There will be seven Harry Potter books altogether

On April 11th, 1998, having recently failed to scoop the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize for her debut novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, author J. K. Rowling responded to a young fan’s good luck wish with the following handwritten letter. A few months later, in July, the second installment of her phenomenally successful Harry Potter heptalogy was released to much acclaim.

Sadly, the author who did win of the Guardian award – Henrietta Branford – passed away the next year.

Transcript follows. Image supplied by James Roach.

Image: James Roach


11th April 1998

Dear Thomas,

Thank you very much indeed for your card wishing me luck in the Guardian Children’s Fiction competition. Unfortunately, I didn’t win — a writer called Henrietta Branford did. But she’s very nice, so I smiled bravely and said “Congratulations” and tried to look as though I didn’t mind at all.

I am very flattered indeed to hear that “Harry Potter” is the best book you have ever read. There will be seven Harry Potter books altogether, and the second one (“Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”) will be in the shops at the start of July.,

Thank you again for writing. (Your handwriting is excellent, by the way).

Yours sincerely,

J. K. Rowling (Jo)