With the latest addition to the Harry Potter saga only weeks away, schools can enter a draw in The TES to see the author in London. Geraldine Brennan reports.
School groups will bag all the seats at the only public appearance worldwide by Harry Potter's creator, author JK Rowling, to mark publication of the fifth Potter novel next month. Publisher Bloomsbury has booked London's Royal Albert Hall for Thursday, June 26 and urges teachers to use the form in today's TES to enter a draw for the 4,500 seats.
The 90 schools which succeed in the ballot can bring a party of 50 (including teachers) to the event, at pound;5 each, to see Ms Rowling talk to Stephen Fry (the voice of Harry Potter on audiotape), read from the new novel Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (to be published on June 21) and answer questions submitted in advance by children all over the world.
Last weekend's Sunday Times Rich List revealed that the author, who has sold 195 million books worldwide, is now richer than the Queen.
Any school in the UK and the Republic of Ireland can bid to bring pupils aged eight and above.
"We hope some of the places will go to older children who have followed the books from the beginning, but we're leaving the choice up to schools," said Katie Collins, Bloomsbury's publicity director.
Winning schools will be notified by May 19.