As any serious "Harry Potter" reader knows, July 31 is the boy wizard's birthday. To celebrate — and hot on the heels of the just-released trailer for "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" — creator J.K. Rowling is making an extremely rare "Potter" work available to his adoring public.
Rowling originally handwrote and illustrated the 160-page "Tales of Beedle the Bard" — referenced in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" — as an extremely limited-edition set. When one of the only seven copies made was auctioned off for charity last December, Amazon made the winning bid of approximately $4 million. Though a provision of the auction was that the winner not publish or reproduce the work, Amazon found a way to convince Rowling to change her mind — by donating all net proceeds to a charity of her choice.
(Note: This is not to be confused with 800-word, handwritten "Potter" prequel that was auctioned off in June.)
"There was understandable disappointment among 'Harry Potter' fans when only one copy of 'The Tales of Beedle the Bard' was offered to the public last December," Rowling said in a statement. "I am therefore delighted to announce that, thanks to the generous support of Bloomsbury, Scholastic and Amazon, and with the blessing of all the wonderful people who own the other six original books, 'The Tales of Beedle the Bard' will now be widely available to all 'Harry Potter' fans."
The new edition of the wizard fairy tales will include five stories — "Babbity Rabbity and Her Cackling Stump," "The Tale of the Three Brothers," "The Fountain of Fair Fortune," "The Wizard and the Hopping Pot" and "The Warlock's Hairy Heart" — as "translated from the original runes by Hermione Granger," Rowling said. (Only "The Tales of the Three Brothers" is recounted in "Deathly Hallows.") The Scholastic and Bloomsbury editions will also have commentary on each fairy tale as "notes by Professor Albus Dumbledore, which appear by generous permission of the Hogwarts Headmasters' Archive," Rowling said, as well as an introduction by the author.
"Dumbledore's commentary on the 'Tales,' which was discovered among his papers after his death, includes some historical notes, personal reminiscences, and insights into that most mysterious branch of magic: wandlore," Rowling noted. "I very much hope that readers coming to these classic wizarding fables for the first time will find his commentary both entertaining and helpful."
A collector's edition from Amazon — limited to 100,000 copies — will aim to replicate the look and feel of the original handmade copies (down to leather binding, metalwork and replica gemstones), and will include 10 new illustrations by Rowling not in the original or standard edition.
All editions go on sale December 4, but will be available on Amazon for pre-order as of July 31. Rowling has waived her royalties, and net proceeds — which are expected to reach around $8 million — will be donated to the Children's High Level Group, "to benefit institutionalized children in desperate need of a voice," Rowling said.