A rare Harry Potter prequel handwritten by author JK Rowling on a postcard has been stolen during a burglary in England, police said, as they appealed for help from fans across the world.
The 800-word story, which sold for about $43,000 at a charity auction in 2008, is set three years before the protagonist of the series, Harry Potter, was born.
Handwritten over two sides of an A5 postcard, the untitled prequel features Harry’s father James Potter and his friend Sirius Black.
It opens with the youthful pair cornered by two irate policemen at the end of a high-speed motorcycle chase.
After an exchange of words with the policemen, the two teenagers make their escape using a touch of magic.
The card concludes with the words: “From the prequel I am not working on — but that was fun!”
Rowling asked fans to not buy the story, which was stolen from a property in Birmingham between April 13 and 24.
JK Rowling tweet: PLEASE DON’T BUY THIS IF YOU’RE OFFERED IT. Originally auctioned for @englishpen, the owner supported writers’ freedoms by bidding for it.
The proceeds of the auction were donated to English PEN, an organisation which champions freedom of expression, and to Dyslexia Action.
“The only people who will buy this unique piece are true Harry Potter fans,” West Midlands Police Constable Paul Jauncey said.
“We are appealing to anyone who sees, or is offered this item for sale, to contact police.”
West Midlands Police tweet: The story, penned personally by @jk_rowling over 2 sides of an A5 postcard is extremely valuable & stolen during a burglary in #KingsHeath
More than 450 million copies of the seven original Harry Potter books have been sold worldwide in 79 languages.
A script book based on the stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child — set 19 years after the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — was released last year.