Thursday, May 29, 2008

Harry Potter Prequel to be sold
at Waterstone’s charity auction

On Tuesday, June 10, 2008, a unique storycard hand-written and signed by JK Rowling will be sold in a charity auction, revealing a never-before-seen prequel to the Harry Potter series.

JK Rowling is just one of thirteen internationally renowned authors who have donated an original, highly-collectable storycard to the What’s Your Story? auction, which will be held at Waterstone’s flagship store on Piccadilly in London, with the assistance of Sotheby’s. All proceeds will be donated to English PEN and Dyslexia Action.

JK Rowling’s story is around 800 words long and finishes with the handwritten words - “From the prequel I am not working on – but that was fun!” and signed JK Rowling 2008. All thirteen cards will be sold without a reserve price.

The full list of authors writing for What’s Your Story? includes: Lisa Appignanesi, Margaret Atwood, Lauren Child, Sebastian Faulks, Richard Ford, Neil Gaiman, Nick Hornby, Doris Lessing, Michael Rosen, JK Rowling, Axel Scheffler, Tom Stoppard and Irvine Welsh.

Gerry Johnson, Managing Director, Waterstone’s comments:
"What’s Your Story? just gets more and more exciting – all these brilliant works by amazing writers and illustrators, every one a small masterpiece, and now this – the prequel to Harry Potter. We never dreamed that JK Rowling would donate something so precious, and we’re incredibly grateful. I can’t begin to guess how much it will raise at auction – suffice to say I think we will see some impressive sums being bid, and a lot of money raised for English PEN and Dyslexia Action.”

Reflecting on recent experience with a 93-word teaser card (sold in 2002 for £26,680), and The Tales of Beedle the Bard (which sold for £1,950,000 in 2007), Sotheby’s specialist Philip Errington said: “Given the enormous interest we have seen in recent times for autograph work by JK Rowling, the prospects for her storycard are good to say the least. There is just no telling how high the bidding might go.”

Shortly after the auction, facsimiles of all the cards will be displayed in branches of Waterstone’s nationwide and online at In August a printed postcard book featuring all thirteen storycards will be available to buy in Waterstone’s stores and online. The public can pre-order the book from Thursday 29th May 2008 at Waterstone’s branches and at All profits from the sale of the book will go to English PEN and Dyslexia Action. Waterstone’s National Press Officer Jon Howells said: “We expect this book to sell out within a matter of days – it will be the fastest selling book of the year.”

Blank storycards are also available in-store and online at, and customers and the public are invited to join in and write their own stories – over
1,300 have done so online already. These customer cards will also make their way into the window displays, and will be featured in the online gallery at

Highlights of the storycards include:

- Nick Hornby – Hornby calls on his love of pop-culture for this mixture of collage and text, introducing the newest, oddest superhero on the scene – Nightburner!
- Michael Rosen – The Children’s laureate delivers an acerbic tale that shows that not only can’t you fight City Hall, you can’t outbid it either
- Doris Lessing – The Nobel laureate’s story is one that celebrates the power of reading and will tug at the heartstrings of any booklover
- Tom Stoppard – Nothing gets past Inspector Chamberlain in Tom Stoppard’s brilliantly theatrical short mystery
- Axel Scheffler – In four perfect frames, Scheffler tells a small, but perfectly formed, tale of the Gruffalo,
- Neil Gaiman – Gaiman is a master of short fiction, and this story is a great example of his work – spooky, scary with a brilliant punchline- and with a killer twist. A great detective mulls over a series of gruesome murders: is the killer on the loose in the woods, or somewhere closer to home…
- Lisa Appignanesi – Appignanesi has delivered a clever, poignant tale of all-consuming love and the consequences of desire
- Richard Ford – Two strangers, who share similarly tragic reasons for travelling, cross paths on a train, in Ford’s typically thoughtful study
- Margaret Atwood will be joining the auction live from Paris to write her original storycard via her unique LongPen™ machine, which allows her to sign books remotely using a touch sensitive pad and a computer link-up to guide a robotic arm.
- Sebastian Faulks – Desire and obsession lie at the heart of Faulks classically-inspired erotic tale.
- Irvine Welsh - This tale of a taciturn oil rig worker at odds with his lot is vintage Welsh and full of earthy language and humour

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