The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a book of children’s stories by British author J. K. Rowling. There is a storybook of the same name mentioned in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the last book of the Harry Potter series.
The book was originally produced in a limited edition of only seven copies, each handwritten and illustrated by J. K. Rowling. One of them was offered for auction through Sotheby’s in late 2007 and was expected to sell for £50,000 (US$77,000, €69,000); ultimately it was bought for £1.95 million ($3 million, €2.7 million) by Amazon, making the selling price the highest achieved at auction for a modern literary manuscript. The money earned at the auction of the book was donated to The Children’s Voice charity campaign.
The book was published for the general public on 4 December 2008, with the proceeds going to the Children’s High Level Group.
In the Harry Potter series
The Tales of Beedle the Bard first appeared as a fictional book in J. K. Rowling’s 2007 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final novel of the Harry Potter series. The book is bequeathed to Hermione Granger by Albus Dumbledore, former headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It is described as a popular collection of Wizarding children’s fairy tales, so that while Ron Weasley is familiar with the stories, Harry Potter and Hermione Granger had not previously heard of them due to their non-magical upbringing.
The book Hermione receives in Dumbledore’s will is a copy of the original edition of the fictional book. It is described as an ancient-looking small book with its binding “stained and peeling in places”. In the novel it is also said the book has a title on its cover, written in embossed runic symbols.
The book acts as the vehicle for introducing the Deathly Hallows to the trio. Above the story “The Tale of the Three Brothers”, Hermione Granger finds a strange symbol which later is revealed by Xenophilius Lovegood to be the symbol of the Hallows. The triangle from the symbol represents the Invisibility Cloak, the circle inside the triangle symbolises the Resurrection Stone, and the vertical line represents the Elder Wand.
These three objects are also mentioned in the story itself (see below), and are said to belong to the Peverell brothers, who are later revealed as being both Voldemort’s and Harry Potter’s ancestors. Towards the end of the novel, Albus Dumbledore also confirms Harry’s connection to the Peverells, and states that the three brothers might in fact have been the creators of the Hallows.
The introduction (written by Rowling) to the publications released in December 2008 mentions that the fictional character Beedle the Bard was born in Yorkshire, lived in the 15th century, and had “an exceptionally luxuriant beard”.
Originally The Tales of Beedle the Bard had only been produced in a limited number of seven handmade copies, all handwritten and illustrated by the author herself. The books were bound in brown morocco leather, and decorated with hand-chased silver ornaments and mounted semiprecious stones by silversmith and jeweller Hamilton & Inches of Edinburgh. Each of the silver pieces represents one of the five stories in the book. Rowling also asked that each of the seven copies be embellished using a different semiprecious stone.
Six of these original handwritten copies were uniquely dedicated and given by Rowling to six people who were most involved with the Harry Potter series. The recipients of these copies were not initially identified. Since then, two of these people have been named. One is Barry Cunningham, Rowling’s very first editor. Another is Arthur A. Levine, editor for Scholastic, the U.S. publisher of the Harry Potter books. Cunningham and Levine had lent their personal copies as part of Beedle the Bard exhibits in December 2008.
Rowling also decided to create a seventh handwritten copy (distinguished from the others by its moonstone jewelling) to sell at auction in order to raise funds for The Children’s Voice charity campaign.
The idea came really because I wanted to thank six key people who have been very closely connected to the ‘Harry Potter’ series, and these were people for whom a piece of jewellery wasn’t going to cut it. So I had the idea of writing them a book, a handwritten and illustrated book, just for these six people. And well, if I’m doing six I really have to do seven, and the seventh book will be for this cause, which is so close to my heart.
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