"I wrote Harry Potter while sitting on this chair."
Chair Used by J.K. Rowling whilst Writing the First Two Harry
Potter Books, Later Hand-Painted and Signed by Rowling
Herself. The chair is accompanied by Rowling's signed letter
"by Owl Post" describing the history and provenance. Measurements
are approximately 34 inches tall x 18 inches wide x 18 inches deep.
Older refinish to oak, with wear to finish at crest rail. Light
surface wear and scuff marks that come with age and usage, as well
as a chip to one front leg and joints separating. Manufacturer's
initials are printed on the seat, hidden under removable
- J.K. Rowling
During her days as an impoverished single mother in Edinburgh, J.K. Rowling was given a free set of four chairs for her council flat-a social housing unit provided by the British government. This set included a standard 1930's era oak chair with a replacement burlap seat decorated with a red thistle. The latter being one of the more comfortable chairs amongst the bunch, she favored it to sit in whilst writing the first drafts of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - the first two books of a seven part series that would become an international phenomenon. A few years after the publication of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the chair was donated 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). However, it was something that according to Rowling herself would have been "purchased from a junk shop for a tenner." Rather than selling it in its original form, Rowling used gold, rose, and green paints to transform the chair into a magical piece of literary memorabilia.
On the stiles and splats, in gold and rose colors: "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: "I wrote / Harry Potter / while sitting / on this chair."
"Gryffindor" is painted on the cross stretcher below, which readers will recognize as the house Harry and his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley were sorted into upon arriving at Hogwarts. Lightning bolts, like Harry's famous scar, don the tops of the front legs in gold and green. Adding to the handmade detail, gold wave lines decorate the top of the wood surrounding the seat cushion, with gold paint staining one rail where the excess dripped down.
Accompanying the chair is the original Owl Post that Rowling typed and signed to the winner of the first auction. The letter itself is 11.5 x 8.25 inches, in a light-colored wood frame that is an overall size of 14.75 x 11.25 inches. 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."
It was put up for auction again in 2009 and sold for 19,555 British pounds (approximately $29,117 in US currency), of which some of the proceeds benefited the charity organization Books Abroad. For comparison, a handwritten manuscript of The Tales of Beedle the Bard was auctioned by Sotheby's in 2007 and purchased by Amazon.com for nearly $4 million, benefiting Rowling's own charity, Lumos.
An incredible representation of a woman's against-all-odds struggle to share her creative vision that is distinctly connected to and passed on by Rowling herself. This ordinary chair turned beautiful art piece is an incredible physical manifestation of a woman's transformation into the modern world's foremost literary figure. A small piece of history connected to the mythology of the Wizarding World and one of the most beloved characters in children's literature: Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived.
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