‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ US Title Is Different As Americans Don’t Know What A Philosopher Is

Harry Potter has gained a colossal fan base since the first book came out way back in 1997, and while the films have been a huge part of helping hook audiences across the globe, it was the book that first sparked imaginations.

However, what you might not know, is that J.K. Rowling was asked to change the name of her first book for American readers, as publishers feared they wouldn’t know what a philosopher was. 

Now, there are a lot of things that J.K. Rowling regrets about Harry Potter…

Firstly, we all knew Hermione was meant to end up with Harry… I mean, Ron, seriously? 

Rowling addressed this in an interview with The Sunday Times, explaining: “I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment. That’s how it was conceived, really.

“For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron.” 

Then there’s the brutal death of Fred Weasley… we still haven’t recovered.

In 2015 Rowling Tweeted her long overdue apology to fans, writing: “Today I would just like to say: I’m really sorry about Fred. *Bows head in acceptance of your reasonable ire.*”

But one of her biggest regrets is the name change of her first book to appeal to an American audience. 

Writer Philip W. Errington wrote about the decision to change the title in his Rowling bibliography, revealing that the publisher Arthur A. Levine proposed that the book be called Harry Potter and the School of Magic.

“Levine noted that he needed a title that said ‘magic’ more overtly to American readers.

“He [Levine] continued, ‘I certainly did not mind Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone but I can see… 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.’”

Thankfully, Rowling stood her ground, but still agreed to change the title. This led to it being changed from Philosopher’s Stone to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, as there were important “objects” she wanted to include. 

Now, the philosopher’s stone is a legend that has mystified alchemists for millenniums, it is a mythic substance that some claim is able to transform ordinary metals into gold or silver, so would make sense to use it in the title. 

And with the fact that ‘sorcerer’s stone’ is entirely fictional, it’s understandable why Rowling regrets making the change to please publishers.

Rowling has previously admitted that she regretted changing the name of the book that would go on to define her career. 

She even opened up about the move back in 2001, while speaking at a BBC Red Nose Day event.

“They changed the first title, but with my consent,” she said.

“To be honest, I wish I hadn’t agreed now, but it was my first book, and I was so grateful that anyone was publishing me I wanted to keep them happy.”

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