On Friday, England’s West Midlands Police tweeted a callout to Harry Potter fans: Should they see a notecard covered front-to-back in handwritten Hogwartsian lore, they should alert authorities.
The paper is a valuable Harry Potter prequel written and auctioned off by J.K. Rowling that was stolen from its owner during a burglary in Birmingham, England, three weeks ago.
Rowling retweeted the alert, writing, “PLEASE DON’T BUY THIS IF YOU’RE OFFERED IT. Originally auctioned for [English PEN], the owner supported writers’ freedoms by bidding for it.”
English PEN is a British charity that promotes literature and free expression around the world.
According to The New York Times, the stolen prequel is set before the birth of Harry Potter and focuses on his father and Sirius Black’s run-in with police. The manuscript was part of a 2008 auction to raise money for literacy causes, selling to an unnamed person for £25,000 (approximately $32,100).
Fans of Rowling know the author jotted down her initial idea for the series on a napkin, and that she wrote the first installment, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, on a typewriter. In 2007, the author hand-wrote seven copies of her story-within-a-story, The Tales of Beedle and Bard, and one sold for $3 million at Sotheby’s.
Her penchant for tactile modes of writing has since receded; most her many contributions to the ever-growing Harry Potter universe have been released on her fan site, Pottermore.
That makes this handwritten addition to the canon a rare one.
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