(Adds Rowling reaction, background)
By Jeremy Lovell
LONDON, Dec 13 (Reuters Life!) - A hand-written, illustrated book of wizardry by Harry Potter author JK Rowling fetched a record 1.95 million pounds ($3.98 million) at auction in London on Thursday, nearly 40 times its expected price.
“The Tales of Beedle the Bard” had been expected to go for up to 50,000 pounds at the Sotheby’s sale.
The buyer was from London dealer Hazlitt, Gooden and Fox, the auctioneer said.
All proceeds from the sale will go to The Children’s Voice, a charity Rowling co-founded in 2005 to help vulnerable children across Europe.
“I am stunned and ecstatic. This will mean so much to children in desperate need of help. It means Christmas has come early for me,” Rowling said after the sale.
The price is the highest ever achieved at auction for a modern literary manuscript, an auction record for a work by JK Rowling and an auction record for a children’s book.
“We have to reach back 80 years to find a comparison when we sold the manuscript of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” on behalf of the original Alice,” said Sotheby’s book expert Philip Errington.
“The Tales of Beedle the Bard” are mentioned in the last Potter book as having been left to Harry’s friend Hermione by their teacher Albus Dumbledore.
Of the five stories in the book only one, “The Tale of the Three Brothers”, is told in the Potter novels, appearing in the final Potter book “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”
When it was published in July this year, the seventh of the Harry Potter books broke all sales records as the fastest selling book ever.
Between them the Harry Potter books have sold over 350 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 65 languages.
“‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’ is really a distillation of the themes found in the Harry Potter books, and writing it has been the most wonderful way to say goodbye to a world I loved and lived in for 17 years,” Rowling wrote in the sale catalogue.
There are just seven copies of the Tales, bound in brown leather and decorated in silver and moonstones. Six have been given to people closely connected to the Harry Potter books.
The seventh was auctioned on Thursday. (Reporting by Jeremy Lovell; Editing by Sami Aboudi)