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The Harry Potter Canon

"I was at the mercy of my older sisters’ mischievous attempts to give me the wrong incantation for every spell I attempted. Hand me down robes are merely embarrassing -- hand me down spells can be dangerous."
-- Miranda Goshawk, from the introduction to The Book of Spells (BoS)

The Book of Spells

The Book of Spells is a venerable school textbook written 200 years ago by Miranda Goshawk, now kept in the Restricted Section of the Hogwarts library. For the first time, Goshawk’s book clarified instructions for spellwork and made magic more understandable to the student witch or wizard (BoS). She undertook the task of creating the textbook because of her own difficulties learning spell from the textbooks available to her:

When I was a youngster, there was no basic spell book to give a beginner witch like myself the clear and simple instructions that would have made magic a much less mysterious process. I struggled to understand the complicated instruction in the old-fashioned text books I was given at school. … When I grew up, I quickly realized that the help I had craved simply did no exist – and so I created the book you’re holding now: The Book of Spells. I could not be prouder that this simple school text book is now being used in schools for magic all over the world, and has been translated into seventy-two languages, including Gobbledegook and Mermish.
— from the introduction to The Book of Spells (BoS)



There are a two confusing things in Goshawk's introduction. First of all, since she lived (and presumably died) two hundred years ago, how can she know that the book is now being used in schools for magic all over the world? It must be that it took off in popularity very quickly from when she published it to when she wrote the introduction to the edition we're given. Secondly, why would the book have been translated into Gobbledegook and Mermish, since neither of those languages are spoken by races who are allowed to use wands by the Ministry?

The similarities between this book and The Standard Book of Spells are obvious. However, they do not seem to actually be the same book. The titles are not the same, of course, but also they years in which they were written are not the same. There appear to be two Miranda Goshawks, one who lived two hundred years ago and wrote The Book of Spells, and the other who was born in 1921 and who wrote The Standard Book of Spells. One might guess that the modern Miranda inherited the project from her illustrious ancestor and did a major update, perhaps being responsible for breaking the large book into sections based on the year of the students for which it is intended -- hence Grade One, Grade Two, and so on.

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Tags: library books