The wizard created by JK Rowling was born 25 years ago. Rejected by 12 publishers, today it is a cult worth billions
For millions of Millennials and their parents it is one of those moments that define the before and after: “Chapter One: The Child Who Survived. Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of Privet Drive no. 4 were proud to say they were perfectly normal. And thank you very much … “. Before and after Harry Potter: next Saturday (June 26) the silver wedding will be celebrated with “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”, the first volume of the saga created by JK Rowling. Twenty-five years of dreaming about Quidditch matches on broomsticks, or being taken by mum and dad to King’s Cross station in London to experience the impossible thrill of platform 9 and 3/4.
Impossible for “muggle”, the English word that Rowling created for the Dursleys and all the other “non-magical” ones and that the Italian translator of the first two books for Salani, Marina Astrologo, rendered as “muggles”.
Today Rowling is one of the richest women in Britain (and one of the most reviled in the world for the recent transphobic comments that have overshadowed the saga) but that success was a miracle of word of mouth after her manuscript was rejected by well 12 publishers.
No one had ever heard of the little wizard with round glasses and the sign of the curse on his forehead, nor of his creator who had written his adventures in a cafe. “I took the manuscript home but didn’t read it immediately. I gave it to my daughter Alice who was eight. He reappeared an hour later in a kind of trance: “The excitement I felt – he told me – warmed me inside” », said Nigel Newton, founder and CEO of the Bloomsbury publishing house, which published it after paying 2,500 pounds. for UK rights.
“The Philosopher’s Stone” was presented at the Bologna Book Fair. Salani sensed the blow for the Italian edition, while Scholastic bought the rights for the US for 105 thousand dollars. The climb to the charts, not immediate, was however inexorable: in the summer of 1999 the New York Times discovered the novel as “The Book of the Summer” which gave a hard time even to fiction for adults and since then the release of every volume became an event with kilometric lines at midnight in front of the bookstores.
Much has been written since then about how the Harry Potter books brought children back to reading, allowing them to enter a fantasy world, populated by peers they could identify with by growing up with them.
The saga of the little wizard was also lucky in the cinema with Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, Rupert Grint as Ron and Hermione’s Emma Watson: the first of eight films produced by Warner was released in November 2001. It was a spectacular success if yes. thinks that in Great Britain “The Philosopher’s Stone” came out with an initial circulation of 500 copies: today the franchise has sold over half a billion with translations in eighty languages (and last year, according to Bloomsbury, the increase was 5% ) while the films, screened or broadcast on TV in 166 countries, have grossed nine billion dollars worldwide, not to mention the video games, four theme parks and the spinoffs of the “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” series that are still coming out. L