As the new site comes closer to being live, I spent some time as a guest on Mugglenet Academia podcast. We chatted about the 18-year history of Harry Potter fandom and about the plans and hopes for the new Lexicon in the 21st century. Give it a listen!… Read MoreWhere is the new Lexicon?• Article
It’s almost here. As many of you know, two years ago, Nick Moline and I started working on a complete update and overhaul of the venerable Lexicon website. Our goal was to find a way to bring all the content of the Lexicon into a content management system to allow… Read MoreWhen was Charlie born? A Canon Conundrum• Article
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. Read MoreMore Pottermore magic• Article
The folks over at Pottermore have waved their wands once more and produced a few more beautiful scenes from J.K. Rowling's version of the Potterverse. While we can hardly say that Pottermore is now complete -- they'll need to add a lot more scenes for that to happen -- at least we can be glad that we now have moments that span the entire series of novels. Read MoreMysteries about the Map• Article
Today I received an interesting question in email from Katty Geltmeyer, a great fan friend of the Lexicon:
"In PA, Lupin told Harry, Ron, and Hermione that he found out they were in the Shrieking Shack by using the marauders Map. But Harry and Hermione traveled back in time and were lurking around the Willow. How is it possible that Lupin didn't see the extra Harry and Hermione on the map?"
Here's my opinion, based on canon. Read More🎙️ Episode 15: The one who is both brave AND clever• Article
I received an email from Pottermore Insider informing me that there are new Bertie Bots Beans scattered through Pottermore. I jumped on that and spent a pleasant three minutes finding them.
Three minutes. If that.
And it occurred to me at the end of my short search why I find Pottermore delightful and wonderful and, well, a little boring. Read MoreHarry Potter Mysteries that Aren't• Article
For many years, fans spent most of their time online trying to figure out the mysteries in the Harry Potter books. In fact, the Lexicon was born out of those discussions back in 1998, when the group Harry Potter for Grown Ups was a hotbed of theorizing and hypothesizing. Back then, there was no Read MoreMinor Canon Error on Pottermore?• Article
Pottermore is a gold mine of interesting canon facts. Some of these are brand new but other facts just relate events and characters we've encountered before. Some other facts are clearly included to answer fan questions or explain perceived mistakes in canon. Here are a few particularly fun tidbits of canon information that make connections to elsewhere in canon: Read More3 Cool Things We Learn About Harry in Goblet of Fire Chapter 9• Article
Let’s admit it: sometimes it seems that Harry is something of a bumbler in the early books. He fails to ask the most obvious questions of the adults around him. He barely manages his schoolwork and doesn’t seem to be able to write an essay without relying on Hermione. And he comes… Read MoreWas that Quintaped always there?• Article
Pottermore has updated their map for summer with things like a few beach chairs by the seaside and some wildflowers. I also noticed, however, that there appears to be a Quintaped on a little island off the coast. Has that always been there? As soon as I noticed it, I automatically clicked on… Read MoreHow many Quidditch World Cups have there been anyway?• Article
For the past couple of months (according to The Daily Prophet in Pottermore) the 427th Quidditch World Cup took place in the Patagonia Desert in Argentina. Since April 12, 2014, J.K. Rowling has been progressively giving us the story of… Read MoreThe REAL "new Harry Potter short story"• Article
So hey, I'll bet you noticed that Rowling wrote a New Short Story and posted it on Pottermore. It would be hard not to notice, since it's been talked about all over, even in the Muggle news. I rushed online to read it the moment I found out.
And it's pretty cool! Good old Rita Skeeter, still at it. (I can't help but wonder if she has come clean to the Ministry about being an unregistered Animagus). But it's not really a story, Read MorePEOPLE.com is fantasy casting the "new short story"...• Article
The “new short story” … which really isn’t a short story and really doesn’t tell us much that’s new, but whatever. PEOPLE.com is jumping on the media blitz bandwagon and giving their picks for casting the movie version, which you’ll find here: Fantasy Cast J.K. Rowling’s New Story http://bit.ly/1tkqIEJ This… Read MoreHogwarts Letter mysteries: Who delivers them and when?• Article
Everybody knows that your Hogwarts letter should arrive on your eleventh birthday. But careful reading suggests that no, it doesn’t. Harry’s only did by coincidence. The first letter actually arrived on July 24. It was only because of Uncle Vernon’s comical attempts to avoid the letters that Hagrid had to… Read More5 Canon Facts That Don't Appear in Both the UK and US editions• Article
Most of the differences between the US and UK editions are very minor, simply changes to phrasing or terms to make the text easier to understand for American readers. However, a few differences are a little bigger than that. In a couple of cases, one version gives a nugget of canon information that the other misses entirely. Since canon facts are what the Lexicon is all about, we've been tracking these differences over the years. Here are a few interesting ones: Read MoreThe time the US editors screwed up a Harry Potter book• Article
Way back in the late 90s, the Harry Potter books came out in Britain first, long before the US editions. In fact, it took a whole year for Philosopher's Stone to be Transfigured into Sorcerer's Stone. During that year, the editors at Scholastic changed a lot more than the title. They replaced a lot of British terms which they assumed would confuse American readers.
In some cases, I guess they were probably right. Many Americans would have no idea what a "bobble hat" or a "packet of crisps" was, and in the U.S. a "jumper" Read MoreWho says Quidditch is stupid?• Article
Quidditch is awesome! Quidditch is exciting! Quidditch is the best sport in the world! Those Bludgers flying around, trying to smash into people! The Keepers hanging from their brooms to block a 10-point shot! The Seeker making a spectacular diving catch of the Golden Snitch and scoring 150 points!
Wait, what? The Seeker scores 150 points in one go? Compared to only ten points for a goal? That's crazy. It doesn't make sense.
I've read the argument any number of times: the number of points gained from a Snitch capture is WAY too large for the game to be fair. Your Chasers can play their hearts out for hours, scoring Read More9 Interesting Canon Facts from Pottermore• Article
In her writing on Pottermore, Rowling has revealed a lot of new information about the wizarding world and the characters in it. Here are a few interesting tidbits: 1 – Hufflepuff has produced fewer Dark Wizards than any other house. 2 – The name ‘Ollivander’ is believed to mean ‘he… Read MoreComing in October: "Mudbloods: A Film About Quidditch"• Article
Here are a few very interesting Rowling quotes for your reading pleasure. I've added my own thoughts here and there.
About the first chapter of Philosopher's Stone:
"The very, very earliest drafts of the first chapter of 'Philosopher's Stone' have the Potters living on a remote island, Read MoreWhere did the time go?• Article
Most long-term Lexicon readers will be familiar with the infamous Missing 24 Hours problem. It was a very popular topic of discussion way back in the day. This mystery first came to light in 2001 when I was writing the original Harry Potter timeline (subsequently copied by Warner Bros. and Scholastic, which I… Read MoreWhat is the US equivalent of the Ministry of Magic?• Article
There's not much information in the canon about witches and wizards in the United States. Rowling mentions a couple of American Quidditch teams in Quidditch Through the Ages, including one in my home state of Texas, as well as the American broom game called Quodpot, and we all remember the cryptic mention of the Salem Witches' Institute in Goblet of Fire. However, buried in a news report from the currently-ongoing Quidditch World Cup in Patagonia was a very interesting little nugget Read More4 Things the Harry Potter Films Got Right• Article
Many of us fans like to complain about the Harry Potter films. Oh, we do so lovingly (for the most part), but we still complain. We wish that this or that scene had been included. We can't understand why they changed that particular thing when they could have just as well followed the book. We point out how they completely MISSED THE POINT OF BOOK THREE!!!
Deep breath. I'm okay.
But there are some moments in the films where they totally nailed it. There are moments where they managed to capture whole swaths of the story in one lovely visual. There are times when the actors just captured the characters so perfectly that we can't imagine the scene any other way, even if we know that it was different in the books.
Here are four of examples of what I'm talking about: Read MoreThree Rowling quotes that turned out to be wrong• Article
Back in the heyday of Harry Potter fandom, when we lived in eager (desperate) anticipation of the next book, Rowling gave quite a few interviews. It was clear from the answers she gave that she had the details of her created world and her plot lines very carefully planned out. However, inevitably some of the answers she gave turned out to be incorrect, either because she dropped a story line or changed her mind.
Just for fun, here are three Rowling interview quotes which gave information she later changed or left hanging: Read MoreBusy little House-elfs• Article
In the summer of 2004, Bloomsbury released new editions of the Harry Potter books. These new editions featured a slew of changes to the original text. Some of the changes were simple fixes for typos. For example, on the third line of page 15 of Philosopher’s Stone, the word… Read MoreSix errors in the Harry Potter films that confuse fans• Article
I love the Harry Potter films. I have dear friends who worked on them. I was on the set during the filming of Order of the Phoenix. David Heyman even told me that they used the Lexicon "every day" while they created the films. So don't mistake what I'm about to say for anything but loving criticism.
The films are nothing more than very expensive fan fiction. They're made-up stories closely based on the Harry Potter books, created by people who are massive Harry Potter fans and who care very deeply about "getting it right," but who, for one reason or another, changed a lot of things. Sometimes they changed things for very good reasons. Sometimes, though, they seem to have changed things for no particular reason at all. I can't explain it, but there you go.
However, for a lot of people, the films are Harry Potter. They've never read the books, or barely read them anyway. As far as they're concerned, Dementors attacked Harry and Dudley in an underpass below a highway. Snape died in a boathouse. And Harry fought Voldemort in an extended, violent duel at the end of the Battle of Hogwarts, punctuated by clever bon mots and death-defying falls from high places.
But oh well. I really don't care. At least they're Potter fans! The more the merrier! Just do me a favor ... don't send me any more emails telling me that I screwed up on the Lexicon when I write that: Read More4 Great Cliffhanger Chapter Endings• Article
Admit it. Even though you've read the Harry Potter books three, four, er--twenty times before, when you get to the end of some chapters, you just HAVE to turn the page and keep reading. You even get a tiny reminder of that thrill you had the first time you read it, that shiver of excitement that made you charge on into the next chapter at 3am, even when you had somewhere to be first thing the next morning.
We've all been there. So to celebrate our shared unashamed love affair with the Harry Potter books, here's a list of Rowling's "4 Best Cliffhanger Chapter Endings" from the first three books: Read MoreHow's that spelled again?• Article
At the Lexicon, we try very hard to spell everything correctly according to the books. We also try to capitalize words that Rowling capitalizes. We figure that if we carefully follow the books, we should be able to get it right.
How very wrong we are. Read MoreAt Hogwarts, on this date in 1992 ...• Article
On the evening of May 26th, 1992, Harry, Hermione, Draco, and Neville serve detention. The punishment, which they earned by trying to get Hagrid out of his own stupid mess with the baby dragon, is to tramp around the forest in the middle of the night, unarmed, looking for something ruthless enough to attack unicorns. Read More3 Harry Potter Memes that NEED TO STOP NOW• Article
I enjoy a good Harry Potter meme as much as the next guy. Okay, maybe more than the next guy, since the next guy probably isn't obsessive Harry Potter fan. True, some are a bit lame and others are clearly aimed at teenage girls, but whatever. We all have our favorite ways to fan-crush on something and I'm great with that. However, there are some memes that are flat-out false. They pop up like Death Eaters and no matter how often fans try to Avada Kedavra them, they keep coming back. Here are three that particularly aggravate the true fan in me: Read MoreWeird Canon Moments• Article
Oh, of course there are a million things that I wish had been included in the films. But there are a few really weird things that I really would have loved to have seen included. Here are my top three Weird Canon Moments: Read More🎙️ Episode 14: "It's the Mirror all over again."• Article
Steve talks about the upcoming Potter play, the latest Pottermore updates, various arcana from the Book of Spells, and sources which may or may not be canon. Then he finally tackles the complexities of the seventh book and explains why, for the entire series to make sense, the Hallows are essential and Harry's final confrontation with Voldemort absolutely cannot be violent. Read MoreMusings on the Lexicon• Article
I did an interview today with a Brazilian newspaper and one of the questions was “What was your favorite experience as a Harry Potter fan?” I thought about all the incredible things that I’ve been privileged to do, from visiting the film sets to exploring Britain to write a book about… Read MoreHow to organize the spell pages• Article
I’ve been trying to work out the best way to organize the Spell Encyclopedia. There are basically four types of entries: spell names (Full Body-Bind), incantations (Petrificus Totalus), unnamed magic (“fire whip”), and categories (fire magic). Trouble is, every spell doesn’t have both an incantation and a spell name. Some… Read MoreBestiary and Herbology• Article
When I start reading the Lexicon, I find myself following link after link, rediscovering the rich world of Harry Potter. I might end up reading some old essay or finding a page about nicknames or a map of Quidditch teams of the world … and before you know it, an… Read MoreWhat's New? Plenty!• Article
It’s been awhile since I’ve posted here, mostly because I’ve been putting most of my updates and comments on the HP Lexicon’s Facebook page and Google+ page. Here’s what’s been going on with the Lexicon lately: A new series of books is available called The Harry Potter Lexicon… Read MoreAbout the book: In Search of Harry Potter• Article
In Search of Harry Potter a travel memoir by Steve VanderArk How did this book come about? A few years ago I did a couple of talks at Nimbus 2003 in Orlando, Florida, the first Harry Potter convention. One of them was about the geography of… Read More🎙️ Episode 13: "The budding new baby hero!"• Article
Steve digs into the interview archives, discussing Rowling’s control of her story and her characters, then explores the murky challenge of finding name sources, discovers the not-so-murky Grimmauld Place in London, and discusses the essential elements of book six which allow us to truly understand book seven. Show links: The… Read More🎙️ Episode 12: "Why weren't we told about this sooner?"• Article
Steve chats about Rowling's take on "official" Harry Potter, then discusses different modes of storytelling in book five, fan recommendations for best re-reads, how Sectumsepra just might be necessary, and how Molly Weasley rocks long before her showdown with Bellatrix. Read More🎙️ Episode 11: "What happened to the whimsy?!"• Article
Steve marvels at the levels of the soundscapes on Pottermore, then bemoans expensive canon and Rowling's lost website, reads a wonderful insight from a fan about the magic of books, then finds book five to be "really jarring on a number of levels" ... and yet his favorite book of the series. Read More🎙️ Episode 10: "This gap is where it all changed ..."• Article
Steve starts "season two" of the podcast by reviewing the past nine episodes, then discusses new things on Pottermore, discovering Diagon Alley in London, how the world of Harry Potter changed during the gap between books four and five, and why that gap left many fans unprepared for book five when it came. Read MoreComments on SOPA• Article
Today I was asked about my position on the pending legistation in the US congress known as SOPA and PIPA. As the webmaster of a relatively popular website, as a published author, and as a dedicated fan of the Harry Potter series, I firmly oppose this legislation. These bills are… Read More🎙️ Episode 9: "The Dark Arts ... are you TRYING to be bad?"• Article
Steve wonders about the numbers 1531 and 4157, then talks about December in the Harry Potter universe, what makes the Dark Arts dark (and where Crouch Jr. could have learned them), mixes up the spelling of a spell and forgets the order of Priori Incantatem, then recalls experiences with anti-Potter book-banners. Read More🎙️ Episode 8: "And then book 3 came along ... a bolt of lightning!"• Article
Steve raves about Pottermore, then talks about dragon breeds, interviews from the misty past, offensive spells, Rowling's trickery, missing the whole point, and other odds and ends of Harry Potter lore. Read MoreUpdates and new stuff• Article
I’ve been wandering around Pottermore lately. Everywhere I look, I find interesting canon information (along with the odd chocolate frog card or galleon). As I’ve mentioned before in the podcast, I won’t be posting all of that new canon information on the Lexicon. There’s no way I want the Lexicon… Read More🎙️ Episode 7: "There's a door ... a black door with no handle ..."• Article
Steve discusses McGonagall and Walpurga and their friends, wobbly bridges, mutant chickens, Bertie Botts Shots, who can and can't fly, a fateful decision to retrieve a forgotten diary, and other odds and ends of Harry Potter canon. Read More