It’s been 20 years since Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published in the U.K. by Bloomsbury, with a now iconic cover by artist Thomas Taylor. Two decades later, eight books and nine movies later and the Boy Who Lived along with He Who Shall Not Be Named and the entire Wizarding World have been brought to life through author J.K. Rowling‘s magical prose, live-action movies, a theme park and of course through the bold and vibrant illustrations of many the artists who have illustrated nearly 70 translations of the books, according to the latest figures on the Harry Potter Wiki. My own nostalgia for the series is running especially high today.
When the book first hit in the U.S., in 1998 via Scholastic, I’d only glimpsed Taylor’s U.K. version a handful of times when I was able to borrow it away from friends who were lucky enough to get a copy from abroad. But sure enough, the book eventually landed stateside, and when it did American audiences were treated with an entirely new set of whimsical cover art, this time by Mary Grandpre.
Where Taylor’s depiction of Harry waiting for the gleaming red Hogwart’s Express on a smokey platform nine and three quarters helped visualize the boy with the lightening-shaped scar for audiences of adults and children alike, it was Grandpre’s cover for the U.S. book was the first to depict the young wizard in action, chasing a Quidditch snitch on his broomstick with the majestic turrets of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the backdrop.
Between the Bloomsbury and Scholastic editions, artists such as Cliff Wright, Jason Cockcroft, Jim Kay, Kazu Kibuishi and now Levi Pinfold have created unforgettable and elaborate drawings and paintings to accompany the many subsequent editions of Rowling’s books. Click through the slideshow above for a journey through the years in the cover art and illustrations for the Harry Potter books, beginning with Taylor all the way up through Scholastic’s most recent House-themed editions, published in 2017.