Fans celebrate 20 years of magic on anniversary of release of first ‘Harry Potter’ book

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Monday marked the 20th anniversary of the release of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone" in the United Kingdom, the first book in a seven-book series by J.K. Rowling that touched the hearts of children and adults worldwide.

In 1995, Joanne Rowling — aka J.K Rowling — finished the manuscript for "Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone" on an old manual typewriter. With help from Christopher Little Literary Agents, the book was submitted to twelve publishing houses, all of which rejected the manuscript.

A year later, Bloomsbury publishing gave Rowling the green light and on June 26, 1997, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone" was published in the United Kingdom and in the U.S. in 1998 with the title "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone," with six sequels following in the years after.

The first three novels, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone," "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" and "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" took the top three slots of The New York Times best-seller list and earned approximately $480 million in three years. 

The forth book, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," became the fastest-selling book in history in 2000, broken only by the seventh book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," which sold 11 million copies in 24 hours on July 21, 2007. 

The Harry Potter books are distributed in over 200 territories, are translated into 68 languages and have sold over 400 million copies worldwide.

“I was set free because my greatest fear had been realized and I still had a daughter that I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life," J.K Rowling said of the success of the Harry Potter series.

In October 1998, Warner Bros. purchased the film rights to the first two Harry Potter books. J.K. Rowling was a major consultant for the movies, requesting they be shot in Britain, with an all-British cast. 

The first movie premiered in the U.S. in November 2001 on a record 8,200 screens and smashed the previous box-office record, earning an estimated $93.5 million ($20 million more than the previous record-holder, 1999’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park).

Each of the following movies enjoyed similar record-breaking box-office success. 

The Harry Potter series changed, not only the face of publishing, but how children and adults read. 

According to a national survey conducted in 2008, three out of four kids said that reading Harry Potter made them interested in reading other books. 

In an article published by The Wall Street Journal, Rowling’s first success was writing a story that crossed all age barriers, bringing families together over a series they could share. 

"Here that Ms. Rowling achieves the double-whammy of getting child readers to emote with a central character who is outwardly like them, inwardly not, empowered by wizardry yet otherwise ordinary,"  wrote Norman Lebrecht for The Wall Street Journal. " … The magnetic charm of Harry is that he has no limits: He can do anything, fly anywhere and yet remain sympathetic and real, an achievable role model."

The novel’s anniversary was trending on social media as fans shared their love of the series and how it changed the literary world forever.

According to her biography, Rowling, now Britain’s 13th wealthiest woman — wealthier than even the Queen — does not plan to write any more books in the series, but has not entirely ruled out the possibility.

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