Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Overview
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is the first novel in the Harry Potter
Harry Potter
Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels written by the British author J. K. Rowling. The books chronicle the adventures of the adolescent wizard Harry Potter and his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry...

series written by J. K. Rowling
J. K. Rowling
Joanne "Jo" Rowling, OBE , better known as J. K. Rowling, is the British author of the Harry Potter fantasy series...

 and featuring Harry Potter
Harry Potter (character)
Harry James Potter is the title character and main protagonist of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. The majority of the books' plot covers seven years in the life of the orphan Potter who, on his eleventh birthday, learns he is a wizard...

, a young wizard. It describes how Harry discovers he is a wizard, makes close friends and a few enemies at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and with the help of his friends thwarts an attempted comeback by the evil wizard Lord Voldemort
Lord Voldemort
Lord Voldemort is the main antagonist of the Harry Potter series written by British author J. K. Rowling. Voldemort first appeared in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, which was released in 1997...

, who killed Harry's parents when Harry was one year old.

The book was published on 30 June 1997 by Bloomsbury in London, while in 1998 Scholastic Corporation published an edition for the United States market under the title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
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Quotations

Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.

p. 7

'It's lucky it's dark. I haven't blushed so much since Madam Pomfrey told me she liked my new earmuffs.'

p. 14

'This boy will be famous. There won't be a child in our world that won't know his name. There will be books about him, he will be a legend.'

Minerva McGonagall.

'Scars can come in useful. I have one myself above my left knee which is a perfect map of the London Underground.'

p. 17

Enter stranger, but take heed Of what awaits the sin of greed, For those who take, but do not earn, Must pay most dearly in their turn, So if you seek beneath our floors, A treasure that was never yours, Thief, you have been warned, beware Of finding more than treasure there.

p. 57

'Curious indeed how these things happen. The wand chooses the wizard, remember.... I think we must expect great things from you, Mr Potter.... After all, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named did great things — terrible, yes, but great.'

p. 65

"Don't talk rubbish," said Uncle Vernon. "There is no platform nine and three-quarters."

'Fred, you next,' the plump woman said. 'I'm not Fred, I'm George,' said the boy. 'Honestly, woman, you call yourself our mother? Can't you tell I'm George?' 'Sorry, George, dear.' 'Only joking, I am Fred.'

p. 70

'Whatever house I'm in, I hope she's not in it,' said Ron.

p. 80

Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!

p. 91-92
Encyclopedia
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is the first novel in the Harry Potter
Harry Potter
Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels written by the British author J. K. Rowling. The books chronicle the adventures of the adolescent wizard Harry Potter and his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry...

series written by J. K. Rowling
J. K. Rowling
Joanne "Jo" Rowling, OBE , better known as J. K. Rowling, is the British author of the Harry Potter fantasy series...

 and featuring Harry Potter
Harry Potter (character)
Harry James Potter is the title character and main protagonist of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. The majority of the books' plot covers seven years in the life of the orphan Potter who, on his eleventh birthday, learns he is a wizard...

, a young wizard. It describes how Harry discovers he is a wizard, makes close friends and a few enemies at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and with the help of his friends thwarts an attempted comeback by the evil wizard Lord Voldemort
Lord Voldemort
Lord Voldemort is the main antagonist of the Harry Potter series written by British author J. K. Rowling. Voldemort first appeared in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, which was released in 1997...

, who killed Harry's parents when Harry was one year old.

The book was published on 30 June 1997 by Bloomsbury in London, while in 1998 Scholastic Corporation published an edition for the United States market under the title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The novel won most of the UK book awards that were judged by children, and other awards in the USA. The book reached the top of the New York Times list of best-selling fiction in August 1999, and stayed near the top of that list for much of 1999 and 2000. It has been translated into several other languages and has been made into a feature-length film
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, released in the United States and India as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, is a 2001 fantasy film directed by Chris Columbus and based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling. The film is the first instalment in the Harry Potter film series,...

 of the same name.

Most reviews were very favourable, commenting on Rowling's imagination, humour, simple, direct style and clever plot construction, although a few complained that the final chapters looked rushed. The writing has been compared to that of Jane Austen
Jane Austen
Jane Austen was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction, set among the landed gentry, earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature, her realism and biting social commentary cementing her historical importance among scholars and critics.Austen lived...

, one of Rowling's favourite authors, of Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl was a British novelist, short story writer, fighter pilot and screenwriter.Born in Wales to Norwegian parents, he served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, in which he became a flying ace and intelligence agent, rising to the rank of Wing Commander...

, whose works dominated children's stories before the appearance of Harry Potter, and of the Ancient Greek story-teller Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

. While some commentators thought the book looked backwards to Victorian and Edwardian boarding school
Boarding school
A boarding school is a school where some or all pupils study and live during the school year with their fellow students and possibly teachers and/or administrators. The word 'boarding' is used in the sense of "bed and board," i.e., lodging and meals...

 stories, others thought it placed the genre firmly in the modern world by featuring contemporary ethical and social issues.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, along with the rest of the Harry Potter series, has been attacked by several religious groups and banned in some countries because of accusations that the novels promote witchcraft
Witchcraft
Witchcraft, in historical, anthropological, religious, and mythological contexts, is the alleged use of supernatural or magical powers. A witch is a practitioner of witchcraft...

. However, some Christian commentators have written that the book exemplifies important Christian viewpoints, including the power of self-sacrifice and the ways in which people's decisions shape their personalities. Educators regard Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and its sequels as an important aid in improving literacy
Literacy
Literacy has traditionally been described as the ability to read for knowledge, write coherently and think critically about printed material.Literacy represents the lifelong, intellectual process of gaining meaning from print...

 because of the books' popularity. The series has also been used as a source of object lessons in educational techniques, sociological analysis
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

 and marketing.

Plot


Before the start of the novel, Voldemort
Lord Voldemort
Lord Voldemort is the main antagonist of the Harry Potter series written by British author J. K. Rowling. Voldemort first appeared in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, which was released in 1997...

, the most powerful Dark wizard in history, killed Harry's parents but mysteriously vanished after trying to kill Harry. While the wizarding world
Wizarding world
The fictional universe of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series of fantasy novels comprises two separate and distinct societies: the wizarding world and the Muggle world...

 was celebrating Voldemort's downfall, Professor Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall and Rubeus Hagrid
Rubeus Hagrid
Rubeus Hagrid is a fictional character in the Harry Potter book series written by J. K. Rowling. Hagrid is introduced in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as a half-giant who is the gamekeeper and Keeper of Keys and Grounds of Hogwarts, the primary setting for the first six novels...

 placed the one year-old orphan in the care of his abusive Muggle
Muggle
Muggle, a term from the Harry Potter book series by J. K. Rowling, refers to a person who lacks any sort of magical ability and was not born into the magical world...

 (non-wizard) uncle, aunt, and cousin: Vernon, Petunia, and Dudley Dursley.

For ten years, they and their son Dudley neglected and bullied Harry. Shortly before Harry's eleventh birthday, a series of letters addressed to Harry arrive, but Vernon destroys them before Harry can read them. To get away from the letters, Vernon takes the family to a lonely island. As they are settling in, Hagrid bursts through the door to tell Harry what the Dursleys have kept him from finding out: Harry is a wizard and has been accepted at Hogwarts.

Hagrid takes Harry to Diagon Alley, a magically-concealed shopping precinct in London, where Harry is bewildered to discover how famous he is among wizards as "the boy who lived." He also finds that he is quite wealthy, since a bequest from his parents has remained on deposit at Gringotts Wizarding Bank. Guided by Hagrid, he buys the books and equipment he needs for Hogwarts. At the wand shop, he finds that the only wand that works well for him is the twin of Voldemort's. Both wands contain feathers from the same phoenix
Phoenix (mythology)
The phoenix or phenix is a mythical sacred firebird that can be found in the mythologies of the Arabian, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Chinese, Indian and Phoenicians....

.

A month later Harry leaves the Dursleys' home to catch the Hogwarts Express from King's Cross railway station. There he meets the Weasley family, who show him how to pass through the magical wall to Platform 9¾, where the train is waiting. While on the train Harry makes friends with Ron Weasley
Ron Weasley
Ronald Bilius "Ron" Weasley is a fictional character and one of the three protagonists in the Harry Potter book series written by J. K. Rowling. His first appearance was in the first book of the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as the best friend of Harry Potter and Hermione Granger...

, who tells him that someone tried to rob a vault at Gringotts. Another new pupil, Draco Malfoy, accompanied by his sidekicks Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle, offers to advise Harry, but Harry dislikes Draco's arrogance and prejudice.

Before the term's first dinner in the school's Great Hall, the new pupils are allocated to houses
House system
The house system is a traditional feature of British schools, and schools in the Commonwealth. Historically, it was associated with established public schools, where a 'house' refers to a boarding house or dormitory of a boarding school...

 by the magical Sorting Hat. When it is Harry's turn to be sorted, the Hat wonders whether he should be in Slytherin, but when Harry objects, the Hat sends him to join the Weasleys in Gryffindor. While Harry is eating, Professor Snape catches his eye and Harry feels a sudden stab of pain in the scar Voldemort left on his forehead.

After a horrible first Potions lesson with Snape, Harry and Ron visit Hagrid, who lives in a rustic house on the edge of the Forbidden Forest. There they learn that the attempted robbery at Gringotts happened the day Harry withdrew money. Harry remembers that Hagrid had removed a small package from the vault that was broken into and searched.

During the new pupils' first broom-flying lesson, Neville Longbottom breaks his wrist, and Draco takes advantage to throw the forgetful Neville's fragile Remembrall high in the air. Harry gives chase on his broomstick, catching the Remembrall inches from the ground. Professor McGonagall dashes out and appoints him as the new Seeker for the Gryffindor Quidditch
Quidditch
Quidditch is a fictional sport developed by British author J. K. Rowling for the Harry Potter series of novels. It is described as an extremely rough, but very popular, semi-contact sport, played by wizards and witches around the world...

 team.

When Draco tricks Ron and Harry, accompanied by Neville and the bossy Hermione Granger
Hermione Granger
Hermione Jean Granger is a fictional character and one of the three protagonists in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. She initially appears in the first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, as a new student on her way to Hogwarts...

, into a midnight excursion, they accidentally enter a forbidden corridor and find a huge three-headed dog. The group hastily retreats, and Hermione notices that the dog is standing over a trap-door. Harry concludes that the monster is guarding the package Hagrid retrieved from Gringotts.

After Ron criticises Hermione's ostentatious proficiency in Charms, she hides in tears in the girls' toilet. Professor Quirrell reports that a troll
Troll
A troll is a supernatural being in Norse mythology and Scandinavian folklore. In origin, the term troll was a generally negative synonym for a jötunn , a being in Norse mythology...

 has entered the dungeons. While everyone else returns to their dormitories, Harry and Ron rush to warn Hermione. The troll corners Hermione in the toilet but when Harry sticks his wand up one of its nostrils, Ron uses the levitation spell to knock out the troll with its own club. Afterwards, several professors arrive and Hermione takes the blame for the battle and becomes a firm friend of the two boys.

The evening before Harry's first Quidditch match, he sees Snape receiving medical attention from Filch for a bite on his leg by the three-headed dog. During the game, Harry's broomstick goes out of control, endangering his life, and Hermione notices that Snape is staring at Harry and muttering. She dashes over to the Professors' stand, knocking over Professor Quirrell in her haste, and sets fire to Snape's robe. Harry regains control of his broomstick and catches the Golden Snitch, winning the game for Gryffindor. Hagrid refuses to believe that Snape was responsible for Harry's danger, but lets slip that he bought the three-headed dog, and that the monster is guarding a secret that belongs to Professor Dumbledore and someone called Nicolas Flamel.

Harry and the Weasleys stay at Hogwarts for Christmas, and one of Harry's presents, from an anonymous donor, is an Invisibility Cloak owned by his father. Harry uses the Cloak to search the library's Restricted Section for information about the mysterious Flamel, has to evade Snape and Filch after an enchanted book shrieks an alarm, and slips into a room containing the Mirror of Erised, which shows his parents and several of their ancestors. Harry becomes addicted to the Mirror's visions and is rescued by Professor Dumbledore, who explains that it shows what the viewer most desperately longs for.

When the rest of the pupils return for the next term, Draco plays a prank on Neville, and Harry consoles Neville with a sweet. The collectible card wrapped with the sweet identifies Flamel as an alchemist
Alchemy
Alchemy is an influential philosophical tradition whose early practitioners’ claims to profound powers were known from antiquity. The defining objectives of alchemy are varied; these include the creation of the fabled philosopher's stone possessing powers including the capability of turning base...

. Hermione soon finds that he is a 665-year-old man who possesses the only known Philosopher's stone
Philosopher's stone
The philosopher's stone is a legendary alchemical substance said to be capable of turning base metals into gold or silver. It was also sometimes believed to be an elixir of life, useful for rejuvenation and possibly for achieving immortality. For many centuries, it was the most sought-after goal...

, from which can be extracted an elixir of life
Elixir of life
The elixir of life, also known as the elixir of immortality and sometimes equated with the philosopher's stone, is a legendary potion, or drink, that grants the drinker eternal life and or eternal youth. Many practitioners of alchemy pursued it. The elixir of life was also said to be able to create...

. A few days later Harry notices Snape sneaking towards the outskirts of the Forbidden Forest. There he half-hears a furtive conversation about the Philosopher's Stone, in which Snape asks Professor Quirrell if he has found a way past the three-headed dog and menacingly tells Quirrell to decide whose side he is on. Harry concludes that Snape is trying to steal the Stone and Quirrell has prepared a series of defences for it, which was an almost fatal mistake.

The three friends discover that Hagrid is raising a baby dragon, which is against wizard law, and arrange to smuggle it out of the country around midnight. Draco arrives, hoping to raise the alarm and get them into trouble, and goes to tell Professor McGonagall. Although Ron is bitten by the dragon and is sent to the infirmary, Harry and Hermione spirit the dragon safely away. However, they are caught, and Harry loses the Invisibility Cloak. As part of their punishment, Harry, Hermione, Draco, and Neville (who, trying to stop Harry and Hermione after hearing what Draco had been saying, had been caught by McGonagall as well) are compelled to help Hagrid to rescue a badly-injured unicorn
Unicorn
The unicorn is a legendary animal from European folklore that resembles a white horse with a large, pointed, spiraling horn projecting from its forehead, and sometimes a goat's beard...

 in the Forbidden Forest. They split into two parties, and Harry and Draco find the unicorn dead, surrounded by its blood. A hooded figure crawls to the corpse and drinks the blood, while Draco screams and flees. The hooded figure moves towards Harry, who is knocked out by an agonising pain spreading from his scar. When Harry regains consciousness, the hooded figure has gone and a centaur
Centaur
In Greek mythology, a centaur or hippocentaur is a member of a composite race of creatures, part human and part horse...

, Firenze, offers to give him a ride back to the school. The centaur tells Harry that drinking a unicorn's blood will save the life of a mortally injured person, but at the price of having a cursed life from that moment on. Firenze suggests Voldemort drank the unicorn's blood to gain enough strength to make the elixir of life from the Philosopher's Stone, and regain full health by drinking that. On his return, Harry finds that someone has slipped the Invisibility Cloak under his sheets.

A few weeks later, while relaxing after the end-of-session examinations, Harry suddenly wonders how something as illegal as a dragon's egg came into Hagrid's possession. The gamekeeper says he was given it by a hooded stranger who bought him several drinks and asked him how to get past the three-headed dog, which Hagrid admits is easy – music sends it to sleep. Realising that one of the Philosopher's Stone's defences is no longer secure, Harry goes to inform Professor Dumbledore, only to find that the headmaster has just left for an important meeting. Harry concludes that Snape faked the message that called Dumbledore away and will try to steal the Stone that night.

Covered by the Invisibility Cloak, Harry and his two friends go to the three-headed dog's chamber, where Harry sends the beast to sleep by playing a flute given to him by Hagrid for Christmas. After lifting the trap-door, they encounter a series of obstacles, each of which requires special skills possessed by one of the three, and one of which requires Ron to sacrifice himself in a game of wizard's chess. In the final room Harry, now alone, finds Quirrell rather than Snape. Quirrell admits that he let in the troll that tried to kill Hermione on Halloween, and that he tried to kill Harry during the first Quidditch match but was knocked over by Hermione. Snape had been trying to protect Harry and suspected Quirrell. Quirrell serves Voldemort and, after failing to steal the Philosopher's Stone from Gringotts, allowed his master to possess him in order to improve their chances of success. However the only other object in the room is the Mirror of Erised, and Quirrell can see no sign of the Stone. At Voldemort's bidding, Quirrell forces Harry to stand in front of the Mirror. Harry feels the Stone drop into his pocket and tries to stall. Quirrell removes his turban, revealing the face of Voldemort on the back of his head. Voldemort/Quirrell tries to grab the Stone from Harry, but simply touching Harry causes Quirrell's flesh to burn. After further struggles Harry passes out.

He awakes in the school hospital, where Professor Dumbledore tells him that he survived because his mother sacrificed her life to protect him, and Voldemort could not understand the power of such love. Voldemort left Quirrell to die, and is likely to return by some other means. Dumbledore had foreseen that the Mirror would show Voldemort/Quirrell only themselves making the elixir of life, as they wanted to use the Philosopher's Stone; Harry was able to see the Stone in the Mirror because he wanted to find it but not to use it. The Stone has now been destroyed.

Harry returns to the Dursleys for the summer holiday, but does not tell them that under-age wizards are forbidden to use magic outside Hogwarts.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is the first novel in the Harry Potter
Harry Potter
Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels written by the British author J. K. Rowling. The books chronicle the adventures of the adolescent wizard Harry Potter and his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry...

series written by J. K. Rowling
J. K. Rowling
Joanne "Jo" Rowling, OBE , better known as J. K. Rowling, is the British author of the Harry Potter fantasy series...

 and featuring Harry Potter
Harry Potter (character)
Harry James Potter is the title character and main protagonist of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. The majority of the books' plot covers seven years in the life of the orphan Potter who, on his eleventh birthday, learns he is a wizard...

, a young wizard. It describes how Harry discovers he is a wizard, makes close friends and a few enemies at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and with the help of his friends thwarts an attempted comeback by the evil wizard Lord Voldemort
Lord Voldemort
Lord Voldemort is the main antagonist of the Harry Potter series written by British author J. K. Rowling. Voldemort first appeared in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, which was released in 1997...

, who killed Harry's parents when Harry was one year old.

The book was published on 30 June 1997 by Bloomsbury in London, while in 1998 Scholastic Corporation published an edition for the United States market under the title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The novel won most of the UK book awards that were judged by children, and other awards in the USA. The book reached the top of the New York Times list of best-selling fiction in August 1999, and stayed near the top of that list for much of 1999 and 2000. It has been translated into several other languages and has been made into a feature-length film
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, released in the United States and India as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, is a 2001 fantasy film directed by Chris Columbus and based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling. The film is the first instalment in the Harry Potter film series,...

 of the same name.

Most reviews were very favourable, commenting on Rowling's imagination, humour, simple, direct style and clever plot construction, although a few complained that the final chapters looked rushed. The writing has been compared to that of Jane Austen
Jane Austen
Jane Austen was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction, set among the landed gentry, earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature, her realism and biting social commentary cementing her historical importance among scholars and critics.Austen lived...

, one of Rowling's favourite authors, of Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl was a British novelist, short story writer, fighter pilot and screenwriter.Born in Wales to Norwegian parents, he served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, in which he became a flying ace and intelligence agent, rising to the rank of Wing Commander...

, whose works dominated children's stories before the appearance of Harry Potter, and of the Ancient Greek story-teller Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

. While some commentators thought the book looked backwards to Victorian and Edwardian boarding school
Boarding school
A boarding school is a school where some or all pupils study and live during the school year with their fellow students and possibly teachers and/or administrators. The word 'boarding' is used in the sense of "bed and board," i.e., lodging and meals...

 stories, others thought it placed the genre firmly in the modern world by featuring contemporary ethical and social issues.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, along with the rest of the Harry Potter series, has been attacked by several religious groups and banned in some countries because of accusations that the novels promote witchcraft
Witchcraft
Witchcraft, in historical, anthropological, religious, and mythological contexts, is the alleged use of supernatural or magical powers. A witch is a practitioner of witchcraft...

. However, some Christian commentators have written that the book exemplifies important Christian viewpoints, including the power of self-sacrifice and the ways in which people's decisions shape their personalities. Educators regard Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and its sequels as an important aid in improving literacy
Literacy
Literacy has traditionally been described as the ability to read for knowledge, write coherently and think critically about printed material.Literacy represents the lifelong, intellectual process of gaining meaning from print...

 because of the books' popularity. The series has also been used as a source of object lessons in educational techniques, sociological analysis
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

 and marketing.

Plot


Before the start of the novel, Voldemort
Lord Voldemort
Lord Voldemort is the main antagonist of the Harry Potter series written by British author J. K. Rowling. Voldemort first appeared in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, which was released in 1997...

, the most powerful Dark wizard in history, killed Harry's parents but mysteriously vanished after trying to kill Harry. While the wizarding world
Wizarding world
The fictional universe of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series of fantasy novels comprises two separate and distinct societies: the wizarding world and the Muggle world...

 was celebrating Voldemort's downfall, Professor Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall and Rubeus Hagrid
Rubeus Hagrid
Rubeus Hagrid is a fictional character in the Harry Potter book series written by J. K. Rowling. Hagrid is introduced in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as a half-giant who is the gamekeeper and Keeper of Keys and Grounds of Hogwarts, the primary setting for the first six novels...

 placed the one year-old orphan in the care of his abusive Muggle
Muggle
Muggle, a term from the Harry Potter book series by J. K. Rowling, refers to a person who lacks any sort of magical ability and was not born into the magical world...

 (non-wizard) uncle, aunt, and cousin: Vernon, Petunia, and Dudley Dursley.

For ten years, they and their son Dudley neglected and bullied Harry. Shortly before Harry's eleventh birthday, a series of letters addressed to Harry arrive, but Vernon destroys them before Harry can read them. To get away from the letters, Vernon takes the family to a lonely island. As they are settling in, Hagrid bursts through the door to tell Harry what the Dursleys have kept him from finding out: Harry is a wizard and has been accepted at Hogwarts.

Hagrid takes Harry to Diagon Alley, a magically-concealed shopping precinct in London, where Harry is bewildered to discover how famous he is among wizards as "the boy who lived." He also finds that he is quite wealthy, since a bequest from his parents has remained on deposit at Gringotts Wizarding Bank. Guided by Hagrid, he buys the books and equipment he needs for Hogwarts. At the wand shop, he finds that the only wand that works well for him is the twin of Voldemort's. Both wands contain feathers from the same phoenix
Phoenix (mythology)
The phoenix or phenix is a mythical sacred firebird that can be found in the mythologies of the Arabian, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Chinese, Indian and Phoenicians....

.

A month later Harry leaves the Dursleys' home to catch the Hogwarts Express from King's Cross railway station. There he meets the Weasley family, who show him how to pass through the magical wall to Platform 9¾, where the train is waiting. While on the train Harry makes friends with Ron Weasley
Ron Weasley
Ronald Bilius "Ron" Weasley is a fictional character and one of the three protagonists in the Harry Potter book series written by J. K. Rowling. His first appearance was in the first book of the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as the best friend of Harry Potter and Hermione Granger...

, who tells him that someone tried to rob a vault at Gringotts. Another new pupil, Draco Malfoy, accompanied by his sidekicks Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle, offers to advise Harry, but Harry dislikes Draco's arrogance and prejudice.

Before the term's first dinner in the school's Great Hall, the new pupils are allocated to houses
House system
The house system is a traditional feature of British schools, and schools in the Commonwealth. Historically, it was associated with established public schools, where a 'house' refers to a boarding house or dormitory of a boarding school...

 by the magical Sorting Hat. When it is Harry's turn to be sorted, the Hat wonders whether he should be in Slytherin, but when Harry objects, the Hat sends him to join the Weasleys in Gryffindor. While Harry is eating, Professor Snape catches his eye and Harry feels a sudden stab of pain in the scar Voldemort left on his forehead.

After a horrible first Potions lesson with Snape, Harry and Ron visit Hagrid, who lives in a rustic house on the edge of the Forbidden Forest. There they learn that the attempted robbery at Gringotts happened the day Harry withdrew money. Harry remembers that Hagrid had removed a small package from the vault that was broken into and searched.

During the new pupils' first broom-flying lesson, Neville Longbottom breaks his wrist, and Draco takes advantage to throw the forgetful Neville's fragile Remembrall high in the air. Harry gives chase on his broomstick, catching the Remembrall inches from the ground. Professor McGonagall dashes out and appoints him as the new Seeker for the Gryffindor Quidditch
Quidditch
Quidditch is a fictional sport developed by British author J. K. Rowling for the Harry Potter series of novels. It is described as an extremely rough, but very popular, semi-contact sport, played by wizards and witches around the world...

 team.

When Draco tricks Ron and Harry, accompanied by Neville and the bossy Hermione Granger
Hermione Granger
Hermione Jean Granger is a fictional character and one of the three protagonists in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. She initially appears in the first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, as a new student on her way to Hogwarts...

, into a midnight excursion, they accidentally enter a forbidden corridor and find a huge three-headed dog. The group hastily retreats, and Hermione notices that the dog is standing over a trap-door. Harry concludes that the monster is guarding the package Hagrid retrieved from Gringotts.

After Ron criticises Hermione's ostentatious proficiency in Charms, she hides in tears in the girls' toilet. Professor Quirrell reports that a troll
Troll
A troll is a supernatural being in Norse mythology and Scandinavian folklore. In origin, the term troll was a generally negative synonym for a jötunn , a being in Norse mythology...

 has entered the dungeons. While everyone else returns to their dormitories, Harry and Ron rush to warn Hermione. The troll corners Hermione in the toilet but when Harry sticks his wand up one of its nostrils, Ron uses the levitation spell to knock out the troll with its own club. Afterwards, several professors arrive and Hermione takes the blame for the battle and becomes a firm friend of the two boys.

The evening before Harry's first Quidditch match, he sees Snape receiving medical attention from Filch for a bite on his leg by the three-headed dog. During the game, Harry's broomstick goes out of control, endangering his life, and Hermione notices that Snape is staring at Harry and muttering. She dashes over to the Professors' stand, knocking over Professor Quirrell in her haste, and sets fire to Snape's robe. Harry regains control of his broomstick and catches the Golden Snitch, winning the game for Gryffindor. Hagrid refuses to believe that Snape was responsible for Harry's danger, but lets slip that he bought the three-headed dog, and that the monster is guarding a secret that belongs to Professor Dumbledore and someone called Nicolas Flamel.

Harry and the Weasleys stay at Hogwarts for Christmas, and one of Harry's presents, from an anonymous donor, is an Invisibility Cloak owned by his father. Harry uses the Cloak to search the library's Restricted Section for information about the mysterious Flamel, has to evade Snape and Filch after an enchanted book shrieks an alarm, and slips into a room containing the Mirror of Erised, which shows his parents and several of their ancestors. Harry becomes addicted to the Mirror's visions and is rescued by Professor Dumbledore, who explains that it shows what the viewer most desperately longs for.

When the rest of the pupils return for the next term, Draco plays a prank on Neville, and Harry consoles Neville with a sweet. The collectible card wrapped with the sweet identifies Flamel as an alchemist
Alchemy
Alchemy is an influential philosophical tradition whose early practitioners’ claims to profound powers were known from antiquity. The defining objectives of alchemy are varied; these include the creation of the fabled philosopher's stone possessing powers including the capability of turning base...

. Hermione soon finds that he is a 665-year-old man who possesses the only known Philosopher's stone
Philosopher's stone
The philosopher's stone is a legendary alchemical substance said to be capable of turning base metals into gold or silver. It was also sometimes believed to be an elixir of life, useful for rejuvenation and possibly for achieving immortality. For many centuries, it was the most sought-after goal...

, from which can be extracted an elixir of life
Elixir of life
The elixir of life, also known as the elixir of immortality and sometimes equated with the philosopher's stone, is a legendary potion, or drink, that grants the drinker eternal life and or eternal youth. Many practitioners of alchemy pursued it. The elixir of life was also said to be able to create...

. A few days later Harry notices Snape sneaking towards the outskirts of the Forbidden Forest. There he half-hears a furtive conversation about the Philosopher's Stone, in which Snape asks Professor Quirrell if he has found a way past the three-headed dog and menacingly tells Quirrell to decide whose side he is on. Harry concludes that Snape is trying to steal the Stone and Quirrell has prepared a series of defences for it, which was an almost fatal mistake.

The three friends discover that Hagrid is raising a baby dragon, which is against wizard law, and arrange to smuggle it out of the country around midnight. Draco arrives, hoping to raise the alarm and get them into trouble, and goes to tell Professor McGonagall. Although Ron is bitten by the dragon and is sent to the infirmary, Harry and Hermione spirit the dragon safely away. However, they are caught, and Harry loses the Invisibility Cloak. As part of their punishment, Harry, Hermione, Draco, and Neville (who, trying to stop Harry and Hermione after hearing what Draco had been saying, had been caught by McGonagall as well) are compelled to help Hagrid to rescue a badly-injured unicorn
Unicorn
The unicorn is a legendary animal from European folklore that resembles a white horse with a large, pointed, spiraling horn projecting from its forehead, and sometimes a goat's beard...

 in the Forbidden Forest. They split into two parties, and Harry and Draco find the unicorn dead, surrounded by its blood. A hooded figure crawls to the corpse and drinks the blood, while Draco screams and flees. The hooded figure moves towards Harry, who is knocked out by an agonising pain spreading from his scar. When Harry regains consciousness, the hooded figure has gone and a centaur
Centaur
In Greek mythology, a centaur or hippocentaur is a member of a composite race of creatures, part human and part horse...

, Firenze, offers to give him a ride back to the school. The centaur tells Harry that drinking a unicorn's blood will save the life of a mortally injured person, but at the price of having a cursed life from that moment on. Firenze suggests Voldemort drank the unicorn's blood to gain enough strength to make the elixir of life from the Philosopher's Stone, and regain full health by drinking that. On his return, Harry finds that someone has slipped the Invisibility Cloak under his sheets.

A few weeks later, while relaxing after the end-of-session examinations, Harry suddenly wonders how something as illegal as a dragon's egg came into Hagrid's possession. The gamekeeper says he was given it by a hooded stranger who bought him several drinks and asked him how to get past the three-headed dog, which Hagrid admits is easy – music sends it to sleep. Realising that one of the Philosopher's Stone's defences is no longer secure, Harry goes to inform Professor Dumbledore, only to find that the headmaster has just left for an important meeting. Harry concludes that Snape faked the message that called Dumbledore away and will try to steal the Stone that night.

Covered by the Invisibility Cloak, Harry and his two friends go to the three-headed dog's chamber, where Harry sends the beast to sleep by playing a flute given to him by Hagrid for Christmas. After lifting the trap-door, they encounter a series of obstacles, each of which requires special skills possessed by one of the three, and one of which requires Ron to sacrifice himself in a game of wizard's chess. In the final room Harry, now alone, finds Quirrell rather than Snape. Quirrell admits that he let in the troll that tried to kill Hermione on Halloween, and that he tried to kill Harry during the first Quidditch match but was knocked over by Hermione. Snape had been trying to protect Harry and suspected Quirrell. Quirrell serves Voldemort and, after failing to steal the Philosopher's Stone from Gringotts, allowed his master to possess him in order to improve their chances of success. However the only other object in the room is the Mirror of Erised, and Quirrell can see no sign of the Stone. At Voldemort's bidding, Quirrell forces Harry to stand in front of the Mirror. Harry feels the Stone drop into his pocket and tries to stall. Quirrell removes his turban, revealing the face of Voldemort on the back of his head. Voldemort/Quirrell tries to grab the Stone from Harry, but simply touching Harry causes Quirrell's flesh to burn. After further struggles Harry passes out.

He awakes in the school hospital, where Professor Dumbledore tells him that he survived because his mother sacrificed her life to protect him, and Voldemort could not understand the power of such love. Voldemort left Quirrell to die, and is likely to return by some other means. Dumbledore had foreseen that the Mirror would show Voldemort/Quirrell only themselves making the elixir of life, as they wanted to use the Philosopher's Stone; Harry was able to see the Stone in the Mirror because he wanted to find it but not to use it. The Stone has now been destroyed.

Harry returns to the Dursleys for the summer holiday, but does not tell them that under-age wizards are forbidden to use magic outside Hogwarts.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is the first novel in the Harry Potter
Harry Potter
Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels written by the British author J. K. Rowling. The books chronicle the adventures of the adolescent wizard Harry Potter and his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry...

series written by J. K. Rowling
J. K. Rowling
Joanne "Jo" Rowling, OBE , better known as J. K. Rowling, is the British author of the Harry Potter fantasy series...

 and featuring Harry Potter
Harry Potter (character)
Harry James Potter is the title character and main protagonist of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. The majority of the books' plot covers seven years in the life of the orphan Potter who, on his eleventh birthday, learns he is a wizard...

, a young wizard. It describes how Harry discovers he is a wizard, makes close friends and a few enemies at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and with the help of his friends thwarts an attempted comeback by the evil wizard Lord Voldemort
Lord Voldemort
Lord Voldemort is the main antagonist of the Harry Potter series written by British author J. K. Rowling. Voldemort first appeared in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, which was released in 1997...

, who killed Harry's parents when Harry was one year old.

The book was published on 30 June 1997 by Bloomsbury in London, while in 1998 Scholastic Corporation published an edition for the United States market under the title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The novel won most of the UK book awards that were judged by children, and other awards in the USA. The book reached the top of the New York Times list of best-selling fiction in August 1999, and stayed near the top of that list for much of 1999 and 2000. It has been translated into several other languages and has been made into a feature-length film
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, released in the United States and India as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, is a 2001 fantasy film directed by Chris Columbus and based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling. The film is the first instalment in the Harry Potter film series,...

 of the same name.

Most reviews were very favourable, commenting on Rowling's imagination, humour, simple, direct style and clever plot construction, although a few complained that the final chapters looked rushed. The writing has been compared to that of Jane Austen
Jane Austen
Jane Austen was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction, set among the landed gentry, earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature, her realism and biting social commentary cementing her historical importance among scholars and critics.Austen lived...

, one of Rowling's favourite authors, of Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl was a British novelist, short story writer, fighter pilot and screenwriter.Born in Wales to Norwegian parents, he served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, in which he became a flying ace and intelligence agent, rising to the rank of Wing Commander...

, whose works dominated children's stories before the appearance of Harry Potter, and of the Ancient Greek story-teller Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

. While some commentators thought the book looked backwards to Victorian and Edwardian boarding school
Boarding school
A boarding school is a school where some or all pupils study and live during the school year with their fellow students and possibly teachers and/or administrators. The word 'boarding' is used in the sense of "bed and board," i.e., lodging and meals...

 stories, others thought it placed the genre firmly in the modern world by featuring contemporary ethical and social issues.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, along with the rest of the Harry Potter series, has been attacked by several religious groups and banned in some countries because of accusations that the novels promote witchcraft
Witchcraft
Witchcraft, in historical, anthropological, religious, and mythological contexts, is the alleged use of supernatural or magical powers. A witch is a practitioner of witchcraft...

. However, some Christian commentators have written that the book exemplifies important Christian viewpoints, including the power of self-sacrifice and the ways in which people's decisions shape their personalities. Educators regard Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and its sequels as an important aid in improving literacy
Literacy
Literacy has traditionally been described as the ability to read for knowledge, write coherently and think critically about printed material.Literacy represents the lifelong, intellectual process of gaining meaning from print...

 because of the books' popularity. The series has also been used as a source of object lessons in educational techniques, sociological analysis
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

 and marketing.

Plot


Before the start of the novel, Voldemort
Lord Voldemort
Lord Voldemort is the main antagonist of the Harry Potter series written by British author J. K. Rowling. Voldemort first appeared in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, which was released in 1997...

, the most powerful Dark wizard in history, killed Harry's parents but mysteriously vanished after trying to kill Harry. While the wizarding world
Wizarding world
The fictional universe of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series of fantasy novels comprises two separate and distinct societies: the wizarding world and the Muggle world...

 was celebrating Voldemort's downfall, Professor Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall and Rubeus Hagrid
Rubeus Hagrid
Rubeus Hagrid is a fictional character in the Harry Potter book series written by J. K. Rowling. Hagrid is introduced in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as a half-giant who is the gamekeeper and Keeper of Keys and Grounds of Hogwarts, the primary setting for the first six novels...

 placed the one year-old orphan in the care of his abusive Muggle
Muggle
Muggle, a term from the Harry Potter book series by J. K. Rowling, refers to a person who lacks any sort of magical ability and was not born into the magical world...

 (non-wizard) uncle, aunt, and cousin: Vernon, Petunia, and Dudley Dursley.

For ten years, they and their son Dudley neglected and bullied Harry. Shortly before Harry's eleventh birthday, a series of letters addressed to Harry arrive, but Vernon destroys them before Harry can read them. To get away from the letters, Vernon takes the family to a lonely island. As they are settling in, Hagrid bursts through the door to tell Harry what the Dursleys have kept him from finding out: Harry is a wizard and has been accepted at Hogwarts.

Hagrid takes Harry to Diagon Alley, a magically-concealed shopping precinct in London, where Harry is bewildered to discover how famous he is among wizards as "the boy who lived." He also finds that he is quite wealthy, since a bequest from his parents has remained on deposit at Gringotts Wizarding Bank. Guided by Hagrid, he buys the books and equipment he needs for Hogwarts. At the wand shop, he finds that the only wand that works well for him is the twin of Voldemort's. Both wands contain feathers from the same phoenix
Phoenix (mythology)
The phoenix or phenix is a mythical sacred firebird that can be found in the mythologies of the Arabian, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Chinese, Indian and Phoenicians....

.

A month later Harry leaves the Dursleys' home to catch the Hogwarts Express from King's Cross railway station. There he meets the Weasley family, who show him how to pass through the magical wall to Platform 9¾, where the train is waiting. While on the train Harry makes friends with Ron Weasley
Ron Weasley
Ronald Bilius "Ron" Weasley is a fictional character and one of the three protagonists in the Harry Potter book series written by J. K. Rowling. His first appearance was in the first book of the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as the best friend of Harry Potter and Hermione Granger...

, who tells him that someone tried to rob a vault at Gringotts. Another new pupil, Draco Malfoy, accompanied by his sidekicks Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle, offers to advise Harry, but Harry dislikes Draco's arrogance and prejudice.

Before the term's first dinner in the school's Great Hall, the new pupils are allocated to houses
House system
The house system is a traditional feature of British schools, and schools in the Commonwealth. Historically, it was associated with established public schools, where a 'house' refers to a boarding house or dormitory of a boarding school...

 by the magical Sorting Hat. When it is Harry's turn to be sorted, the Hat wonders whether he should be in Slytherin, but when Harry objects, the Hat sends him to join the Weasleys in Gryffindor. While Harry is eating, Professor Snape catches his eye and Harry feels a sudden stab of pain in the scar Voldemort left on his forehead.

After a horrible first Potions lesson with Snape, Harry and Ron visit Hagrid, who lives in a rustic house on the edge of the Forbidden Forest. There they learn that the attempted robbery at Gringotts happened the day Harry withdrew money. Harry remembers that Hagrid had removed a small package from the vault that was broken into and searched.

During the new pupils' first broom-flying lesson, Neville Longbottom breaks his wrist, and Draco takes advantage to throw the forgetful Neville's fragile Remembrall high in the air. Harry gives chase on his broomstick, catching the Remembrall inches from the ground. Professor McGonagall dashes out and appoints him as the new Seeker for the Gryffindor Quidditch
Quidditch
Quidditch is a fictional sport developed by British author J. K. Rowling for the Harry Potter series of novels. It is described as an extremely rough, but very popular, semi-contact sport, played by wizards and witches around the world...

 team.

When Draco tricks Ron and Harry, accompanied by Neville and the bossy Hermione Granger
Hermione Granger
Hermione Jean Granger is a fictional character and one of the three protagonists in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. She initially appears in the first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, as a new student on her way to Hogwarts...

, into a midnight excursion, they accidentally enter a forbidden corridor and find a huge three-headed dog. The group hastily retreats, and Hermione notices that the dog is standing over a trap-door. Harry concludes that the monster is guarding the package Hagrid retrieved from Gringotts.

After Ron criticises Hermione's ostentatious proficiency in Charms, she hides in tears in the girls' toilet. Professor Quirrell reports that a troll
Troll
A troll is a supernatural being in Norse mythology and Scandinavian folklore. In origin, the term troll was a generally negative synonym for a jötunn , a being in Norse mythology...

 has entered the dungeons. While everyone else returns to their dormitories, Harry and Ron rush to warn Hermione. The troll corners Hermione in the toilet but when Harry sticks his wand up one of its nostrils, Ron uses the levitation spell to knock out the troll with its own club. Afterwards, several professors arrive and Hermione takes the blame for the battle and becomes a firm friend of the two boys.

The evening before Harry's first Quidditch match, he sees Snape receiving medical attention from Filch for a bite on his leg by the three-headed dog. During the game, Harry's broomstick goes out of control, endangering his life, and Hermione notices that Snape is staring at Harry and muttering. She dashes over to the Professors' stand, knocking over Professor Quirrell in her haste, and sets fire to Snape's robe. Harry regains control of his broomstick and catches the Golden Snitch, winning the game for Gryffindor. Hagrid refuses to believe that Snape was responsible for Harry's danger, but lets slip that he bought the three-headed dog, and that the monster is guarding a secret that belongs to Professor Dumbledore and someone called Nicolas Flamel.

Harry and the Weasleys stay at Hogwarts for Christmas, and one of Harry's presents, from an anonymous donor, is an Invisibility Cloak owned by his father. Harry uses the Cloak to search the library's Restricted Section for information about the mysterious Flamel, has to evade Snape and Filch after an enchanted book shrieks an alarm, and slips into a room containing the Mirror of Erised, which shows his parents and several of their ancestors. Harry becomes addicted to the Mirror's visions and is rescued by Professor Dumbledore, who explains that it shows what the viewer most desperately longs for.

When the rest of the pupils return for the next term, Draco plays a prank on Neville, and Harry consoles Neville with a sweet. The collectible card wrapped with the sweet identifies Flamel as an alchemist
Alchemy
Alchemy is an influential philosophical tradition whose early practitioners’ claims to profound powers were known from antiquity. The defining objectives of alchemy are varied; these include the creation of the fabled philosopher's stone possessing powers including the capability of turning base...

. Hermione soon finds that he is a 665-year-old man who possesses the only known Philosopher's stone
Philosopher's stone
The philosopher's stone is a legendary alchemical substance said to be capable of turning base metals into gold or silver. It was also sometimes believed to be an elixir of life, useful for rejuvenation and possibly for achieving immortality. For many centuries, it was the most sought-after goal...

, from which can be extracted an elixir of life
Elixir of life
The elixir of life, also known as the elixir of immortality and sometimes equated with the philosopher's stone, is a legendary potion, or drink, that grants the drinker eternal life and or eternal youth. Many practitioners of alchemy pursued it. The elixir of life was also said to be able to create...

. A few days later Harry notices Snape sneaking towards the outskirts of the Forbidden Forest. There he half-hears a furtive conversation about the Philosopher's Stone, in which Snape asks Professor Quirrell if he has found a way past the three-headed dog and menacingly tells Quirrell to decide whose side he is on. Harry concludes that Snape is trying to steal the Stone and Quirrell has prepared a series of defences for it, which was an almost fatal mistake.

The three friends discover that Hagrid is raising a baby dragon, which is against wizard law, and arrange to smuggle it out of the country around midnight. Draco arrives, hoping to raise the alarm and get them into trouble, and goes to tell Professor McGonagall. Although Ron is bitten by the dragon and is sent to the infirmary, Harry and Hermione spirit the dragon safely away. However, they are caught, and Harry loses the Invisibility Cloak. As part of their punishment, Harry, Hermione, Draco, and Neville (who, trying to stop Harry and Hermione after hearing what Draco had been saying, had been caught by McGonagall as well) are compelled to help Hagrid to rescue a badly-injured unicorn
Unicorn
The unicorn is a legendary animal from European folklore that resembles a white horse with a large, pointed, spiraling horn projecting from its forehead, and sometimes a goat's beard...

 in the Forbidden Forest. They split into two parties, and Harry and Draco find the unicorn dead, surrounded by its blood. A hooded figure crawls to the corpse and drinks the blood, while Draco screams and flees. The hooded figure moves towards Harry, who is knocked out by an agonising pain spreading from his scar. When Harry regains consciousness, the hooded figure has gone and a centaur
Centaur
In Greek mythology, a centaur or hippocentaur is a member of a composite race of creatures, part human and part horse...

, Firenze, offers to give him a ride back to the school. The centaur tells Harry that drinking a unicorn's blood will save the life of a mortally injured person, but at the price of having a cursed life from that moment on. Firenze suggests Voldemort drank the unicorn's blood to gain enough strength to make the elixir of life from the Philosopher's Stone, and regain full health by drinking that. On his return, Harry finds that someone has slipped the Invisibility Cloak under his sheets.

A few weeks later, while relaxing after the end-of-session examinations, Harry suddenly wonders how something as illegal as a dragon's egg came into Hagrid's possession. The gamekeeper says he was given it by a hooded stranger who bought him several drinks and asked him how to get past the three-headed dog, which Hagrid admits is easy – music sends it to sleep. Realising that one of the Philosopher's Stone's defences is no longer secure, Harry goes to inform Professor Dumbledore, only to find that the headmaster has just left for an important meeting. Harry concludes that Snape faked the message that called Dumbledore away and will try to steal the Stone that night.

Covered by the Invisibility Cloak, Harry and his two friends go to the three-headed dog's chamber, where Harry sends the beast to sleep by playing a flute given to him by Hagrid for Christmas. After lifting the trap-door, they encounter a series of obstacles, each of which requires special skills possessed by one of the three, and one of which requires Ron to sacrifice himself in a game of wizard's chess. In the final room Harry, now alone, finds Quirrell rather than Snape. Quirrell admits that he let in the troll that tried to kill Hermione on Halloween, and that he tried to kill Harry during the first Quidditch match but was knocked over by Hermione. Snape had been trying to protect Harry and suspected Quirrell. Quirrell serves Voldemort and, after failing to steal the Philosopher's Stone from Gringotts, allowed his master to possess him in order to improve their chances of success. However the only other object in the room is the Mirror of Erised, and Quirrell can see no sign of the Stone. At Voldemort's bidding, Quirrell forces Harry to stand in front of the Mirror. Harry feels the Stone drop into his pocket and tries to stall. Quirrell removes his turban, revealing the face of Voldemort on the back of his head. Voldemort/Quirrell tries to grab the Stone from Harry, but simply touching Harry causes Quirrell's flesh to burn. After further struggles Harry passes out.

He awakes in the school hospital, where Professor Dumbledore tells him that he survived because his mother sacrificed her life to protect him, and Voldemort could not understand the power of such love. Voldemort left Quirrell to die, and is likely to return by some other means. Dumbledore had foreseen that the Mirror would show Voldemort/Quirrell only themselves making the elixir of life, as they wanted to use the Philosopher's Stone; Harry was able to see the Stone in the Mirror because he wanted to find it but not to use it. The Stone has now been destroyed.

Harry returns to the Dursleys for the summer holiday, but does not tell them that under-age wizards are forbidden to use magic outside Hogwarts.


After ten years, Harry became an eleven year-old boy. The Dursleys have kept the truth about Harry's parents from him, but it is revealed in the form of Rubeus Hagrid
Rubeus Hagrid
Rubeus Hagrid is a fictional character in the Harry Potter book series written by J. K. Rowling. Hagrid is introduced in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as a half-giant who is the gamekeeper and Keeper of Keys and Grounds of Hogwarts, the primary setting for the first six novels...

, who tells Harry that he is a wizard and has been accepted at Hogwarts for the autumn term. Harry takes the train to Hogwarts from King's Cross Station. On the train, Harry sits with and quickly befriends Ron Weasley
Ron Weasley
Ronald Bilius "Ron" Weasley is a fictional character and one of the three protagonists in the Harry Potter book series written by J. K. Rowling. His first appearance was in the first book of the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as the best friend of Harry Potter and Hermione Granger...

; the two are also briefly visited by Neville Longbottom and Hermione Granger. Later on in the journey, Malfoy comes into Harry and Ron's compartment with his friends Crabbe and Goyle and introduces himself. After Ron laughs at Draco's name, Draco offers to help Harry distinguish the wrong sort of wizards, but Harry declines.

Upon arrival, the Sorting Hat places Harry, Hermione, Neville and Ron into Gryffindor House, one of the school's four houses, while Draco and his cronies are placed in Slytherin. After a broom-mounted game to save Neville's Remembrall, Harry joins Gryffindor's Quidditch team as their youngest Seeker in over a century.

Shortly after school begins, Harry and his friends hear that someone broke into a previously emptied vault at the wizarding bank, Gringotts. The mystery deepens when they discover a monstrous three-headed dog
Cerberus
Cerberus , or Kerberos, in Greek and Roman mythology, is a multi-headed hound which guards the gates of the Underworld, to prevent those who have crossed the river Styx from ever escaping...

, Fluffy, who guards a trapdoor in the forbidden third floor passageway. On Halloween
Halloween
Hallowe'en , also known as Halloween or All Hallows' Eve, is a yearly holiday observed around the world on October 31, the night before All Saints' Day...

, a troll
Troll
A troll is a supernatural being in Norse mythology and Scandinavian folklore. In origin, the term troll was a generally negative synonym for a jötunn , a being in Norse mythology...

 enters the castle and traps Hermione in one of the girls' lavatories. Harry and Ron rescue her, but are caught by Professor McGonagall. Hermione defends the boys and takes the blame, which results in the three becoming close friends.

Harry's broom becomes jinxed during his first Quidditch match, nearly resulting in Harry falling from a great height. Hermione believes that Professor Snape
Severus Snape
Severus Snape is a fictional character in the Harry Potter book series written by J.K. Rowling. In the first novel of the series, he is hostile toward Harry and is built up to be the primary antagonist until the final chapters. As the series progresses, Snape's character becomes more layered and...

 has cursed the broom and distracts him by setting his robes on fire, allowing Harry to catch the Golden Snitch and win the game for Gryffindor.

At Christmas, Harry receives his father's Invisibility Cloak from an unknown source. Later, he discovers the Mirror of Erised, a strange mirror that shows Harry surrounded by his parents and the extended family he never knew. Later, Harry learns that Nicolas Flamel is the maker of the Sorcerer's Stone, a stone that gives the owner eternal life.

Harry sees Professor Snape interrogating Professor Quirrell about getting past Fluffy, seemingly confirming the suspicion that Snape is trying to steal the Philosopher's Stone in order to restore Lord Voldemort to power. The trio discover that Hagrid is hiding a dragon
Dragon
A dragon is a legendary creature, typically with serpentine or reptilian traits, that feature in the myths of many cultures. There are two distinct cultural traditions of dragons: the European dragon, derived from European folk traditions and ultimately related to Greek and Middle Eastern...

 egg, which hatches; since dragon breeding is illegal, they convince Hagrid to send the dragon to live with others of its kind. Harry and Hermione are caught returning to their dormitories after sending Norbert off and are forced to serve detention with Hagrid in the Forbidden Forest. In the forest, Harry sees a hooded figure drink the blood of an injured unicorn
Unicorn
The unicorn is a legendary animal from European folklore that resembles a white horse with a large, pointed, spiraling horn projecting from its forehead, and sometimes a goat's beard...

. Firenze, a centaur
Centaur
In Greek mythology, a centaur or hippocentaur is a member of a composite race of creatures, part human and part horse...

, tells Harry that the hooded figure is Voldemort.

Hagrid accidentally tells Harry, Ron, and Hermione how to get past Fluffy; and they rush to tell the headmaster, Albus Dumbledore
Albus Dumbledore
Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore is a major character in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. For most of the series, he is the headmaster of the wizarding school Hogwarts...

, what they know, only to find that he has been called away from the school. Convinced that Dumbledore's summons was a red herring
Red herring (plot device)
Red herring is an idiomatic expression referring to the rhetorical or literary tactic of diverting attention away from an item of significance...

 to take him away while the Philosopher's Stone is stolen, the trio set out to reach the Stone first. They navigate a series of complex magical challenges set up by the school's faculty, and at the end of these challenges, Harry enters the inner chamber alone, only to find that it is the timid Professor Quirrell, not Snape, who is after the Stone. The final challenge protecting the Stone is the Mirror of Erised. Quirrell forces Harry to look into the mirror to discover where the Stone is hidden; and Harry successfully resists, and the Stone drops into his own pocket. Lord Voldemort reveals himself: he has possessed Quirrell and appears as a ghastly face on the back of Quirrell's head. Quirrell tries to attack Harry, but merely touching Harry proves to be agony for him. Voldemort flees and Quirrell dies as Dumbledore arrives back in time to save Harry.

As Harry recovers, Dumbledore confirms that Lily had died while trying to protect Harry as an infant. Her pure, loving sacrifice provides her son with an ancient magical protection against Voldemort's lethal spells. Dumbledore also explains that the Philosopher's Stone has been destroyed to prevent Voldemort from ever using it. He then tells Harry that only those who wanted to find the Stone, but not use it, would be able to retrieve it from the mirror, which is why Harry could acquire it. When Harry asks Dumbledore why Voldemort attempted to kill him when he was an infant, Dumbledore promises to tell Harry when he is older.

At the end-of-year feast, where Harry is welcomed as a hero. Dumbledore gives a few last-minute additions, granting enough points to Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville for Gryffindor to win the House Cup, ending Slytherin's six-year reign as house champions.

Main characters


Harry Potter
Harry Potter (character)
Harry James Potter is the title character and main protagonist of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. The majority of the books' plot covers seven years in the life of the orphan Potter who, on his eleventh birthday, learns he is a wizard...

 is an orphan whom Rowling imagined as a "scrawny, black-haired, bespectacled boy who didn't know he was a wizard." She developed the series' story and characters to explain how Harry came to be in this situation and how his life unfolded from there. Apart from the first chapter, the events of this book take place just before and in the year following Harry's eleventh birthday. Voldemort's attack left a lightning bolt-shaped scar on Harry's forehead, which produces stabbing pains when Voldemort or a close associate of the dark wizard feels any strong emotion. Harry has prodigious natural talent for Quidditch
Quidditch
Quidditch is a fictional sport developed by British author J. K. Rowling for the Harry Potter series of novels. It is described as an extremely rough, but very popular, semi-contact sport, played by wizards and witches around the world...

 and the ability to persuade friends by passionate speeches.

Petunia Dursley, the sister of Harry's mother Lily, is a thin woman with a long neck that she uses for spying on the neighbours. She regards her magical sister as a freak and tries to pretend that she never existed. Her husband Vernon is a heavily-built man whose irascible bluster covers a narrow mind and a fear of anything unusual. Their son Dudley is an overweight, spoiled bully.

Despite being the school's jokers, identical twins Fred and George Weasley get good marks in examinations and are excellent Quidditch players. Their younger brother Ron
Ron Weasley
Ronald Bilius "Ron" Weasley is a fictional character and one of the three protagonists in the Harry Potter book series written by J. K. Rowling. His first appearance was in the first book of the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as the best friend of Harry Potter and Hermione Granger...

 is Harry's age and Rowling describes him as the ultimate best friend, "always there when you need him." Ron lacks confidence in his prospects of matching his three oldest brothers' achievements or the popularity of Fred and George, but his skill and bravery in a magical chess
Chess
Chess is a two-player board game played on a chessboard, a square-checkered board with 64 squares arranged in an eight-by-eight grid. It is one of the world's most popular games, played by millions of people worldwide at home, in clubs, online, by correspondence, and in tournaments.Each player...

 game where lives are at stake help Harry past one of the obstacles on the path to the Philosopher's Stone.

Hermione Granger
Hermione Granger
Hermione Jean Granger is a fictional character and one of the three protagonists in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. She initially appears in the first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, as a new student on her way to Hogwarts...

, the daughter of an all-Muggle family, is a bossy girl who has apparently memorised most of the textbooks before the start of term. Rowling described Hermione as a "very logical, upright and good" character with "a lot of insecurity and a great fear of failure beneath her swottiness". Despite her nagging efforts to keep Harry and Ron out of trouble, she becomes a close friend of the two boys after they save her from a troll, and her magical and analytical skills play a vital part in finding the Philosopher's Stone.

Draco Malfoy
Draco Malfoy
Draco Malfoy is a fictional character and a major antagonist in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. He is a Slytherin student in Harry Potter's year. He is frequently accompanied by his two accomplices, Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle, who act as henchmen...

 is a slim, pale boy who speaks in a bored drawl. He is arrogant about his skill in Quidditch
Quidditch
Quidditch is a fictional sport developed by British author J. K. Rowling for the Harry Potter series of novels. It is described as an extremely rough, but very popular, semi-contact sport, played by wizards and witches around the world...

, and despises anyone who is not a pure blood wizard – and wizards who do not share his views. His parents had supported Voldemort, but changed sides after the dark wizard's disappearance. Draco avoids direct confrontations, and tries to get Harry and his friends into trouble.

Neville Longbottom is a plump, diffident boy, so forgetful that his grandmother gives him a Remembrall. Neville's magical abilities are weak and appeared just in time to save his life when he was eight. Despite his timidity, Neville will fight anyone after some encouragement or if he thinks it is right and important.

Professor Dumbledore, a tall, thin man who wears half-moon spectacles and has silver hair and a beard that tucks into his belt, is the headmaster of Hogwarts, and thought to be the only wizard Voldemort fears. Dumbledore, while renowned for his achievements in magic, finds it difficult to resist sweets and has a whimsical sense of humour. Although he shrugs off praise, he is aware of his own brilliance. Rowling described him as the "epitome of goodness".

Professor McGonagall, a tall, severe-looking woman with black hair tied in a tight bun
Bun (hairstyle)
A bun is a type of hairstyle, typically worn by women, where the hair is pulled back from the face, twisted or plaited, and wrapped in a circular coil around itself, typically on the back of the head or neck. They can either be secured with a hairpiece, a hairnet and bobby pins. They may be...

, teaches Transfiguration, and sometimes transforms herself into a cat. She is in charge of Gryffindor House and, unlike Professor Snape, shows no favouritism towards pupils in her House, but seizes any opportunity to help Gryffindor by fair means. According to the author, "under that gruff exterior" is "a bit of an old softy".

Twitching, stammering
Professor Quirrell teaches Defence Against the Dark Arts. Reputedly he was a brilliant scholar, but his nerve was shattered by an encounter with vampire
Vampire
Vampires are mythological or folkloric beings who subsist by feeding on the life essence of living creatures, regardless of whether they are undead or a living person...

s. Quirrell wears a turban to conceal the fact that he is voluntarily possessed by Voldemort, whose face appears on the back of Quirrel's head.

Professor Snape
Severus Snape
Severus Snape is a fictional character in the Harry Potter book series written by J.K. Rowling. In the first novel of the series, he is hostile toward Harry and is built up to be the primary antagonist until the final chapters. As the series progresses, Snape's character becomes more layered and...

, who has a hooked nose, sallow complexion and greasy black hair, teaches Potions, but is eager to teach Defence Against the Dark Arts. Snape praises pupils in Slytherin, his own House, but seizes every opportunity to humiliate others, especially Harry. Several incidents, beginning with the shooting pain in Harry's scar near the end of the first dinner, lead Harry and his friends to think Snape is a follower of Voldemort.

Hagrid
Rubeus Hagrid
Rubeus Hagrid is a fictional character in the Harry Potter book series written by J. K. Rowling. Hagrid is introduced in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as a half-giant who is the gamekeeper and Keeper of Keys and Grounds of Hogwarts, the primary setting for the first six novels...

, a half-giant nearly 12 feet (3.7 m) tall, with tangled black hair and beard, was expelled from Hogwarts
Hogwarts
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry or simply Hogwarts is the primary setting for the first six books of the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, with each book lasting the equivalent of one school year. It is a fictional boarding school of magic for witches and wizards between the ages of...

 and his wand was broken, but Professor Dumbledore let him stay on as the school's gamekeeper
Gamekeeper
A gamekeeper is a person who manages an area of countryside to make sure there is enough game for shooting, or fish for angling, and who actively manages areas of woodland, moorland, waterway or farmland for the benefit of game birds, deer, fish and wildlife in general.Typically, a gamekeeper is...

, a job which enables him to lavish affection and pet names on even the most dangerous of magical creatures. Hagrid is fiercely loyal to Dumbledore and quickly becomes a close friend of Harry, Ron and later Hermione, but his carelessness makes him unreliable.

The school's caretaker, Filch, knows the school's secret passages better than anyone else except possibly the Weasley twins. His cat, Mrs. Norris, aids his hunts for misbehaving pupils. Other members of Hogwarts staff include: the dumpy Herbology teacher Professor Sprout; Professor Flitwick, the tiny and excitable Charms teacher, who is discreetly friendly towards Harry; the soporific History of Magic teacher, Professor Binns, a ghost who does not seem to have noticed his own death; and Madam Hooch, the Quidditch coach, who is strict but a considerate, methodical teacher. The poltergeist
Poltergeist
A poltergeist is a paranormal phenomenon which consists of events alluding to the manifestation of an imperceptible entity. Such manifestation typically includes inanimate objects moving or being thrown about, sentient noises and, on some occasions, physical attacks on those witnessing the...

 Peeves wanders around the buildings causing trouble for whomever he can.


In the book, Rowling introduced an eclectic cast of characters. The first character to be introduced is Vernon Dursley, Harry's uncle. Most of the actions centre on the eponymous hero Harry Potter
Harry Potter (character)
Harry James Potter is the title character and main protagonist of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. The majority of the books' plot covers seven years in the life of the orphan Potter who, on his eleventh birthday, learns he is a wizard...

, an orphan who escapes his miserable childhood with the Dursley family. Rowling imagined him as a "scrawny, black-haired, bespectacled boy who didn't know he was a wizard", and says she transferred part of her pain about losing her mother to him. During the book, Harry makes two close friends, Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger. Ron is described by Rowling as the ultimate best friend, "always there when you need him". Rowling has described Hermione as a "very logical, upright and good" character with "a lot of insecurity and a great fear of failure beneath her swottiness".

Rowling also imagined a supporting cast of adults. Headmaster of Hogwarts is powerful but kind wizard Albus Dumbledore
Albus Dumbledore
Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore is a major character in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. For most of the series, he is the headmaster of the wizarding school Hogwarts...

, who becomes Harry's confidant; Rowling described him as "epitome of goodness". His right hand is severe Minerva McGonagall, who according to the author "under that gruff exterior" is "a bit of an old softy", the friendly half-giant Rubeus Hagrid
Rubeus Hagrid
Rubeus Hagrid is a fictional character in the Harry Potter book series written by J. K. Rowling. Hagrid is introduced in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as a half-giant who is the gamekeeper and Keeper of Keys and Grounds of Hogwarts, the primary setting for the first six novels...

, who saved Harry from the Dursley family and the sinister Severus Snape. Professor Quirrell is also featured in the novel.

The main antagonists are Draco Malfoy
Draco Malfoy
Draco Malfoy is a fictional character and a major antagonist in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. He is a Slytherin student in Harry Potter's year. He is frequently accompanied by his two accomplices, Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle, who act as henchmen...

, an elitist, bullying classmate and Lord Voldemort
Lord Voldemort
Lord Voldemort is the main antagonist of the Harry Potter series written by British author J. K. Rowling. Voldemort first appeared in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, which was released in 1997...

, the most powerful evil wizard who becomes disembodied when he tries to kill baby Harry. According to a 1999 interview with Rowling, the character of Voldemort was created as a literary foil for Harry, and his backstory was intentionally not fleshed-out at first:

Development


In 1990 Jo Rowling, as she preferred to be known, wanted to move with her boyfriend to a flat in Manchester
Manchester
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

 and in her words, "One weekend after flat hunting, I took the train back to London on my own and the idea for Harry Potter fell into my head... A scrawny, little, black-haired, bespectacled boy became more and more of a wizard to me... I began to write Philosopher's Stone that very evening. Although, the first couple of pages look nothing like the finished product." Then Rowling's mother died and, to cope with her pain, Rowling transferred her own anguish to the orphan Harry. Rowling spent six years working on Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, and in 1996 obtained a grant of £4,000 from the Scottish Arts Council
Scottish Arts Council
The Scottish Arts Council is a Scottish public body that distributes funding from the Scottish Government, and is the leading national organisation for the funding, development and promotion of the arts in Scotland...

, which enabled her to finish the book and plan the sequels. She sent the book to an agent
Literary agent
A literary agent is an agent who represents writers and their written works to publishers, theatrical producers and film producers and assists in the sale and deal negotiation of the same. Literary agents most often represent novelists, screenwriters and major non-fiction writers...

 and a publisher, and then the second agent she approached spent a year trying to sell the book to publishers, most of whom thought it was too long at about 90,000 words. Barry Cunningham, who was building a portfolio of distinctive fantasies by new authors for Bloomsbury Children's Books, recommended accepting the book, and the eight-year-old daughter of Bloomsbury's chief executive said it was "so much better than anything else".

UK publication and reception



Bloomsbury accepted the book, paying Rowling a £2,500 advance
Advance payment
An advance payment, or simply an advance, is the part of a contractually due sum that is paid in advance for goods or services, while the balance included in the invoice will only follow the delivery. It is called a prepaid expense in accrual accounting.-See also:*Advance against royalties*Pay or...

, and Cunningham sent proof copies
Galley proof
In printing and publishing, proofs are the preliminary versions of publications meant for review by authors, editors, and proofreaders, often with extra wide margins. Galley proofs may be uncut and unbound, or in some cases electronic...

 to carefully chosen authors, critics and booksellers in order to obtain comments that could be quoted when the book was launched. He was less concerned about the book's length than about its author's name, as the title sounded like a boys' book and boys prefer books by male authors. Rowling therefore adopted the nom de plume J.K. Rowling just before publication. In June 1997, Bloomsbury published Philosopher's Stone with an initial print-run of 500 copies in hardback, three hundred of which were distributed to libraries. The short initial print run was standard for first novels, and Cunningham hoped booksellers would read the book and recommend it to customers. Examples from this initial print run have become quite valuable, selling for as much as USD$33,460 in a 2007 Heritage
Heritage Auctions
Heritage Auction Galleries is the world's largest collectibles auctioneer and the third largest auction house, with over $700 million in annual sales and 600,000 online bidder-members...

 Auction.

Lindsey Fraser, who had supplied one of the blurb
Blurb
A blurb is a short summary or some words of praise accompanying a creative work, usually used on books without giving away any details, that is usually referring to the words on the back of the book jacket but also commonly seen on DVD and video cases, web portals, and news websites.- History :The...

 comments, wrote what is thought to be the first published review, in The Scotsman
The Scotsman
The Scotsman is a British newspaper, published in Edinburgh.As of August 2011 it had an audited circulation of 38,423, down from about 100,000 in the 1980s....

on 28 June 1997. She described Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as "a hugely entertaining thriller" and Rowling as "a first-rate writer for children". Another early review, in The Herald
The Herald (Glasgow)
The Herald is a broadsheet newspaper published Monday to Saturday in Glasgow, and available throughout Scotland. As of August 2011 it had an audited circulation of 47,226, giving it a lead over Scotland's other 'quality' national daily, The Scotsman, published in Edinburgh.The 1889 to 1906 editions...

, said, "I have yet to find a child who can put it down." Newspapers outside Scotland started to notice the book, with glowing reviews in The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

, The Sunday Times
The Sunday Times
The Sunday Times is a British Sunday newspaper.The Sunday Times may also refer to:*The Sunday Times *The Sunday Times *The Sunday Times *The Sunday Times...

and The Mail on Sunday
The Mail on Sunday
The Mail on Sunday is a British conservative newspaper, currently published in a tabloid format. First published in 1982 by Lord Rothermere, it became Britain's biggest-selling Sunday newspaper following the closing of The News of the World in July 2011...

, and in September 1997 Books for Keeps, a magazine that specialised in children's books, gave the novel four stars out of five.

In 1997 the UK edition won a National Book Award
National Book Award
The National Book Awards are a set of American literary awards. Started in 1950, the Awards are presented annually to American authors for literature published in the current year. In 1989 the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization which now oversees and manages the National Book...

 and a gold medal in the 9 to 11 year-olds category of the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize
Nestlé Smarties Book Prize
The Nestlé Children's Book Prize, also known as the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize, was an annual award given to children's books written in the previous year by a UK citizen or resident. The prize was administered by Booktrust, an independent charity which promotes books and reading, and sponsored by...

. The Smarties award, which is voted for by children, made the book well-known within six months of publication, while most children's books have to wait for years.

The following year, Philosopher's Stone won almost all the other major UK awards that were decided by children. It was also shortlisted for children's books awards adjudicated by adults, but did not win. Sandra Beckett comments that books which were popular with children were regarded as undemanding and as not of the highest literary standards – for example the literary establishment disdained the works of Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl was a British novelist, short story writer, fighter pilot and screenwriter.Born in Wales to Norwegian parents, he served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, in which he became a flying ace and intelligence agent, rising to the rank of Wing Commander...

, an overwhelming favourite of children before the appearance of Rowling's books.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone won two publishing industry awards given for sales rather than literary merit, the British Book Awards
British Book Awards
The Galaxy National Book Awards are a series of British literary awards focused on the best UK writers and their works, as selected by an academy of members from the British book publishing industry...

 Children's Book of the Year and the Booksellers' Association / Bookseller Author of the Year. By March 1999 UK editions had sold just over 300,000 copies, and the story was still the UK's best-selling title in December 2001. A Braille
Braille
The Braille system is a method that is widely used by blind people to read and write, and was the first digital form of writing.Braille was devised in 1825 by Louis Braille, a blind Frenchman. Each Braille character, or cell, is made up of six dot positions, arranged in a rectangle containing two...

 edition was published in May 1998 by the Scottish Braille Press.

Platform 9¾, from which the Hogwarts Express left London, was commemorated in the real-life King's Cross railway station with a sign between tracks 9 and 10 and a trolley apparently passing through the wall.

U.S. publication and reception


UK to American translation examples
UKAmerican
mum, mam mom
sherbet lemon lemon drop
Lemon drop
A lemon drop is a sugary, lemon-flavored candy that is typically colored yellow and often shaped like a miniature lemon. They can be sweet or have a more sour flavor....

motorbike motorcycle
chip
French fries
French fries , chips, fries, or French-fried potatoes are strips of deep-fried potato. North Americans tend to refer to any pieces of deep-fried potatoes as fries or French fries, while in the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand, long, thinly cut slices of deep-fried potatoes are...

s
fries
crisp chip
jelly Jell-O
Jell-O
Jell-O is a brand name belonging to U.S.-based Kraft Foods for a number of gelatin desserts, including fruit gels, puddings and no-bake cream pies. The brand's popularity has led to it being used as a generic term for gelatin dessert across the U.S. and Canada....

jacket potato baked potato
jumper sweater

Scholastic Corporation bought the U.S. rights at the Bologna Book Fair
Bologna Children's Book Fair
The Bologna Children's Book Fair or La fiera del libro per ragazzi is the leading professional fair for children's books in the world.Since 1963, it is held yearly for four days in March or April in Bologna, Italy...

 in April 1997 for US$105,000, an unusually high sum for a children's book. They thought that a child would not want to read a book with the word "philosopher" in the title and, after some discussion, the American edition was published in October 1998 under the title Rowling suggested, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Rowling claimed that she regretted this change and would have fought it if she had been in a stronger position at the time. Philip Nel
Philip Nel
Philip Nel is an American scholar of children's literature and Professor of English at Kansas State University. He is best known for his work on Dr. Seuss and Harry Potter, which have led to his being a guest on such media programs as CBS Sunday Morning, NPR's Morning Edition and Talk of the...

 has pointed out that the change lost the connection with alchemy
Alchemy
Alchemy is an influential philosophical tradition whose early practitioners’ claims to profound powers were known from antiquity. The defining objectives of alchemy are varied; these include the creation of the fabled philosopher's stone possessing powers including the capability of turning base...

, and the meaning of some other terms changed in translation, for example from UK English "crumpets" to US English "muffin". While Rowling accepted the change from both UK English "mum" and Seamus Finnegan's Irish variant "mam" to "mom" in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, she vetoed this change in the later books. However Nel considered that Scholastic's translations were considerably more sensitive than most of those imposed on UK English books of the time, and that some other changes could be regarded as useful copyedits. Since the UK editions of early titles in the series were published a few months earlier than the American versions, some American readers became familiar with the British English versions after buying them via the Internet.
At first the most prestigious reviewers ignored the book, leaving it to book trade and library publications such as Kirkus Reviews
Kirkus Reviews
Kirkus Reviews is an American book review magazine founded in 1933 by Virginia Kirkus . Kirkus serves the book and literary trade sector, including libraries, publishers, literary and film agents, film and TV producers and booksellers. Kirkus Reviews is published on the first and 15th of each month...

and Booklist
Booklist
Booklist is a publication of the American Library Association that provides critical reviews of books and audiovisual materials for all ages. It is geared toward libraries and booksellers and is available in print or online...

, which examined it only by the entertainment-oriented criteria of children's fiction. However, more penetrating specialist reviews (such as one by Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices, which pointed out the complexity, depth and consistency of the world Rowling had built) attracted the attention of reviewers in major newspapers. Although The Boston Globe
The Boston Globe
The Boston Globe is an American daily newspaper based in Boston, Massachusetts. The Boston Globe has been owned by The New York Times Company since 1993...

and Michael Winerip in The New York Times complained that the final chapters were the weakest part of the book they and most other American reviewers gave glowing praise.

A year later the US edition was selected as an American Library Association Notable Book, a Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly, aka PW, is an American weekly trade news magazine targeted at publishers, librarians, booksellers and literary agents...

Best Book of 1998, and a New York Public Library
New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is the largest public library in North America and is one of the United States' most significant research libraries...

 1998 Best Book of the Year, and won Parenting Magazines Book of the Year Award for 1998, the School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, and the American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults.

In August 1999
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone topped the New York Times list of best-selling fiction, and stayed near the top of the list for much of 1999 and 2000, until the New York Times split its list into children's and adult sections under pressure from other publishers who were eager to see their books given higher placings. Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly, aka PW, is an American weekly trade news magazine targeted at publishers, librarians, booksellers and literary agents...

s report in December 2001 on cumulative sales of children's fiction placed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone 19th among hardbacks (over 5 million copies) and 7th among paperbacks (over 6.6 million copies).

In May 2008, Scholastic announced the creation of a 10th Anniversary Edition of the book that was released in September 2008 to mark the tenth anniversary of the original American release.

Translations



By mid-2008 official translations of the book were published in 67 languages. Bloomsbury have published translations in Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 and in Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

, and the latter was described as "one of the most important pieces of Ancient Greek prose written in many centuries".

Sequels


The second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the second novel in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling. The plot follows Harry's second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, during which a series of messages on the walls on the school's corridors warn that the "Chamber of...

, was originally published in the UK on 2 July 1998 and in the US on 2 June 1999. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the third novel in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling. The book was published on 8 July 1999. The novel won the 1999 Whitbread Book Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the 2000 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, and was short-listed for other...

was then published a year later in the UK on 8 July 1999 and in the US on 8 September 1999. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the fourth novel in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling, published on 8 July 2000.The novel won a Hugo Award in 2001, the only Harry Potter novel to do so...

was published on 8 July 2000 at the same time by Bloomsbury
Bloomsbury
-Places:* Bloomsbury is an area in central London.* Bloomsbury , related local government unit* Bloomsbury, New Jersey, New Jersey, USA* Bloomsbury , listed on the NRHP in Maryland...

 and Scholastic
Scholastic Press
Scholastic is a global book publishing company known for publishing educational materials for schools, teachers, and parents, and selling and distributing them by mail order and via book clubs and book fairs. It also has the exclusive United States' publishing rights to the Harry Potter book...

. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the fifth in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling, and was published on 21 June 2003 by Bloomsbury in the United Kingdom, Scholastic in the United States, and Raincoast in Canada...

is the longest book in the series at 766 pages in the UK version and 870 pages in the US version. It was published worldwide in English on 21 June 2003. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the sixth and penultimate novel in the Harry Potter series by British author J. K. Rowling...

was published on 16 July 2005, and sold 11 million copies in the first 24 hours of its worldwide release. The seventh and final novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was published 21 July 2007. The book sold 11 million copies within 24 hours of its release: 2.7 million copies in the UK and 8.3 million in the US.

Film version


In 1999, Rowling sold the film rights of the first four Harry Potter books to Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., also known as Warner Bros. Pictures or simply Warner Bros. , is an American producer of film and television entertainment.One of the major film studios, it is a subsidiary of Time Warner, with its headquarters in Burbank,...

 for a reported £1 million ($1,982,900). Rowling demanded that the principal cast be kept strictly British, but allowed for the casting of Irish actors such as the late Richard Harris as Dumbledore, and of foreign actors as characters of the same nationalities in later books. After extensive casting, filming began in October 2000 at Leavesden Film Studios
Leavesden Film Studios
Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden , is a film and media complex owned by Warner Bros.. The studios and backlot sit on the site of the former Rolls-Royce factory at Leavesden Aerodrome, which was an important centre of aircraft production during World War II...

 and in London, with production ending in July 2001. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was released in London on 14 November 2001. Reviewers' comments were positive, as reflected by a 78% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes is a website devoted to reviews, information, and news of films—widely known as a film review aggregator. Its name derives from the cliché of audiences throwing tomatoes and other vegetables at a poor stage performance...

, and by a score of 64% at Metacritic
Metacritic
Metacritic.com is a website that collates reviews of music albums, games, movies, TV shows and DVDs. For each product, a numerical score from each review is obtained and the total is averaged. An excerpt of each review is provided along with a hyperlink to the source. Three colour codes of Green,...

 representing "generally favourable reviews".

Video games



Video games loosely based on the book were released between 2001 and 2003, generally under the American title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Most were published by Electronic Arts
Electronic Arts
Electronic Arts, Inc. is a major American developer, marketer, publisher and distributor of video games. Founded and incorporated on May 28, 1982 by Trip Hawkins, the company was a pioneer of the early home computer games industry and was notable for promoting the designers and programmers...

 but produced by different developers:
Publisher Year Platform Type | Metacritic
Metacritic
Metacritic.com is a website that collates reviews of music albums, games, movies, TV shows and DVDs. For each product, a numerical score from each review is obtained and the total is averaged. An excerpt of each review is provided along with a hyperlink to the source. Three colour codes of Green,...

 score
| Notes
Electronic Arts 2001 MS Windows  Role-playing game
Role-playing game
A role-playing game is a game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal acting, or through a process of structured decision-making or character development...

 
65%
Aspyr  2002 Mac OS 9
Mac OS 9
Mac OS 9 is the final major release of Apple's Mac OS before the launch of Mac OS X. Introduced on October 23, 1999, Apple positioned it as "The Best Internet Operating System Ever," highlighting Sherlock 2's Internet search capabilities, integration with Apple's free online services known as...

 
Role-playing game (not available) Same as Windows version
Electronic Arts 2001 Game Boy Color
Game Boy Color
The is Nintendo's successor to the 8-bit Game Boy handheld game console, and was released on October 21, 1998 in Japan, November 19, 1998 in North America, November 23, 1998 in Europe and November 27, 1998 in the United Kingdom. It features a color screen and is slightly thicker and taller than...

 
Role-playing game (not available)  
Electronic Arts 2001 Game Boy Advance
Game Boy Advance
The is a 32-bit handheld video game console developed, manufactured, and marketed by Nintendo. It is the successor to the Game Boy Color. It was released in Japan on March 21, 2001; in North America on June 11, 2001; in Australia and Europe on June 22, 2001; and in the People's Republic of China...

 
"Adventure/puzzle" game 64%  
Electronic Arts 2003 GameCube  "Action adventure" 62%  
Electronic Arts 2001 PlayStation
PlayStation
The is a 32-bit fifth-generation video game console first released by Sony Computer Entertainment in Japan on December 3, .The PlayStation was the first of the PlayStation series of consoles and handheld game devices. The PlayStation 2 was the console's successor in 2000...

 
Role-playing game 64%  
Electronic Arts 2003 PlayStation 2
PlayStation 2
The PlayStation 2 is a sixth-generation video game console manufactured by Sony as part of the PlayStation series. Its development was announced in March 1999 and it was first released on March 4, 2000, in Japan...

 
"Action adventure" 56%  
Electronic Arts 2003 Xbox
Xbox
The Xbox is a sixth-generation video game console manufactured by Microsoft. It was released on November 15, 2001 in North America, February 22, 2002 in Japan, and March 14, 2002 in Australia and Europe and is the predecessor to the Xbox 360. It was Microsoft's first foray into the gaming console...

 
"Action adventure" 59%  

Religious controversy



Religious controversy surrounding the Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone along with the rest of the Harry Potter series have stemmed mainly from assertions that the novel contains occult
Occult
The word occult comes from the Latin word occultus , referring to "knowledge of the hidden". In the medical sense it is used to refer to a structure or process that is hidden, e.g...

 or Satanic
Satanism
Satanism is a group of religions that is composed of a diverse number of ideological and philosophical beliefs and social phenomena. Their shared feature include symbolic association with, admiration for the character of, and even veneration of Satan or similar rebellious, promethean, and...

 subtexts. In the United States, calls for the book to be banned from schools have led occasionally to widely publicised legal challenges, usually on the grounds that witchcraft
Witchcraft
Witchcraft, in historical, anthropological, religious, and mythological contexts, is the alleged use of supernatural or magical powers. A witch is a practitioner of witchcraft...

 is a government-recognised religion and that to allow the novels to be held in public schools violates the separation of church and state
Separation of church and state in the United States
The phrase "separation of church and state" , attributed to Thomas Jefferson and others, and since quoted by the Supreme Court of the United States, expresses an understanding of the intent and function of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States...

. The series was at the top of the American Library Association
American Library Association
The American Library Association is a non-profit organization based in the United States that promotes libraries and library education internationally. It is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with more than 62,000 members....

's "most challenged books" list for 1999–2001.

Religious opposition has also surfaced in other nations. The Orthodox churches of Greece and Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

 have campaigned against the series. The books have been banned from private schools in the United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates, abbreviated as the UAE, or shortened to "the Emirates", is a state situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman, and Saudi Arabia, and sharing sea borders with Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Iran.The UAE is a...

 and criticised in the Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

ian state-run press.

Roman Catholic opinion over the series was divided. In 2003 Catholic World Report criticised Harry's disrespect for rules and authority, and regarded the series' mixing of the magical and mundane worlds as "a fundamental rejection of the divine order in creation." In 2005 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope later that year but was then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith , previously known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition , and after 1904 called the Supreme...

, described the series as "subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul before it can grow properly," and gave permission for publication of the letter that expressed this opinion. A spokesman for the Archbishop of Westminster
Archbishop of Westminster
The Archbishop of Westminster heads the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Westminster, in England. The incumbent is the Metropolitan of the Province of Westminster and, as a matter of custom, is elected President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, and therefore de facto spokesman...

 said that Cardinal Ratzinger's words were not binding as they were not an official pronouncement of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In 2003 Monsignor
Monsignor
Monsignor, pl. monsignori, is the form of address for those members of the clergy of the Catholic Church holding certain ecclesiastical honorific titles. Monsignor is the apocopic form of the Italian monsignore, from the French mon seigneur, meaning "my lord"...

 Peter Fleetwood, a member of a Church working party on New Age
New Age
The New Age movement is a Western spiritual movement that developed in the second half of the 20th century. Its central precepts have been described as "drawing on both Eastern and Western spiritual and metaphysical traditions and then infusing them with influences from self-help and motivational...

 phenomena, said that the Harry Potter stories "are not bad or a banner for anti-Christian theology. They help children understand the difference between good and evil," that Rowling's approach was Christian, and that the stories illustrated the need to make sacrifices in order to defeat evil.

Some religious responses have been positive. "At least as much as they've been attacked from a theological point of view," notes Rowling, "[the books] have been lauded and taken into pulpit, and most interesting and satisfying for me, it's been by several different faiths." Emily Griesinger wrote that fantasy literature helps children to survive reality for long enough to learn how to deal with it, described Harry's first passage through to Platform 9¾ as an application of faith and hope, and his encounter with the Sorting Hat as the first of many in which Harry is shaped by the choices he makes. She noted that the self-sacrifice of Harry's mother, which protects the boy in the first book and throughout the series, was the most powerful of the "deeper magics" that transcend the magical "technology" of the wizards, and one which the power-hungry Voldemort fails to understand.

Style and themes


Philip Nel
Philip Nel
Philip Nel is an American scholar of children's literature and Professor of English at Kansas State University. He is best known for his work on Dr. Seuss and Harry Potter, which have led to his being a guest on such media programs as CBS Sunday Morning, NPR's Morning Edition and Talk of the...

 highlighted the influence of Jane Austen
Jane Austen
Jane Austen was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction, set among the landed gentry, earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature, her realism and biting social commentary cementing her historical importance among scholars and critics.Austen lived...

, whom Rowling has greatly admired since the age of twelve. Both novelists encourage re-reading, because details that look insignificant foreshadow important events or characters much later in the story-line – for example Sirius Black is briefly mentioned near the beginning of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, and then becomes a major character in the third to fifth books. Like Austen's heroines, Harry often has to re-examine his ideas near the ends of books. Some social behaviour in the Harry Potter books is remininiscent of Austen, for example the excited communal reading of letters. Both authors satirise
Satire
Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement...

 social behaviour and give characters names that express their personalities. However in Nel's opinion Rowling's humour is more based on caricature
Caricature
A caricature is a portrait that exaggerates or distorts the essence of a person or thing to create an easily identifiable visual likeness. In literature, a caricature is a description of a person using exaggeration of some characteristics and oversimplification of others.Caricatures can be...

 and the names she invents are more like those found in Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, having been responsible for some of English literature's most iconic...

's stories, and Amanda Cockrell noted that many of these express their owners' traits through allusion
Allusion
An allusion is a figure of speech that makes a reference to, or representation of, people, places, events, literary work, myths, or works of art, either directly or by implication. M. H...

s that run from ancient Roman mythology to eighteenth century German literature. Rowling, like the Narnia
The Chronicles of Narnia
The Chronicles of Narnia is a series of seven fantasy novels for children by C. S. Lewis. It is considered a classic of children's literature and is the author's best-known work, having sold over 100 million copies in 47 languages...

 series' author C.S. Lewis, thinks there is no rigid distinction between stories for children and for adults. Nel also noted that, like many good writers for children, Rowling combines literary genre
Literary genre
A literary genre is a category of literary composition. Genres may be determined by literary technique, tone, content, or even length. Genre should not be confused with age category, by which literature may be classified as either adult, young-adult, or children's. They also must not be confused...

s – fantasy
Fantasy
Fantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in imaginary worlds where magic is common...

, young-adult fiction, boarding school stories, Bildungsroman
Bildungsroman
In literary criticism, bildungsroman or coming-of-age story is a literary genre which focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood , and in which character change is thus extremely important...

and many others.

Some reviewers compared Philosopher's Stone to the stories of Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl was a British novelist, short story writer, fighter pilot and screenwriter.Born in Wales to Norwegian parents, he served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, in which he became a flying ace and intelligence agent, rising to the rank of Wing Commander...

, who died in 1990. Many writers since the 1970s had been hailed as his successor, but none had attained anything near his popularity with children and, in a poll conducted shortly after the launch of Philosopher's Stone, seven of the ten most popular children's books were by Dahl, including the one in top place. The only other really popular children's author of the late 1990s was an American, R. L. Stine
R. L. Stine
Robert Lawrence Stine , known as R. L. Stine, and Jovial Bob Stine, is an American writer. Stine, who is called the "Stephen King of children's literature," is the author of hundreds of horror fiction novels, including the books in the Fear Street, Goosebumps, Rotten School, Mostly Ghostly, and The...

. Some of the story elements in Philosopher's Stone resembled parts of Dahl's stories, for example the hero of James and the Giant Peach
James and the Giant Peach
James and the Giant Peach is a popular children's novel written in 1961 by British author Roald Dahl. The original first edition published by Alfred Knopf featured illustrations by Nancy Ekholm Burkert. However, there have been various reillustrated versions of it over the years, done by Michael...

lost his parents and had to live with a pair of unpleasant aunts, one fat and one thin rather like Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, who treated Harry as a servant. However Harry Potter was a distinctive creation, able to take on the responsibilities of an adult while remaining a child inside.

Librarian Nancy Knapp and marketing professor Stephen Brown noted the liveliness and detail of descriptions, especially of shop scenes such as Diagon Alley. Tad Brennan commented that Rowling's writing resembles that of Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

: "rapid, plain, and direct in expression." Stephen King
Stephen King
Stephen Edwin King is an American author of contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction and fantasy fiction. His books have sold more than 350 million copies and have been adapted into a number of feature films, television movies and comic books...

 admired "the sort of playful details of which only British fantasists seem capable" and concluded that they worked because Rowling enjoys a quick giggle and then moves briskly forward.

Nicholas Tucker described the early Harry Potter books as looking back to Victorian
Victorian literature
Victorian literature is the literature produced during the reign of Queen Victoria . It forms a link and transition between the writers of the romantic period and the very different literature of the 20th century....

 and Edwardian children's stories: Hogwarts
Hogwarts
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry or simply Hogwarts is the primary setting for the first six books of the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, with each book lasting the equivalent of one school year. It is a fictional boarding school of magic for witches and wizards between the ages of...

 was an old-style boarding school
Boarding school
A boarding school is a school where some or all pupils study and live during the school year with their fellow students and possibly teachers and/or administrators. The word 'boarding' is used in the sense of "bed and board," i.e., lodging and meals...

 in which the teachers addressed pupils formally by their surnames and were most concerned with the reputations of the houses with which they were associated; characters' personalities were plainly shown by their appearances, starting with the Dursleys; evil or malicious characters were to be crushed rather than reformed, including Filch's cat Mrs. Norris; and the hero, a mistreated orphan who found his true place in life, was charismatic and good at sports, but considerate and protective towards the weak. Several other commentators have stated that the books present a highly stratified
Social stratification
In sociology the social stratification is a concept of class, involving the "classification of persons into groups based on shared socio-economic conditions ... a relational set of inequalities with economic, social, political and ideological dimensions."...

 society including many social stereotypes. However Karin Westerman drew parallels with 1990s Britain: a class system that was breaking down but defended by those whose power and status it upheld; the multi-ethnic composition of Hogwarts' students; the racial tensions between the various intelligent species; and school bullying.

Susan Hall wrote that there is no rule of law
Rule of law
The rule of law, sometimes called supremacy of law, is a legal maxim that says that governmental decisions should be made by applying known principles or laws with minimal discretion in their application...

 in the books, as the actions of Ministry of Magic
Ministry of Magic
The Ministry of Magic is the government of the fictional Magical community of Britain in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. First mentioned in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the Ministry makes its first proper appearance in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix...

 officials are unconstrained by laws, accountability
Accountability
Accountability is a concept in ethics and governance with several meanings. It is often used synonymously with such concepts as responsibility, answerability, blameworthiness, liability, and other terms associated with the expectation of account-giving...

 or any kind of legal challenge. This provides an opportunity for Voldemort to offer his own horrific version of order. As a side-effect Harry and Hermione, who were brought up in the highly regulated Muggle world, find solutions by thinking in ways unfamiliar to wizards. For example Hermione notes that one obstacle to finding the Philosopher's Stone is a test of logic rather than magical power, and that most wizards have no chance of solving it.

Nel suggested that the unflattering characterisation of the extremely conventional, status
Social status
In sociology or anthropology, social status is the honor or prestige attached to one's position in society . It may also refer to a rank or position that one holds in a group, for example son or daughter, playmate, pupil, etc....

-conscious, materialistic Dursleys was Rowling's reaction to the family policies of the British government in the early 1990s, which treated the married heterosexual couple as the "preferred norm", while the author was a single mother
Single parent
Single parent is a term that is mostly used to suggest that one parent has most of the day to day responsibilities in the raising of the child or children, which would categorize them as the dominant caregiver...

. Harry's relationships with adult and juvenile wizards are based on affection and loyalty. This is reflected in his happiness whenever he is a temporary member of the Weasley family throughout the series, and in his treatment of first Rubeus Hagrid
Rubeus Hagrid
Rubeus Hagrid is a fictional character in the Harry Potter book series written by J. K. Rowling. Hagrid is introduced in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as a half-giant who is the gamekeeper and Keeper of Keys and Grounds of Hogwarts, the primary setting for the first six novels...

 and later Remus Lupin and Sirius Black
Sirius Black
Sirius Black is a fictional character in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. Sirius was first mentioned briefly in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone as a wizard who lent Rubeus Hagrid a flying motorbike shortly after Lord Voldemort killed James and Lily Potter...

 as father-figures.

Uses in education and business


Educationalists have found that children's literacy
Literacy
Literacy has traditionally been described as the ability to read for knowledge, write coherently and think critically about printed material.Literacy represents the lifelong, intellectual process of gaining meaning from print...

 is directly related to how many words they read per year, and they read much more if they find material they like. In 2001 a survey by The New York Times estimated that almost 60% of US children aged between 6 and 17 had read at least one Harry Potter book. Surveys in other countries, including India and South Africa, found that children were enthusiastic about the series. Since even the first two books are quite long, a child who has read the first four will have read over four times the number of pages in a year's worth of school reading texts. This greatly improves children's skills and their motivation to read.

Writers on education and business subjects have used the book as an . Writing about clinical teaching in medical schools, Jennifer Conn contrasted Snape's technical expertise with his intimidating behaviour towards students; on the other hand Quidditch coach Madam Hooch illustrated useful techniques in the teaching of physical skills, including breaking down complex actions into sequences of simple ones and helping students to avoid common errors. Joyce Fields wrote that the books illustrate four of the five main topics in a typical first-year sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

 class: "sociological concepts including culture, society, and socialisation; stratification and social inequality
Social inequality
Social inequality refers to a situation in which individual groups in a society do not have equal social status. Areas of potential social inequality include voting rights, freedom of speech and assembly, the extent of property rights and access to education, health care, quality housing and other...

; social institutions; and social theory
Social theory
Social theories are theoretical frameworks which are used to study and interpret social phenomena within a particular school of thought. An essential tool used by social scientists, theories relate to historical debates over the most valid and reliable methodologies , as well as the primacy of...

".

Stephen Brown noted that the early Harry Potter books, especially Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, were a runaway success despite inadequate and poorly-organised marketing. Brown advised marketing executives to be less preoccupied with rigorous statistical analyses and the "analysis, planning, implementation, and control" model of management. Instead he recommended that they should treat the stories as "a marketing masterclass", full of enticing products and brand names. For example, a real-world analogue of Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans was introduced under licence in 2000 by toymaker Hasbro
Hasbro
Hasbro is a multinational toy and boardgame company from the United States of America. It is one of the largest toy makers in the world. The corporate headquarters is located in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, United States...

. The Mirror of Erised, which showed what the viewer most longed for, has been used as a metaphor
Metaphor
A metaphor is a literary figure of speech that uses an image, story or tangible thing to represent a less tangible thing or some intangible quality or idea; e.g., "Her eyes were glistening jewels." Metaphor may also be used for any rhetorical figures of speech that achieve their effects via...

 for how pharmaceutical advertising exploits the eagerness of doctors to save lives and banish suffering.

External links


  • Background information and storylines from the Harry Potter Lexicon
    Harry Potter Lexicon
    The Harry Potter Lexicon is a fan-created online encyclopedia of the Harry Potter series.-Overview:The site was created by school librarian Steve Vander Ark. It contains detailed information for all seven published Harry Potter books...