J.K. Rowling Invented Harry Potter In This ‘Modest Old Chair,’ And It’s Up For Auction
The chair J.K. Rowling sat in to write the first two books in the Harry Potter series isn’t just a chair.
It’s an ugly oak thing with a flowered cushion. It’s 80-years-old, dingy, dirty, and looks very uncomfortable. But it represents a now-legendary story, not about Harry Potter, but a single mother living in subsidized housing in Edinburgh, Scotland, in the 1990s.
A mother who aspired to be a writer, and sat on the hand-me-down chair to pen a novel that, for a long time, only she believed in. A woman who, when she parked it in front of her typewriter, never dreamed that one day she’d be the world’s first female billionaire novelist.
Without that story, it’s just a normal piece of furniture. But with Rowling’s own hand-painted decorations and a letter proving provenance (delivered by Owl Post, of course), one of the “finest collectibles in Muggledom” will likely fetch thousands at an auction in New York City on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
“The international phenomenon that would become, and still is, Harry Potter had its humble beginnings in this modest old chair,” James Gannon, from Heritage Auctions, told the Edinburgh Evening News.
— BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeed) April 5, 2016
“It lives now as a powerful, tangible symbol of her determination and incredible imagination.”
Right now, bidding stands at $65,000.
According to USA Today, the chair was given to Rowling in 1995 for free with a set of four mismatched dining room chairs while she lived in a government-subsidized housing unit as a single mom in Edinburgh.
“(Rowling) said at the time that it was something you would pick up at a junk shop,” Gannon added.
In Rowling’s provenance letter, she recalled that this particular chair “was the comfiest one, which is why it ended up stationed permanently in front of my typewriter.”
“My nostalgic side is quite sad to see it go, but my back isn’t.”
Rowling ended up writing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets while sitting on that chair. It’s not clear where she sat while writing the remaining five books in the series, which spawned a series of blockbuster movies, a theme park, and changed pop culture forever.
It appears as though Rowling is not the current owner, however. She donated it in 2002 to an auction that benefited the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Sky News reported. The chair sold at another auction in 2009 for $29,117.
The best feature of this ugly old oak chair is the hand-painted decorations by Rowling herself. She painted it with gold, rose, and green colors, announcing “I wrote Harry Potter while sitting on this chair,” and “You may not / find me pretty ~ / but don’t judge / what you see.”
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) April 5, 2016
Of course, it wouldn’t be complete with lightning bolts. The tops of the front legs are emblazoned with the boy wizard’s famous scar, and her signature is on the headrest.
Rowling’s chair goes on auction today in New York City online and at the Waldorf Astoria hotel as part of Heritage Auction’s rare books event.
To inspire and encourage struggling writers like she once was, Rowling recently shared rejection letters she received just recently, the Inquisitr previously reported. Back in the 90s, Harry Potter was turned down so much she feared it would never be published, but the books she penned under pseudonym Robert Galbraith were also rejected.
She’s come a long way from the days as a single mom, writing a story about a boy wizard in an ugly, donated oak dining chair.
“It’s inspiring to imagine the young mother and author settling down at her desk, seated in this chair,” Gannon said.
[Photo by Joseph Schroeder/AP]