Keeping Harry's magic secret

FROM Saturday millions of people around the world will finally discover the secrets of the seventh and last Harry Potter book, marking the final chapter in an extraordinary publishing phenomenon.

By Tracey Sparling

FROM Saturday millions of people around the world will finally discover the secrets of the seventh and last Harry Potter book, marking the final chapter in an extraordinary publishing phenomenon. TRACEY SPARLING reports on how its journey from the Suffolk printers to shops nationwide will happen under tight security.

EXTRA barbed wire was installed around the Suffolk printworks and guards have been put on the doors, as speculation mounts about how the Harry Potter series will end.

Security arrangements have been stepped up at the Clay's in Bungay, printers of the final instalment in the series; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which will be published at one minute past midnight on July 21 - it is already the most ordered book in history.

Staff have also had to face restrictions - most are not allowed to take mobile phones into work in case they use a camera phone to take pictures. They can only take a small bag into work, which has to be searched. They also need identification to get into the building, and have signed a contract banning them from talking about the book. And workers who normally scan-read the books for errors as they are being printed have been banned from doing so in case the secrets leak out.

In the run-up to the publication of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in 2005, word about the plot was thought to have spread when a rash of bets on the ending were made in Bungay. And in May 2003, Donald Parfitt, a forklift truck driver at Clay's, pleaded guilty to stealing pages from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and trying to sell them to the Sun.

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A Clay's spokesman said the company would not comment on the new Harry Potter book, which is expected to sell three million copies within 24 hours of release.

More than two million people have pre-ordered copies from online retailer Amazon, and there are expected to be queues at Suffolk bookshops too - Waterstones is due to open at 12.01am on Saturday to sell the book. Spokeswoman Mel Harris said: “The books are delivered to us on Friday and will be stored in a secure area, off the shop floor. Staff are not allowed to open the boxes at all, until Saturday. “We never send out review copies to the press either, which is very unusual as publishers usually like to spread the word about their new book.

“Everybody in the industry abides by the embargo because it adds to the excitement of the occasion.

“Occasionally the printers have had the odd book go missing but luckily that hasn't happened this year.”

She added that orders of the adult version which sports a different cover, almost matched the number of children's copies and said: “That's probably because people who started reading the books back in 1997 are aged 19 or 20 and at university now!”

The recommended retail price is £17.99 but a price war has broken out. Waterstones will sell the book in store for £8.99, Tesco's £8.87, WHS Smith £10.99, Amazon £8.99.

Royal Mail expects to deliver 600,000 editions of the blockbuster on its release date - on average, one copy for every 43 homes across the UK.

The operation will see 180 extra trucks, and an additional train service used to distribute the books from retailers' warehouses to 1,400 delivery offices across the UK on Friday evening and the early hours of Saturday morning. Postmen and women, on foot, bikes and in vans, will then hand-deliver each edition.

Royal Mail's marketing director, Alex Batchelor, said: "We have been working closely with retailers for more than six months to plan our Harry Potter delivery operation with military precision.”

The hype over book seven is a far cry from the first instalment in author JK Rowling's series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, which had a print run of just 500 copies when it was published on June 26 1997.

Since then, her novels have broken sales records and made millions for publishers Bloomsbury.

But in the run up to next week's publication a price war has broken out among retailers fighting to provide customers the best offer for the much-anticipated book.

JK Rowling has often told how her famous creation simply "fell" into her head while on a crowded train to London after a weekend spent flat-hunting with her then boyfriend in Manchester in 1990.

Describing the moment, she said that to her "immense frustration' she did not have a pen with her and was too shy to ask someone if she could borrow one. Instead she sat and thought, and the "scrawny, black-haired, bespectacled boy' became more and more real.

On her return home that night, Rowling began writing what would become the first book of the series - Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone. Famously she began scribbling in the Scottish city's cafes. On completion, she found an agent willing to take her on. But it took another year before that agent found a publisher - Bloomsbury - who was willing to make an offer on the novel.

She said finishing the last book was the "most remarkable feeling'.

"I felt euphoria, devastated, when I finished one chapter near the end I absolutely howled - it had been planned for so long,' she said.

The movies have also made millionaires of their young stars: Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson who bring his on-screen friends Ron and Hermione to life.

Radcliffe, 17, was 11 when he was chosen in 2000 to play the boy wizard in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, co-star Rupert Grint, who plays Ron Weasley, was also 11, and Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) was ten.

The publication of the final book coincides with the release of the fifth film in the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - adding to the frenzy surrounding the boy wizard.

The question fans are waiting with bated breath for the answer to is whether The Boy Who Lived will survive his final battle with Voldemort - with many fearing Rowling may have decided to kill him off.

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Is your family Suffolk's biggest Harry Potter fans? Ring the Newsdesk today on 01473 324789.

Rupert Grint, 18, who lives in Hertfordshire, first heard about the audition while watching Newsround on BBC1 and won the part of Ron after sending casting directors a show reel of himself singing a rap song about why he would be ideal. He left school two years ago after sitting his GCSEs and spending his free time playing golf and driving his ice cream van.

1 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, was published on June 26, 1997 with a print run of 500 copies.

2 Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince, sold more than two million copies in the UK within 24 hours.

3 More than 1.9 million copies of the final book have already been pre-ordered, according to retailer Amazon.

4 An Oxfordshire town is the most Potter-mad place in the UK, according to Amazon. Wallingford - which was the home of Agatha Christie - has the highest number of pre-orders for the last book.

5 Author JK Rowling's personal fortune stands at £545 million. Of that, the royalties from her books add up to £365m, with the rest made up from merchandising and income from the Potter films. She also gave £22 million to charity from two short Harry Potter books she penned for Comic Relief.

6 A rare first edition of Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone sold at auction last month for £9,000.

7 In 2006, actor Daniel Radcliffe paid £30,000 at a charity auction for a handwritten history of the family of Sirius Black, who is Harry's godfather.

8 A theme park - the Wizarding World of Harry Potter - will open at Universal's Islands of Adventure in Florida in late 2009.

9 Images from JK Rowling's seven books feature on a special set of first-class stamps launched on July 17.

10 JK Rowling's first name is Joanne, while the "K" stands for Kathleen, she took the name when she needed an "extra initial'. Kathleen is her grandmother's name.

Born: Chipping Sodbury, near Bristol, in July 1965.

Lives: Grew up first in Winterbourne on the outskirts of Bristol and then in Tutshill, a small village near Chepstow in Wales, where her family moved to around her ninth birthday. Lived in Manchester and then Portugal where she taught English teacher in a language institute. Now lives in Edinburgh.

Career: A keen writer from a young age, Rowling, whose first name is Joanne, penned her first story about a rabbit who gets the measles at the age of six. Then studied French and classics at Exeter University, graduating in 1987, before moving on to work for Amnesty International.

Family: Married her first husband a Portuguese journalist, and had a daughter, Jessica. But after her marriage broke down, she and her young daughter moved to Edinburgh in 1994.

In 2001, she married Dr Neil Murray in a secret Boxing Day ceremony and in March 2003 her second child, David, was born. Daughter Mackenzie was born in January 2005, the same year the sixth Potter book hit the shelves.

Think you know your horcruxes from your hippogriffs? Could you pick a Weasley from a wizard line-up? Do you know the difference between Diagon Alley and Durmstrang?

It's time to test your knowledge of everyone's favourite boy wizard with our magical quiz.

QUESTIONS:

1. Which young actor plays Harry's red-haired sidekick Ron Weasley?

2. What do JK Rowling's initials stand for?

3. Hagrid's pet Buckbeak is what sort of animal?

4. Which two actors have portrayed Professor Dumbledore in the film series?

5. True or false - the Chief Exorcist of Rome has spoken out against JK Rowling's creation, saying, "Behind Harry Potter hides the signature of the darkness, the devil."

6. Which actor was the first to be cast for the Harry Potter film series?

7. Name the four houses at Hogwarts.

8. Which of Harry's schoolmates lives in terror of his overbearing grandmother?

9. How many Ford Anglias were destroyed to recreate the Whomping Willow crash scene in the Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets film?

10. What subject does Professor Sprout teach?

11. St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries is the wizarding world's answer to the NHS. Who was the real St Mungo?

12. Professor Lupin's first name is the same as a famous character in Roman mythology. Who is the mythological character, and what is the name of his equally famous brother?

13. What magical item of clothing sorts Hogwarts students into houses?

14. Voldemort is known by many names - name two he has been called at some point in his life.

15. Sirius Black is an animagus who can turn into what kind of animal?

16. Which of these is the incantation for an Unforgivable Curse: Crucio, Accio, Engorgio?

17. What was the first Harry Potter book (and film) called in America?

18. Like many creatures in the Harry Potter universe, the grindylow has a basis in folklore. What are the traditional Yorkshire grindylows known for?

19. Who is on the portrait hole covering the Gryffindor Common Room?

20. What's the name of the small golden ball used in playing quidditch?

21. Which London train station features a sign for 'Platform 9 3/4'?

22. Who or what are Death Eaters?

23. True or false: JK Rowling has a comet named after her?

24. What's the name of Fred and George's jokeshop business?

25. Where do the Dursleys live?

26. What quidditch club does Ron Weasley support?

27. Taking to the stage as wizarding pop band the Weird Sisters in the movie version of Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire was a group mostly composed of members of which two Britpop acts?

28. What is sold in Knockturn Alley?

29. In which city did the film Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix have its world premiere?

30. What does the spell 'Alohomora' do?

ANSWERS:

1. Rupert Grint

2. Joanne Kathleen

3. A hippogriff

4. Richard Harris and Michael Gambon

5. True

6. Robbie Coltrane

7. Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Slytherin

8. Neville Longbottom

9. 14

10. Herbology

11. Patron saint and founder of the city of Glasgow

12. The character is Remus. His brother's name is Romulus

13. The Sorting Hat

14. Tom Marvolo Riddle, You-Know-Who, He Who Must Not Be Named or The Dark Lord

15. A large black dog

16. Crucio

17. Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone

18. Eating children

19. The Fat Lady

20. The Golden Snitch

21. King's Cross

22. Voldemort's followers

23. False - she has an asteroid named after her

24. Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes

25. 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey

26. The Chudley Cannons

27. Pulp and Radiohead

28. Dark Arts materials

29. Tokyo

30. Open locked windows and doors

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