Harry Potter: A History of Magic at the British Library

Escape discovers the enchanting wonders on display at this new exhibition that explores the world of J.K. Rowling’s boy-wizard, 20 years after his debut appearance.

The British Library brings the magic of Hogwarts to life in its spellbinding exhibition, Harry Potter: A History of Magic, which marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Packed with magical delights, from hand-written drafts of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, to medieval manuscripts, the exhibition includes documents and memorabilia from the British Library, J.K.Rowling and Bloomsbury’s collections.

The exhibition’s highlights include the 16th-century Ripley Scroll, a six-metre-long manuscript that contains instructions on how to make the Philosopher’s Stone, and relevant historical artefacts, such as 12th-century Chinese oracle bones, which were used in divination rituals.

Avid readers of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone can also see the tombstone of Nicholas Flamel, the alchemist who created the Philosopher’s Stone in the first book. Flamel was a real historical figure who lived in medieval Paris. After his death, rumours began to spread that he had discovered the hallowed Philosopher’s Stone.

Make sure you check out the crystal ball used by ‘Smelly Nelly’, a 20th-century Devonshire witch renowned for her strong perfume.

Harry Potter fans of all ages will certainly find plenty to discover. Julian Harrison, Tanya Kirk, Joanna Norledge and Alexander Lock, the four curators behind Harry Potter: A History of Magic, have designed the exhibition to ensure it’s as interactive as possible. There’s potion-making, tarot card readings, and a family trail for younger visitors.

‘We really wanted younger kids to get something out of it,’ Tanya Kirk explains. ‘There is something for all the family.’

From broomsticks to bestiaries, and from mermaids to mandrakes, Harry Potter: A History of Magic will cast its spell on visitors.

Harry Potter: A History of Magic runs at the British Library from 20 October–28 February 2018. For more information, and to book tickets, visit the British Library’s website.