Page last updated at 14:21 GMT, Friday, 5 December 2008

Fairytale launch for Rowling book

JK Rowling
Rowling read an extract from the book and answered children's questions

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has read from her newly released book of fairy tales to schoolchildren in Edinburgh.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard were first mentioned in Rowling's previous book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

The book was originally conceived as a limited edition, handwritten "labour of love" to be given to six close friends.

After a seventh copy fetched almost 2m at auction, though, the author decided to publish the collection and give the proceeds to a children's charity.

"There was quite a lot of feeling from Harry Potter fans that only someone who had 2 million could afford to read the book," she said on Thursday.

"I thought fair point, so I thought I'll publish it and then the charity can have that money too."

More than seven million copies have been printed in 28 languages, with some retailers tipping it to become the year's biggest seller.

Handmade copy of Tales of Beedle the Bard
JK Rowling made seven handcrafted versions of the book

Reviews have been positive, with the Times describing it as "a perfect Christmas treat ideal to slip in any stocking."

The Telegraph said the book "would barely satisfy Potter fanatics for more than half an hour" but said it contains "some nice touches".

Proceeds from its sale will go to Children's High Level Group (CHLG), a charity raising money for vulnerable children across Eastern Europe.

At a tea party held at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh, Rowling read from one of the seven handwritten copies of the book.

Crucial clues

The tome had been borrowed from Barry Cunningham, JK Rowling's first editor - one of only six people to receive an original Beedle as a personal gift last year.

"They were people who had been with me all along so it was a great thing to do," the author told BBC Scotland's Pauline McLean.

The seventh copy was acquired by the online retailer Amazon for 1.95m when it was put up for auction in December 2007.

Fans attend a special launch in London

The Tales of Beedle the Bard is the volume of fairy tales left to Hermione Granger by Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore in the seventh and final book of the Harry Potter series.

The tales contained clues that were to prove crucial to Harry's final mission to destroy Lord Voldemort.

Only one of the five stories, The Tale of the Three Brothers, was recounted in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

The published edition includes the four remaining tales, translated by Hermione alongside notes by Professor Dumbledore and illustrations by JK Rowling herself.

CHLG was co-founded by JK Rowling and Emma Nicholson MEP.

"We started this charity because there are a lot of children, and I mean hundreds of thousands of children, shut up in institutions," said the author.

The National Library of Scotland will host a Beedle display containing one of the rare handwritten originals until 4 January.

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