Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone, was first published in June 1997, and almost achieved success immediately. It’s been translated to over thirty languages and there has been made a movie out of it too. This book is the first in a series of seven books (but so far only five have been published). The author Joanne Kathleen Rowling was born on 31st of July in 1965, in Bristol, England. She came up with the idea for the story on a train trip to Manchester in 1990. When she finished her book and sent it to publishers, it was rejected several times before she found a London agent, Christopher Little, who sold the manuscript to Bloomsbury Children’s Books.
The book begins with a morning in the lives of the Dursleys. But this is not just any day. Little do the Dursleys know that after that day they are going to have one more member of their family. That night Harry Potter is left on their doorstep with a letter explaining why he is there. Harry Potter grows up with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, his late mother’s sister, and his fat and dull cousin, Dudley. He is treated badly, poorly fed, has to wear Dudley’s old clothes (which of course are too big, seeing as Dudley is a rather large kid, and Harry is quite skinny), and he lives in a cupboard beneath the stairs.
Harry Potter doesn’t know who he is or who his parents were. His aunt told him that they died in a car-crash. A couple of days before Harry’s 11th birthday, he receives a letter without the sender’s name or address. Harry can’t think of anybody who would possibly write to him, seeing as nobody ever has written to him before. His uncle takes the letter from him, reads it and destroys it before Harry even gets to read what’s inside. He obviously doesn’t want Harry to know what the letter says. The next days the house gets “showered” with letters from the same sender, and Uncle Vernon goes mad and takes his family far away to some lonely outhouse on a rock far out at sea. This is the day of Harry’s birthday, not that it seems to him like anybody really cares. He lies awake counting down to midnight, when exactly at the second he turns 11 years old, a giant bursts through the door of the outhouse. That’s when Hagrid, the giant, tells Harry what he really is. Because Harry Potter is no ordinary person, he is a wizard. He also learns that his parents, Lily and James Potter who were wizards as well, didn’t die in a car crash, like his aunt and uncle told him, but were killed by the evil Lord Voldemort. Harry is told he has been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and that he is well known in the wizarding world. Hagrid takes Harry shopping in Diagon Alley, which is where you buy all the equipment you need to practise magic. After that he travels to Hogwarts and makes some new friends, Ron Weasley and Hermoine Granger, but also some enemies, Draco Malfoy with his “gang”, Crabbe and Goyle.
When the students arrive at Hogwarts the first-year students get sorted into “houses” by a sorting hat. The four houses are called Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufllepuff and Slytherin. Harry is sorted into Gryffindor and so are Hermoine and Ron.
At one point in the story the first years have a Flying lesson on broomsticks. Their teacher sees Harry’s obvious talent and he gets to join the quidditch team as their Seeker (Quidditch is a team sport they have in the wizard world where they fly around on broomsticks). Harry is the youngest seeker in a century, and the only first-year student who is on a team.
After this several extraordinary and exciting things happen, like when Harry almost gets killed in a quidditch match when his broomstick goes amok. Not long after this again Harry, Ron and Hermoine are lurking around the corridors after bedtime, which is totally forbidden, and can give consequences like loss of points for the house-cup, detention etc. and by some incidents Harry, Ron and Hermoine find out about the Philosopher’s stone, which produces elixir of life (which will extend your life) and turns metal into gold. Someone is trying to steal it and they suspect Professor Snape, the potions teacher and head of the Slytherin House. They think he is working for Voldemort and is trying to get in for him. The stone is well guarded (one of the “guards” is actually a three-headed dog, named Fluffy).
The three friends really are convinced that it’s Snape who is trying to get a hold of the stone. But when Harry manages to get closer to the stone, after putting Fluffy to sleep and getting past all the tests and traps that are guarding it, he comes to the mirror of Erised (desire). He can’t believe his eyes. Instead of Snape, Professor Quirrell is standing there trying to figure out what needs to be done to come past the mirror. It had been Quirrell all along who had tried to kill Harry during a Quidditch match, and done lots of other suspicious things, even though it ha seemed like Snape. Quirrell was the one trying to steal the stone for Voldemort. They have a duel where Harry is alone against Lord Voldemort and his servant Quirrell. Harry gets the stone and wins the duel, which makes Voldemort leave Quirrell’s body and vanish.
Harry ends up in hospital, but is told that he will be as good as new in no time. The year at Hogwarts is finished, and Gryffindor wins the House-cup thanks to Harry and his friends.
Harry Potter is the main character in this story. The book is about him and his first year at Hogwarts. In the beginning of the book he doesn’t know who he is or who his parents are. He lives with his late mother’s sister, Aunt Petunia, her husband and their son. Later he gets to know that he is a wizard and his parents were wizards as well. He is famous to all the wizards and witches, because he survived a deadly battle with the Great Lord Voldemort. Lord Voldemort killed Harry’s mother, Lily Potter, and his father, James Potter. But because Harry was so loved by his mother he was protected from everything, which was evil. That was why Quirrell full of hatred, greed and ambition, sharing his soul with Voldemort, could not touch him.
Dudley Dursley is Harry’s obnoxious and plump cousin. Dudley is really spoilt and violent. He gets everything he wants and doesn’t have to do anything for it. Dudley’s parents, Petunia and Vernon Dursley, are as obnoxious as Dudley. They treat Harry as if he doesn’t exist.
Ron Weasley and Hermoine Granger are Harry’s best friends. Throughout the book they stick together and help each other no matter what. Ron is the next youngest in his quite poor family. He wears his older brothers’ cloaks and gets their old stuff from Hogwarts instead of buying new stuff. Hermoine is born in a muggle family (non-magical) and both her parents are non-magic. She is very intelligent and bright and knows quite a bit of magic compared to Harry and Ron.
Draco Malfoy is, in Harry’s opinion, a meaner and crueller version of Dudley. He is a little “know-it-all” and quite vain and prideful. He loves to provoke Harry, but usually the situations they end up in, turn out for the better for Harry.
I have read this book a couple of times and think it’s quite good. It’s really well written, but at the same time it’s an easy read. Also I think it’s quite fun that every time I read it I notice a small detail I haven’t noticed before. The story is quite mysterious, but still quite obvious when you think about it afterwards. I remember thinking after I finished it the first time: “Why didn’t I think of that before, of course that’s how it was going to end…” and I quite like that about this Harry Potter book. It’s obvious, but not until after you’ve read it. I can honestly understand why it’s been such a big success.
J.K Rowling entertains us with action filled experiences and covers themes like teamwork, friendship, loyalty and bravery. The last bit of the book is really quite exciting and ends very surprising, but my favourite part is when Harry is standing in front of The Mirror of Esired (which spells desire if you read it backwards) and he sees his mother and father (because when you look into the mirror you see what your heart desires, not your reflection). I don’t really know why I like that part so much; I guess there isn’t any particular reason.