The Woman Behind the American Covers of Harry Potter

As far as iconic book jackets in America go, the Harry Potter series has touted some of the most memorable covers we’ve ever seen. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was published in America three years before the movie was released and the cover gave readers their first image of the scraggly haired, four-eyed wizard we’ve come to know and love. These covers held a consistent theme throughout the entirety of the American Harry Potter series, and they were all made by one woman: Mary GrandPré.

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Although she initially declined Scholastic’s offer to illustrate the covers, GrandPré changed her mind and never looked back. In an interview with Sarasota, she said, “By the time I was working on Book 3, we knew we were dealing with something very special.”

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GrandPré was granted early access to the books before they were released and crafted her illustrations after reading. She received feedback from the editors, but never from JK Rowling herself.

In addition to the covers, GrandPré also illustrated all of the chapter headers that appear throughout the books.

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Mary GrandPré’s illustrations have overrun the psyches of America’s young adult readership for the past two decades, and her depictions of the wizarding world have gone down as some of the most influential book covers in all of literary history.


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