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‘Harry Potter’ prequel sold at U.K. auction

An 800-word mini-prequel by J.K. Rowling was sold Tuesday for $49,323 at a charity auction at Waterstone's flagship store in central London.
/ Source: The Associated Press

An 800-word prequel to the Harry Potter series, handwritten by author J.K. Rowling, sold for 25,000 pounds (US$49,323, euro31,278) at an auction Tuesday. An absent bidder paid more than 30 pounds (US$59, euro37.50) per word for Rowling's short story at a charity auction at the flagship of Waterstone's book store chain in London. Proceeds will benefit the writers' association English PEN and a dyslexia charity.

A short mystery story by acclaimed playwright Tom Stoppard raised 4,000 pounds (US$7,892, euro5,005).

Waterstone's Booksellers Ltd. says the cream-colored A5 papers — each slightly bigger than a postcard — were distributed to 13 authors and illustrators, including the boy wizard's creator J.K. Rowling, Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing, novelist Margaret Atwood and playwright Tom Stoppard.

Rowling used both sides of her card to hand-write a prequel to her seven-book Harry Potter saga, while Lessing penned a story about the power of reading. Stoppard wrote a short mystery and Atwood was due to fill out her card remotely using a robotic arm controlled by computer linkup.

Other cards were completed by children's author Michael Rosen, illustrator Axel Scheffler, graphic novelist Neil Gaiman, Lisa Appignanesi, Richard Ford, Lauren Child, Irvine Welsh, Sebastian Faulks and Nick Hornby, who plastered his card with a collage.

The cards went on sale at the "What's Your Story?'' auction at Waterstone's flagship store in central London today.

Rowling's prequel to the seven-book series, which goes online Wednesday, does not offer hope for a new Potter novel. Rowling finished her card by writing, "From the prequel I am not working on — but that was fun!"

Copies of all the cards will be on display in Waterstone's stores and online following the auction, and they will be collected into a book available in August. The final installment of the seven-book series, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," was published last year. Rowling has said she has no plans to write another novel about the boy wizard, but in December she sold a handwritten, leather-bound book of fairy tales she described as drawing on the series' themes for nearly 2 million pounds at auction. The money went to The Children's Voice, a charity Rowling co-founded in 2005.