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Harry Potter books
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.jpg
Author J. K. Rowling
Illustrators Thomas Taylor (UK)
Mary GrandPré (US)
Genre Fantasy
Publishers Bloomsbury (UK)
Scholastic (US)
Raincoast (Canada)
Released 30 June 1997 (UK)
1 September 1998 (US)
Book no. One
Sales Unknown
Story timeline 31 October 1981
22 June 1991–June 5, 1992
Chapters 17
Pages 223 (UK)
309 (US)
ISBN 0747532699
Followed by Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is the first novel in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling and featuring Harry Potter, a young wizard. It describes how Harry discovers he is a wizard, makes close friends and a few enemies at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and with the help of his friends thwarts an attempted comeback by the evil wizard Voldemort, who killed Harry's parents and tried to kill Harry when he was one year old.

The book was published on 30 June 1997 by Bloomsbury in London, and in the United States under the title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by Scholastic Corporation in 1998. It won most of the UK book awards that were judged by children, and other awards in the USA. The book reached the top of the New York Times list of best-selling fiction in August 1999, and stayed near the top of that list for much of 1999 and 2000. It has been translated into several other languages and has been made into a feature-length film of the same name.

Most reviews were very favourable, commenting on Rowling's imagination, humour, simple, direct style and clever plot construction, although a few complained that the final chapters looked rushed. The writing has been compared to that of Jane Austen, one of Rowling's favourite authors, of Roald Dahl, whose works dominated children's stories before the appearance of Harry Potter, and of the Ancient Greek story-teller Homer. While some commentators thought the book looked backwards to Victorian and Edwardian boarding school stories, others thought it placed the genre firmly in the modern world by featuring contemporary ethical and social issues.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, along with the rest of the Harry Potter series, has been attacked by several religious groups and banned in some countries because of accusations that the novels promote witchcraft. However, some Christian commentators have written that the book exemplifies important Christian viewpoints, including the power of self-sacrifice and the ways in which people's decisions shape their personalities. Educators regard Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and its sequels as an important aid in improving literacy because of the books' popularity. The series has also been used as a source of object lessons in educational techniques, sociological analysis and marketing.




Just before the start of the novel, Voldemort, the most powerful evil wizard in living memory, killed Harry's parents but mysteriously vanished after trying to kill Harry. While the wizarding world is celebrating Voldemort's downfall, Professor Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall and Hagrid place the one year-old orphan in the care of his Muggle (non-wizard) aunt and uncle, Vernon and Petunia Dursley.

For ten years, they and their son Dudley bully Harry. Shortly before Harry's eleventh birthday, a series of letters arrive, addressed to Harry but destroyed by his uncle before Harry can read them. As a result, a torrent of letters pour into the house through every opening, however small, and to escape this, Vernon Dursley takes the family to a lonely island. As they are settling in, Hagrid bursts through the door to tell Harry what the Dursleys have kept from him: Harry is a wizard and has been accepted at Hogwarts for the coming year.

Hagrid takes Harry to Diagon Alley, a magically-concealed shopping precinct in London, where Harry is bewildered to discover how famous he is among wizards as "the boy who lived." He also finds that in the wizarding world he is quite wealthy, since a bequest from his parents has remained on deposit at Gringotts Bank. Guided by Hagrid, he buys the books and equipment he needs for Hogwarts - and finds that the only wand that works well for him is effectively the twin of Voldemort's.

A month later, Harry leaves the Dursleys' home to catch the Hogwarts Express from King's Cross railway station. There he is befriended by the Weasley family, who show him how to pass through the magical wall to Platform 9¾, where the train is waiting. While on the train Harry makes friends with Ron Weasley, who tells him that someone tried to rob a vault at Gringotts. Another new pupil, Draco Malfoy, accompanied by his beefy but dim sidekicks Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle, offers to advise Harry, but Harry dislikes Draco's arrogance and prejudices.

Before the term's first dinner in the school's Great Hall, the new pupils are allocated to houses by the magical Sorting Hat. The Hat assigns most pupils instantly – particularly when sending Draco, Crabbe and Goyle to Slytherin – but telepathically discusses with Harry about whether the boy's ambition would make Slytherin the best choice for him. When Harry silently but vehemently objects, the Hat sends him to join the Weasleys in Gryffindor. While Harry is eating, Professor Snape catches his eye and Harry feels a sudden stab of pain in the scar Voldemort left on his forehead, which fades as quickly.

After a traumatic first Potions lesson with Snape, Harry and Ron visit Hagrid, who lives in a rustic house on the edge of the Forbidden Forest. There they learn that the attempted robbery at Gringotts happened the day Harry was withdrawing money, and Harry remembers Hagrid removing a small package, emptying a vault that was later broken into and searched.

During the new pupils' first flying lesson, Neville Longbottom breaks his wrist and Draco takes advantage to throw the forgetful Neville's fragile Remembrall high in the air. Harry gives chase on his broomstick, catching the Remembrall inches from the ground. Professor McGonagall dashes out and appoints him as Gryffindor's new Seeker.[1]

Draco tricks Ron and Harry into a midnight excursion, and Neville and the bossy Hermione Granger, both also in Gryffindor, accompany the pair to keep them out of trouble. All four accidentally enter a forbidden corridor and find a room containing a huge three-headed dog. The group beats a hasty retreat, and only Hermione notices that the dog is standing over a trap-door. Harry concludes that the monster guards the package Hagrid retrieved from Gringotts.

After Ron criticizes Hermione's ostentatious proficiency in Charms, she hides in tears in the girls' toilet. Professor Quirrell reports that a troll has entered the dungeons. While everyone else returns to their dormitories, Harry and Ron rush to warn Hermione. The troll corners Hermione in the toilet but, while Harry stabs it with his wand, Ron knocks out the troll with its own club, using the levitation spell Hermione demonstrated in Charms. When a posse of professors arrives, Hermione takes the blame for the battle and becomes a firm friend of the two boys.

The evening before Harry's first Quidditch match, he sees Snape receiving medical attention from Filch for a bite by the three-headed dog. During the game, Harry's broomstick goes out of control, endangering his life, and Hermione notices that Snape is staring at Harry and muttering. She dashes over to the Professors' stand, knocking over Professor Quirrel in her haste, and sets fire to Snape's robe. Harry regains control of his broomstick and catches the Golden Snitch, winning the game for Gryffindor. Hagrid refuses to believe that Snape was responsible for Harry's danger, but lets slip that he bought the three-headed dog, and that the monster is guarding a secret that belongs to Professor Dumbledore and someone called Nicolas Flamel.

Harry and the Weasleys stay at Hogwarts for Christmas, and one of Harry's presents, from an anonymous donor, is an Invisibility Cloak. Harry uses the Cloak to search the library's Restricted Section for information about the mysterious Flamel, has to evade Snape and Filch after an enchanted book shrieks an alarm, and slips into a room containing the Mirror of Erised, which shows his parents and several of their ancestors. Harry becomes addicted to the Mirror's visions and is rescued by Professor Dumbledore, who explains that it shows what the viewer most desperately longs for.

When the rest of the pupils return for the next term, Draco plays a prank on Neville, and Harry consoles Neville with a sweet. The collectible card wrapped with the sweet identifies Flamel as an alchemist. Hermione soon finds that he is a 665-year-old man who possesses the only known Philosopher's Stone, from which can be extracted an elixir of life. A few days later Harry notices Snape sneaking towards the outskirts of the Forbidden Forest. There he half-hears a furtive conversation about the Philosopher's Stone, in which Snape asks Professor Quirrell if he has found a way past the three-headed dog and menacingly tells Quirrell to decide whose side he is on. Harry concludes that Snape is trying to steal the Stone and Quirrell has prepared a series of defences for it.

The three friends discover that Hagrid is raising a baby dragon, which is against wizard law, and arrange to smuggle it out of the country around midnight. Draco arrives, hoping to raise the alarm and get them into trouble, and Neville comes to warn them of Draco's mischief. Although Ron is bitten by the dragon and is sent to the infirmary, Harry and Hermione spirit the dragon safely away. However, they are caught, and Harry loses the Invisibility Cloak. As part of their punishment, Harry, Hermione, Draco and Neville are compelled to help Hagrid to rescue a badly-injured unicorn in the Forbidden Forest. They split into two parties, and Harry and Draco find the unicorn dead, surrounded by its blood. A hooded figure crawls to the corpse and drinks the blood, while Draco screams and flees. The hooded figure moves towards Harry, who is knocked out by an agonising pain spreading from his scar. When Harry regains consciousness, the hooded figure has gone and a centaur, Firenze, offers to give him a ride back to the school. The centaur tells Harry that drinking a unicorn's blood will save the life of a mortally injured person, but leave them only barely alive. Firenze suggests Voldemort drank the unicorn's blood to gain enough strength to make the elixir of life from the Philosopher's Stone, and regain full health by drinking that. On his return, Harry finds that someone has slipped the Invisibility Cloak under his sheets.

A few weeks later, while relaxing after the end-of-session examinations, Harry suddenly wonders how something as illegal as a dragon's egg came into Hagrid's possession. The gamekeeper says he was given it by a hooded stranger who bought him several drinks and asked him how to get past the three-headed dog, which Hagrid admits is easy – music sends it to sleep. Realising that one of the Philosopher's Stone's defences is no longer secure, Harry goes to inform Professor Dumbledore, only to find that the headmaster has just left for an important meeting. Harry concludes that Snape faked the message that called Dumbledore away and will try to steal the Stone that night.

Voldemort on the back of Professor Quirrell's head at the climax of the film Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.[2]

Covered by the Invisibility Cloak, Harry and his two friends go to the three-headed dog's chamber, where Harry sends the beast to sleep by playing a harp. After lifting the trap-door, they encounter a series of obstacles, each of which requires special skills possessed by one of the three, and one of which requires Ron to sacrifice himself. In the final room Harry, now alone, finds not Snape, but Quirrell. Quirrell admits that he let in the troll that tried to kill Hermione in the toilet, and that he tried to kill Harry during the first Quidditch match but was knocked over by Hermione. Snape had been trying to protect Harry and suspected Quirrell. Quirrell serves Voldemort and, after failing to steal the Philosopher's Stone from Gringotts, allowed his master to possess him in order to improve their chances of success. However the only other object in the room is the Mirror of Erised, and Quirrell can see no sign of the Stone. At Voldemort's bidding, Quirrel forces Harry to stand in front of the Mirror. Harry feels the Stone drop into his pocket and tries to stall. Quirrell removes his turban, revealing the face of Voldemort on the back of his head. Voldemort/Quirrell tries to grab the Stone from Harry, but simply touching Harry causes Quirrell's flesh to burn. After further struggles Harry passes out.

He awakes in the school hospital, where Professor Dumbledore tells him that he survived because his mother sacrificed her life to protect him, and Voldemort could not understand the power of such love. Voldemort left Quirrell to die, and is likely to return by some other means. Dumbledore had foreseen that the Mirror would show Voldemort/Quirrell only themselves making the elixir of life, as they wanted to use the Philosopher's Stone; Harry was able to see the Stone in the Mirror because he wanted to find it but not to use it. The Stone has now been destroyed.

Harry returns to the Dursleys for the summer holiday, but does not tell them that under-age wizards are forbidden to use magic outside Hogwarts.

After ten years, Harry became an eleven year-old boy. The Dursleys have kept the truth about Harry's parents from him, but it is revealed in the form of Rubeus Hagrid, who tells Harry that he is a wizard and has been accepted at Hogwarts for the autumn term. Harry takes the train to Hogwarts from King's Cross Station. On the train, Harry sits with and quickly befriends Ron Weasley; the two are also briefly visited by Neville Longbottom and Hermione Granger. Later on in the journey, Malfoy comes into Harry and Ron's compartment with his friends Crabbe and Goyle and introduces himself. After Ron laughs at Draco's name, Draco offers to help Harry distinguish the wrong sort of wizards, but Harry declines.

Upon arrival, the Sorting Hat places Harry, Hermione, Neville and Ron into Gryffindor House, one of the school's four houses, while Draco and his cronies are placed in Slytherin House. After a broom-mounted game to save Neville's Remembrall, Harry joins Gryffindor's Quidditch team as their youngest Seeker in over a century.

Shortly after school begins, Harry and his friends hear that someone broke into a previously emptied vault at the wizarding bank, Gringotts. The mystery deepens when they discover a monstrous three-headed dog, Fluffy, who guards a trapdoor in the forbidden third floor passageway. On Halloween, a troll enters the castle and traps Hermione in one of the girls' lavatories. Harry and Ron rescue her, but are caught by Professor McGonagall. Hermione defends the boys and takes the blame, which results in the three becoming close friends.

Harry's broom becomes jinxed during his first Quidditch match, nearly resulting in Harry falling from a great height. Hermione believes that Professor Snape has cursed the broom and distracts him by setting his robes on fire, allowing Harry to catch the Snitch and win the game for Gryffindor.

At Christmas, Harry receives his father's Invisibility Cloak from an unknown source. Later, he discovers the Mirror of Erised, a strange mirror that shows Harry surrounded by his parents and the extended family he never knew. Later, Harry learns that Nicolas Flamel is the maker of Philosopher's Stone, a stone that gives the owner eternal life.

Harry sees Professor Snape interrogating Professor Quirrell about getting past Fluffy, seemingly confirming the suspicion that Snape is trying to steal the Philosopher's Stone in order to restore Lord Voldemort to power. The trio discover that Hagrid is hiding a dragon egg, which hatches; since dragon breeding is illegal, they convince Hagrid to send the dragon to live with others of its kind. Harry and Hermione are caught returning to their dormitories after sending Norbert off and are forced to serve detention with Hagrid in the Forbidden Forest. In the forest, Harry sees a hooded figure drink the blood of an injured unicorn. Firenze, a centaur, tells Harry that the hooded figure is Voldemort.

Voldemort on the back of Professor Quirrell's head at the climax of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in the film.

Hagrid accidentally tells Harry, Ron, and Hermione how to get past Fluffy; and they rush to tell the headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, what they know, only to find that he has been called away from the school. Convinced that Dumbledore's summons was a red herring to take him away while the Philosopher's Stone is stolen, the trio set out to reach the Stone first. They navigate a series of complex magical challenges set up by the school's faculty, and at the end of these challenges, Harry enters the inner chamber alone, only to find that it is the timid Professor Quirrell, not Snape, who is after the Stone. The final challenge protecting the Stone is the Mirror of Erised. Quirrell forces Harry to look into the mirror to discover where the Stone is hidden; and Harry successfully resists, and the Stone drops into his own pocket. Lord Voldemort reveals himself: he has possessed Quirrell and appears as a ghastly face on the back of Quirrell's head. Quirrell tries to attack Harry, but merely touching Harry proves to be agony for him. Voldemort flees and Quirrell dies as Dumbledore arrives back in time to save Harry.

As Harry recovers, Dumbledore confirms that Lily had died while trying to protect Harry as an infant. Her pure, loving sacrifice provides her son with an ancient magical protection against Voldemort's lethal spells. Dumbledore also explains that the Philosopher's Stone has been destroyed to prevent Voldemort from ever using it. He then tells Harry that only those who wanted to find the Stone, but not use it, would be able to retrieve it from the mirror, which is why Harry could acquire it. When Harry asks Dumbledore why Voldemort attempted to kill him when he was an infant, Dumbledore promises to tell Harry when he is older.

At the end-of-year feast, where Harry is welcomed as a hero. Dumbledore gives a few last-minute additions, granting enough points to Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville for Gryffindor to win the House Cup, ending Slytherin's six-year reign as house champions.

Main characters

Harry Potter is an orphan whom Rowling imagined as a "scrawny, black-haired, bespectacled boy who didn't know he was a wizard."[3] She developed the series' story and characters, including Voldemort, to explain how Harry came to be in this situation and how his life unfolded from there.[4] Apart from the first chapter, the events of this book take place just before and in the year following Harry's eleventh birthday. Voldemort's attack left a lightning bolt-shaped scar on Harry's forehead,[4] which produces stabbing pains when Voldemort or a close associate of the dark wizard feels any strong emotion. Harry has prodigious natural talent for Quidditch and the ability to persuade friends by passionate speeches.

Petunia Dursley, the sister of Harry's mother Lily, is a thin woman with a long neck that she uses for spying on the neighbours. She regards her magical sister as a freak and tries to pretend that she never existed. Her husband Vernon is a heavily-built man whose irascible bluster covers a narrow mind and a fear of anything unusual. Their son Dudley is an overweight, spoilt bully.

Despite being the school's jokers, identical twins Fred and George Weasley get good marks in examinations and are excellent Quidditch players. Their younger brother Ron is Harry's age and Rowling describes him as the ultimate best friend, "always there when you need him."[5] Ron lacks confidence in his prospects of matching his three oldest brothers' achievements or the popularity of Fred and George, but his skill and bravery in a magical chess game where lives are at stake help Harry past one of the obstacles on the path to the Philosopher's Stone.

Hermione Granger, the daughter of an all-Muggle family, is a bossy girl who has apparently memorised most of the textbooks before the start of term. Rowling described Hermione as a "very logical, upright and good" character[6] with "a lot of insecurity and a great fear of failure beneath her swottiness".[6] Despite her nagging efforts to keep Harry and Ron out of trouble, she becomes a close friend of the two boys, and her magical and analytical skills play a vital part in finding the Philosopher's Stone.

Draco Malfoy is a slim, pale boy who speaks in a bored drawl. He is arrogant about his skill in Quidditch, and despises anyone who is not a pure blood wizard – and wizards who do not share his views. His parents had supported Voldemort, but changed sides after the dark wizard's disappearance. Draco avoids direct confrontations, and tries to get Harry and his friends into trouble.

Neville Longbottom is a plump, diffident boy, so forgetful that his grandmother gives him a Remembrall. Neville's magical abilities are weak and appeared just in time to save his life when he was eight. Despite his timidity, Neville will fight anyone after some encouragement or if he thinks it is right and important.

Dumbledore as portrayed by the late Richard Harris in the film Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.[2]

Professor Dumbledore, a tall, thin man who wears half-moon spectacles and has silver hair and a beard that tucks into his belt, is the headmaster of Hogwarts, and thought to be the only wizard Voldemort fears. Dumbledore, while renowned for his achievements in magic, finds it difficult to resist sweets and has a whimsical sense of humour. Although he shrugs off praise, he is aware of his own brilliance. Rowling described him as the "epitome of goodness".[7]

Professor McGonagall, a tall, severe-looking woman with black hair tied in a tight bun, teaches Transfiguration, and sometimes transforms herself into a cat. She is in charge of Gryffindor House and, unlike Professor Snape, shows no favouritism towards pupils in her House, but seizes any opportunity to help Gryffindor by fair means. According to the author, "under that gruff exterior" is "a bit of an old softy".[8]

Twitching, stammering Professor Quirrell teaches Defence Against the Dark Arts. Reputedly he was a brilliant scholar, but his nerve was shattered by an encounter with vampires. Quirrell wears a turban to conceal the fact that he is voluntarily possessed by Voldemort, whose face appears on the back of Quirrel's head.

Professor Snape, who has a hooked nose, sallow complexion and greasy black hair, teaches Potions, but is eager to teach Defence Against the Dark Arts. Snape praises pupils in Slytherin, his own House, but seizes every opportunity to humiliate others, especially Harry. Several incidents, beginning with the shooting pain in Harry's scar near the end of the first dinner, lead Harry and his friends to think Snape is a follower of Voldemort.

Hagrid, a half-giant nearly 12 feet (3.7 m) tall, with tangled black hair and beard, was expelled from Hogwarts and his wand was broken, but Professor Dumbledore let him stay on as the school's gamekeeper, a job which enables him to lavish affection and pet names on even the most dangerous of magical creatures. Hagrid is fiercely loyal to Dumbledore and quickly becomes a close friend of Harry, Ron and later Hermione, but his carelessness makes him unreliable.

The school's caretaker, Filch, knows the school's secret passages better than anyone else except possibly the Weasley twins. His cat, Mrs. Norris, aids his hunts for misbehaving pupils. Other members of Hogwarts staff include: the dumpy Herbology teacher Professor Sprout; Professor Flitwick, the tiny and excitable Charms teacher, who is discreetly friendly towards Harry; the soporific History of Magic teacher, Professor Binns, a ghost who has not yet noticed his own death; and Madam Hooch, the Quidditch coach, who is strict but a considerate, methodical teacher. The poltergeist Peeves wanders around the buildings causing trouble for whomever he can.

In the book, Rowling introduced an eclectic cast of characters. The first character to be introduced is Vernon Dursley, Harry's uncle. Most of the actions centre on the eponymous hero Harry Potter, an orphan who escapes his miserable childhood with the Dursley family. Rowling imagined him as a "scrawny, black-haired, bespectacled boy who didn't know he was a wizard",[3] and says she transferred part of her pain about losing her mother to him.[9] During the book, Harry makes two close friends, Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger. Ron is described by Rowling as the ultimate best friend, "always there when you need him".[5] Rowling has described Hermione as a "very logical, upright and good" character[6] with "a lot of insecurity and a great fear of failure beneath her swottiness".[6]

Rowling also imagined a supporting cast of adults. Headmaster of Hogwarts is powerful but kind wizard Albus Dumbledore, who becomes Harry's confidant; Rowling described him as "epitome of goodness".[7] His right hand is severe Minerva McGonagall, who according to the author "under that gruff exterior" is "a bit of an old softy",[8] the friendly half-giant Rubeus Hagrid, who saved Harry from the Dursley family and the sinister Severus Snape.[10] Professor Quirrell is also featured in the novel.

The main antagonists are Draco Malfoy, an elitist, bullying classmate[11] and Lord Voldemort, the most powerful evil wizard who becomes disembodied when he tries to kill baby Harry. According to a 1999 interview with Rowling, the character of Voldemort was created as a literary foil for Harry, and his backstory was intentionally not fleshed-out at first:

The basic idea... Harry, I saw Harry very very very clearly. Very vividly. And I knew he didn't know he was a wizard. [...] And so then I kind of worked backwards from that position to find out how that could be, that he wouldn't know what he was. [...] When he was one year old, the most evil wizard for hundreds and hundreds of years attempted to kill him. He killed Harry's parents, and then he tried to kill Harry—he tried to curse him. [...] And—so—but for some mysterious reason, the curse didn't work on Harry. So he's left with this lightning bolt shaped scar on his forehead and the curse rebounded upon the evil wizard, who has been in hiding ever since.[12]

Development, publication and reception


In 1990 Jo Rowling, as she preferred to be known,[13] wanted to move with her boyfriend to a flat in Manchester and in her words, "One weekend after flat hunting, I took the train back to London on my own and the idea for Harry Potter fell into my head... A scrawny, little, black-haired, bespectacled boy became more and more of a wizard to me... I began to write Philosopher's Stone that very evening. Although, the first couple of pages look nothing like the finished product."[9] Then Rowling's mother died and, to cope with her pain, Rowling transferred her own anguish to the orphan Harry.[9] Rowling spent six years working on Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, and in 1996 obtained a grant of £4,000 from the Scottish Arts Council, which enabled her to finish the book and plan the sequels.[14] She sent the book to an agent and a publisher, and then 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. Barry Cunningham, who was building a portfolio of distinctive fantasies by new authors for Bloomsbury Children's Books, recommended accepting the book,[14] and the eight-year-old daughter of Bloomsbury's chief executive said it was "so much better than anything else."[15]

UK publication and reception

Imitation of the fictional Platform 9¾ at the real King's Cross railway station, with a luggage trolley apparently half-way through the magical wall

Bloomsbury accepted the book, paying Rowling a £2,500 advance,[16] and Cunningham sent proof copies to carefully-chosen authors, critics and booksellers in order to obtain comments that could be quoted when the book was launched.[14] He was less concerned about the book's length than about its author's name, as the title sounded like a boys' book and boys prefer books by male authors. Rowling therefore adopted the nom de plume J.K. Rowling just before publication.[14] 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.[17] The short initial print run was standard for first novels, and Cunningham hoped booksellers would read the book and recommend it to customers.[14]

Lindsey Fraser, who had supplied one of the blurb comments,[14] wrote what is thought to be the first published review, in The Scotsman on 28 June 1997. She described Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as "a hugely entertaining thriller" and Rowling as "a first-rate writer for children".[14][18] Another early review, in The Herald, said, "I have yet to find a child who can put it down." Newspapers outside Scotland started to notice the book, with glowing reviews in The Guardian, The Sunday Times and The Mail on Sunday, and in September 1997 Books for Keeps, a magazine that specialised in children's books, gave the novel four stars out of five.[14] In 1997 the UK edition won a National Book Award and a gold medal in the 9 to 11 year-olds category of the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize.[19] The Smarties award, which is voted for by children, made the book well-known within six months of publication, while most children's books have to wait for years.[14]

The following year, Philosopher's Stone won almost all the other major UK awards that were decided by children.[14][20] It was also shortlisted for children's books awards adjudicated by adults,[21] but did not win. Sandra Beckett comments that books which were popular with children were regarded as undemanding and as not of the highest literary standards – for example the literary establishment disdained the works of Roald Dahl, an overwhelming favourite of children before the appearance of Rowling's books.[22]

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone won two publishing industry awards given for sales rather than literary merit, the British Book Awards Children's Book of the Year and the Booksellers' Association / Bookseller Author of the Year.[14] By March 1999 UK editions had sold just over 300,000 copies,[23] and the story was still the UK's best-selling title in December 2001.[24] A Braille edition was published in May 1998 by the Scottish Braille Press.[25]

Platform 9¾, from which the Hogwarts Express left London, was commemorated in the real-life King's Cross railway station with a sign between tracks 9 and 10 and a trolley apparently passing through the wall.[26]

USA publication and reception

UK to American translation examples[27][28]
UK American
mum, mam mom
sherbet lemon lemon drop
motorbike motorcycle
chips fries
jelly Jell-O
jacket potato baked potato
jumper sweater

Scholastic Corporation bought the USA rights at the Bologna Book Fair in April 1997 for US$105,000, an unusually high sum for a children's book.[14] They thought that a child would not want to read a book with the word "philosopher" in the title and,[29] after some discussion, the American edition was published in October 1998 under the title Rowling suggested, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.[14][30] Rowling claimed that she regretted this change and would have fought it if she had been in a stronger position at the time.[31] Philip Nel has pointed out that the change lost the connection with alchemy, and the meaning of some other terms changed in translation, for example from UK English "crumpets" to US English "muffin". While Rowling accepted the change from both standard UK English "mum" and Seamus Finnegan's Irish variant "mam" to "mom" in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, she vetoed this change in the later books. However Nel considered that Scholastic's translations were considerably more sensitive than most of those imposed on UK English books of the time, and that some other changes could be regarded as useful copyedits.[27] Since the UK editions of early titles in the series were published a few months earlier than the American versions, some American readers became familiar with the British English versions after buying them via the Internet.[32]

At first the most prestigious reviewers ignored the book, leaving it to book trade and library publications such as Kirkus Reviews and Booklist, which examined it only by the entertainment-oriented criteria of children's fiction. However more penetrating specialist reviews, such as one by Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices, which pointed out the complexity, depth and consistency of the world Rowling had built, attracted the attention of reviewers in major newspapers.[33] Although The Boston Globe and Michael Winerip in The New York Times complained that the final chapters were the weakest part of the book[18][34] they and most other American reviewers gave glowing praise.[14][18] A year later the US edition was selected as an American Library Association Notable Book, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 1998, and a New York Public Library 1998 Best Book of the Year, and won Parenting Magazine's Book of the Year Award for 1998,[19] the School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, and the American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults.[14]

In August 1999 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone topped the New York Times list of best-selling fiction,[35] and stayed near the top of the list for much of 1999 and 2000, until the New York Times split its list into children's and adult sections under pressure from other publishers who were eager to see their books given higher placings.[22][33] Publishers Weekly's report in December 2001 on cumulative sales of children's fiction placed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone 19th among hardbacks (over 5 million copies) and 7th among paperbacks (over 6.6 million copies).[36]

In May 2008, Scholastic announced the creation of a 10th Anniversary Edition of the book to be released in September 2008 to mark the tenth anniversary of the original American release.[37]


By mid-2008 official translations of the book were published in 67 languages.[38][39] Bloomsbury have published translations in Latin and in Ancient Greek,[40][41] and the latter was described as "one of the most important pieces of Ancient Greek prose written in many centuries".[42]


The second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was originally published in the UK on 2 July 1998 and in the US on 2 June 1999.[43][44] Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was then published a year later in the UK on 8 July 1999 and in the US on 8 September 1999.[43][44] Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was published on 8 July 2000 at the same time by Bloomsbury and Scholastic.[45] Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the longest book in the series at 766 pages in the UK version and 870 pages in the US version.[46] It was published worldwide in English on 21 June 2003.[47] Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was published on 16 July 2005, and sold 11 million copies in the first 24 hours of its worldwide release.[48][49] The seventh and final novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was published 21 July 2007.[50] The book sold 11 million copies within 24 hours of its release: 2.7 million copies in the UK and 8.3 million in the US.[51]

Film version

European & American posters for the film

In 1999, Rowling sold the film rights of the first four Harry Potter books to Warner Bros. for a reported £1 million ($1,982,900).[52] Rowling demanded that the principal cast be kept strictly British, but allowed for the casting of Irish actors such as the late Richard Harris as Dumbledore, and of foreign actors as characters of the same nationalities in later books.[53] After extensive casting,[54] filming began in October 2000 at Leavesden Film Studios and in London, with production ending in July 2001.[55] Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was released in London on 14 November 2001.[2][56] Reviewers' comments were positive, as reflected by a 78% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes,[57] and by a score of 64% at Metacritic representing "generally favorable reviews".[58]

Video games

Video games loosely based on the book were released between 2001 and 2003, generally under the American title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Most were published by Electronic Arts but produced by different developers:

Publisher Year Platform Type Metacritic score Notes
Electronic Arts 2001 MS Windows Role-playing game[59] 65%[60]
Aspyr 2002 Mac OS 9 Role-playing game[61][62] (not available)[63] Same as Windows version[62]
Electronic Arts 2001 Game Boy Color Role-playing game[64] (not available)[63]  
Electronic Arts 2001 Game Boy Advance "Adventure/puzzle" game[65] 64%[66]  
Electronic Arts 2003 GameCube "Action adventure"[67] 62%[68]  
Electronic Arts 2001 PlayStation Role-playing game[69] 64%[70]  
Electronic Arts 2003 PlayStation 2 "Action adventure"[71] 56%[72]  
Electronic Arts 2003 Xbox "Action adventure"[73] 59%[74]  

Religious controversy

Religious controversy surrounding the Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone along with the rest of the Harry Potter series have stemmed mainly from assertions that the novel contains occult or Satanic subtexts. In the United States, calls for the book to be banned from schools have led occasionally to widely publicised legal challenges, usually on the grounds that witchcraft is a government-recognised religion and that to allow the novels to be held in public schools violates the separation of church and state.[75][76][77] The series was at the top of the American Library Association's "most challenged books" list for 1999–2001.[19]

Religious opposition has also surfaced in other nations. The Orthodox churches of Greece and Bulgaria have campaigned against the series.[78][79] The books have been banned from private schools in the United Arab Emirates and criticised in the Iranian state-run press.[80][81]

Roman Catholic opinion over the series was divided. In 2003 Catholic World Report criticised Harry's disrespect for rules and authority, and regarded the series' mixing of the magical and mundane worlds as "a fundamental rejection of the divine order in creation".[82] In 2005 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope later that year but was then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, described the series as "subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul before it can grow properly,"[83] and gave permission for publication of the letter that expressed this opinion.[84] A spokesman for the Archbishop of Westminster said that Cardinal Ratzinger's words were not binding as they were not an official pronouncement of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.[83] In 2003 Monsignor Peter Fleetwood, a member of a Church working party on New Age phenomena, said that the Harry Potter stories "are not bad or a banner for anti-Christian theology. They help children understand the difference between good and evil", that Rowling's approach was Christian, and that the stories illustrated the need to make sacrifices in order to defeat evil.[83][85]

Some religious responses have been positive. "At least as much as they've been attacked from a theological point of view", notes Rowling, "[the books] have been lauded and taken into pulpit, and most interesting and satisfying for me, it's been by several different faiths".[86] Emily Griesinger wrote that fantasy literature helps children to survive reality for long enough to learn how to deal with it, described Harry's first passage through to Platform 9¾ as an application of faith and hope, and his encounter with the Sorting Hat as the first of many in which Harry is shaped by the choices he makes. She noted that the self-sacrifice of Harry's mother, which protects the boy in the first book and throughout the series, was the most powerful of the "deeper magics" that transcend the magical "technology" of the wizards, and one which the power-hungry Voldemort fails to understand.[87]

Style and themes

Philip Nel highlighted the influence of Jane Austen, whom Rowling has greatly admired since the age of twelve. Both novelists encourage re-reading, because details that look insignificant foreshadow important events or characters much later in the story-line – for example Sirius Black is briefly mentioned near the beginning of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, and then becomes a major character in the third to fifth books. Like Austen's heroines, Harry often has to re-examine his ideas near the ends of books. Some social behaviour in the Harry Potter books is remininiscent of Austen, for example the excited communal reading of letters. Both authors satirise social behaviour and give characters names that express their personalities. However in Nel's opinion Rowling's humour is more based on caricature and the names she invents are more like those found in Charles Dickens's stories,[88] and Amanda Cockrell noted that many of these express their owners' traits through allusions that run from ancient Roman mythology to eighteenth century German literature.[89] Rowling, like the Narnia series' author C.S. Lewis, thinks there is no rigid distinction between stories for children and for adults. Nel also noted that, like many good writers for children, Rowling combines literary genresfantasy, young-adult fiction, boarding school stories, Bildungsroman and many others.[90]

Some reviewers compared Philosopher's Stone to the stories of Roald Dahl, who died in 1990. Many writers since the 1970s had been hailed as his successor, but none had attained anything near his popularity with children and, in a poll conducted shortly after the launch of Philosopher's Stone, seven of the ten most popular children's books were by Dahl, including the one in top place. The only other really popular children's author of the late 1990s was an American, R. L. Stine. Some of the story elements in Philosopher's Stone resembled parts of Dahl's stories, for example the hero of James and the Giant Peach lost his parents and had to live with a pair of unpleasant aunts, one fat and one thin rather like Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, who treated James as a servant. However Harry Potter was a distinctive creation, able to take on the responsibilities of an adult while remaining a child inside.[14]

Librarian Nancy Knapp and marketing professor Stephen Brown noted the liveliness and detail of descriptions, especially of shop scenes such as Diagon Alley.[19][91] Tad Brennan commented that Rowling's writing resembles that of Homer: "rapid, plain, and direct in expression".[42] Stephen King admired "the sort of playful details of which only British fantasists seem capable" and concluded that they worked because Rowling enjoys a quick giggle and then moves briskly forward.[92]

Nicholas Tucker described the early Harry Potter books as looking back to Victorian and Edwardian children's stories: Hogwarts was an old-style boarding school in which the teachers addressed pupils formally by their surnames and were most concerned with the reputations of the houses with which they were associated; characters' personalities were plainly shown by their appearances, starting with the Dursleys; evil or malicious characters were to be crushed rather than reformed, including Filch's cat Mrs. Norris; and the hero, a mistreated orphan who found his true place in life, was charismatic and good at sports, but considerate and protective towards the weak.[93] Several other commentators have stated that the books present a highly stratified society including many social stereotypes.[85] However Karin Westerman drew parallels with 1990s Britain: a class system that was breaking down but defended by those whose power and status it upheld; the multi-ethnic composition of Hogwarts' students; the racial tensions between the various intelligent species; and school bullying.[94]

Susan Hall wrote that there is no rule of law in the books, as the actions of Ministry of Magic officials are unconstrained by laws, accountability or any kind of legal challenge. This provides an opportunity for Voldemort to offer his own horrific version of order. As a side-effect Harry and Hermione, who were brought up in the highly-regulated Muggle world, find solutions by thinking in ways unfamiliar to wizards. For example Hermione notes that one obstacle to finding the Philosopher's Stone is a test of logic rather than magical power, and that most wizards have no chance of solving it.[95]

Nel suggested that the unflattering characterisation of the extremely conventional, status-conscious, materialistic Dursleys was Rowling's reaction to the family policies of the British government in the early 1990s, which treated the married heterosexual couple as the "preferred norm", while the author was a single mother. Harry's relationships with adult and juvenile wizards are based on affection and loyalty. This is reflected in his happiness whenever he is a temporary member of the Weasley family throughout the series, and in his treatment of first Rubeus Hagrid and later Remus Lupin and Sirius Black as father-figures.[89][96]

Uses in education and business

Educationalists have found that children's literacy is directly related to how many words they read per year, and they read much more if they find material they like. In 2001 a survey by The New York Times estimated that almost 60% of US children aged between 6 and 17 had read at least one Harry Potter book. Surveys in other countries, including South Africa and India, found that children were enthusisatic about the series. Since even the first two books are quite long, a child who has read the first four will have read over four times the number of pages in a year's worth of school reading texts. This greatly improves children's skills and their motivation to read.[19]

Writers on education and business subjects have used the book as an object lesson. Writing about clinical teaching in medical schools, Jennifer Conn contrasted Snape's technical expertise with his intimidating behaviour towards students; on the other hand Quidditch coach Madam Hooch illustrated useful techniques in the teaching of physical skills, including breaking down complex actions into sequences of simple ones and helping students to avoid common errors.[97] Joyce Fields wrote that the books illustrate four of the five main topics in a typical first-year sociology class: "sociological concepts including culture, society, and socialisation; stratification and social inequality; social institutions; and social theory".[85]

The Mirror of Erised (Desire), which showed what the viewer most longed for, has been used as a metaphor for how pharmaceutical advertising exploits the eagerness of doctors to save lives and banish suffering.[98] Stephen Brown noted that the early Harry Potter books, especially Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, were a runaway success despite inadequate and poorly-organised marketing, and advised marketing executives to be less preoccupied with rigorous statistical analyses and with the "analysis, planning, implementation, and control" model of management. Instead he recommended that they should treat the stories as "a marketing masterclass", full of enticing products and brand names.[91] For example a real-world analogue of Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans was introduced under licence in 2000 by toymaker Hasbro.[91][99]


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External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is the first book of the Harry Potter series, written by J.K. Rowling. It was first published in 1997. In America, it is known as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. All page numbers refer to the Bloomsbury edition, ISBN 0747532745.

Spoiler warning: Plot, ending, or solution details follow.


The Boy Who Lived

  • Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.
    • p. 7
  • 'It's lucky it's dark. I haven't blushed so much since Madam Pomfrey told me she liked my new earmuffs.'
    • p. 14
    • Albus Dumbledore
  • 'This boy will be famous. There won't be a child in our world that won't know his name. There will be books about him, he will be a legend.'
    • Minerva McGonagall.
  • 'Scars can come in useful. I have one myself above my left knee which is a perfect map of the London Underground.'
    • p. 17
    • Albus Dumbledore

Diagon Alley

  • Enter stranger, but take heed
    Of what awaits the sin of greed,
    For those who take, but do not earn,
    Must pay most dearly in their turn,
    So if you seek beneath our floors,
    A treasure that was never yours,
    Thief, you have been warned, beware
    Of finding more than treasure there.
    • p. 57
    • Engraved on the doors of Gringotts Bank
  • 'Curious indeed how these things happen. The wand chooses the wizard, remember.... I think we must expect great things from you, Mr Potter.... After all, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named did great things — terrible, yes, but great.'
    • p. 65
    • Spoken by Mr Ollivander

The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters

A Platform Nine and three-quarters sign at King's Cross Station.
  • "Don't talk rubbish," said Uncle Vernon. "There is no platform nine and three-quarters."
  • 'Fred, you next,' the plump woman said.
    'I'm not Fred, I'm George,' said the boy. 'Honestly, woman, you call yourself our mother? Can't you tell I'm George?'
    'Sorry, George, dear.'
    'Only joking, I am Fred.'
    • p. 70
  • 'Whatever house I'm in, I hope she's not in it,' said Ron.
    • p. 80

The Sorting Hat

  • Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!
    • p. 91-92
  • 'Is he — a bit mad?' he asked Harry uncertainly.
    'Mad?' said Percy airily. 'He's a genius! Best wizard in the world! But he is a bit mad, yes. Potatoes, Harry?'
    • p. 92

The Potions Master

  • 'Ah, yes,' he said softly, 'Harry Potter. Our new — celebrity.'
    • Snape's first words of the series
    • p. 101
  • 'You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potion-making,' he began. He spoke in barely more than a whisper, but they caught every word — like Professor McGonagall, Snape had the gift of keeping a class silent without effort. 'As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don't expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses ... I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death — if you aren't as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach.'
    • p. 102
  • Snape was still ignoring Hermione's quivering hand.
    "What is the difference, Potter, between monkshood and wolfsbane?"
    At this, Hermione stood up, her hand stretching towards the dungeon ceiling.
    "I don't know," said Harry quietly. "I think Hermione does, though, why don't you try asking her?"
    A few people laughed; Harry caught sight of Seamus's eye and Seamus winked. Snape, however, was not pleased.
    "Sit down," he snapped at Hermione. "For your information, Potter, asphodel and wormwood make a sleeping potion so powerful it is known as the Draught of Living Death. A bezoar is a stone taken from the stomach of a goat and it will save you from most poisons. As for monkshood and wolfsbane, they are the same plant, which also goes by the name of aconite. Well? Why aren't you all copying that down?"
    There was a sudden rummaging for quills and parchment. Over the noise, Snape said, "And a point will be taken from Gryffindor house for your cheek, Potter."
  • "Take him up to the hospital wing," Snape spat at Seamus. Then he rounded on Harry and Ron, who had been working next to Neville. "You - Potter - why didn't you tell him not to add the quills! Thought he'd make you look good if he got it wrong, did you? That's another point you've lost for Gryffindor."
    This was so unfair that Harry opened his mouth to argue, but Ron kicked him behind their cauldron. "Don't push it," he muttered. "I've heard Snape can get pretty nasty."

The Midnight Duel

  • 'And what if I wave my wand and nothing happens?'
    'Throw it away and punch him on the nose,' Ron suggested.
    • p. 114
  • 'I couldn't help overhearing what you and Malfoy were saying —'
    'Bet you could,' Ron muttered.
    • p. 115
  • I hope you're pleased with yourselves. We could all have been killed — or worse, expelled.
    • p. 120
    • Spoken by Hermione Granger


  • Wingardium Leviosa!' he shouted, waving his long arms like a windmill.
    'You're saying it wrong,' Harry heard Hermione snap. 'It's Wing-gar-dium Levi-o-sa, make the "gar" nice and long.'
    'You do it, then, if you're so clever,' Ron snarled.
    Hermione rolled up the sleeves of her gown, flicked her wand and said, Wingardium Leviosa!'
    Their feather rose off the desk and hovered about four feet above their heads.
    • p. 127
  • There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.
    • p. 132

The Mirror of Erised

  • 'There was a lot more to magic, as Harry quickly found out, than waving your wand and saying a few funny words.'
    • p. 133
  • 'You haven't got a letter on yours,' George observed. 'I suppose she thinks you don't forget your name. But we're not stupid — we know we're called Gred and Forge.'
    • p. 149
  • "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that Harry."
    • p. 157
  • 'One can never have enough socks,' said Dumbledore.
    • p. 157

Nicolas Flamel

  • 'Don't play,' said Hermione at once.
    'Say you're ill,' said Ron.
    'Pretend to break your leg,' Hermione suggested.
    ' Really break your leg,' said Ron.
    • p. 159 (Said to Harry when they heard Snape was going to be the referee for the Quidditch match.)
  • Longbottom, if brains were gold you'd be poorer than Weasley, and that's saying something.
    • p. 163
    • Spoken by Draco Malfoy

Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback

  • I tell you, that dragon's the most horrible animal I've ever met, but the way Hagrid goes on about it, you'd think it was a fluffy little bunny rabbit. When it bit me he told me off for frightening it. And when I left, he was singing it a lullaby.
    • p. 173
    • Spoken by Ron Weasley

Through the Trapdoor

  • Neville will play Quidditch for England before Hagrid lets Dumbledore down.
    • p. 192
  • 'You want to be more careful,' said Snape. 'Hanging around like this, people will think you're up to something. And Gryffindor really can't afford to lose any more points, can they? … Be warned, Potter — any more night-time wanderings and I will personally make sure you are expelled. Good day to you.'
    • p. 195
  • 'One of us has got to keep an eye on Snape — wait outside the staff room and follow him if he leaves it. Hermione, you'd better do that.'
    'Why me?'
    'It's obvious,' said Ron. 'You can pretend to be waiting for Professor Flitwick, you know.' He put on a high voice, 'Oh Professor Flitwick, I'm so worried, I think I got question fourteen b wrong...'
    'Oh, shut up,' said Hermione.
    • p. 196
  • "Devil's Snare, Devil's Snare... What did Professor Sprout say? It likes the dark and the damp-"
    "So light a fire!" Harry choked.
    "Yes - of course - but there's no wood!" Hermione cried, wringing her hands.
    "HAVE YOU GONE MAD?" Ron bellowed. "ARE YOU A WITCH OR NOT?"
    shortly after
    "Lucky you pay attention in Herbology, Hermione," said Harry as he joined her by the wall, wiping sweat from his face.
    "Yeah," said Ron, "and lucky Harry doesn't lose his head in a crisis - "there's no wood", honestly."
  • 'Harry — you're a great wizard, you know.'
    'I'm not as good as you,' said Harry, very embarrassed, as she let go of him.
    'Me!' said Hermione. 'Books! And cleverness! There are more important things — friendship and bravery and —'
    • p. 208

The Man with Two Faces

  • There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it …
    • p. 211
    • Spoken by Lord Voldemort
  • What happened down in the dungeons between you and Professor Quirrel is a complete secret, so, naturally, the whole school knows. I believe your friends Misters Fred and George Weasley were responsible for trying to send you a lavatory seat.
    • p. 214
  • To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.
    • p. 215
  • Humans do have a knack for choosing precisely those things which are worst for them.
    • p. 215
  • Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.
    • p. 216
  • 'The truth.' Dumbledore sighed. 'It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.'
    • p. 216
  • Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love.
    • p. 216
  • "Yes, him - Snape said he hates me because he hated my father. Is that true?"
    "Well, they did rather detest each other. Not unlike yourself and Mr Malfoy. And then, your father did something Snape could never forgive."
    "He saved his life."
    "Yes ..." said Dumbledore dreamily. "Funny, the way people's minds work, isn't it?"

External links

Harry Potter
Film series
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone book film
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets book film
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban book film
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire book film
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix book film
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince book film
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection

For general information on this book, please see the Wikipedia article Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

| Chamber of Secrets →


Beginner warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.
Chapter 1: The Boy Who Lived
Chapter 2: The Vanishing Glass
Chapter 3: The Letters From No One
Chapter 4: The Keeper of the Keys
Chapter 5: Diagon Alley
Chapter 6: The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters
Chapter 7: The Sorting Hat
Chapter 8: The Potions Master
Chapter 9: The Midnight Duel
Chapter 10: Hallowe'en
Chapter 11: Quidditch
Chapter 12: The Mirror of Erised
Chapter 13: Nicholas Flamel
Chapter 14: Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback
Chapter 15: The Forbidden Forest
Chapter 16: Through the Trapdoor
Chapter 17: The Man with Two Faces


The first book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (or Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in the US) is written from the point of view of the 11-year-old Harry Potter. While its prime audience is children aged 8 to about 11, the story has enough depth to make it a satisfying, if short, read for even adult readers, and the characters show realistic development over the course of the book.

This book came out with different titles in the UK and in the US. In the UK, and in most other English editions, it was named Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Apparently the US publisher felt that his audience would not have sufficient background into classical mythology to know what the Philosopher's Stone was, and so titled the book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. While many fan sites, mostly in the US, have chosen the latter title, and the film and video games have done likewise, this book uses the UK title as being somewhat closer to the author's intent.

Book Highlights

Strategy wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From StrategyWiki, the free strategy guide and walkthrough wiki


This page is a stub. Help us expand it, and you get a cookie.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Box artwork for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
Engine Unreal engine
Release date(s)
Windows, PlayStation
Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Color
 November, 2001
Nintendo GameCube, Xbox
PlayStation 2
Genre(s) Action-adventure
System(s) Windows, Mac OS, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, PlayStation, Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation 2
Players 1
Mode(s) Single player
ESRB: Everyone
Series Harry Potter
For the PC version, see Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (PC).

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is a video game based on the movie with the same name. It was released in 2001.

Table of Contents

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Simple English

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is the first book in the Harry Potter series. J.K. Rowling, a woman from England, is the writer. It was published in 1997 and a movie version was shown in theaters in 2001. In the United States the book and movie are called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.


Because this is the first book about Harry Potter, the author begins by setting the scene and introducing the reader to some of the characters who will be important through the books.

In the start, Rowling describes how in an ordinary suburb, somewhere in an English town, people who are leading their ordinary lives are suddenly surprised to see witches and wizards in odd clothing riding on public buses and appearing at places where people would not expect to suddenly meet a wizard. It is clear that something unusual has happpened in the world of witches and wizards, and those people, who are normally quite secret, are out and about, enjoying themselves.

In this way, Rowling introduces the two worlds of her story, the world of ordinary people, called "Muggles", and the secret world of the magic folk who usually keep to themselves. Rowling then introduces the main character, Harry Potter, a little baby boy who is left on the doorstep of his aunt and uncle by an old wizard with a long white beard.

When the reader next meets Harry, he has grown to be a boy of eleven, living unhappily with his spiteful aunt, cruel uncle and bullying cousin Dudley. Suddenly he is rescued from his misery by a huge half-giant man with a great black bushy beard and a flying motorcycle. Harry Potter is a wizard without knowing it, and the giant man, Rubeus Hagrid, has come to help him buy his books and get ready to go to school. The school sounds most exciting. It is "Hogwart's Academy of Witchcraft and Wizardry".

On the long train journey north, Harry Potter meets the two people who are to become his best friends, Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger. Ron and Hermione have very different characters. Hermione, who comes from "Muggle" parents, is very intelligent and talented. She is such a know-it-all and so bossy that the boys do not like her at first. Ron, on the other hand, comes from an old family of wizards. He is number six in a family of seven children. He wears hand-me-down clothes and even his pet rat used to belong to his brother Percy. Ron knows all about Harry Potter.

The reason that Ron, and all the other people in the wizarding world, know all about Harry Potter is that Harry is famous, without even knowing it himself. The reason why he was left on the doorstep of his aunt and uncle is that both his parents are dead. They were murdered by an evil wizard who calls himself "Lord Voldemort". He is so evil that people are even afraid to say his name. Harry is famous because he survived the magical attack of the "He who must not be named", and since that day, Voldemort has gone into hiding.

Joanne Rowling then gives the reader a picture of the school that is to be Harry's home through seven books of the series, each one of which deals with a year in his life. The book describes the teachers, the lessons, the customs and the school sport so that it seems to be part of a real world. Even though the students learn magic and use magic, the book also describes Harry's growing up in a new and strange situation, just as any student must learn to fit in when they go to a new school among different people.

Harry soons discovers that while some magicians, such as the School Principal, Professor Albus Dumbledore and Deputy, Professor Minerva McGonagal, can be kind and encouraging, others, like the sinister Professor Snape with his greasy black hair and nasty comments, are very hard to trust. One of the subjects that Harry really needs to learn is "Defence against the Dark Arts" but unfortunately, the teacher, Professor Quirrell, is such a bumbling and nervous man that he does not seem to be able to teach Harry very much at all.

As the year goes by, Harry discovers that Hogwart's has, hidden away for safety, a very precious treasure. If it were to fall into the hands of Lord Voldemort, it would be very dangerous indeed. Harry also discovers that in solving problems and overcoming difficulties, having friends with very different talents can be extremely useful.

In the book

  • The "Harry Potter books" are fictional {they are not related to real topics of life}. Joanne Rowling has created a fantasy world which exists as an unknown part of the world in which ordinary people live. The people who form the magical community are very ordinary in most ways. They are ordinary, except that they have an extra talent. They can do magic, and they go to a special school to learn how to do it properly, in the same way as a person who is talented at music might study at a special school. Students of magic have to learn to do their spells in a careful, safe and lawful way, because magic can be dangerous if it is not under control. In fact, a student needs a license to do some things.
  • Magic people and Muggles are really very similar. Even though the Muggles do not know about the Magic people, and the Magic people do not really understand how Muggles manage to live without magic, the way they live their lives is very similar. They do exactly the same sorts of things. They go to school, study, play sport, make friends, fall in love, get married, go to work every day, have children, shop, cook, read, go to the pub, have pets, get old and die. And like all the people in the Muggle world, they love and hate, they feel fear, jealousy, loneliness, prejudice and distrust. Even though Harry Potter is a talented magician, he has all these ordinary feelings to deal with. Harry's feelings, and how they change, is an important part of all the stories.
  • Two of the most important ideas in this book are "Love" and "Self-sacrifice". It is important to the story that Harry grows up without any love in his life. His Aunt, Uncle and Cousin do not want him at their house, but would not send him away because they care about what their neighbours might think. Harry has never had any friends at school, because of Cousin Dudley. He does not know what it is like to have a friend, until he goes to Hogwarts and meets Ron and Hermione. Even though he is not used to trusting people, he very quickly learns to trust his friends.
  • There are also three loving adults in his life, Professor Dumbledore who is wise and caring, who is not afraid of Voldemort, and who gives Harry good advice. Harry should completely trust the Professor, but his usual way of dealing with adults is to tell them lies or hide things from them. This is a very silly way to treat Professor Dumbledore, but it is what Harry does. The second loving person is Professor McGonagall. She is a crisp, stern teacher, but she is always fair and can be trusted. She is quick to see peoples' special talents, and she gives good encouragement. The third loving person is Hagrid, who is the giant gamekeeper and lives in his own little cottage near the castle. Hagrid has a special love for Harry, because he had rescued him when he was a baby. This gives him a strong fatherly feeling. He helps Harry to settle in, and is always there to listen to him and encourage Harry and his friends. Gradually Harry gets to understand the right way to treat people who are your friends.
  • "Self-sacrifice" is about being able to give something up, perhaps even one's own life, to help another person. Sacrifice has to do with loving. At the very beginning of the book, Harry's Mother, Lily Potter, has made a big sacrifice to save Harry. She has been killed, and Harry is still alive. The idea of "Self-sacrifice" goes right through the book, which shows that a person does not always have to seem very brave or be very strong in order to make a sacrifice for the sake of other people. If the reader keeps this in mind, then they will see that all the most important things that happen in the book, happen because someone is brave enough to face death to save other people.

Movie: "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone"

The movie, made by Warner Brothers, which was known as "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" in the US, was based closely on the book.

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