Barry Cunningham, who was working for Bloomsbury in 1996, was one of the people who discovered Harry Potter. He signed J.K. Rowling for the publishing house – and published Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone the next year.
That’s why in 2007 he received from J.K. Rowling a handwritten copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard. It is one of only seven presentation copies of the book in existence, all given by Rowling to the most important people who helped bring her boy wizard to the public. Now, almost 10 years later, he has decided to auction the book. He said he would be sad to part with the edition, but that he hoped to use the gift to benefit his children as well as Rowling’s charity Lumos.
The manuscript is decorated with seven unique mounted rhodochrosite stones, differing with each copy to represent each owner’s personality. Cunningham’s copy is inscribed: “To Barry, the man who thought an overlong novel about a boy wizard in glasses might just sell… THANK YOU”.
“It was an amazing and totally unexpected gift,” he said. “It’s absolutely breathtakingly wonderful, and I now want to make sure I can do good with it.”
The book will be on display at Sotheby’s, London, this weekend before being sold on December 13th. It is expected to sell for up to £500,000. The first of the seven copies to be sold, in 2007, went for £1.95million – it was bought by Amazon.