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Press Release - March 7, 2016
J.K. Rowling’s chair, in which she wrote the first two Harry Potter books, to cross the auction blockWill sell as part of Heritage Auction's Rare Books auction in New York, April 6, 2016; chair is painted in Rowling's hand: "I wrote Harry Potter while sitting on this chair"
Highlight Video: J.K Rowling's Harry Potter Chair
"The international phenomenon that would become, and still is, Harry Potter had its humble beginnings in this modest old chair," said James Gannon, Director of Rare Books at Heritage Auctions, the company conducting the auction. "It's inspiring to imagine the young mother and author settling down at her desk, seated in this chair, typing out the original manuscripts of her first two books."
The chair comes from a set that Rowling was given for her government housing flat when she was a young, single mother living in Edinburgh, Scotland. Rowling took the most comfortable of the chairs and used it as her main writing chair, authoring the first two of what would become one of the most influential series of all time: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (released in America as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
A few years after the publication of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Rowling donated the chair to a small auction in 2002 called Chair-ish a Child, in aid of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC). Rather than selling it in its original form, Rowling used gold, rose, and green paints to transform the chair into a piece of literary memorabilia.
On the stiles and splats, in gold and rose colors, she painted: "You may not / find me pretty / but don't judge / on what you see."
Rowling signed the backrest in the gold and rose paints. Then along the apron of the seat she painted: "I wrote / Harry Potter / while sitting / on this chair."
"Gryffindor" is painted on the cross stretcher under the seat.
Accompanying the chair is the original "Owl Post" that Rowling typed and signed to the winner of the Chair-ish a Child auction. It reads: "Dear new-owner-of-my-chair / I was given four mismatched dining room chairs in 1995 and this was the comfiest one, which is why it / ended up stationed permanently in front of my typewriter, supporting me while I typed out 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' and 'Harry / Potter and the Chamber of Secrets'. / My nostalgic side is quite sad to see it go, but my back isn't. / J. K. Rowling."
"Rowling transformed this ordinary piece of furniture into a work of literary art," said Gannon. "It lives now as a powerful, tangible symbol of her determination and incredible imagination. She started in this chair as an impoverished woman and mother with a dream and rose from it as a giant of modern fiction."
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