Harry Potter: A History of Magic

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4 out of 5 stars
(5user reviews)
Harry Potter: A History of Magic
Detail: a phoenix rising from the ashes in a thirteenth-century bestiary. © British Library.

Those who remember reading 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' when it was first published may well be aghast to discover that was a whopping 20 years ago – yes, the global phenomenon that is the Boy Who Lived is officially two decades old. The British Library are pulling out all the stops on this celebratory exhibition, modelling each room around a Hogwarts subject. Just don't fall asleep in the Divination room.  

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tastemaker

This exhibition is really interesting. I learnt a lot about the origins of magic and didn't realise how much influence J.K Rowling took from books and pictures about astronomy, plants etc. It has been set out into separate rooms for the different subjects, but got crowded at times (even on a Thursday morning), so there was a bit of a queue to see some bits. However, I didn't mind, I just soaked it all in and read pretty much every plaque as I found it so interesting; especially the first drafts of chapters that were later changed. Book in advance but do catch this before it closes!

Tastemaker

As our common passion for Harry Potter is what initially brought my now boyfriend and I together, going to the exhibition was simply unavoidable. In fact, I am currently writing this review while listening to the Goblet of Fire’s audio book for what seems like the hundredth time.

Fair warning, if you want to come to the exhibition, do book as soon as possible, providing it’s not all already been sold out.

Do plan between 1 and 2 hours depending on how thorough you want to be and how busy it is to go through the whole exhibition because you might need to queue at some of the exhibits at times.

It was the perfect mix of Harry Potter trivia and traditional magic history. There were many ancient magic books and items that were incredibly cool. There were also original writings from JK Rowling and fantastic paintings and drawings of Harry Potter characters and scenes.

It was beautifully decorated and just magical to go through. I would recommend it for both families and adults only.

I’d say it was the perfect size and depth of content. We absolutely loved it and thought it was totally worth the money.

tastemaker

An amazing little exhibition that won't just appeal to Harry Potter fand, but to anyone who has an interest of magic. So much attention to detail and so many interesting artefacts. However, it was let down by the amount of people they let in and the fact you couldn't take photos inside.

tastemaker

I booked this way, way back in February and to say I was excited about it was an understatement- a knew Harry Potter thing for me to consume?! Yes please and thankyou!!

If you love Harry Potter just as much as me (if that’s even possible??) it is well worth it! Your journey takes you through different “classrooms” - divination, herbology, potions- which included the “real life” history of these different types of magic, which ignited the history nerd in me and then interspersed with that THERE WERE ORIGINAL SKETCHES from Jim Kay and J.K Rowling herself, as well as never before seen chapters!

I really did love it and it is a must for all HP/magic fans!

tastemaker

As you would expect from the British Library, their Harry Potter Exhibition is a geek's paradise.


I had high expectations of 'A History of Magic', as the BL have delivered excellent exhibitions in the past, and I wasn't disappointed. The show was quirky and detailed, blending in Harry Potter lore with the kind of historic texts that inspired it, as well as some fun digital elements. The artwork for the books is on show too, and it's gorgeous.


The show is a must for Harry Potter fans - and the gothically inclined - but make sure you take your will power for when you encounter the shop!