December 4, 2008

Tales of Beedle the Bard at the NY Library, Part 2

Posted by at 3:56 pm in Harry Potter, Reads | Permalink

If you saw Carly’s earlier entry, then you know that yesterday, she and I were at the New York Public Library for a very special event: the unveiling of one of only seven original copies of The Tales of Beedle the Bard — handwritten and illustrated by J. K. Rowling herself.

It will be on display at the library starting today, which just so happens to be the same day that the public version of the book became available to Harry Potter fans worldwide. My, what a coincidence! :-)

The original copy at the library belongs to Arthur A. Levine, co-editor of the Harry Potter series. And folks in the New York area can check it out from December 4th through January 4th.

It was so much fun to be there alongside TV cameras, professional photographers, and reporters. (And standing right in front of us was Melissa Anelli, the webmistress of The Leaky Cauldron!)

Here are some highlights from the event:

The unveiling kicked off with a welcome from Paul LeClerc, President of the New York Public Library. I enjoyed hearing him recall the day that a Scholastic rep arrived at the library with a copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix — a gift from Rowling to the children of New York. But my favorite part of his speech was when he called Rowling “the single bestselling writer in the history of humanity.”

Next up was Arthur A. Levine. Now, you may think you’re a huge Harry Potter fan. But no one in America is closer to the series than this guy, who was responsible for bringing the books to the U.S.

Then it was time for the big moment: LeClerc and Levine pulled away a purple curtain to reveal the original copy of the book — number 5 of 7.

After that, Levine answered questions from the press — and, of course, I’m here to report back to you Splotters on everything that I learned:

  • On January 4th, after the book leaves the New York Public Library, it’s going to its new permanent home at Brown University, which is where Levine went to school.
  • Levine’s favorite story from the book is “The Fountain of Fair Fortune.” (The four other tales are “The Warlock’s Hairy Heart,” “The Wizard and the Hopping Pot,” “Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump,” and “The Tale of the Three Brothers.”)
  • One of the other seven original copies went to Barry Cunningham, Rowling’s first editor, and his copy is now on display at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh, Scotland!
  •  Levine said that before today, he kept his book in a safe deposit box in a bank buried underground. I’m not sure how much of that I believe — but considering that one of the originals was auctioned off for $4 million, I’d say that level of security sounds about right!
  • Levine wouldn’t say how the book was delivered to him, but he did reveal, “It was a little bit of a surprise.” What a tease! Boy, I wish I knew Legilimency . . .
  • Each of the seven originals has a different jewel (or “moonstone”) mounted in the cover. Levine’s is a tourmaline because that’s his son’s birthstone (it’s an alternate birthstone for October).
  • Someone asked if there is a personalized note from Rowling in the book, and Levine said that there is, but he couldn’t quote it because he doesn’t have it memorized! All he could offer was, “It started with, ‘Dear Arthur . . .’”
  • For Levine, the most memorable moment from working on the series was his first phone call with Rowling after winning the auction to bring Harry Potter to Scholastic.
  • Three public editions of The Tales of Beedle the Bard are being published, in cooperation with Scholastic, Bloomsbury, and Amazon — each with a different cover. Net proceeds from all three editions will go to the Children’s High Level Group, which is a charity founded by Rowling.
  • How does the Collector’s Edition compare to the original? Levine admitted that he hadn’t seen it yet, but his guess was: “It can’t be as nice, but I’m sure it is nice!”

He’s probably right, but I do wish I could get my hands on an original! Oh, well — guess I’ll have to make do with a public edition and my memories of a wonderful morning at the New York Public Library.

— Karen, STACKS Staffer

  1. Writer_in_Training

    “Levine said that before today, he kept his book in a safe deposit box in a bank buried underground.”
    Is it just me, or does that sound a LOT like Gringotts??? :D

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