Chamber of Secrets
About the Book
Author: JK Rowling
Illustrators: Mary GrandPre (US), Cliff Wright (UK)
UK Edition Statistics: 18 chapters, 256 pages, 86,000 words
US Edition Statistics: 18 chapters, 341 pages, 86,000 words
Initial Print Runs: 10,150 copies (UK); 250,000 copies (US)
The second book of seven in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets tells of twelve year-old Harry Potter's second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Author JK Rowling began writing Chamber of Secrets before her first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, gained widespread popularity. In fact, she started writing the second book the very same afternoon that she finished the first.
Rowling admitted in several interviews that the only time she suffered from a bout of writer's block was while writing Chamber of Secrets. She said, "I've only suffered writer's block badly once, and that was during the writing of Chamber of Secrets. I had my first burst of publicity about the first book and it paralysed me. I was scared the second book wouldn't measure up, but I got through it!" She later talked more on the subject, saying, "Chamber of Secrets, I really did have writer's block. Briefly, I think. It wasn't a very serious case, it was only about five weeks. And compared to some people, what's five weeks?"
Rowling completed the second book in late June of 1997, at which point she mailed it off to her editors. Thus began the many months long editing process.
As Sorcerer's Stone was not even published for a certain period of time whilst Rowling was writing Chamber of Secrets, she still often wrote in cafes. In a 1997 interview with The Independent, she is quoted as saying, "The other day in Edinburgh I went to my favourite cafe to reread the edited version of the second Harry book. Jessie was in nursery, because now I have the money to pay for her to go to one that she likes. I had a sticky bun and a cup of hot chocolate and I had this moment of divine revelation. I thought I am the luckiest person in the world. I am now being paid to do what I have been doing my whole life for nothing. I can sit here and know that this book is actually going to be published. Then I suddenly realised: I am a writer. I'm being being paid for it now. This is not my secret shameful habit that I don't tell anyone about any longer."
The book was released in the UK on July 2, 1998. Bloomsbury then published a paperback version of the book in February of 1999. Just as with the first book, it was not released in the United States for around a year after its UK release; in this case, exactly a year after - June 2, 1999. The large print edition was then published in the US on February 1, 2000, followed by the release of the paperback version on August 15, 2000.
It immediately shot to the top of bestseller lists, outselling the likes of Jeffrey Archer, John Grisham, Terry Pratchett, and Delia Smith, popular authors of the day. Rowling toured England and Scotland after the book was released, signing copies and reading in bookstores and schools. In a diary-style article for The Sunday Times, Jo wrote, "I've just come back from a series of public signings and readings in bookshops and schools in England and Scotland to launch the second Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and it's been one of the best weeks of my life. I've met 10-year-olds who have turned up with their own stories to show me, girls who have passed me fan letters, purple with embarrassment, boys who have stared at the floor while their mothers poke them in the small of the back, urging them to tell me how much they liked the book ('He couldn't put it down, could you, Daniel? You've read it six times, haven't you Daniel? Haven't you Daniel? Say something, Daniel.')"
Jo also noted, "I lost count of the number of children who told me they had sent away to British bookshops and buying the book on the internet to get the sequel to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. They said they could not wait until it came out in America in a year's time." Scholastic was horrified by these lost sales, which they estimated at 20,000 copies, causing them to release the book in the United States three months earlier than originally planned.
By July of 1999, more than 700,000 copies of the book were in print. That number had risen to 1.8 million by September. The current number of copies in print is difficult to estimate, but it is well into the millions.
National Book Award, 1999
ALA Notable Book
ALA Best Book for Young Adults, 1999
Booklist Editor's Choice, 1999
Nestlé Smarties Book Prize, 1999
Scottish Arts Council Children's Book Award, 1999
FCBG Children's Book Award, 1998
British Book Awards' Children's Book of the Year, 1998
School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, 1999
North East Scotland Book Award, 1998
Booksellers Association Author of the Year, 1998