The Harry Potter fandom must surely be one of the most blessed fandoms out there. While many fans of various films, TV shows, or couples, often feel hard done by, or have to deal with unexpected twists and turns, the Potterheads are lucky enough to have Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling firmly on their side. She really is the gift that keeps on giving, writing regularly for Pottermore, including giving fans the backstories on many of the more minor Harry Potter characters – further helping to connect all the dots within the Wizarding World.
Not only that, but Rowling is now expanding the Harry Potter world still further, with the release of the stage play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and the upcoming film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Fantastic Beasts stars Eddie Redmayne in the central role of Newt Scamander, a magizooligist on his way home from a trip to find Fantastic Beasts, funnily enough. The movie takes us back in time and also to a different continent; North America, this time, and the Wizarding community in New York City.
Newt encounters problems when his magical case, containing many of the beasts from his travels, is accidentally opened and they are unleashed, ready to cause havoc on the streets of New York. The American Wizarding community must try and keep the beasts away from the unsuspecting non-magical residents of NYC, known as No-Maj’s.
Knowledge of Wizarding communities across the world is not a new thing; in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Rowling introduced Wizarding schools from France and Bulgaria, and there is much excitement over the Quidditch World Cup, but until now, fans haven’t known much about the founding of the American school for Witchcraft and Wizardry, Ilvermorny. After recently teasing a big announcement, Rowling is writing again for Pottermore, and this time she explains the history of the school, how it came to be founded, and the names of the four houses. Accompanying Rowing’s essay on the site, is a sorting quiz, as well as a short video that can be viewed, above.
As the video partially explains: Isolt Sayre was raised by her aunt, Gormlaith Gaunt, and that last name should strike a chord with any major Potterheads, since Gaunt was a direct descendant of Salazar Slytherin, founder of Slytherin house at Hogwarts and well-known muggle hater. Slytherin was determined to keep Hogwarts free from mudbloods, but didn’t get his wish, of course. Gormlaith Gaunt followed in his footsteps, determined that her niece would not have any interaction with muggles or mudbloods lest she marry a wizard that was not pure.
Isolt managed to escape, first to England and then to America on the Mayflower. There, she befriended the curmudgeonly magical beast, Pukwudgie, as well as the Horned Serpent of the Lake. Over time, Isolt met and married a muggle, and they raised four children together. Having no way to educate her children about magic except by doing it herself, Isolt slowly but surely founded the Ilvermorny school, attracting magical families from all over America.
Rowling explains that Ilvermorny is less elitist and more democratic. While Hogwarts quite strongly resembles a private English boarding school, where house memberships are worn like badges of honor, Ilvermorny allows the four houses to choose a student for themselves, and the student is at liberty, if more than one house wants them, to choose their own destination. The four houses are: The Horned Serpent, The Thunderbird, The Wampus, and The Pukwudgie, all of whom are magical creatures – and, given that Rowling’s essay and the video are released under the Fantastic Beasts banner, we could well see any or all four of the house creatures appearing in the Fantastic Beasts film. On top of that, given that the film features many American Witches and Wizards, we can expect them to have been educated at Ilvermorny, too.
Once again, Rowling has satisfied fans and created yet another branch to this amazing Wizarding history tree. It might be hard to keep track of it all, but there’s no mistaking the joy that a new piece of writing from Rowling always brings.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be released in U.S. theaters on November 18th, 2016.