Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was published on June 26, 1997, by Bloomsbury in the United Kingdom. Just a year later, the U.S. publishes its own version under the Scholastic Corporation, but this time under the title of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer‘s Stone. The two title differences don't really sway readers and typically doesn’t cause any type of confusion. Harry Potter fans are well aware that the title differences had been made for marketing purposes, however, the length of the differences between these two novels (and even the movies) is a bit longer than most people realize.
Between the book and the film versions, there are a few subtle differences that only people who have read or seen both versions of the story will be aware of. Even still, the differences are so minor that they may have managed to escape most viewers' attention. Just in case you’re curious, here are 10 things that are different between Harry Potter and the Sorcerer‘s Stone and the Philosopher's Stone.
It may not be well represented in the movies, by Harry's sassy attitude is one of his more endearing traits in the books. But apparently, Harry's cheek is more pronounced in the American version of the story. For example, during their first potions class, Snape calls on Harry to ask him a ream of tedious questions that he clearly doesn’t know the answer to. Hermione, on the other hand, is eager to answer his questions. In the film, Harry just simply glances over at Hermione and says “I don’t know, sir."
In the U.S. version of the books, Harry actually says. “Clearly Hermione knows the answer. You ought to ask her." In the UK, he says, “I think Hermione knows the answer, why don’t you try her?" The UK version clearly takes a more polite tone, but Harry’s attitude in the former is certainly more preferred.
Hagrid’s motorcycle is one of the first magical objects we see in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer‘s Stone. Readers later learn that this is the bike of Sirius Black, who loans it to Hagrid in order to get Harry to the Dursley's safe and sound.
However, depending on which version of the book you read, you probably came to know Hagrid‘s bike by a different name. Again, this is a subtle difference and is only changed due to different cultural jargon. In the UK version, Hagrid‘s ride is referred to as a 'motorbike', while in the US addition, they call it a 'motorcycle'.
Hermione‘s appearance is also slightly altered between these two editions as well. Besides being dubbed the “brightest witch of her age," Hermione’s description in the books is, “lots of bushy brown hair, and rather large front teeth.
Throughout the novel, there is also references to her “fringe” and some other key features. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer‘s Stone, you won’t find the same exact description, as the term "fringe" is replaced by the word “bangs“ instead.
Harry's first Christmas at Hogwarts is a happy one. It’s the first time that he gets a few presents of his own, the best of which is a magical heirloom left by his father. He also gets a few other things like a rusty coin from his aunt Petunia and a dazzling sweater from Mrs. Weasley. If you read the UK version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, he receives a "jumper" from Mrs. Weasley.
The two words. "sweater" and "jumper" are entirely different. And considering young readers didn’t have the luxury of a quick and easy Google search to differentiate the two terms int he 1990s, it stands to reason why they change it in the U.S. printed version.
Harry's famous Hogwarts acceptance letter is also written in a bit differently in each version. The letter that Hagrid tries so desperately to deliver to Harry comes with his standard acceptance letter signed from McGonagall as well as a list of supplies that he will need for his first year.
It’s separated into three sections: Uniform, Course Books, and Other Equipment. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the "course books" are referred to as "set books." In addition, the letter is signed "Prof M McGonagall" in the UK version and "Professor M McGonagall" in the US edition.
Harry conspicuously wheels his own little luggage rack onto King’s Cross Station in order to get to Platform 9 3/4. This rack containing his spellbook and his owl, Hedwig, is called a "cart" in the US Edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, while in the UK version, Harry is pushing a "trolley".
Likewise, the Hogwarts candy cart is called the trolley in the UK version, though, they did choose to keep that verbiage in the US version of the films as well.
One of the most glaring differences between these two sets of books is Dean Thomas’s description. In the UK, the book simply says, “three people left to be sorted. “Turpin, Lisa became…“ While the US version has a more explicit description writing, “Three people left to be sorted. 'Thomas, Dean,' a black boy even taller than Ron, joined Harry at the Gryffindor table. 'Turpin, Lisa' became…“
In fact, Dean's description is negated entirely from UK series, owing to J.K. Rowling's editor who decided against it. Rowling, of course, knew Dean to be a black Londoner and made sure that he was represented as such when it came time to cast for the films.
Any time a letter is written in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, the font is changed to different scriptures depending on who is writing the letter. There are plenty of different fonts throughout the entire book, with Hagrid having his own rough "handwriting" compared to Professor McGonagall‘s elegant scripture.
In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the letters are simply changed to an italic font with no other special fonts used to represent each character.
One Hogwarts textbook, in particular, has a different name between the UK and the US version of the book. Towards the end of the novel, Harry is studying for his finals and looking up the word 'Dittany' in the textbook 1,000 Magical Herbs and Fungi.
In the UK version, 100 Magical Herbs and Fungi is the title of the textbook. This is one of the few books that has yet to find its way onto Muggle bookshelves, however, it seems that the US version is the preferred title for most fans.
And the most popular question that fans have, concerns the title differences between Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. It seems strange enough that book publishers are willing to change such minimal details in the books in order to make it more understandable for the children, however having completely separate book titles is something that is rarely done.
The simple fact of the matter is that American publishers think that the word "sorcerer" sounds more enticing and magical than the word "philosopher." At the time, the belief is that American kids would have more familiarity with the term "sorcerer" then they would "philosopher", therefore, making it more likely for them to pick up the book at the store.