Most of us can remember the first time we picked up a Harry Potter book. Whether it was read to you by your parents, or whether you were cramming in those spellbinding pages in between class or on lunch break, we can all agree that reading J.K. Rowling's masterpiece for the first time was pure magic.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (yeah, we can't believe it's been that long either), the British Library is hosting a new exhibition that displays texts from Rowling's private archives as well as original manuscripts and artifacts, including the original pitch Rowling sent to publishers when she was trying to sell her book.
Previously on HuffPost:
The pitch gives a rough outline of the initial stages of Harry's world, including his life with the Dursleys, how he learned he's a wizard, how he learned about the identity of his parents, and his first encounter with Rubeus Hagrid.
It reads in part:
"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).
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.
"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."
As previously reported, Rowling herself admitted that 12 publishing houses rejected her idea before it was picked up by Bloomsbury.
According to the Telegraph, Bloomsbury gave Rowling an advance of just £1,500 (about $2,500). The Harry Potter series went on to sell more than 450 million copies worldwide.
Also on display at the exhibition, titled "Harry Potter: A History of Magic," are a handwritten draft of chapter 17 of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, in which Harry realizes that it was Quirrel, not Professor Snape, who was terrorizing Hogwarts; Rowling's own sketches of the wizarding school; Harry's broomstick; the Ripley Scroll, a six metre-long manuscript that explains how to make the Philosopher's Stone; and the tombstone of Nicolas Flamel, who was a real person, not just the alchemist from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
Describing the "incredible" job the British Library had done in putting together the exhibition, Rowling noted, "Encountering objects for real that have in some shape or form figured in my books has been quite wonderful and to have several of my own items in the exhibition is a reminder of twenty amazing years since Harry was first published."
Read Rowling's pitch in full here.