JK Rowling has written extensive new material about the world of Harry Potter for her new venture, Pottermore, she revealed at a press conference launching the collaborative website.
From Professor McGonagall's love for a Muggle as a young woman, to how the Dursleys met; from new information about Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff houses, to details about wand wood, the fresh Potter background from the author already stretches to 18,000 words, with more to come.
The material will be used on the new, free Pottermore website, a collaborative project for fans set in the Harry Potter universe. "I wanted to give something back to the fans that have followed Harry so devotedly over the years, and to bring the stories to a new generation," Rowling revealedAu. "I hope fans and those new to Harry will have as much fun helping to shape Pottermore as I have. Just as I have contributed to the website, everyone else will be able to join in by submitting their own comments, drawings and other content in a safe and friendly environment. Pottermore has been designed as a place to share the stories with your friends as you journey through the site."
For the moment, Pottermore will be restricted to the world of the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but all the books will be added in due course.
The site is intended to bring the storyline to life for users, with new illustrations and interactive "moments" which can be navigated through. Users start out by choosing a magical username, and as they move through the chapters of the book they will be sorted into houses, choose wands and experience life at Hogwarts, just like Harry. Points can be won for houses by casting spells and mixing potions.
The website will open to a lucky million users early on 31 July – Harry's birthday – with its full launch to all users in October.
It will also sell the long-awaited ebook versions of the Harry Potter books directly to users from October as well as digital audiobooks.
"This is free," added Rowling, who has sold more than 450m copies of the Potter books worldwide. "You don't have to pay to get extra materials, you don't have to buy a single thing. That was really important to me. This was about the 'give-back'."
Although Rowling said it was "impossible to overstate what Harry Potter means to me", Pottermore will be the only way fans will be able to get fresh material from Rowling about Harry's world. "I'm pretty sure I'm done on the novel front," she said.
To register with the hope of being one of the lucky ones visit Pottermore
The official press announcement is below: