This rare uncorrected proof in purple wrappers of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban fetched a record £8500 at Chiswick Auctions.

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As it turned out, bidders were just as tempted by an early proof of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as they had been for a first edition of Daniel Mendoza’s autobiography (see last week’s Books and Works On Paper, ATG No 2611). The result was a tie with both books setting new auction records at £8500.

Proof copies of the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999) are uncommon with an unconfirmed print run suggesting that only 50 copies were issued. JK Rowling’s bibliographer Philip Errington states: “This would suggest that the proof was released to a very select readership with the publisher expecting to issue the text in a later state to a greater number of readers.”

However, all proofs are not equal and of these pre-publication uncorrected proofs there are two variant issues to look out for: the more common proof in green wrappers and the scarcer issue in purple wrappers. The purple version presents Rowling’s text of the Prisoner of Azkaban in the earliest-known state and suggests that some amendments were made early on and the proof re-issued in green to distinguish it.

The Chiswick copy in purple wrappers was described as having a few slight creases but was unread and otherwise fine and sold for almost double the previous auction record set in 2020, also at Chiswick Auctions.

The sale on August 24 also included a second printing of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, with a slightly sunned spine, which realised £5000.