…meanwhile, across the briny deep in England, the British Library is launching an exhibition on the History of Magic, in honor of the 20th Anniversary of the publication of the first Harry Potter book Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone. The exhibition does include ancient texts and artifacts relating to actual magical study and practice of yore as well as Potter memorabilia. Naturally, the UK media is awash in cutesy, often waggish listicles about eldritch arts, alchemists, such like.
The British Library’s PR states:
- The exhibition will combine centuries-old British Library treasures, including the oldest items in our collection, the Chinese Oracle bones, with original material from Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury and J.K. Rowling’s own archives, going on display for the first time.
- The exhibition includes stunning loans from national and international institutions – including broomsticks, wands and crystal balls.
- A 400-year-old celestial globe, enhanced with augmented reality technology, in collaboration with Google Arts & Culture, enabling visitors to explore the constellations in the night sky.
- The British Library will also be simultaneously launching a regional roll-out of Harry Potter: A History of Magic on 20 October, with specially designed panels inspired by the London exhibition going on display in 20 public libraries across the UK, highlighting each library’s local connections to magic and folklore.
Harry Potter: A History of Magic will unveil rare books, manuscripts and magical objects from the British Library’s collection, capturing the traditions of folklore and magic from across the world, which are at the heart of the Harry Potter stories.
Based on the subjects studied at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, including Potions, Herbology, Divination, Care of Magical Creatures and Defence Against the Dark Arts, this exhibition will also showcase material from J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury’s own collections, going on display for the very first time.
Exhibition highlights include:
- Annotated sketch of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry by J.K. Rowling, complete with the giant squid that lives in the lake
- J.K. Rowling’s handwritten list of the teachers and subjects at Hogwarts
- Original artwork by Jim Kay for the illustrated Harry Potter editions, including paintings and sketches of Harry Potter, the Hogwarts Express, Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall and Hagrid
- The Ripley Scroll – a 6 metre-long alchemical manuscript that describes how to make the Philosopher’s Stone, from the 1500s
- Chinese Oracle bones – the oldest datable items in the British Library’s collection, one of which records a lunar eclipse that is precisely datable to 27 December 1192 BC
- Celestial globe dating from 1693, made by Vincent Coronelli and brought to life using augmented reality technology, in collaboration with Google Arts & Culture, which enables visitors to spin the globe virtually and explore in detail the ancient constellations, some of which share their names with familiar characters from the Harry Potter stories, such as Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, Bellatrix LeStrange and Draco Malfoy
- An early written record of ‘abracadabra’, used as a charm to cure malaria
- An Arabic illuminated manuscript showing male and female mandrakes
- The tombstone of Nicolas Flamel, a real historical figure who also features in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
- Black moon crystal ball, used by ‘Smelly Nelly’, a Paignton witch from the 20th century who had a taste for strong perfume
- A mermaid, allegedly caught in Japan in the 18th century
and here’s the Daily Telegraph’s piece on actual grimoires and the like
and Time Magazine’s look at actual Wizards: http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1910417_1910419_1910464,00.html