Information which has come directly from JKR in either written or spoken form is considered canon. All other sources, including the film version from Warner Bros., are NOT considered official or canon, although some information from them is included in the Lexicon if it can be verified as coming from Rowling herself. The films are wonderful but they are considered to be very expensive fan fiction, not canon.
The Lexicon uses the following sources for the information:
The Harry Potter novels
Bloomsbury editions, with corrections
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (PS)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (CS)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (PA)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (GF)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (OP)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (HBP)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (DH)
Other Wizarding World books by Rowling
Quidditch Through The Ages (QA)
Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them (FB)
Scholastic and other English-language editions of the novels
The Tales of Beedle the Bard (TBB)
The Book of Spells (BoS)
The Book of Potions (BoP)
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – The Original Screenplay (WFT)
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald – The Original Screenplay (CG)
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore – The Original Screenplay (SD)
Other writings by Rowling
For full description of this amazing resource, see The Lexicon’s complete guide to Rowling’s original website
- Rowling’s current website as of 20 December 2016
- Rowling’s Twitter feed (JKR:Tw)
- Pottermore (now WizardingWorld.com) (Pm) – writing attributed directly to Rowling, including the detailed information no longer found on the current versions of the website and information from the 2016 books of collected writings from the site. (NOTE: Much of what is found on Pottermore is NOT canon by our definition).
Other sources written by Rowling about the Wizarding World
- The Famous Wizard Cards (FW)
- The Daily Prophet newsletters (DP)
- The Black Family Tree (BFT) created by Rowling for the International Book Aid charity auction, Feb 21 2006
- The Harry Potter Prequel (Pre) – 800-word story written by Rowling to be auctioned for charity
- Other canon sources – including some aspects of the theme parks, manuscripts Rowling created during the process of creating the world of Potter, etc.
Other sources considered to be canon
(where they don’t conflict with the above sources)
- online chat and interview transcripts where Rowling is quoted exactly
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (CC)
- Harry Potter and Me (HPM)
- some props created by MinaLima for the Harry Potter films:
- The designers start work six months before shooting with visual research and questions for Rowling to get more information for items like Scamander’s passport. “We need to ask Jo those things like what’s his birthday, where was he born, all those details that you might not see,” Mina said. “We have to create the integrity of a piece.” (Gumuchian, Marie-Louise. Prints and permits: graphics help bring Rowling’s magical world to life. Reuters online).
- “We actually did have to have a couple of meetings with Jo,” Mina said. “We had some seemingly insignificant questions, like ‘What’s Newt’s birthday?’ so we could put it on his passport, or ‘What’s Tina’s middle name?’ so we could put it on her ID card. [It] was really nice, to sit down with her and go through some of these things. And she knew straight away what the answers were.” (Jacob Shamsian. The newspaper headlines in ‘Fantastic Beasts’ prove the impressive attention to detail J.K. Rowling puts into her wizarding world. Insider, 25 November 2016.)
- other interviews where Rowling is not quoted exactly, but her comments reported
- deductions made from canon, where such deductions are self-evident or virtually certain. (Any such assumptions are often challenged by fans or rejected outright. However, some amount of deduction is necessary and perfectly acceptable. In the Lexicon, we try to make sure we always indicate when we’re making these kinds of assumptions.)
Notes and details:
After the release of the fourth book, the world of Harry Potter expanded quite dramatically. Rowling sold the film rights of the series to Warner Bros. and also signed merchandising contracts with a number of companies. Rowling was called upon to create some “filler” for the development of the video games and other products. One result of this was the Famous Wizard cards. These cards appeared in the Electronic Arts games and were included in actual Chocolate Frog candy. They are now included on Pottermore.
The companies who used this information were not allowed by their contracts to indicate that their products included new Harry Potter information (SVA’s interview with Electronic Arts, 2007), so it can be a bit difficult to determine what is canon in, for example, a video game. However, Rowling announced on her website that she wrote the “original chocolate frog cards,” so we can say with certainty that those facts are canon.
Since all of this material was created by Rowling, the Lexicon includes it. However, numerous inconsistencies can be found in these sources, some of which are impossible to rectify. As Rowling makes corrections to the text and adds details on her website, some of these inconsistencies will be ironed out. The Lexicon will attempt to include the latest and most accurate information available.
However, in some cases there is no one “correct” fact. Since the Harry Potter universe doesn’t exist in objective reality, the facts only exist as Rowling states or writes them, and she may say different things. The Lexicon does try to give the “best guess,” but will also report conflicting facts as both being canon, which indeed they are.
A note about illustrations and artwork
As products were developed by these various companies, it became necessary to standardize the “vision” of the characters and settings of the Harry Potter universe. The resulting artwork appeared in a variety of places, from product packaging to coloring books. Rowling didn’t create that artwork, so it is not canon. The same is true for the illustrations in the Scholastic versions of the book or the cover art for any other version: since they didn’t come from Rowling herself, they are not canon. Rowling did create some illustrations for the books. Some of these illustrations appear on her website while others were shown during the “Harry Potter and Me” television special. Because they are directly from Rowling, they are considered to be canon, although they include details never mentioned in the books. Also, the artwork for the Pottermore website was directly controlled by Rowling and follows the books with extreme care (e.g. the students are shown wearing robes, not British school uniforms). These illustrations are considered to be tertiary canon.
Other non-canon sources for some information in the Lexicon:
- Information from the filmed version of a book is referred to by adding /f to the abbreviation. Therefore the filmed version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is noted as CS/f. Such information is not considered to be canon or official unless it is clear that it originated with JKR herself. Some of the details are mentioned in the Lexicon in the interest of completeness, however.
- Information from the video game version of a book is referred to by adding /g to the abbreviation. Therefore the video game version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is noted as CS/g. Such information is not considered to be canon or official unless it is clear that it originated with JKR herself. Some of the details are mentioned in the Lexicon in the interest of completeness, however.
- The book The Bantam New College Latin & English Dictionary, revised and enlarged 1995 edition by John C. Traupman, has been used in the derivation of some words.
- References are included from the New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (NSOED) for the derivation of some words.
- USDA, NRCS. 2005. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5 http://plants.usda.gov. Data compiled from various sources by Mark W. Skinner. National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA. This database has been used to supply more information about various mundane plants.
- Much of the information in the original Muggle Encyclopedia of the Lexicon was researched using Smith’s biography of JKR (cited as SS_JKRB):
Sean Smith, J. K. Rowling: A Biography, Michael O’Mara Books Limited, 2001). However, this Muggle Encyclopedia didn’t make the transition from the old version of the Lexicon to the current one because it was extremely out of date. So why bring it up? I don’t know.
- Much of the speculative material, in the form of essays and some notes, is from fans who frequent the Harry Potter for Grown Ups group on Yahoo. The fan art is by a variety of talented artists, all of whom are listed on the pages on which their work appears.
- The maps, which are actually fan art as well, were drawn mostly by Steve VanderArk. A few were contributed by others, and these are carefully credited like any other fan art. Each map is carefully researched, and whenever possible, references from the canon are included below the map. However, they are not to be considered canon.
- The day-by-day calendars are a “best guess” attempt to reconcile the events in each book with the actual calendar for the year in which those events take place. Where exact dates are not given or cannot be exactly extrapolated from stated dates, we have use the real world calendar to assume dates. These calendars are therefore what we might call “partial canon,” but they do portray the dates of events as close as is possible to deduce.
- The Online Etymological Dictionary has been used to determine the history and derivation of some words.
- To provide background information, some entries from Wikipedia have been quoted and cited, with links to the original articles.