It seems wild to think about just how long the Harry Potter books have been around, because it seems that there’s always a new addition for fans to enjoy. First, the books began being transformed into the movies that so many fans love today. Then came things like the Harry Potter theme park, Pottermore, and all the spin-off books and movies featuring Newt Scamander, etc. There’s a reason that the Potterverse has been able to sustain so many additions over the years — fans love every little new piece of information they can get, especially when it comes from J.K. Rowling herself.
As the author and, essentially, creator of the entire Harry Potter universe, Rowling has a lot of opinions, and often reveals a little nugget that answers a question fans have had for years, or even just reveals something they never even thought of. In addition to being a total boss on social media, Rowling often uses that as a medium to drop revelations in answer to fans’ tweets, or even just to clarify a little tidbit of the Potter universe.
Here are 15 insane revelations that came from J.K. Rowling herself — and we have a feeling that these are just the beginning. Who knows what will come forth about the wonderful world of Harry Potter in the future?
15. Why she decided to kill off Lupin
It can be tough to understand exactly why authors make the decisions they do sometimes, and that certainly applies to Rowling. The books are incredible and have countless fans around the world, but there are a few storylines or character deaths that have fans a little down in the dumps — and Lupin’s death was certainly one of them. Rowling has started a bit of a tradition on Twitter of apologizing for a particular character death from time to time, and Lupin was one of the ones she felt badly about. Simply put, it was all in the name of the storyline — she confessed that since she decided that Arthur Weasley was to live, Lupin had to be the one to do, and even admitted it was the only time her editor saw her cry.
14. Hogwarts is totally free to attend
Rowling doesn’t dwell a tremendous amount on money in the series, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that Hogwarts students come from all socioeconomic backgrounds. There are the Malfoys of the school, who come from aristocratic families and huge mansions and were born with a silver spoon in their mouths. There are the Weasleys, who grew up in a household where money was always fairly tight and where hand-me-downs were an absolute must. And then, there’s everyone in between. So, how on earth did so many wizards end up going to the same place despite their backgrounds? How could the Weasley family afford tuition for so many children? Simple — education at Hogwarts is funded by the Ministry of Magic and doesn’t cost the students or parents a dime (apart from the necessary supplies picked up in Diagon Alley).
13. There are 11 Wizarding schools around the world
It’s no secret that for many fans of the series, when they dreamed of attending a school of witchcraft and wizardry, they dreamt of Hogwarts. It’s the one at the center of the series, the one that we know so much about. However, Rowling later answered fans’ curiosity about whether it was the sole school of its kind in the world by revealing that it most certainly was not — there were actually eleven long-established wizarding schools around the world, which she revealed in a Pottermore post. Beauxbatons and Durmstrang were revealed in the fourth book, as the schools competed with Hogwarts in the Triwizard Tournament, but there are also apparently schools in Japan, Africa, Brazil and North America. That’s a lot of wizards around the globe! No wonder the Quidditch Cup had such a huge turnout!
12. Hogwarts is LGBTQ friendly
Just as with Dumbledore’s sexual orientation, the issue of LGBTQ students at Hogwarts wasn’t really something that many fans considered because, well, Hogwarts just seemed like a different world, and their discrimination revolved around things like blood purity rather than the discrimination we see in our muggle world. However, Rowling is an advocate for all kinds of communities, and she responded to a fan’s query on Twitter about whether Hogwarts was a safe place for LGBTQ students with a simple “of course!” and followed it up with a charming image stating that “if Harry Potter taught us anything, it’s that no one should live in a closet.” There goes Rowling again, swooping in to make the world a better place and helping her fans feel better about their place in the world. At Hogwarts, your orientation simply did not matter whatsoever.
11. Hermione’s race was never specifically stated in the books
Ah, the question of Hermione’s ethnicity. As all fans know, when The Cursed Child came to the stage, many people were puzzled to see an entirely different Hermione. For years and years the world saw the character portrayed by the lovely, young Caucasian Emma Watson, and while Watson did a wonderful job with Hermione, the producers were looking for a different talent for the stage. They selected someone of a different ethnicity, and many were upset at how they were taking her character in an entirely different direction — but one person who wasn’t upset was Rowling herself. In a tweet, Rowling revealed that, actually, she had never specified Hermione’s race: “Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione.” Take that, haters!
10. Teddy Lupin was Head Boy, and sorted into Hufflepuff
Many people just assumed that any children the major Gryffindor characters had would eventually get sorted into Gryffindor. After all, that’s often what happens in families — just some inherent personality traits that make them all suitable for the same house. However, Rowling mixed it up a little bit and revealed in a tweet that not only was Teddy Lupin given the prestigious title of Head Boy, he was also sorted into Hufflepuff! With parents like Lupin and Tonks, who are both such complex and fascinating characters, we could have kind of seen Teddy going into any of the houses — he’s brave, but also kind, and also wise. Okay, any of the houses but Slytherin, perhaps. Either way, it’s always surprising when the children are in a different house than their parents. Hopefully Teddy had a good experience in Hufflepuff!
9. There are Jewish wizards at Hogwarts
This kind of goes back to the issue of Hogwarts seeming like a bit of a different world. There are clear divisions between whether your family is allegedly involved in the dark arts or not, whether you’re a pureblood or half-blood, etc., but there’s not a whole lot of talk about race or religion or sexual orientation or any of that stuff that may come up in a book set in the real world. However, that doesn’t mean Rowling hasn’t thought about it. When a fan asked whether or not there were any Jewish wizards attending Hogwarts, simply out of curiosity, Rowling had a definitive answer — Anthony Goldstein, Ravenclaw, Jewish wizard. It just goes to show the care with which Rowling created an inclusive, diverse world. Pretty much every fan will find various characters to relate to for various reasons, which is pretty amazing.
8. Hagrid doesn’t have a Patronus
Particularly when the whole Dumbledore’s Army started up and Harry began teaching others how to cast a Patronus spell, everyone became curious about what type of Patronus each character had. They can often offer a glimpse into a character’s personal life that adds even more depth to their character, so it makes sense that fans would be fascinated and eager to find out. However, if you’re curious about what type of Patronus Hagrid produces, and wonder whether or not it would be as super-sized as he is, you’ll have to keep wondering. It turns out that there’s a reason we never learn what Patronus Hagrid produces — according to Rowling, who revealed this on Twitter, Hagrid simply doesn’t have one because it’s a very difficult spell and he just never learned to produce one.
7. That wizards don’t necessarily need wands for magic
Fans of the series always want to learn more about the magical world and how it all works — and as the creator of it all, Rowling always has fascinating answers. Back in 2016, she shed some light on how wands work and all that business. We’ll let her take it away: “nearly all wizards use wands, which makes magic easier to channel. Wandless magic is sophisticated and takes more talent. Wands and brooms (and flying cars) are tools that channel magic. The most gifted can dispense with them… most wizards produce more precise magic by using the correct wand, which is why they’ve been widely adopted.” Fascinating! It just adds even more complexity to the world of magic, as you realize that even with a wand, a lesser wizard would lose to a wandless yet skilled wizard such as Dumbledore.
6. How to correctly pronounce Voldemort
Ah, the names in Rowling’s universe. Some are quite simple, but others can become fairly complex — and ‘he who must not be named’ has a name that definitely falls into the latter category (that is, unless you speak French). Many have speculated about whether Voldemort’s name is pronounced with a silent ‘t’ or with the ‘t’ fully articulated, and Rowling confirmed in a tweet back in 2015. A fan tweeted out that, according to Rowling herself, “the ‘t’ is silent in Voldemort.” Rowling confirmed this by re-tweeting the piece of trivia and adding “…but I’m pretty sure I’m the only person who pronounces it that way.” That’s because the name of the villain is based in the French word for death — hence, the silent ‘t’! Now you know how to correctly pronounce his name — if you dare.
5. Hermione was engaged in some illegal business
While Hermione may have come along on all of the group’s adventures alongside the rule breakers Harry and Ron, she was always the one who preferred to follow the rules most of the time — but that doesn’t mean she’s never done anything illegal! Rowling revealed this juicy little secret on a Pottermore post back in June of 2015. As fans will remember, Hermione at one point had a small bag that seemed to be absolutely endless — she could seemingly store everything she could ever need in it. Most just figured it was some kind of a magical product, but Rowling revealed that Hermione had actually performed an illegal extension charm on the bag. However, she didn’t and will never get punished for disobeying the law because, as Rowling puts it, the illegally altered accessory “played no insignificant part in the defeat of the greatest Dark wizard of all time.”
4. Sometimes the sorting hat ‘stalls’ during the process
Everyone remembers the iconic scene where Harry is sitting under the sorting hat, silently praying that he is sorted into any house but Slytherin. The hat has a bit of a debate before spitting out that he’s Gryffindor-bound, but it turns out, he’s not the only wizard to perplex the hat a little bit. And apparently, Rowling even invented a term for the phenomenon. Rowling revealed on Pottermore that there’s a word called “hatstalls,” which is an archaic term for a new student who spends longer than five minutes being sorted. While some of the modern students definitely took a little bit longer to be sorted, you have to go back in time a bit for the true hatstalls — Peter Pettigrew and Minerva McGonagall, who the sorting hat was torn between Gryffindor/Slytherin and Gryffindor/Ravenclaw, respectively.
3. Young wizards are generally homeschooled until they reach Hogwarts age
One thing that many people have likely wondered about is what on earth the students at Hogwarts did before attending. After all, they receive their letters and head off on the Hogwarts Express when they’re 11 — which is far later than many students start school in the Muggle world. Rowling addressed this educational issue in an interview about a decade ago, and the answer is fairly simple — they’re homeschooled for safety. As she said “most are homeschooled because they really aren’t able to control their powers. It would be too dangerous to let them out and about.” It makes sense. Before the wizards learn to control their magic, it’s liable to come out in little unexpected bursts, which means a regular Muggle school probably isn’t the best place for them!
2. What Dumbledore truly saw in the Mirror of Erised
Ah, the Mirror of Erised — a seemingly simple item that was such a huge part of the plot in the first book. When Dumbledore runs into Harry becoming a little bit too sucked into the mirror’s intoxicating power, he tells Harry that when he looks into the mirror, he sees himself wearing a pair of cozy socks. On the one hand, it seems almost believable — you’d believe just about anything from Dumbledore. On the other hand, it seems a little too good to be true — and it turns out, it is. Rowling later revealed in an interview that, when he looks in the mirror, Dumbledore sees “his family, alive and whole and reconciled.” It kind of makes sense that Rowling didn’t reveal this, because we don’t really learn about Dumbledore’s family life and issues until later in the series. We’re glad she revealed it, though, because the fact that he sees something similar to what Harry saw proves how they’re kindred spirits, in a way.
1. That Dumbledore is gay
This was probably one of the biggest revelations that Rowling dropped about the universe, and simply because it wasn’t really something that people thought of. We got flashes into Dumbledore’s past, but as a whole, most people merely thought of him as a fiercely intelligent headmaster who watched over Hogwarts… they didn’t really think of what he did in his personal life. However, on a book tour way back in 2007, a curious fan asked what Dumbledore’s love life was like — and Rowling simply admitted that he was gay, and had been in love with Grindelwald. She later muddied her point a bit by saying on Twitter that “I can’t see him that way” in response to a query about his sexuality. The point is, who he loves doesn’t really matter to her — and we totally love that.
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