When Harry Potter first hit the shelves 20 years ago, nobody would have thought that Harry Potter fandom would become a global phenomenon in the years to follow. But it wasn’t an easy journey for J. K. Rowling, the best selling author who created the magical world with many of us still waiting for our Hogwarts acceptance letter.

20 years ago, in 1995, when J.K. Rowling sent a synopsis of the first Harry Potter book to the publishers, it was outrightly rejected.


Now, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the series, the British Library has displayed the hard copy of the synopsis as a part of their exhibition titled ‘Harry Potter: A History of Magic’.

For those of us who won’t be able to visit the exhibition in UK, Scholastic – an American multinational publishing and media company – has made available an entire book ‘Harry Potter: A Journey Through A History of Magic’. The book contains a copy of the rejected synopsis that Rowling wrote for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. 


The wizarding saga was finally published by Bloomsbury under the title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. 

From that point on, the young wizard became a household name, the whole series was turned into movies and the magical world touched the lives of an entire generation.   


Here’s the synopsis:

Harry Potter lives with his aunt, uncle and cousin because his parents died in a car-crash — or so he has been told. The Dursleys don’t like Harry asking questions; in fact, they don’t seem to like anything about him, especially the very odd things that keep happening around him (which Harry himself can’t explain).

The Dursleys’ greatest fear is that Harry will discover the truth about himself, so when letters start arriving for him near his eleventh birthday, he isn’t allowed to read them. However, the Dursleys aren’t dealing with an ordinary postman, and at midnight on Harry’s birthday, the gigantic Rubeus Hagrid breaks down the door to make sure Harry gets to read his post at last. Ignoring the horrified Dursleys, Hagrid informs Harry that he is a wizard, and the letter he gives Harry explains that he is expected at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in a month’s time.


To the Dursleys’ fury, Hagrid also reveals the truth about Harry’s past. Harry did not receive the scar on his forehead in a car-crash; it is really the mark of the great dark sorcerer Voldemort, who killed Harry’s mother and father but mysteriously couldn’t kill him, even though he was a baby at the time. Harry is famous among the witches and wizards who live in secret all over the country because Harry’s miraculous survival marked Voldemort’s downfall.

So Harry, who has never had friends or family worth the name, sets off for a new life in the wizarding world. He takes a trip to London with Hagrid to buy his Hogwarts equipment (robes, wand, cauldron, beginners’ draft and potion kit) and shortly afterwards, sets off for Hogwarts from Kings Cross Station (platform nine and three quarters) to follow in his parents’ footsteps.


Harry makes friends with Ronald Weasley (sixth in his family to go to Hogwarts and tired of having to use second-hand spellbooks) and Hermione Granger (cleverest girl in the year and the only person in the class to know all the uses of dragon’s blood). Together, they have their first lessons in magic — astronomy up on the tallest tower at two in the morning, herbology out in the greenhouses where the mandrakes and Wolfsbane are kept, potions down in the dungeons with the loathsome Severus Snape. Harry, Ron and Hermione discover the school’s secret passageways, learn how to deal with Peeves the poltergeist and how to tackle an angry mountain troll: best of all, Harry becomes a star player at Quidditch (wizard football played on broomsticks).


What interest Harry and his friends most, though, is why the corridor on the third floor is so heavily guarded. Following up a clue dropped by Hagrid (who, when he is not delivering letters, is Hogwarts’ gamekeeper), they discover that the only Philosopher’s Stone in existence is being kept at Hogwarts, a stone with powers to give limitless wealth and eternal life. Harry, Ron and Hermione seem to be the only people who have realised that Snape the potions master is planning to steal the stone – and what terrible things it could do in the wrong hands. For the Philosopher’s Stone is all that is needed to bring Voldemort back to full strength and power … it seems Harry has come to Hogwarts to meet his parents’ killer face to face – with no idea how he survived last time …