Hogwarts from Harry Potter

Did You Know That Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone Was Renamed In The US?

Time flies, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was released in the United States over twenty years ago. Most youths in the country said that the change in the name of the title was just a quirk. But interestingly, it was entirely the marketing team behind the books that decided that a difference in the name was necessary. Simply put, the US publisher of JK Rowling’s books didn’t believe that the first book in the series rang magical enough with the title that had been out in the United Kingdom; Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone.

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Harry Potter and the American Name Change

In Philip W. Errington’s biography about the author of the Harry Potter books, he went on to state how Arthur A. Levine- who was the then head of the Scholastic imprint that published the books found an objection to the title of the book. Errington wrote, “Levine noted that he needed a title that said magic more overtly to American readers.”

He continued, ‘I certainly did not mind Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone but I can see, if you forget now what happened after, … why a book that is titled Philosopher’s Stone might seem more arcane or something. So the title that I had suggested to me and which I then turned to Jo was Harry Potter and the School of Magic. Jo very thoughtfully said, No- that doesn’t feel right to me…there are objects that I would like. What if we called it the Sorcerer’s Stone?” And that name stuck. 

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As it turns out, despite the American name of the book, the ‘Sorcerer’s Stone’ doesn’t have the same history as the Philosopher’s Stone does. Historically, the latter stone was thought of by alchemists as a means to turn ordinary metals into gold. Nonetheless, the American name was a bit more straightforward. Melissa Anelli, the author of Harry, A History, noted that Levine had actually concluded that the British title was quite misleading. “If you think about marketing a book, it is possible that someone hears ‘Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone’ and thinks it’s a book about philosophy.” 

Thankfully, the British readers didn’t have the same problem as the Harry Potter craze soon became a phenomenon not only in the country- but also in the entire world. 

If you’re looking for a little nostalgia, you can check out one of the original trailers below.

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Sources:

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  1. Why ‘Philosopher’ Became ‘Sorcerer’ In The American ‘Harry Potter’ Books.” Huff Post. Sara Boboltz. June 26, 2017.
  2. “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was renamed in the US because Americans don’t know what a philosopher is” LadBible. January 4, 2023.
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