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After a discussion on the Harry Potter for GrownUps list, several members gave permission for me to include their comments about Harry Potter’s status as a pureblood, half-blood, or ‘mudblood’. Another essay what has been sitting here waiting for a final edit has finally made it into the Lexicon: Food… Read More
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Yes, Harry is half-blood. We learned in PS4 that Lily’s parents were Muggles. At least, that’s the implication of Aunt Petunia’s remarks that they were proud having a witch in the family. Voldemort, too, is half-blood: we learned in CS13 that his father was a Muggle (his mother was a witch). The intense focus on whether or not a certain character does or… Read More
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There is much we don’t know about wizarding education. How do younger wizards and witches get educated in basic skills like reading and writing? We see very little of this in the books, although obviously the kids entering Hogwarts have been trained in some of these basic skills or they wouldn’t be… Read More
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I added a schedule of classes by year to the Hogwarts Academics page. I also linked a new essay which explains O-levels and A-levels, tests which in the Wizarding World become O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s and which were a complete mystery to me (and a lot of other non-British readers). Read More
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I added several new spells to the Spell Encyclopedia (it’s amazing how many there are when you really look!) I added a new essay: Languages at Durmstrang by Eric Oppen. I still have a couple more that I’m working on. I broke the list of witches and wizards into several smaller… Read More
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Do we ever find out what the language of instruction used at Durmstrang Institute is? At Beauxbatons it would have to be French, but although “Durmstrang” sounds German, the Durmstrang students we meet are all of Slavic ancestry as far as we know. On the one hand, German continues to be sort of a “lingua franca”… Read More
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Along with numerous edits and small additions here and there, I created a page about Aurors. (I’ve fixed this link — sorry, everyone, and thanks so much to those who emailed me about it!)… Read More
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There has been a lot of editing over the last few days. I’ve added a couple of new spells and a few new magic items. I’m also working on several new essays which I’ll post soon. I’m delighted to have been given permission by Christoph Seimens to add some of… Read More
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Updates by Michelle Worley The Booklist Every year Hogwarts students receive book lists in the post, telling them which textbooks they will require for the year. First years get the longest list, presumably because some of the books last them the whole seven-year course of their study. Here is a… Read More
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This page indicates all differences between the U.K. and U.S. editions of the second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.   pp. U.K. Edition U.S. Edition pp. 8 top-of-the-range top-of-the-line 3 10 fortnight two weeks 5 12 ice-creams ice cream 10 13 joint loin 10 21 was hard-done-by… Read More
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(Just for fun, here’s one fan’s concept of what a Wizarding Muggle Studies textbook might be like…) Travel and space Understanding Muggles perceptions of how the world connects up is a big problem for wizarding people. We have to let go of a lot of our assumptions to… Read More
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I’ve been doing some general editing all through the Lexicon’s 300+ pages. I actually discovered a couple of pages that still had the old formatting, which just goes to show you that I need to watch a little closer. I’ve added a delightful (if somewhat confusing, for us Muggles) essay… Read More
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Most authors expend substantial effort on description, describing scenes, events or characters so that readers will be able to visualise them. The best descriptions often offer no more than hints, keywords, a trained butler’s unobtrusive opening of a particular door. The reader goes through that door himself or herself. Rowling,… Read More
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I have added several works of art done by Edgar Torné, a very talented artist. Edgar’s work currently appears on the new Voldemort page and on the Hogwarts Ghosts page. I am also adding new artwork by Phénix and Lord Voldemort. They contributed illustrations of J.K.Rowling and of the Niffler (and I’m going… Read More
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The biography page for Lord Voldemort has been updated with a fantastic and comprehesive history of the most dangerous Dark Wizard of our age by contributing editor, Wednesday. Linked to that is a timeline as well. Read More
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Recently I read the book 13th Gen which got me thinking across generational lines. One of my mother’s favorite sayings is “times change, people don’t.” As true as that may be, I do think that one’s place in time affects them in some way. The book outlined the six generations of Americans… Read More
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At long last, the essay by Ebony about generations in the Wizarding World has been added. I’ve uploaded pages detailing all the differences between British and US versions of the book. You can access them from the Help/About page. Read More
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The way that witches and wizards think about everything, including spells, is completely different from the way we Muggles think about it. When we consider the mechanics of, say, aiming a spell at something, we ask “Muggle” questions like “Do you have to have line of sight?” that they would… Read More
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Sources of the kind of information I don’t include in the Lexicon, things like movie news and filksongs. The sites I’ve linked there are the ones I consider to be the best. I’ve added a page giving some contact information about the artists whose work I feature in the Lexicon. Read More
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After a number of requests, I have added a page about the Harry Potter Trading Card Game, with a couple of links and also a list of etymologies for some of the new spell names. I’ve been adding names to the master list of Witches and Wizards. Laura Freeman, one… Read More
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I’ve been spending a lot of time getting the Harry Potter for Grown Ups FAQ web site up and running. It’s quite something! Check it out if you get a chance. The FAQ Site is a series of essays compiling and excerpting material from the discussions from the Harry Potter… Read More
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Note: This piece is not about the class Charms, and I’ve left aside the vexing question of the difference between Charms and Transfiguration (e.g., why are winged keys a Charm and giant moving chess pieces are a Transfiguration?). Rather, I’m looking at Charms in the general sense, as a synonym for spells, that is,… Read More
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I’m in fact Lancashire born and bred, which is probably why I’ve always had a very soft spot for Neville, who I’m pretty sure comes from my neck of the woods (the Blackpool pier incident, the fact that his grandmother is a typical Lancashire matriach, the fact that he has a traditional Lancashire… Read More
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“Want a hand?” With these words, the character of George Weasley enters the readers’ lives and hearts. This is also Harry Potter’s first impression of George when they meet on the train. Harry Potter, a boy who can’t remember the last time anyone showed him kindness, George Weasley for the first time and is helped out by the young… Read More
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Prejudice against Muggles compared to the attitude of Arthur Weasley (“bless them”) “Muggle-baiting”—the Shrinking Keys during the Voldemort years: Muggle killing and torturing at the Quidditch World Cup—Muggle torture, connected to Death Eaters Prejudice against Muggle-borns (Mudbloods) Salazar Slytherin—argued with Godric Gryffindor about admitting Muggle-born students Lucius and… Read More
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We read from Dumbledore’s Chocolate Frog card that Dumbledore is “particularly famous for… his work on alchemy with his partner, Nicolas Flamel (PS6).” Later, Hermione reads from an enormous old book that Flamel is “the only known maker of the Philosopher’s Stone” (PS13). Harry and Ron continue reading “…The stone will transform any metal into pure gold. It also produces the Elixir of Life,… Read More
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I’ve spent the last couple of days researching Diagon Alley. The result is a greatly expanded page of details about the shops there and also a map of Diagon and Knockturn Alleys. The map is of course not technically canon, but it does follow the clues given in the books very… Read More
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I’ve created a new page for Nearly Headless Nick. The artwork on that page comes from a French site which includes tons of very interesting clip art-style illustrations. I have permission from them to include more of those pictures, but since they are designed for a black background, most of… Read More
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The problem is not simply knowing who sent the Valentine, but knowing what JKR’s purpose was in this episode. Is it a red herring, designed to arouse and deflect suspicion? Or a red flag, signalling something important later in the book or in a future book? Or is it something which… Read More
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Wizards don’t use electricity for a very good reason—they don’t need it, in fact they don’t need our technology at all (except maybe for sherbet lemons). Modern Muggle technology, according to wizards, is a poor substitute for magic. And modern Muggle technology is largely based on the availability of cheap,… Read More
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The Harry Potter Lexicon has just been given permission by Warner Bros. to place scanned images of Mary GrandPré’s artwork on various pages. This means that I’ll be scanning and including some of her chapter art. I am excited to be able to include these wonderful drawings in the Lexicon. Read More
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Socks are closely related to a major, if not the major, theme in Harry Potter, namely Things Are Not What They Seem. The sock is a humble, even comical, garment, necessary but often unattractive and the archetypal boring Christmas present. J K Rowling, while getting full comedy value out of all this,… Read More
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Having recently done a GF re-read, the last terrifying and emotional chapters have been on my mind a lot. This morning, while briefly considering the What Might Have Been if Cedric had been the only one to grasp the Cup, I returned to the Eternal Question– Why make the Cup a Portkey when Harry’s toothbrush would work… Read More
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Twelve times he clicked the Put-Outer, until the only lights left on the whole street were two tiny pinpricks in the distance. (PS1) It was a very odd watch. It had twelve hands but no numbers; instead, little planets were moving around the edge. (PS1) “I must have passed a dozen feasts and… Read More
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We don’t know at all where Godric’s Hollow is, although the fact that Harry “fell asleep…over Bristol” when Hagrid was transporting him on the flying motorcycle has been used to “prove” that Godric’s Hollow has to be in Wales. That isn’t by any means proven. In fact, I would argue that it’s highly un-likely that Godric’s Hollow is in Wales. Here’s what we do… Read More
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Witches and wizards can identify their own wands very easily, so easily that it seems to be done by a sense other than sight: Harry knew his immediately when Amos Diggory held it up in GF9. . They can also easily match up another witch/wizard and her/his wand, or at least Lupin did in the Shrieking Shack (he threw Harry, Ron, and Hermione their wands,… Read More
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“Knight Bus” is a play on “Night Bus”—Night Buses run through the night in London and, after the Tube and trains stop running (around midnight)* are the only public transport available. They are a very welcome sight when they (eventually) turn up to take you home, and are the traditional red… Read More
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Just how big is Hogwarts castle? If the Entrance Hall is big enough to hold an entire house (PS7), and the Great Hall is even bigger, it must be vast indeed. On the other hand, Harry encounters crowds in the corridors, which suggests that the students fill the space inside, and that certainly suggests a fairly… Read More
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There are actually about three hundred, it would seem, although there is plenty of debate on the subject. Here’s the evidence from the books themselves: There are more or less ten students (depending on the vagarities of the Sorting) in each House per year, five boys and five girls. There were twenty broomsticks lying… Read More
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November 15, 1995 In Attendance Headmaster Dumbledore – Hogwarts’ Headmaster Prof. Binns – History of Magic Prof. Flitwick – Charms Mr. Hagrid – Care of Magical Creatures Prof. McGonagall – Transfiguration Prof. Moody – Defence Against the Dark Arts Madam Pomfrey – Nurse Prof. Sinistra – Astronomy Prof. Snape –… Read More
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© 2000 First Things 99 (January 2000): 35-38. By now most readers in this country are aware of what has come to be called the Harry Potter phenomenon. It’s hard to be unaware. Any bookstore you might care to enter is strewn with giant stacks of the Harry Potter… Read More
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We all know the amazing things that magic is capable of in JKR’s narrative. I’d like to look at some of the things that magic is apparently unable to do in the JKR universe (as opposed to things that wizards don’t do, such as the Unforgivable Curses, for legal reasons or because of… Read More