We’re in the process of creating a whole new Harry Potter Lexicon, as many of you know. There are currently 27 editors working on the project, all fans who are eager to share their knowledge of canon with the fan community. This truly is a fan project, and an international one. We have editors of all ages and from all over the world: Thailand, France, United States, Spain, Argentina, and more.
As part of that process, I’ve been going through the Harry Potter timeline. I originally created this timeline in 2001 after the two schoolbooks came out and when Electronic Arts added a hundred new characters to the Harry Potter universe with dates of when they lived. It was published on the Lexicon and was the first comprehensive timeline anywhere. The dates on the timeline were based on the best research we could do at the time and they have been edited and corrected over the past 15 years as new information became available.
But now I’m going through the timeline and encountering a problem: When was Charlie born? This conundrum is not new — we’ve been dealing with this problem as fans for longer than the Lexicon has been in existence. When were Charlie and Bill born and when were they at Hogwarts? Rowling was asked about this during an interview and she responded, “Oh dear, maths …” She gave an answer off the top of her head and then later on her website corrected her answer.
Trouble is, neither of her answers make sense.
Her corrected answer is that Charlie is three years older than Percy. That would put him in his seventh year in 1991-1992. That’s when Harry and Ron were First Years. Clearly that’s not correct.
Of course she could still be off by one year and Charlie’s last year was 1990-1991 — remember, she freely admits that she’s poor at math. But that wouldn’t work with the statements in the books, especially PS, about the state of Gryffindor Quidditch over the past couple of years.
So maybe we just have to decide that this is one of those cases where Rowling messed up, that there’s no way to rectify all these canon statements. But not so fast. There IS a way to make everything fit, and it’s so elegant of a solution that it also fits with every other reference to Charlie’s life. The answer? Charlie left school part way through his sixth year (probably at the Christmas break) and spent the rest of his school years studying dragons in Romania. The books even SAY he’s off “studying” dragons.
The point of all this is that I had to make a decision for the timeline on the new Lexicon what years to put for Bill and Charlie’s birth, entering Hogwarts, and so on. I decided that the logic was irrefutable. For Rowling’s canon statements and writing to make sense, Charlie must have been born on December 12, 1973. That means that Bill was born on November 29, 1971. These dates won’t agree with the dates given on some other websites, so I made sure that I put notes in each entry explaining the reasoning behind my decision. And if you want to read the wonderful essay where all this is analyzed, click here.