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
- Parenting Magazine: Book of the Year, 1998
- Parenting Magazine: Reading Magic Books, 1998
- Publishers Weekly Best Books 1998
- Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Award (Illinois), 2001
- Sasquatch Reading Award (Washington), 2000
- School Library Journal: Best Books 1998
- School Library Journal: One Hundred Books that Shaped the Century
- Sheffield Children's Book Award, 1998
- Voice of Youth Advocates: Best Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror, 1998
- Whitaker's Platinum Book Award, 2001
- Wisconsin Educational Media Association Golden Archer Award (Middle/Junior High), 2000
- Wyoming Indian Paintbrush Book Award, 2000
- Young Telegraph Paperback of the Year, 1998
- Carnegie Medal Shortlisted for 1997
- Children's Book Award Nominee (Massachusetts), 2000
- Children's Book Award Nominee (Utah), 2000
- Guardian Children's Fiction Prize Shortlisted for 1998
- Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature Nominee, 1999
- New York State Charlotte Award Nominee, 2000
- New York State Children's Choice Award Nominee
- Young Reader's Choice Award Nominee (Pacific Northwest Library Association), 2001
The illustrated edition of Philosopher's Stone/Sorcerer's Stone was released on October 6, 2015, by Bloomsbury and Scholastic. It features over 100 color illustrations by award-winning artist Jim Kay meant to interpret the characters and the story from a new perspective. The cover of the hardcover edition depicts Harry beside the Hogwarts Express at platform nine and three-quarters. The cover of the UK illustrated paperback edition, released on August 23, 2018, depicts Hagrid on the flying motorbike. The hardcover edition also includes a ribbon marker and illustrated endpapers.
Deluxe Illustrated Edition
Released on March 1, 2016, by Bloomsbury, the deluxe illustrated edition of Philosopher’s Stone features a purple 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, an exclusive pull-out double gatefold of Diagon Alley, and two ribbon bookmarks.
A new and magical edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone illustrated by graphic designers Eduardo Lima and Miraphora Mina was published simultaneously by Scholastic and Bloomsbury (which published it as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone) on October 20, 2020. MinaLima has provided extensive designs for the Wizarding World for more than two decades, including designs for the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films. The new edition designed and illustrated by MinaLima features interactive folding pages for the Hogwarts acceptance letter, a feast in the Great Hall, Hogwarts Castle, and more.