It's hard to imagine anyone saying "no" to J.K. Rowling's story ideas, but part of what makes Rowling's story so magical is the fact that her pitch for the first Harry Potter book was rejected by 12 different publishers before Bloomsbury picked it up for publishing.
If you've ever wondered what her original synopsis was, you can read part of it now thanks to the British Museum's Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibit to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The exhibit also showcases other Harry Potter artifacts like a draft of chapter 17, "The Man With Two Faces," original sketches of the characters, and highlights on the history of magic and how it's connected to the Harry Potter universe.
Rowling's original pitch opens with:
Harry Potter lives with his aunt, uncle and cousin because his parents died in a car-crash — or so he has been told. The Dursleys don’t like Harry asking questions; in fact, they don’t seem to like anything about him, especially the very odd things that keep happening around him (which Harry himself can’t explain).
The Dursleys’ greatest fear is that Harry will discover the truth about himself, so when letters start arriving for him near his eleventh birthday, he isn’t allowed to read them. However, the Dursleys aren’t dealing with an ordinary postman, and at midnight on Harry’s birthday the gigantic Rubeus Hagrid breaks down the door to make sure Harry gets to read his post at last. Ignoring the horrified Dursleys, Hagrid informs Harry that he is a wizard, and the letter he gives Harry explains that he is expected at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in a month’s time.
The synopsis goes on to discuss Hagrid's arrival and his revelations about Harry's forehead scar while also explaining that "Harry is famous among the witches and wizards who live in secret all over the country because Harry’s miraculous survival marked Voldemort’s downfall".
It also details Harry's trip with Hagrid to London and Diagon Alley, his visit to King's Cross Station's "platform nine and three quarters," and introduces us to "Ronald Weasley (sixth in his family to go to Hogwarts and tired of having to use second-hand spellbooks) and Hermione Granger (cleverest girl in the year and the only person in the class to know all the uses of dragon’s blood)."
We all know the story so well, but imagine being one of the first to read this synopsis. There's something magical about that.
The exhibit runs through Feb. 28, 2018.
(via Business Outsider)