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Fans desperate to unlock the many secrets and mysteries behind Harry Potter will be excited to learn that a new bibliography about J.K. Rowling unearths some major behind-the-scenes stories that ultimately led to one of the world's most successful series.
Author Philip Errington spent five years putting together the 544-page JK Rowling: A Bibliography 1997-2013. The book's mission? To "record fact and dispel rumour," according to The Guardian. Via obtained letters, interviews and archival information, Errington's book gives readers and intimate look at how each book came to be.
"Finally! I've read this book so much I'm sick of it, I never read either of the others over and over again when editing them, but I really had to this time," wrote Rowling to her editor Emma Matthewson about the Prisoner of Azkaban. "If you think it needs more work, I'm willing and able, but I do think this draft represents an improvement on the first; the dementors are much more of a presence this time round, I think."
But when edits continued for the third installment, the Harry Potter author grew weary of the Sirius Black-centered book.
"I am so sick of re-reading this one that I'll be hard put to smile when it comes to doing public readings from it," she wrote, as quoted by Errington. But perhaps the feeling will have worn off by next summer..."
Although the process for the Chamber of Secrets proved to be a smoother endeavor for the author, Errington's book also uncovers alternative title suggestions for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which included Harry Potter and the Death Eaters, Harry Potter and the Fire Goblet and Harry Potter and the Three Champions.
But by the time the Order of the Phoenix came around, the series had grown so successful that Bloomsbury, the publishing company Rowling worked with, took extra precautions in transferring the finished manuscript from Bloomsbury executive Nigel Newton to Rowling's then-agent Christopher Little. In a super secret meeting at a local pub, Newton and Little swapped the final work without anyone noticing.
"So we stood at the bar and drank our pints and said nothing about Harry Potter," Newton recalled to Errington. "But when we left I walked out with the carrier bag. It was a classic dead letter drop."
"So I put this bag into the back of my car and drove it home. By this stage the series was so enormous that I was almost frightened to be in physical possession of it," he added. "I shoved it under the bed. I had another typescript sitting there...so I stuffed [the] top four pages of David Guterson's East of the Mountains on the top and then stayed up all night reading it, which my wife did find a bit odd...There was no question of showing any of it to her."
"Even then I was putting bits of it in the safe."