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Handwritten ‘Harry Potter’ Prequel Stolen

Police and J.K. Rowling have urged fans not to buy the magical manuscript

J. K. Rowling in 2010 (Wikimedia/The White House)
smithsonian.com

Police have asked for the public’s help in recovering a short Harry Potter manuscript that was stolen from a property in Birmingham, England last month. And no, shouting “Accio manuscript!” won’t cut it.

As Christopher D. Shea reports for the New York Times, the brief story consisted of just 800 words, scrawled onto both sides of an A5 postcard by J.K. Rowling, beloved author of the Harry Potter series. It was pilfered during a burglary that occurred sometime between April 13 and 24. 

"The only people who will buy this unique piece are true Harry Potter fans,” says Investigating Officer PC Paul Jauncey in a statement. “We are appealing to anyone who sees, or is offered this item for sale, to contact police."

According to the BBC, Rowling wrote the magical manuscript nine years ago for a charity auction supporting two causes: English PEN, a writers’ association, and Dyslexia Action, which supports students with literary difficulties. The item sold for £25,000—about $32,000 USD.

Set three years before Harry is born, the prequel follows James Potter, the boy wizard’s dad, and his buddy Sirius Black. They have a run-in with muggle police after a high-speed motorbike chase and, naturally, manage to escape on broomsticks.

The manuscript’s owner, identified only as “Hira,” tells the BBC that he is in “shock” over the theft. He is eager to see his property returned.

"If I can get it back, I'm over the moon, because I'm only going to be doing good stuff with it,” Hira says. "If it's destroyed, or if it's lost, it's a great loss."

Even Rowling has chimed in about the incident. “PLEASE DON'T BUY THIS IF YOU'RE OFFERED IT,” she wrote on Twitter. “[T]he owner supported writers’ freedoms by bidding for it.”

About Brigit Katz

Brigit Katz is a journalist based in New York City. Her work has appeared in New York magazine, Flavorwire, and Women in the World, a property of The New York Times.

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