Why is it Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and not the Philosopher’s Stone?


Most of the world knows the first novel by J.K. Rowling as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Why do people in the States know it as the Sorcerer’s Stone?

Take your mind back 20 years. What were you doing? Many were getting ready for the first Harry Potter novel from J.K. Rowling. It had already been a success in the UK and Scholastic quickly acquired the rights for an American version. While the rest of the world called it Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the book eventually came out as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the U.S.

Cue a lot of questions why. What was the point in changing the name of the book? It all comes down to Scholastic’s Arthur A. Levine. He didn’t think the term “Philosopher” would do well in the country, sounding far too archaic for the readers, so he wanted something different.

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It nearly wasn’t “Sorcerer”

At first, Levine wanted to name the first novel Harry Potter and the School of Magic. Honestly, that takes away the whole meaning of the title. For those who remember the first book (and movie – and how could you forget either?) the tale is all about this elusive stone. While it is Harry’s introduction to magic and Hogwarts, the focus is on the initial return of Voldemort and all that brings.

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Thankfully, J.K. Rowling didn’t like the idea of the new title. Of course, Levine wanted to keep the idea of magic in the title, and Rowling suggested “Sorcerer” in place of “Philosopher.”

(Photo by Christie’s/Getty Images)

Rowling has regretted it since

Considering many in the States now want to stick to the original title Rowling developed, it does seem a shame that Rowling agreed to the change. This is something she regrets now, saying that she agreed because it was her first book. She was just happy someone wanted to publish it and wanted to keep them happy.

It’s also a shame that the movie got the Sorcerer’s Stone name change in the States. However, fortunately, all the rest of the books have kept their original names. And quite rightly!

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What did you think about the name change to the Sorcerer’s Stone? Which name do you prefer for the first Harry Potter novel? Share in the comments below.