Graduate of Harry Potter university course helps fellow fans discover next chapter in wizard's world

Potter fans can now get their hands on their own copy of the play's script.
Potter fans can now get their hands on their own copy of the play's script.

A bookseller who was one of the first to study a module based on the Harry Potter series at a North East university has helped fans get their hands on the next instalment.

Hundreds of Potter-heads across the country are burying their noses in the script of the new play Harry Potter And The Cursed Child, after it went on sale at midnight.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child's script is set 19 years after the last book.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child's script is set 19 years after the last book.

Around 700 witches, wizards and magical creatures flocked to Waterstones in Piccadilly, central London, for the midnight launch, which also marks the birthday of JK Rowling and her boy wizard hero Harry.

Harriet Hayter, 26, a senior bookseller at Waterstones, grew up with the Harry Potter series.

She was one of the first students to take a Harry Potter module at Durham University in 2007-2008 and said it was the "best three-hour exam I've ever sat".

She said: "I am so so excited.

"It's just so exciting, finally after nine years to have the next instalment of the Harry Potter story.

"It's been lock and key here, we haven't been able to have access to it, but as soon as all the customers are gone I know all the booksellers will probably be surreptitiously reading it themselves.

"I probably won't get any sleep tonight because I will be reading it."

The midnight release came just hours after the opening gala premiere at the Palace Theatre in London's West End.

As the play opened following nearly eight weeks of previews, it drew whoops, applause and gasps of shock from the audience as magic appeared to unfold on-stage.

Featuring plenty of twists and surprises, audience members were handed #KeepTheSecrets badges on their way out.

JK Rowling, wearing winged high heels on the red carpet, said she was delighted fans who had seen previews had kept the details of the new instalment under wraps.

Set 19 years after the events of the seventh and final book, The Cursed Child brings back Harry Potter, now grown up and an employee at the Ministry of Magic.

Harry and his wife Ginny Weasley wave their youngest son Albus Severus, named after former Hogwarts headmaster Professors Dumbledore and Potions guru Professor Snape, off to their old wizarding school.

Once there, Albus struggles with the weight of his family legacy and goes to extreme and dangerous lengths to right the wrongs of the past.

The two-part play stretches over five hours and was co-devised by Rowling, written by Jack Thorne and directed by John Tiffany.

As the crowd prepared to receive copies of the script they counted down to midnight and sang Happy Birthday to JK Rowling and Harry Potter when the clock struck 12.