Twenty years after the first release of Harry Potter, I am still waiting for my Hogwarts letter. And evidently I am not alone, as the British Library crafted an entire exhibition on the history of magic, including Harry’s own wizarding world, and published this book for those of us who cannot visit the British Library in London.

The contents provide just a sampling of subjects ranging from alchemy and history of the occult, in addition to new information from J.K. Rowling, so while each page is beautifully composed, the amount of in-depth information provided on each topic is limited. Be prepared to embark on a new research project as your imagination is piqued.

My favorite pages include —

  • The sketches and early manuscript pages from J.K. Rowling, especially an early drawing of the Dursleys and the opening to Diagon Alley. I had no idea she is such a talented illustrator!
  • The beautiful illustrations from Jim Kay, including a panorama of Diagon Alley and portraits of Dumbledore and Hagrid.
  • The magical history and real-life artifacts related to the Hogwarts curriculum, from an excerpt of Leonardo Da Vinci’s notes and astronomical sketches, to a broomstick belonging to a real witch from the 20th century, to a picture from the 13th century Liber Medicinalis (Book of Medicine), to pictures of real mandrake roots. Most of all, check out the Ripley Scroll, a six-meter-long alchemical manuscript from the 16th century.
  • Activities to inspire imagination and learning, including how to create your own color-changing potions!