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Exeter Library to host display inspired by the British Library’s new exhibition Harry Potter: A History of Magic

From Friday 20 October 2017, visitors will be able to discover fascinating facts about the History of Magic at Exeter Library. Displays will launch simultaneously in 20 public libraries across the UK in tandem with the Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition at the British Library in London.

The series of displays across the UK will include specially designed panels which are inspired by Harry Potter: A History of Magic, showing images of rare books, manuscripts and magical objects featured in the British Library’s exhibition, as well as images of material from J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury’s own collections. Exeter Library’s local connections to magic and folklore will also be showcased, and will include a number of items from Exeter Library’s Special Collections Archive, consisting of early printed books ranging in date from 1480 to c.1900.

Visitors to the Harry Potter exhibition will be able to browse rare and unique items such as The Age of Monsters, Prehistoric and Legendary, by Dr Josef Augusta, Illustrated by Zdenek Burian, 1966, The Werewolf by Montague Summers, 1933, Sidonia the Sorceress by William Meinhold, 1893 and The Botanical Register: Consisting of coloured figures of exotic plants cultivated in British gardens by Sydenham Edwards, 1815.

The displays have been developed by the British Library in collaboration with public libraries through the Living Knowledge Network, an innovative partnership between the British Library and 22 major public libraries across the UK, and the National Library of Scotland and the National Library of Wales.

Harry Potter: A History of Magic celebrates the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, combining centuries-old British Library treasures with original material from Bloomsbury’s and J.K. Rowling’s own archives. Based on the subjects studied at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, this exhibition will showcase material from J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury’s own collections, going on display for the very first time.


Karen Leach-Bowdler, Senior Supervisor at Exeter Library said: “We are really excited to be hosting the Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition, and to be hosting a number of events and activities alongside it. We know that there is a real fanbase for Harry Potter in Exeter, and with J.K Rowling having taken inspiration from some of Exeter’s historic streets, it feels right that we are celebrating this magical series in the heart of the city. We are also really pleased to showcase some historic items from The Special Collections Archive. There are around 6000 items in the Archive, offering a fantastic representation of the printed word through time.  Keeping these collections adds depth and breadth to Devon Libraries’ existing stock and preserves these rare and unique items for future generations and it’s fantastic that we can share some of the enchanting titles with visitors to the exhibition to add a local connection.”

Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library said of the project: “We are delighted to be working with 20 different public libraries across the UK to share our exhibition, Harry Potter: A History of Magic. The Living Knowledge Network is all about sharing resources, skills and ideas to make our intellectual heritage available to everyone and here we’ve championed what lies at the heart of the Harry Potter stories that resonates deeply with people across the country to achieve this. The roll-out truly encapsulates the convening power of bringing local and national treasures together through the partners.”


“We are delighted to be working with 20 different public libraries across the UK to share our exhibition, Harry Potter: A History of Magic. Using stunning mobile panels inspired by the exhibition, these Living Knowledge Network partners will draw on their own collections and regional connections to magical traditions and folklore to make displays, and I look forward to seeing the results.


Sharing our exhibition in this way is the best possible demonstration of our aims for the Living Knowledge Network, which brings together libraries from across the UK to inspire audiences, share knowledge and to celebrate the transformative and enduring power of libraries.”

As part of the celebrations, Exeter Library is also hosting a range of Harry Potter events, including:

  • Harry Potter Exhibition Launch and Quiz Night, Friday 20th October, 18:30 (£5)
  • The Hogwarts Curriculum Lectures – Astronomy with Maggie Aderin-Pocock – Live Screening, Sunday 29th October, 14:00 (FREE)
  • Brooms, Wands and Cauldrons: The Instruments of Magic with Simon Costin – Live Screening, Tuesday 31st October, 19:00-20:15 (FREE)
  • The Hogwarts Curriculum Lectures: Herbology With Anna Pavord – Live Screening, Sunday 12th November, 14:00 (FREE)
  • The Harry Potter Effect – Live Screening, Thursday 23rd November, 19:00 (FREE)
  • The Hogwarts Curriculum Lectures: Care of Magical Creatures with Patrick Aryee – Live Screening, Sunday 3rd December, 14:00 (FREE)
  • Women, Witches and Witch-Trials – Live Screening,    Tuesday 5th December, 19:00 (FREE)

To find out more visit or call in to Exeter Library.

For more information about the exhibition, click here: