Final Harry Potter book set for release


At one minute after midnight on July 21, the final Harry Potter book will be released. Following are some facts about the Harry Potter novels and their spin-offs.

* J.K. Rowling completed the manuscript of her first Harry Potter story, called "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" in 1995, having written some of it in local cafes in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she was a single mother drawing state benefits.

* After being rejected by a series of publishers, Barry Cunningham, then of Bloomsbury publishers, signed up Rowling and the author and company never looked back. Rowling is known as the world's first billion-dollar author.

* Rowling has sold 325 million copies of the first six books of the seven-book series about young wizard Harry Potter, his adventures at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and his battles with evil foe Lord Voldemort.

* The seven books are called: "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" (published in 1997 and as "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" in the United States in 1998), "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" (1998), "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" (1999), "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" (2000), "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" (2003), "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" (2005), "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" (2007).

* The final installment is due to be released on July 21. Rowling has said she will kill off at least two characters, but has declined to specify who. The main speculation among readers and gamblers is whether or not Harry will survive at the end.

* Warner Bros. have distributed four Harry Potter movies so far, amassing a worldwide box office tally of around $3.5 billion. The fifth is in cinemas now.

* Daniel Radcliffe, who soon turns 18, has played the central role of Harry throughout the film series, turning him into a household name in Britain. He has signed up to star in the final two films.

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