Believe it or not, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published 20 years ago.  Where better to mark Harry Potter’s birthday than the British Library.  Exhibitions at the British Library are always well worth visiting but they have pulled out all the stops for Harry Potter: A History of Magic.  The typed synopsis (yes, it was so long ago that people used typewriters) that was sent to twelve publishers before Bloomsbury saw the light, opens the show.

Harry Potter A History of Magic

Ever fancied making your own Philosopher’s Stone?  This 15th century six metre long scroll tells you how.  It is called the Ripley Scroll and takes its name from Canon George Ripley of Bridlington Priory, author of The Compound of Alchemy.   It is full of obscure symbols to protect the secrets of the Philosopher’s Stone.

Harry Potter A Magical History

All students at Hogwarts must study Herbology.  Whilst Herbology is not part of the national curriculum today, the study of plants and their uses is an ancient one.  This fourteenth century book describes in detail both the male and female mandrake.

Not all the objects are just for gazing at.  The celestial globe that you can see here is over 400 years old but with the help of Google Arts and Culture you can interact with the globe and see the star formations that feature in Harry Potter.  Did you know that Bellatrix Lestrange is a star?

Harry Potter A History of Magic

Divination is also an important area of study at Hogwarts.  These ‘dragon’ bones are the oldest objects in the British Library collection.  Over three thousand years ago Chinese people were using them to tell the future.  We know this because the writing talks about a lunar eclipse that can be dated to 27 December 1192 BC!  How accurate the predictions the bones made were we don’t know but we do know that the bones are actually cow bones and not sadly from dragons.

Harry Potter A History of Magic

All manner of objects are on display including this Beozar stone.  It was reputed to be an antidote to all manner of poisons.  Harry Potter first comes across one in the Philosopher’s Stone.  Apparently Beozar stones are found in the stomach of Beozar goats, you can get them from cows but they are not as efficacious.

If you have ever read Harry Potter or even just seen the films then this is a fascinating exhibition.  Deleted passages from the Harry Potter books are on display, along with J K Rowling’s detailed plot outline.  Electronic wizardry lets you try your hand at brewing potions and tell fortunes.  I have read the books and seen the films many times and there was lots to learn at Harry Potter A History of Magic.


  • 20 October 2017 – 28 February 2018
  • British Library, 96 Euston Road, London
  • Open: Monday – Saturday 9.30am – 6pm, Sunday 11am – 5pm
  • Admission: Adults £16, Children £8
  • All tickets are sold out? Don’t despair members of the British Library can visit Harry Potter A History of Magic as often as they like, as well as lots of other perks.  Membership costs from £87 a year. To find out more about London Museum Memberships click here.


Harry Potter A History of Magic
Wander Mum


    • Catherine
      October 19, 2017 / 10:28 am

      Hurrah! How far in advance did you have to book?

  1. October 19, 2017 / 11:11 am

    How can it be 20 years?! #old. Looks really interesting, I think Mark would love it – as the HP fan in our house.

    • Catherine
      October 19, 2017 / 11:15 am

      I know, almost as bad as the Great Stirm being 30 years ago!

  2. October 21, 2017 / 9:48 am

    This is SO COOL! Ugh I wish I lived in London, I’m down for anything that celebrates Harry Potter!

    • Catherine
      October 21, 2017 / 10:01 am

      Twenty libraries across the UK are having mini displays based on the British Library show

  3. October 21, 2017 / 10:50 am

    This made me feel so old…! I remember reading these books while I was the same age as Harry, that’s when they were being published in Spain. I cannot believe its’ been already 20 years…!

  4. October 21, 2017 / 6:54 pm

    Wow I can’t believe it is 20 years old! I remember reading the first books. How cool.

  5. October 22, 2017 / 4:28 am

    Hard to believe it’s been 20 years (I was 14!) since I read the first book! Holy moly. Have you been to Wizarding World at either of the Universal parks? It’s out of this world!

    • Catherine
      October 22, 2017 / 7:40 am

      I haven’t been to Universal but have been to the studio tour in London

  6. October 23, 2017 / 9:54 am

    I’m looking forward to seeing this in January!

    • Catherine
      October 23, 2017 / 4:04 pm

      Now that is thinking ahead!

  7. October 24, 2017 / 9:27 am

    Wooow, that exhibition looks so cool. I absolutely looove Harry Potter. Need to book tickets asap! #CityTripping

  8. October 24, 2017 / 2:25 pm

    Oh wow! This is fantastic. I so wish I lived closer. Would have loved to go! (Can’t believe it’s 20 years already. Makes me feel so old, ha ha!) #citytripping

  9. October 24, 2017 / 6:00 pm

    This is a must for Potter fans! What a fascinating exhibition. I read the first three books but then the films started catching me up so didn’t end up reading the rest. No doubt I’ll pick them up again when the daughters start reading them. Thanks for linking #citytripping

  10. October 25, 2017 / 4:15 pm

    Oh gosh you’re making me feel old. I worked in a book shop during a few of the Harry Potter releases (thankfully not quite yet for The Philosopher’s Stone) but I remember them being nightmarishly busy days. With people rushing in from all directions for the books. I love all things Harry Potter and I wish I was in London for this exhibition! #CityTripping

    • Catherine
      October 25, 2017 / 5:13 pm

      Amazing to read a new book and see it become a classic!

  11. October 25, 2017 / 4:58 pm

    The world has gone Harry Potter mad and I must admit I’m not a massive fan but even I would find this exhibition interesting! I love how they’ve pulled in all these interesting pieces of history. High Five to the British Library for getting in on the act! #citytripping

    • Catherine
      October 25, 2017 / 5:12 pm

      British Library exhibitions are always really interesting

  12. October 26, 2017 / 4:24 am

    Yay, this looks fantastic, and lucky us we’ve secured tickets for this coming December! Can’t wait! #citytripping

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