Thanks to the premier of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, magizoologist Newt Scamander is the latest addition to the cinematic Harry Potter universe. When it comes to the books, however, Scamander has been around for awhile. While his name might not be completely familiar to general audiences watching the latest film from Warner Bros., J.K. Rowling actually introduced him and his famous book (from which the movie gets its name) way back during her first trip to the wizarding world. Both Scamander and Fantastic Beasts are referenced in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and the character would continue to dance around the margins of the lore for a number of years before being established in his own right.
Though the next film in the Fantastic Beasts pentalogy won’t focus squarely on Newt and his exploits as the tale of Grindelwald becomes more front and center, the quirky wizard with the soft spot for magical creatures great and small has left a number of fans anxious to learn more about his life and adventures. Here are 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Newt Scamander.
15. His Mother Bred Hippogriffs
Born Newton Artemis Fido Scamander in 1897, not much is know about Newt’s family or early childhood. What we do know is that he had an older brother named Theseus and that his love of magical creatures stems from his mother. Mrs. Scamander actually bred hippogriffs for a living, giving the young Newt his earliest exposure to fantastic beasts and how to care for them.
Part-eagle and part-horse, hippogriffs, as we learn in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, are very proud creatures. If you approach them without their consent, they’ll lash out and attack you—something Malfoy learned the hard way. By showing them the proper respect, however, they’ll allow you to pet and perhaps even ride them.
Curious from the start, a seven year old Newt could also be found tucked away in his room, dismembering the mushroom-like Horklumps. Considered a beast, their juice is quite useful for healing potions and as a form of pesticide. Despite Newt’s fascination with them, though, these creatures are designated “X” (aka “boring”) by the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.
14. Newt’s Brother Tipped Off Grindelwald
While we don’t know much about Newt’s mother or anything about his father, his brother Theseus made quite a name for himself. While Newt was off studying the magical creatures of the world, the elder Scamander boy was training to become an Auror. Essentially the detectives of the wizarding world, Aurors like Theseus and Mad-Eye Moody (and eventually Harry Potter himself) are tasked with tracking down dark wizards.
Theseus would feel quite the fool, then, if he learned that when he was corresponding with Percival Graves in 1926, he was actually writing to one of the darkest wizards of all—Gellert Grindelwald. Thinking he was chatting with MACUSA’s Director of Magical Security, Theseus actually tipped off Grindelwald to Newt’s arrival in New York that very year. Hopefully, we’ll see Newt’s brother pop up in a sequel and get a chance to explain himself. He’ll surely be forgiven; after all, he’s a war hero. That’s right, aside from being an Auror for the Ministry of Magic, Theseus also fought in World War I on the side of the Allies. Now that sounds like a movie.
13. He Married Tina Goldstein
Thanks to Fantastic Beasts, we know that Grindelwald wasn’t the only other wizard Newt encountered during his adventure in New York. Not long after his arrival, he makes the acquaintance of Porpentina “Tina” Goldstein. Once an Auror herself, she was demoted to a Federal Wand Permit Officer after she attacked Creedence Barebone’s abusive mother.
Though they never so much as kiss in the film, which is not too surprising considering how awkward they both are, there were plenty of sparks between the two during their time together. Lucikly for fans of the couple, Harry Potter history shows that the two eventually reconnect and are married. Tina eventually leaves New York, moving to England to live with her husband and have at least one child and grandchild each, while also taking care of three pet Kneazles (named Mauler, Milly, and Hoppy, if you were wondering). Even with the series pulling focus from Newt, it’s likely we’ll see Tina return to the franchise given that she and Newt eventually live a long and happy life together.
12. Newt Took the Fall for Leta Lestrange at Hogwarts
Long before Newt’s infamous trip to New York and his battle with Grindelwald, he attended Hogwarts School Of Witchcraft and Wizardry just like most young magic users in the United Kingdom. Once there, he was quickly sorted into Hufflepuff, the house known to prefer loyalty above all else. While at Hogwarts, he naturally began focusing on Care of Magical Creatures. It was in those classes that he met fellow fantastic-beasts-lover and awkward outcast Leta Lestrange. Though Leta doesn’t appear to be as unhinged as her future kin-in-law Bellatrix, Queenie does sense in Newt that she was a “taker” in their relationship.
Whatever the nature of that relationship, Newt was certainly the giving one. When they were both 16, one of Leta’s “experiments” on a ferret-like Jarvey led to the creature putting the life of a fellow student in danger. Knowing what the consequences would be, Newt took credit for the incident and suffered an expulsion from the school as a result, despite the protestations of Dumbledore.
11. Leta Lestrange Has A Future In The Franchise
The canon is a bit contradictory on whether Newt’s expulsion from Hogwarts was ever enforced. Because of that, it’s not clear how much of his young adult life was spent with Leta. Given that Newt still keeps a picture of her with him 13 years later, it’s probably safe to assume that their relationship, whatever it entailed, continued for some time after the two were classmates. Director David Yates has said Lestrange and her family history will play a role in the upcoming films, but it’s the photo itself that provides the biggest clue to Leta’s importance.
Though we get but a glimpse of it in the movie, the woman in the picture is actually Zoë Kravitz. The actor is best known for her roles in Dope, Mad Max: Fury Road, and as Angel in the recent X-Men franchise—and for being Lenny Kravitz’s daughter. Due to her prominence as a performer, it would be unheard of for her to have simply posed for the photo if the producers weren’t planning on her showing up in a future installment of the franchise. Whether her inclinations led her down the dark side like her progeny, we’re likely to learn more when Fantastic Beasts 2 arrives.
10. he Worked for the Ministry of Magic (Twice)
The biggest clue that Newt wasn’t flat-out booted from Hogwarts is the fact that he went on to work at the Ministry of Magic twice in his life. While his second tenure came after his many travels and adventures, the first followed his time at school. Surprising no one, Newt secured a job with the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. Beginning in the Office for House-Elf Relocation in the Being Division, Newt spent two years working with the indentured servants. Unfortunately, he found the work to be extremely tedious, and transferred to the Beast Division once he’d earned some clout.
Despite his wealth of knowledge on the subject of magical creatures leading Newt to quickly advance within the Ministry, he ultimately wasn’t happy stuck in an office all day. His real passion, of course, was studying the many beasts of the world firsthand. When offered the chance to do just that, he eagerly accepted the opportunity.
9. He Left the Ministry to Write Fantastic Beasts
As a government employee, Newt’s salary wasn’t exactly flashy. Since he stated that he only earned a pair of silver Sickles each week, neither the money or the environment proved especially captivating to the amateur magizoologist. After just a few short years of working at the Ministry of Magic, Newt was approached by Augustus Worme in 1918 about a unique assignment. Worme was the head of the Diagon Alley-based Obscurus Books, and wanted to commission Scamander to write a book about the magical creatures of the world.
Newt, of course, jumped at the chance, and used the opportunity and advance to travel the globe and document its many curious critters. Armed only with a tea kettle to fight back aggressive beasts and a magically-enhanced suitcase to serve as his zoological park, Newt zig-zagged across 5 continents and almost every country in his pursuit of knowledge and information for his future book. Following his escapades in North America, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was published in 1927 and has been re-issued over 50 times in the years since.
8. Rowling Wrote a “Real” Version of Fantastic Beasts for Charity
In between the existence of Fantastic Beasts as an in-universe textbook in the Harry Potter book series and its subsequent adaptation into the film of the same name, J.K. Rowling actually wrote a real-life version of the tome—or rather, Newt Scamander did. Back in 2001, Rowling not only wrote, but illustrated and hand-lettered a version of Fantastic Beasts for the charity Comic Relief using the pen name of Scamander. Not just any version, the book is meant to be a recreation of Harry’s own copy from 1991. In it, there are all sorts of notes scribbled in by Harry and Ron. The section on classifications, for example, features a note by one of the boys next to the XXXXX entry. Reserved for the most dangerous creatures of all, “or anything Hagrid likes” is added in the margins, referencing the caretakers proclivity for deadly beasts.
The book also features a foreword by Albus Dumbledore, and alludes to a number of creatures that would go on to play a role in both the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts franchise, like the Erumpet. Luckily, anyone can get a copy of one of these books, as they’re now sold along with Rowling’s two other in-universe pieces of literature—Quidditch Through the Ages and The Tales of Beedle the Bard.
7. Newt’s Wand Has An Unusual Core
When it comes to magic in the wizarding world, spells and potions aren’t the only important elements. Everyone knows the wand one wields plays a vital role in the magic you’re able to use. In the books, much of our information on wands and their lore comes from Ollivander. Known as one of the most respected wandmakers in the world, Ollivander plays a central role in the start and end of the book series. A firm believer in the concept of the wand choosing the wizard, he lets us know early on that there are two crucial components of each tool. The first is the wood, and the second, and arguably more important, is the core. In the books, the three most common cores are dragon heartstring, phoenix feather, and unicorn hair. We do, however, learn of other possibilities. Fleur Delacour, for example, has a hair from her grandmother, who just happened to be a Veela.
Thanks to the Pottermore website, you can find out what your wand is. Rowling also elaborated on North American wandlore on the site to let us know the different cores used on the continent, including the tail feather of a Thunderbird (the creature that brings Newt to New York). Interestingly, Newt’s wand core is something entirely different. With the tropical Lime tree used for the wood, his wand holds two cores: one of shell and another of bone. It makes us wonder what else can be used to power a wand.
6. He Initiated the Werewolf Register
Many years after Newt’s adventures in New York and the publications of his first book, the wizard actually returned to his post at the Ministry of Magic. By 1947, he was in his 50s, and had likely had more than his fair share of excitement thanks to his involvement with Grindelwald. That same year, Newt actually initiated the Werewolf Register and Registry within the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. Serving as a database for all known werewolves in Britain, the office itself was designed to protect wizarding kind and Muggles alike from the potential threat of the creatures. It wasn’t perfect, though.
In 1964, the Registry failed to note the ferality of Fenrir Greyback, and thus the Death Eater was able to get away with the murders of two Muggle children. The other downside of the Register itself, of course, was that it outed werewolves to society, thus making their lives considerably more difficult. We know the effect it had on Remus Lupin and his ability to hold a job, for instance. Still, it was a noble effort by Scamander. The entire plotline is even more significant when you know that Rowling used the idea of werewolves in the Harry Potter series to highlight people’s fear of bloodborne disease like HIV/AIDS. Pretty weighty stuff for a children’s book.
5. Newt Created the Ban on Experimental Breeding
Oh Newt, always the bureaucrat. Two decades after implementing the Werewolf Register, Newt created the Ban on Experimental Breeding within his department— possibly inspired by a similar ban in place in New York during his time there. Designed to tamp down on the proliferation of magical creatures that wizards were breeding, the Ban proved quite the bugbear (not itself a fantastic beast) for generations of animal lovers in the wizarding world.
Not only did famed singer Celestina Warbeck have her own collection of Crups that she bred, but we know Hagrid was particularly fond of breaking this rule. He may or may not have violated it in the early ‘90s when he bred a never-ending supply of Blast-Ended Skrewts, and his owning of a dragon egg in the third book would certainly have landed him in hot water with the Wizengamot.
Of course, Newt himself was a big fan of dragons. He spent much of his tenure at the Ministry working alongside the Dragon Research and Restraint Bureau. The work allowed him to travel all over the world, accompanying the department on expeditions and cataloguing information of the fire-breathers for his future editions of Fantastic Beasts. If we don’t see a meeting between Newt and Hagrid someday, it’ll be a shame.
4. He Was Awarded the Order of Merlin – and His Own Chocolate Frog Card
At the ripe old age of 82, Newt Scamander was awarded the Order of Merlin, Second Class thanks in part to his contributions to the field of Magizoology. Considering his lifetime of travel, research, and work with the Ministry of Magic, it makes sense that Newt is one of the more prized members of the magical community. The medal and distinction was inspired by Merlin himself (fun fact: he was a Slytherin!) and first handed out by the high wizard court, the Wizengamot, in the 1400s. There are three tiers to it, with wizards like Dumbledore achieving the highest level. Interestingly, the Third Class seems to denote the idea of expanding wizarding knowledge. Is it possible that the role Newt will play in helping to battle Grindelwald and his forces in the Fantastic Beasts sequels will lead him to be bumped up to Second Class?
Either way, the Order of Merlin wasn’t the most prestigious accolade ever granted to Newt. He also obtained a coveted Chocolate Frog Card. Introduced in the first book and film, Chocolate Frogs are a treat enchanted to hop about when you try to eat them. Even better, each one comes paired with a trading card featuring a famous witch or wizard and a short list of their accomplishments. Pretty sweet, right?
3. Newt’s Grandson Married Luna Lovegood
Whatever Newt’s relationship with Leta Lestrange, we know he eventually moves on and marries Tina Goldstein. While much of their life together is unknown, the couple did have at least one child. Presumably a son, he would go on to have a child of his own, named Rolf Scamander. Like his grandfather, Rolf developed an early fascination with magical creatures, and would eventually grow up to be a well-respected magizoologist in his own right. During the 2010s, he served as the chief correspondent on fantastic beasts for The Daily Prophet. While still in school, however, he too met a fellow student with a passion for the magical creatures of the world.
Though we never encounter Rolf in the original book series, it’s assumed he was around as he eventually met and married his kindred spirit Luna Lovegood. Of course, if the grandson of a famous author and magizoologist were at Hogwarts, it’s hard to imagine Hermione not seeking him out. Either way, the two eventually wed, with Luna still as stylish as ever. Rocking a tiara made of silver unicorn horns and a dress comprised of rainbows and sparkles, Luna’s ensemble was named “Most Hideous Outfit of the Year” by Rita Skeeter (as if she should talk about bad style). Bold sartorial choices aside, the two eventually had twin boys, Lorcan and Lysander. Is it just us, or would a Lovegood/Scamander family reunion make for one hell of a movie?
2. What’s In A Name?
One of the most enjoyable things about the world J.K. Rowling has created is her ability to set the tone for the franchise through the names she uses. Rowling is not only a fan of wordplay; she loves creating absurd-sounding names for people, places, and things. Right off the bat, names like Dumbledore and Hufflepuff let you know the book series is full of whimsy. But the names aren’t all nonsense. Many of them are actually puns and allusions. Take the Scamander boys for example. Aside from the obviousness of the last name sounding like “salamander” and Newt’s first name being another critter, his and his brother’s full names highlight their personalities. Newton is of course in reference to physicist Sir Isaac Newton. Newt’s brother, meanwhile, is named after the Greek hero Theseus, befitting his warrior-like nature.
Due to the popularity of the Harry Potter franchise, the books have been translated into dozens of languages. Rowling’s names, however, prove a unique issue for translators. Keeping them in English would make many of the second meanings lost on readers in the rest of the world, so translators get to flex their creative muscles by coming up with region-specific variations that serve the same end goal. In German, for example, Newt’s named Lurch, which means “amphibian.” While it loses the allusion, it maintains the reptilian quality. Check out this amazing video from Vox for even more examples of how translators attempt to keep the spirit of Rowling alive.
1. The Character Appears In The Original Films – Sort Of
This is another example of the canon getting a little confusing. Rowling’s official Pottermore timeline states that, as of 2015, Newt Scamander is still alive. In the film version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, however, there’s a portrait of Scamander in the Headmaster’s office. Not only does this mean he eventually becomes Headmaster of Hogwarts, an idea that seems to be accepted as fact, but it would imply that he was dead prior to the events of the movie. Perhaps a portrait simply adorns the walls once one leaves their post and Scamander merely vacated his position. The painting also bears the monogram of one Albrecht Dürer, who lived a number of centuries before Newt, so we’ll just have to chalk this one up to a prop error.
Either way, Newt firmly exists in the film universe now. Even better, he looks to be far more tied up in the history of the wizarding world than previously assumed. Thanks to his interactions with Grindelwald and a young Dumbledore, we’re sure to learn more about his life as the franchise continues. The series looks to be moving away from focusing solely on Newt and his journeys and instead on the upcoming duel between the two powerful wizards and former friends. Perhaps one of Newt’s other books will be adapted into a film that will focus more on his life. We suggest A Children’s Anthology of Monsters.
Any fun facts about Newt Scamander that we missed? Let us know in the comments!
The first installment of the Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them pentalogy is in theaters now, with an unnamed sequel coming in 2018.