British Museum exhibition casts spell over Harry Potter fans

Artefacts and memorabilia are displayed during a preview of Harry Potter: A History Of Magic exhibition at the British Library, in central London.
Artefacts and memorabilia are displayed during a preview of Harry Potter: A History Of Magic exhibition at the British Library, in central London. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON - It has been 20 years since J.K. Rowling charmed readers with the publication of the first Harry Potter book, and it seems many are still spell-bound.

To mark the anniversary, the British Library has swung open its doors for Harry Potter: A History Of Magic, a new exhibition that explores the history behind the wizarding world.

Others, too, are paying tribute. On Saturday, the BBC aired a documentary that included a rare interview with Rowling.

Before, during and after Halloween, millennials are slipping on robes and raising a celebratory pint to the boy wizard they grew up with at unofficial Harry Potter pub crawls.

Not that it takes much to motivate Potter enthusiasts. Last month, thousands of Muggles descended on Platform 9¾ at King's Cross station to mark the day that Harry Potter's son Albus left for Hogwarts.

For those truly potty about Potter, there is the Making Of Harry Potter studio tour, next to the film studios where all eight films were made, which in the lead-up to Halloween is hosting feasts in the "Great Hall" with pumpkins and cauldrons full of lollipops.

The latest draw is the exhibition at the British Library, which sold a record 30,000 tickets even before its opening last week.

The show delves into the historical links with the fantastical world dreamed up by Rowling - who studied classics and French at university - by exploring the wider cultural context in which the books are set.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect for fans are the scores of items donated by Rowling herself, including original handwritten extracts from various Potter books with lines crossed out and annotations from the author.


Artefacts and memorabilia are displayed during a preview of the exhibition. 
PHOTO: AFP 


The Battersea Cauldron is displayed during a preview of the exhibition. 
PHOTO: AFP 


Books are suspended from the ceiling of a mock library during a preview of the exhibition. 
PHOTO: AFP 


A book of Charms is displayed during a preview of the exhibition. 
PHOTO: AFP