This story is just breaking. Have you heard that J.K. Rowling has finished her first post-Harry Potter book, and that it’s ... another Harry Potter book? Well, sort of. In fact, it’s The Tales of Beedle the Bard, the fictive tome that plays a pivotal role in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — but fictive no more. And the collection of five tales is illustrated by Rowling herself this time (those familiar with her website have probably seen some of her own sketches, which are really very good, actually). The five stories are “The Tale of the Three Brothers”, recounted in Deathly Hallows, plus four entirely new tales: “The Fountain of Fair Fortune”, “The Warlock’s Hairy Heart”, “The Wizard and the Hopping Pot” and “Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump”. This is exciting news for Pottermaniacs!
There’s just one problem: there are only seven copies, all hand-written by Rowling, making copies of the real Tales as rare as the fictive one. Seven is a portentous number, no doubt — one for each of the novels in the Harry Potter series (so far). Worse, only one of those copies is for sale. For auction, I should say. Rowling gave the other six away as very special gifts to “'those most closely connected to the ‘Harry Potter’ books during the past 17 years,” while the seventh and final copy is going on the auction block for charity. Sotheby’s is starting the bidding at $60,000, but one can only guess at the final price! And all the proceeds will go to the Children’s Voice Foundation — very laudable. Read Sotheby’s press release here.
This is all wonderful and thrilling, of course. But it’s very disappointing that Rowling’s millions of fans (myself, included) will probably never get to read this new book. At least, not unless or until it is subsequently reprinted — as I hope one day it will be, perhaps as part of Rowling’s rumored Harry Potter Encyclopdedia. Until then, The Tales of Beedle the Bard will remain one of the rarest of Harry Potter treasures.
PS. If you live in the greater London area, stop by Sotheby’s between December 9–12 for an up-close look at the book. And if you do get to see it (Andy, I’m talking to you!), be sure to give us a personal report. For the rest of us, there will be an auction catalog, hopefully including some photos of the book and its contents.