Rare edition of JK Rowling’s Beedle the Bard sells for 368,750

Jewelled book was Harry Potter authors thank you gift to publisher who thought an overlong novel about a boy wizard in glasses might just sell

A handwritten and jewelled edition of JK Rowlings The Tales of Beedle the Bard gifted to her publisher has sold for 368,750 at auction.

Rowling handwrote seven copies of her collection of fairytales set in the Harry Potter universe and gave six as presents to those most closely connected to the Harry Potter books. The seventh copy, made by Rowling to raise money for her charity Lumos, was sold at auction by Sothebys in 2007 for 1.95m.

The copy sold by Sothebys in London on Tuesday was made for publisher Barry Cunningham, who was working at Bloomsbury when he decided to publish the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone. Rowlings agent Christopher Little sent the manuscript to 12 publishers before Cunningham, who now runs childrens publisher Chicken House, read it. He later revealed he had warned Rowling that she would never make any money from her book… not many childrens hardbacks sold in those days.

A glimpse inside Cunninghams copy of the book. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

Cunninghams copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, which had a guide price of 300,000-500,000, is a cloth-wrapped, leather-bound manuscript covered in semi-precious stones and features a silver mounted skull. A note from Rowling in the front of the edition reads: To Barry, the man who thought an overlong novel about a boy wizard in glasses might just sell THANK YOU.

The book was delivered to Cunningham in an envelope in 2007. Sothebys said that the stones on the manuscripts cover are rhodochrosite, which Rowling notes at the end of the volume are traditionally associated with love, balance and joy in daily life.

The first page of the story The Warlocks Hairy Heart, about a wizard who goes to great lengths to avoid falling in love. Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images

The Tales of Beedle the Bard play a crucial role in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final novel in Rowlings fantasy series. A copy is left to Hermione Granger by Albus Dumbledore in the hope that she will find it entertaining and instructive, and contains clues used by the friends in their quest to destroy the evil wizard Voldemort.

A mass market edition of the book went on sale in 2008 and at its peak, was selling two copies a second around the world.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/dec/13/beedle-the-bard-jk-rowling-auction