The next book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, will be released on July 21st.

Author Jk Rowling released details of the launch date on her official website, confirming the book would have a simultaneous release in English-speaking nations across the world.

Fans of the series will be able to purchase it from midnight, as a short statement on the site made clear.

The latest instalment marks the seventh and final book, with speculation over the fate of lead character Harry dominating chat rooms and fan sites.

Rowling revealed last month she had gone back to her old mode of writing to complete the book, working out of the cafe in which she penned the first offering, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in 1994.

Anticipation for the next book is expected to reach fever pitch as summer approaches, while the films based on the novels continue to pack audiences in to cinemas across the world.

Harry Potter has already been on the front pages this week after pictures emerged of Daniel Radcliffe, who plays the lead role in the films, in the play Equus.

An often controversial play, the plot requires Radcliffe's character to appear naked, which has angered some parents who argue he is a role model for young children.

The books have sold over 370 million copies worldwide, with the latest, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, becoming the fastest-selling book in history, after 6.9 million copies were shifted in just 24 hours.

01/02/2007 13:49:16