Harry Potter exhibition blends wizardry with history

LONDON (Reuters) - A new exhibition celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first Harry Potter book's publication is offering 'muggles' with an interest in magic the chance to view rare memorabilia, combined with historic artifacts referenced in the popular series.

"Harry Potter: A History of Magic," held in the British Library in London, features Potter memorabilia including author J.K. Rowling's first annotated sketch of Hogwarts school, as well as her handwritten list of its teachers and subjects.

As well as the items associated with Rowling and the book series, the exhibition also features historic artifacts from the library's collection, including alchemists' scrolls from the 1500s and Chinese oracle bones from the 12th century.

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'Harry Potter: A History of Magic' exhibit in London
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'Harry Potter: A History of Magic' exhibit in London
Visitors attend the press preview of the exhibition "Harry Potter: A History of Magic" at the British Library in London, Britain, October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Mary Turner
A gallery assistant poses for photographs during the press preview of the exhibition "Harry Potter: A History of Magic" at the British Library in London, Britain, October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Mary Turner
A gallery assistant poses for photographs during the press preview of the exhibition "Harry Potter: A History of Magic" at the British Library in London, Britain, October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Mary Turner
Gallery assistants pose for photographs during the press preview of the exhibition "Harry Potter: A History of Magic" at the British Library in London, Britain, October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Mary Turner
A gallery assistant poses for photographs during the press preview of the exhibition "Harry Potter: A History of Magic" at the British Library in London, Britain, October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Mary Turner
Gallery assistants pose for photographs during the press preview of the exhibition "Harry Potter: A History of Magic" at the British Library in London, Britain, October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Mary Turner
A gallery assistant poses for photographs during the press preview of the exhibition "Harry Potter: A History of Magic" at the British Library in London, Britain, October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Mary Turner
A gallery assistant poses for photographs during the press preview of the exhibition "Harry Potter: A History of Magic" at the British Library in London, Britain, October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Mary Turner
Gallery assistants pose for photographs during the press preview of the exhibition "Harry Potter: A History of Magic" at the British Library in London, Britain, October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Mary Turner
A gallery assistant poses for photographs during the press preview of the exhibition "Harry Potter: A History of Magic" at the British Library in London, Britain, October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Mary Turner
A gallery assistant poses for photographs during the press preview of the exhibition "Harry Potter: A History of Magic" at the British Library in London, Britain, October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Mary Turner
Gallery assistants pose for photographs during the press preview of the exhibition "Harry Potter: A History of Magic" at the British Library in London, Britain, October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Mary Turner
A visitor looks at exhibits during the press preview of the exhibition "Harry Potter: A History of Magic" at the British Library in London, Britain, October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Mary Turner
A detail of a painting of Professor Dumbledore is pictured during a preview of 'Harry Potter: A History of Magic' exhibition at the British Library, in central London on October 18, 2017, marking the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. / AFP PHOTO / NIKLAS HALLE'N (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images)
The Ripley Scroll is displayed during a preview of 'Harry Potter: A History of Magic' exhibition at the British Library, in central London on October 18, 2017, marking the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. / AFP PHOTO / NIKLAS HALLE'N (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images)
The Battersea Cauldron is displayed during a preview of 'Harry Potter: A History of Magic' exhibition at the British Library, in central London on October 18, 2017, marking the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. / AFP PHOTO / NIKLAS HALLE'N (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images)
Urania's Mirror or View of the Heaves is displayed during a preview of 'Harry Potter: A History of Magic' exhibition at the British Library, in central London on October 18, 2017, marking the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. / AFP PHOTO / NIKLAS HALLE'N (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images)
Artefacts and memorabilia are displayed during a preview of 'Harry Potter: A History of Magic' exhibition at the British Library, in central London on October 18, 2017, marking the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. / AFP PHOTO / NIKLAS HALLE'N (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images)
A visitor stands next to a sketch titled 'The Boy who Lived' during a preview of 'Harry Potter: A History of Magic' exhibition at the British Library, in central London on October 18, 2017, marking the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. / AFP PHOTO / NIKLAS HALLE'N (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images)
A drawing of Harry Potter and his broomstick are displayed during a preview of 'Harry Potter: A History of Magic' exhibition at the British Library, in central London on October 18, 2017, marking the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. / AFP PHOTO / NIKLAS HALLE'N (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images)
A book of Charms is displayed during a preview of 'Harry Potter: A History of Magic' exhibition at the British Library, in central London on October 18, 2017, marking the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. / AFP PHOTO / NIKLAS HALLE'N (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images)
Books are suspended from the ceiling of a mock library during a preview of 'Harry Potter: A History of Magic' exhibition at the British Library, in central London on October 18, 2017, marking the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. / AFP PHOTO / NIKLAS HALLE'N (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images)
Artefacts and memorabilia are displayed during a preview of 'Harry Potter: A History of Magic' exhibition at the British Library, in central London on October 18, 2017, marking the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. / AFP PHOTO / NIKLAS HALLE'N (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images)
A visitor walks past a display of foreign language editions of the Harry Potter books during a press preview for the Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition at the British Library in London. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 18: A gallery technician poses for photographers during a press Preview of the 'Harry Potter: A History of Magic' exhibition at The British Library on October 18, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images)
A visitor looks at a book of 'Care of Magical Creatures' during a press preview for the Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition at the British Library in London. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
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"Our exhibition explores the history, mythology and folklore behind the Harry Potter stories," Julian Harrison, the exhibition's lead curator, told Reuters.

"We investigate broomsticks and cauldrons and unicorns and dragons. We’ve organized the exhibition around some of the subjects that students would study at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, from potions to charms to astronomy and divination."

The seven Harry Potter books have been translated into 68 languages and have sold more than 400 million copies worldwide, Rowling's publishers say.

The final book in the series was published in 2007, but the series spawned a series of hit films, a U.S. theme park and a hit stage play that have kept the franchise in the public eye.

Rowling herself appears to have enjoyed the blend of her fictional world with the library's collection.

"Encountering objects for real that have in some shape or form figured in my books has been quite wonderful," she said in a statement.

The exhibition runs from October 20 until February 28 2018.

(Writing by Mark Hanrahan in London)

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