Is Jo’s Website Canon?

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The Harry Potter Canon


I’ve received a few emails over the last week asking whether I would be including things like the Dean Thomas backstory on the Lexicon. This is a bit of a problem, one which I’ve been strugging with ever since Rowling’s website went live. Here’s the puzzle for me: Is information from Jo’s website canon or not?

On one level, the answer is a resounding YES! She wrote it. What better definition of canon is that? On the other hand, since it isn’t actually included in a book so far, she could easily change it if she ever found a place to use it. Take the infamous “Weasley cousin,” for example. Mafalda (as we now know she was named) exists in Jo’s notebooks, she’s included on the website…but she was written out of the story completely. She won’t be included in the books because her part has been folded into that of Rita Skeeter. So is Malada a canon character?

Actually, we’ve been dealing with this question for quite some time now. We’ve debated the canonicity of the Famous Wizard cards, comments from interviews, and all sorts of other details that have come to light. In the end, I decided to go ahead and include pretty much all of it. I’m going to keep doing that with this new material. I figure I’ll make sure the source is clearly indicated and let each of you make the decision for yourselves. So you can look for the rest of the information from Jo’s website on the Lexicon soon. It will be referenced with the abbreviation JKR, so you can take it or leave it.

Now that I’ve said that, let me tell you about another new source of what could be canon information that has come to light. In the late 1990s, Bloomsbury set up a Harry Potter Fan Club. They discontinued the club with the release of book four. Thanks to an original member of that fan club, Huw Griffiths, and his mother, Trish Drasnin, I have copies of the Daily Prophet newletter which Bloomsbury sent out during that time. These newsletters bear the unmistakable stamp of Rowling’s writing. They have a copyright notice on the bottom saying © J. K. Rowling. There are some details which correspond to facts in other sources. To the best of my ability to determine, these are written by Rowling herself. Therefore, I’m going to start including some of the facts from the Daily Prophet newsletters in the Lexicon. They will be referenced with the abbreviation DP.