The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a tremendously immersive one, and the Harry Potter/Fantastic Beasts timeline is a masterpiece of storytelling. The first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, was published in 1997. Since then, the franchise has expanded through seven novels, 10 movies, a handful of tie-in books like The Tales of Beedle the Bard, and even a stage-play.
J.K. Rowling is a gifted writer, and she carefully built an entire world around her central character, with a rich and detailed history. There have been Harry Potter books, movies, plays and more, while official resource Pottermore has vastly deepened the Wizarding World timeline. The story has only grown more complex with the passage of time, with the latest Fantastic Beasts films - prequels, by any other name - exploring events in the earlier 20th century. In Rowling's Wizarding World, everything ties to everything else, and it's important to keep a strong sense of continuity.
Given the complexity of the Wizarding World franchise (which consists of the mainline Harry Potter books and movies, as well as the Fantastic Beasts films), it can be tricky to understand the relationship between different events. As such, here's a basic timeline of when the different Harry Potter/Fantastic Beasts films - and the stage play - are set:
- 1926: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
- 1927: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
- 1991-1992: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
- 1992-1993: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- 1993-1994: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- 1994-1995: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- 1995-1996: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- 1996-1997: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- 1997-1998: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I and II
- 2017-2020: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Although the Harry Potter books initially didn't provide clear dates, clues such as Nearly-Headless Nick's 500th Death-Day and the Potters' tombstones placed them in the 1990s, from 1991 to 1998. Considering the first Harry Potter book was published in 1997, this may have been story insurance for Rowling, ensuring no real events could influence here. While the movies were made in the 2000s and reflect that decade, clues suggest they're also meant to be set at the same time as the books. Harry Potter and the Cursed child picks up from The Deathly Hallows' epilogue, set 19 years later. Meanwhile, the Fantastic Beasts movies have been explicitly set in the 1920s (but will run into the next couple of decades).
That's the Harry Potter timeline so far, but it's going to expand. Looking forward, the Fantastic Beasts films are expected to continue to explore the first half of the 20th century. They're telling the story of the rise and fall of Gellert Grindelwald, a wizard known to have been defeated in 1945. Meanwhile, Rowling continues to use her Pottermore website to fill in more details about the history and culture of her Wizarding World. And, who knows, another book or movie about Harry Potter himself isn't out of the question.
The Harry Potter timeline is quite remarkable in its consistency. There are a handful of minor continuity issues (the casting of Fiona Glascott as the young Professor McGonagall in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the perfect example), but in general, Rowling has a masterful understanding of continuity, and plot and character threads weave through the decades and even centuries. Here's our detailed breakdown of some of the most important moments in wizarding history in the Harry Potter/Fantastic Beasts timeline.
- This Page: An Overview of the Harry Potter Timeline
- Page 2: Before the 20th Century: Of Hogwarts and the Deathly Hallows
- Page 3: The Fantastic Beasts Timeline Begins
- Page 4: Voldemort's Rise to Power
- Page 5: The Harry Potter Saga
- Page 6: After Harry's School Years
Page 2 of 6: The Founding of Hogwarts and the Deathly Hallows
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald/Fantastic Beasts 2 (2018) release date: Nov 16, 2018