France honors Harry Potter author Rowling

February 3, 2009 9:55:36 AM PST
France paid homage to the author behind fiction's most famous boy magician by inducting Harry Potter series author J.K. Rowling into the country's prestigious Legion of Honor.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy bestowed Rowling with the honorary title of "knight" in the legion during a ceremony in a gilded hall in the Elysee presidential palace.

The British writer leapt to worldwide fame with the 1997 publication of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone," the first of her mega-hit seven-part series. The books have sold more than 400 million copies and been translated into 67 languages, including French.

In 2003, even before it was translated into French, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" - the fifth book in the series - became the first book in English ever to top the French best-sellers' list.

Created by Napoleon Bonaparte in the early 19th century, the Legion of Honor is France's elite national merit society. Although foreigners cannot be officially inducted, they are routinely made honorary recipients.

Other foreign celebrities who've been inducted into the Legion of Honor include American actor Jerry Lewis, director Steven Spielberg, singer Barbra Streisand and Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer.


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