Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is still more than a year away, but eager fans needed only to turn to Twitter this summer to get their fill of Harry Potter-related updates – J.K. Rowling’s Twitter, to be exact. All summer, the author has been sharing delightful updates and insights into her fictional universe. School is starting back up again across the world, and soon we’ll all be back in the world of Hogwarts alongside Newt Scamander and company. In the meantime, refresh yourself with this crash course in the summer of Rowling.
James Sirius Potter’s first day at Hogwarts
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was published in 1998 but set in 1992, so the timeline of the series has always lagged a bit behind ours. Even though James Sirius Potter, Harry’s eldest son, is already well into his Hogwarts career by the time of the series epilogue, he chronologically started at the wizarding school on Sept. 1, 2015. Rowling marked the occasion by live-tweeting James’ first day, revealing that he was sorted into Gryffindor (naturally) and that Teddy Lupin was Head Boy of Hufflepuff. This should please his late mother, Nymphadora Tonks, who was also a member of Hufflepuff House. In fact, these days, it feels like everywhere you turn, you find another Hufflepuff. Rowling’s noticed, too…
The Age of Hufflepuff
Of all four Hogwarts houses, the Harry Potter books tell us the least about Hufflepuff. We know that Gryffindors are brave and heroic, Slytherins are clever and kind of evil, and Ravenclaws are smart. Cedric Diggory was a Hufflepuff, yes, and he was a rock star right up until he inaugurated the series’ parade of heart-wrenching deaths, but few other prominent characters emerge from the house over the rest of the series. The task of fleshing out Hufflepuff has since been left to Pottermore players and Tumblr superfans, but that all might be changing soon. Shortly after revealing Teddy Lupin’s prominence in Hufflepuff house, Hufflepuff won the House Cup on Pottermore, and Rowling mused that we might be entering “the Age of Hufflepuff.” After all, the next protagonist we’ll be following through the world of Harry Potter will be Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them’s Newt Scamander (played by Eddie Redmayne in the film), and he’s a Hufflepuff. But that’s not all we’ve learned about Newt and co. this summer.
Scars, wands, and sisters in Fantastic Beasts
Unlike the Harry Potter movies, Rowling herself wrote the screenplay for Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, and she has not been coy about doling out updates over the past few months. One character, for instance, has “loads” of scars. Rowling says she’s determined the wand composition for Fantastic Beasts characters, meaning that those recipes might be just as important to Fantastic Beasts as they were to the original series (Priori Incantatem Part II?). Rowling also teased a possible familial connection between certain Fantastic Beasts characters.
There’s an American Hogwarts
Newt Scamander will reportedly encounter some American wizards during his journey to find fantastic beasts, which begs the question: Is there an American version of Hogwarts? Rowling confirmed there was. Further details will have to wait until Fantastic Beasts itself, though Rowling teased that the American wizard school is not located in New York, and that it has something to do with Native American tribes. Perhaps, like the original Hogwarts, it’s also free to attend. (We also speculated about where it might be located.)
Wizarding civics class
The existence of an American Hogwarts gives a more international feel to the proceedings. In response to fan queries, Rowling followed up by explaining a bit about international magic government. America’s government of wizards is a single body (unlike our silly two-house Muggle Congress) and there is indeed a magical U.N. equivalent. Fat lot of help it was in stopping Voldemort, though.
Cursed Child is canon, but don’t call it a prequel
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them isn’t even the only new thing fans have to look forward to. Rowling announced in June that she was co-producing a new stage production, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, due to debut next year at the Palace Theatre in London’s West End. Details are still scarce, and the few things we do know come mostly from Rowling’s tweets. It’s definitely canon, but also decidedly not a prequel, as Rowling hilariously emphasized over and over. Keep your eyes on her Twitter for any more details that emerge.
Is Voldemort actually French or what?
Have we been pronouncing Voldemort’s name wrong this whole time? Rowling says so. She tweeted to a fan that the “T” in the name-that-must-not-be-said is supposed to be silent, even if she’s the only one who pronounces it that way.
This would certainly make sense if Voldemort were actually French (broken apart and translated, his infamous moniker is lingua franca for “flight from death”), since final consonants in French words are often silent. Two things suggest that this might just be a case of a troll in the dungeon, however. One, Voldemort (and most of the characters in Harry Potter) are British, and relations between British and French peoples have not always been very respectful. Two, there is literally video evidence of Rowling pronouncing the “T” in Voldemort’s name at readings and appearances. Hmm…