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June 26, 1997: 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' Is Released In Bookstores

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On June 26, 1997, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was released in bookstores.

The Harry Potter character dates back to 1990. That year, J.K. Rowling was on a crowded train from Manchester to London when the idea for Harry suddenly "fell into her head." And so the beginning of a masterpiece was born. But first, Rowling had to drum up interest in the story.

After eight other publishers rejected Philosopher's Stone, Bloomsbury offered Rowling a meagre £2,500 advance for its publication. Little did Bloomsbury know how big the Harry Potter series would get.

In 2007, the last book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, sold 11 million copies in its first 24 hours of release. The books have been translated into 80 languages and have sold more than 500 million copies worldwide, making them the best-selling book series in history.

The eight-part Harry Potter film series by Warner Bros. is the third highest-grossing film series of all time.

Themed attractions, collectively known as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, have been built at several Universal Parks & Resorts around the world. The movies and books have also generated an estimated $7.3 billion in game and toy sales for toymakers such as Hasbro and Mattel.

In 2016, the total value of the Harry Potter franchise is estimated at $25 billion, making Harry Potter one of the highest-grossing media franchises of all time.

"My books are largely about death,” according to Rowling. The series also tackles many other young adult themes such as prejudice, corruption, and madness.

The Harry Potter series has seamlessly merged literary and pop culture to create not only a global cultural phenomenon, but an unstoppable industry.

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