A handwritten copy of Harry Potter author Jk Rowling's new book has sold at auction for almost £2 million.

Of the seven copies of The Tales of Beedle the Bard that have been written and illustrated by Rowling, today's auction copy is the only one that will be sold.

The billionaire author intends to give the remaining six copies to her family and those "most intimately involved" in the Harry Potter series.

The auction copy, which was expected to fetch no more than £50,000, was bought at Sotheby's in London by collector Hazlitt, Gooden and Fox.

Bidding lasted for about ten minutes and its conclusion was greeted by large rounds of applause.

All of the £2 million is set to be donated towards Children's Voice, a charity jointly founded by Rowling and UK peer Emma Nicholson.

"I am stunned and ecstatic," Rowling, 42, said after the auction had finished.

"This will mean so much to children in desperate need of help. It means Christmas has come early to me."

The seven copies of The Tales of Beedle the Bard are more than 160 pages long and decorated in silver and moonstones.

In the seventh and final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry Potter's friend Hermione Grainger is given a copy of the book – a collection of fairytales – by Albus Dumbledore to help in the quest to defeat Lord Voldemort.

13/12/2007 17:03:18