Harry Potter 'prequel' raises money for charity at auction

LONDON (AFP) — A mini-prequel penned by JK Rowling to her blockbuster "Harry Potter" series of books fetched 25,000 pounds (31,600 euros, 48,800 dollars) at a charity auction on Tuesday.

The sale of the 800-word short story, written on one side of an A5-sized storycard, which measures just 148 by x 210 millimetres (5.8 by 8.3 inches), comes less than a year after the seventh and final tome in the series about the bespectacled boy wizard, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" went on sale.

In total, the auction raised 47,150 pounds through the sale of 13 storycards by authors such as Doris Lessing, winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature, and Booker Prize winner Margaret Atwood.

The proceeds will go to two charities: English PEN, which promotes the freedom to write around the world, and Dyslexia Action.

"I had great fun writing the card and I'm absolutely delighted that it has raised 25,000 pounds for two such worthy causes," Rowling said.

Her story is set three years before Harry Potter's birth, and features the youthful wizard's father, James, and series character Sirius Black.

The pair are confronted by two policemen after a high-speed motorcycle chase, and evade the authorities using their broomsticks and magic.

The hand-written storycard concludes with the words, "From the prequel I am not working on -- but that was fun!" and includes Rowling's signature and is dated May 2008.

Rowling's "Harry Potter" series has sold nearly 350 million copies around the world in 65 languages and been turned into a successful film franchise.

Among the other storycards, English playwright Tom Stoppard's entry fetched 4,000 pounds, while Lessing's sold for 3,000 pounds.

All 13 submissions will be featured in a postcard book set to be published in early August, profits from which will also go to English PEN and Dyslexia Action, while all the stories will be freely available to read on www.waterstones.com from Wednesday.