What role did the editor or editors play in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series?

An Editor Who Took a Chance

In 1996, Barry Cunningham of Bloomberg Publishing took a chance on Rowling’s book even though many 1 hpother publishing companies had turned her down. When he first received a copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, he did not think that she was going to make any money out of it. He was proven wrong. However, after reading through the first few chapters he realized that the protagonist, Harry, was interesting and was looking forward to see where the story would go. As a result, Rowling was signed with Bloomberg Publishing and in June of 1997 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published.

Hogwarts’s Journey to the United States

Even though the book was selling in England, it did not mean that the United States was reading it yet. In 1997, at The Bologna Book Fair, editor Arthur Levine for Scholastic, was looking at manuscripts to gain the rights to. There, he found out about Rowling’s novel and received a copy to read. As he read , he was captivated by everything the book had to offer. He pushed for getting the rights to the book and paid $105,000 when it was auctioned off.

Levine’s Role as an Editor

  • View as the “Ideal Reader”
  • Letting the author know when a certain portion is too long
  • Consistency with proper nouns and spelling
  • Working with the title

Converting British Version to American Version with Spelling, Grammar, and Colloquialism  

  • Proper Noun Changes

o   Sibyll -> Sybill (U.S.)

o   Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone -> Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

o   Dear Mr Dumbledore -> Dear Professor Dumbledore

o   Car park -> Parking lot (U.S.)

o   Bins -> Trash cans (U.S.)

  • Grammar

o   Minister for Magic -> Minister of Magic (U.S.)

o   Prof. M. McGonagall -> Professor M. McGonagall

For More Information

British to American Version: http://www.hp-lexicon.org/about/books/differences.html

Bob Thompson’s “The Wizardly Editor Who Caught the Golden Snitch”: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2007/07/10/AR2007071002011.html

Marie Morreale’s Interview with Arthur Levine:


Interview with Barry Cummings: http://writerunboxed.com/2006/12/08/interview-barry-cunningham-part-1/

Image Source: http://dantat.typepad.com/dantat/2007/07/pottermania.html

Scotsman article on Cunningham’s doubts: http://www.scotsman.com/news/that-magical-day-when-barry-met-harry-1-1068487

Evan Anglin is a Film Television and Digital Media major at Texas Christian University. He is interested in fighting for people untold stories.


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