Since the release of J.K. Rowling's final Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, in 2007, Rowling has shared considerable additional information about her wizarding world with fans. Much of this has come from Pottermore.com, the website she created to expand on the Harry Potter mythology. Thanks to numerous articles written by Rowling herself, we now know a great deal more about the past, present, and future of this world and the characters in it.
Then there's Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the 2-part stage play that debuted in London in 2016. This sequel story, conceived by Rowling, was set 19 years after the Battle of Hogwarts at the end of Deathly Hallows. It follows a new adventure for Harry and his friends involving his son Albus, with whom he has a difficult relationship. A surprising new threat with ties to the past emerges during the story, as well, but it's what the story reveals about the later lives of Harry, Ron, and Hermione that are most intriguing.
Here's a look at the 15 biggest, canonical revelations about Harry that don't come from the seven novels. Needless to say, major spoilers are ahead for the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, as well as several writings by J.K. Rowling from Pottermore.
15 Harry was not the first "Harry Potter"
Harry's great-grandfather was a man named Henry Potter. Unlike most of Harry's ancestors, who typically lived in the countryside, Henry lived in London and served on the Wizengamot in the early 20th Century. Henry's closest friends and family called him "Harry."
It's unknown if the Harry we know from today was named with his ancestor's nickname in mind, but the first Harry/Henry achieved a small measure of fame of his own. When World War I broke out in 1914, some in the wizarding community wanted to help the Muggles in their fight against the Central Powers, which were largely led by Germany. But the Minister for Magic of the day, Archer Evermonde, forbade any of his people to get involved in the war. Henry publicly spoke out against Evermonde's policy, causing the Potter family to be caught up in a bit of controversy.
Some fans have theorized that the time frame in which Henry was alive means that he could make an appearance in the prequel films being written by J.K. Rowling.
14 Harry was one of the first wizards to own a Firebolt
Book (and movie) fans will remember that Harry was given a Firebolt broom from his godfather, Sirius Black, after his beloved Nimbus 2000 was destroyed in a brutal encounter with the Whomping Willow. He used the Firebolt in Quidditch matches from his fourth year to his sixth, until it too was destroyed at the outset of The Deathly Hallows, when six of Harry's friends disguised themselves as him to help him reach safety from the Dursley's home.
Upon its arrival on the wizarding scene, the Firebolt upended the Nimbus company's stranglehold on the broom market, quickly becoming the broom of choice for Quidditch players. According to Pottermore, it was the first commercial broom to ever use ironwork made by Goblins, which reportedly makes the brooms faster and stronger. It also featured the addition of footrests.
Harry Potter was among the very first wizards to ever own a Firebolt. It was also soon adopted by professional players, including those at the Quidditch World Cup.
13 Harry never made up his seventh year at Hogwarts
Having left Hogwarts at the end of their sixth year to hunt and destroy Voldemort's horcruxes, Harry, Ron, and Hermione spent the entire seventh year of the Harry Potter saga on this dangerous quest. When that year culminated with the Battle of Hogwarts, where Harry finally defeated Voldemort, the trio had the option of returning to Hogwarts the next year to complete their educations.
But another option was given to them. The new Minister for Magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt, decreed that in appreciation for their service during that fateful battle, Harry, Ron, and Hermione were allowed to skip their seventh year with no penalties to their future careers.
What's more, they wouldn't be required to take N.E.W.T. exams, either. These all-important tests, which Hogwarts students spend their sixth and seventh years preparing for, are subject-specific, and a certain number of them are required for most positions in the wizarding world. Thanks to Shacklebolt's policy, Harry and Ron were able to join the Auror office without achieving the five N.E.W.T.s required of other entrants.
Coming as no surprise, Hermione returned to take her N.E.W.T. exams anyway, scoring highly on the seven she opted to take.
12 Harry ensured that Snape was honored posthumously
It's tradition at Hogwarts for all Headmasters to have their magical portraits added to the Headmaster's office — the private space occupied by Albus Dumbledore for most of the saga. Many of these portrait subjects had frames in other locations across the wizarding world, and could travel between them freely, at will.
When Severus Snape succeeded Dumbledore on the orders of the Ministry for Magic — which was under the thumb of Lord Voldemort — no one knew that he was still acting as a double agent for the Order of the Phoenix, still protecting the school's students from Voldemort's Death Eaters.
J.K. Rowling revealed during an appearance at Carnegie Hall that after the Battle of Hogwarts, there was some question as to whether or not Snape's portrait should be added to the Headmaster's office, since many saw his authority as illegitimate. But Harry, moved by Snape's secret work for Dumbledore and self-sacrifice, personally saw to it that Snape's portrait was added to the Headmaster's office. It's worth noting that there's no evidence that another temporary successor of Dumbledore's — the reviled Dolores Umbridge — received the same honor.
11 Harry suffered from post-war PTSD
To say that Harry had a rough adolescence would be a massive understatement. He suffered cruelly at the hands of his aunt and uncle for eleven years. He was hunted mercilessly by Voldemort and his followers for seven years. The fame he had was never earned or desired, and carried various psychological consequences. Worst of all, he had to watch person after person die to protect him or further his cause.
It should come as no surprise then that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child depicted a middle-aged Harry who still, all these years later, suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, survivor's guilt, and recurring depression. He had a good life as an adult, with a job doing something he loved (see #10), his loving wife Ginny and three children, and plenty of good friends. But secretly, the darkest effects of his childhood didn't magically go away after Voldemort's defeat. It seems that even in death, Voldemort continued to have a hold on him.
10 Harry rose through the ranks of the Auror office quickly
At just 26 years old, Harry was made Head of the Auror Office. This was no doubt based on his extensive experience (and perhaps a bit on his fame?), but it's unknown if this was a record for youngest ever to hold the office.
Ron remained there at his side for several years, helping Harry overhaul the entire Auror department to make it more effective. Eventually, Ron left government service to help his brother George run the joke shop Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. Hermione never became an Auror, but did enter the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, becoming a high-ranking official there.
By the time of The Cursed Child — about 13 years later, when Harry was 39 years old — Harry had ascended to Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. He found his work fulfilling, but the tedious bureaucracy and paperwork the job required were a source of endless frustration.
9 Hermione became Harry's boss
According to J.K. Rowling, Hermione Granger's first job after Voldemort's defeat was with the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. Later, as already noted, she transferred to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. The highlight of her career, though, had to be when she was elected Minister for Magic.
Minister for Magic is essentially the Prime Minister or President of the wizarding world. This placed her in a position of power over all departments of the wizarding government in Great Britain. So upon election, Hermione became Harry Potter's direct superior. The Cursed Child showed that the two remained close friends and worked well together.
According to Pottermore, the Minister for Magic is elected via democratic vote, with new elections required after no more than seven years in office. There are no term limits, so conceivably, should she continue to receive enough votes, Hermione could remain Minister for Magic for decades yet to come.
8 Harry had a difficult relationship with his son Albus
Despite all he accomplished as a teenager, Harry didn't exactly go on to live "happily ever after" following the events of The Deathly Hallows. While he achieved his desired career and married his love, Ginny Weasley, nothing in life is ever perfect for anyone. One of the most painful trials of his adulthood came when his second son, Albus, began attending Hogwarts. The trouble started when Albus was sorted into Slytherin House — the first and only Potter ever to be sent to the house widely associated with dark magic. It only magnified Albus' feelings of inadequacy and resentment toward his father.
Albus struck up a friendship with Scorpius Malfoy, son of Draco, who felt similarly disenfranchised by his father's name and legacy. Scorpius turned out to be a kind-hearted boy who was a good influence on Albus, although the two of them got into plenty of trouble together, not unlike Harry and his friends.
After one particularly dangerous adventure, as depicted in The Cursed Child, Harry and Albus came to understand one another better and finally reconciled after years of strife.
7 Harry never forgot about Cedric Diggory
As book readers know, the first person to die because of "the Boy Who Lived" — aside from his parents, who willingly gave their lives to protect him — was Cedric Diggory, in The Goblet of Fire. Cedric was a sixth year Hufflepuff who was chosen as Hogwarts' champion in the Tri-Wizard Tournament. Thanks to the machinations of Barty Crouch Jr., Harry Potter was also selected, forcing the two boys to both compete.
Cedric died when he and Harry were magically transported away from the Tournament into a trap carefully prepared for Harry by Lord Voldemort. On Voldemort's orders, his servant Peter Pettigrew used the Killing Curse to "kill the spare," aka Cedric. His father, Amos Diggory, never got over the death of his beloved son, and many years later appealed to an adult Harry to use a Time Turner to go back in time and save Cedric's life.
Harry knew the dangers of meddling with time and couldn't save Cedric, as much as he wanted to. But he never let go of the guilt he felt about Cedric's murder. When Albus Potter was a student several years into his education at Hogwarts, he discovered that his father still visited Cedric's grave regularly to apologize for his death.
6 Harry and Draco became...something resembling friends
As The Cursed Child revealed, Harry and Draco Malfoy were civil toward one another in adulthood, neither seeming to hold onto grudges from childhood, despite all they had done to each other. In Harry's case, this was because he had innate goodness in his heart. For Draco, his life was drastically altered by his failed attempt to assassinate Dumbledore and the subsequent suffering inflicted on his family by Voldemort, as Rowling explains on Pottermore.
It was during the time travel misadventures of their sons Albus and Scorpius that things changed between Harry and Draco. Draco in particular was softened by his love for his son, especially after the untimely death of his wife, Astoria. In a vulnerable moment, he admitted to having envied Harry's close friendships during all their years at Hogwarts. He also demonstrated genuine love for Scorpius — a son whom he'd already raised to be a kinder, better young man than he'd ever been.
The turning point came when Harry and Hermione came under verbal attack by an angry crowd at the Ministry of Magic during The Cursed Child. Draco surprised everyone present by defending them and standing beside them. He later traveled back in time with them to confront and defeat a new enemy (see #4). The result of this adventure was a newfound respect and understanding between them. You could almost call them friends by the end of Cursed Child... but probably not quite.
5 Harry witnessed the deaths of his parents
Thanks to the time traveling involved in The Cursed Child, Harry and his friends found themselves transported back to October 31, 1981, the fateful night that Voldemort arrived at the home of Harry's parents. Convinced that young Harry was the fulfillment of the prophecy of the one who could defeat him, Voldemort entered the Potter home and killed Lily and James Potter before turning his wand to Harry.
We all know what happened next.
In Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, events sent Harry and his friends back in time again, using a secret Time Turner, to stop a dark plot to resurrect Lord Voldemort. After a vicious battle (see #4), the evil plan was stopped. It was then that the dark lord arrived at Godric's Hollow for his date with destiny.
Rather than returning immediately to his own time, Harry decided to stay and watch the terrible, fateful encounter from a distance, his son Albus by his side.
4 Harry dueled and defeated Voldemort's secret daughter
Unknown to virtually anyone — probably even the dark lord himself — Bellatrix Lestrange gave birth to Voldemort's child at some point between his resurrection in Goblet of Fire and his defeat in Deathly Hallows. The child, a daughter, was hidden away, likely on the orders of Bellatrix's surviving husband, Rodolphus, who later revealed her heritage to the girl.
Upon learning who she was, Delphini (aka, Delphi) set out to prove herself a witch worthy of following in her father's footsteps. As a young adult, she carried out an elaborate plan involving time travel that would allow her to meet her father and prevent his death. She chose the night of Halloween 1981 as her target, as she knew exactly when and where Voldemort could be found: at the Potter house in Godric's Hollow.
When Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy were tricked into helping her, Harry, Ginny, Hermione, Ron, and Draco traveled back in time to stop her. Harry was forced to Transfigure himself to resemble Voldemort to lure her into a trap, but thanks to her quick thinking, he was forced to duel her alone when she locked everyone else out the room. Despite her considerable skill, Harry succeeded in defeating her, after which she was returned to the present and imprisoned.
3 Harry rarely spoke to Dumbledore's portrait
At the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, after the Battle of Hogwarts, Harry steals away to the Headmaster's Office, where he consults with Dumbledore's portrait about what to do with the Elder Wand. The scene leaves the impression that Harry might seek counsel from this living memory of Dumbledore for the rest of his life.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child revealed that this was not the case. As Harry grew older and had children, Dumbledore often withdrew from his painting whenever Harry was around. His reasons for this were never explained, but it's not hard to assume that Dumbledore would have wanted Harry to find his own way in the world, and that perhaps he felt he wasn't qualified to give his protégé advice on love or parenthood.
In just one scene in Cursed Child, Dumbledore finally appears to Harry in a portrait at Hogwarts. It's there that Harry mentions having not seen him in his portrait in the Headmaster's Office for a long time. Dumbledore essentially shrugs it off, and tries to give Harry some reasonable advice about his son, who Harry was having problems with (see #8). Unsurprisingly (but frustratingly), Dumbledore soon vanished from the frame almost as quickly as he'd appeared.
2 Harry has a surprising phobia
Largely thanks to his horrific childhood experiences and his work as an Auror, by the time of The Cursed Child, Harry had come to give off an air of fearlessness. His son, Albus, commented on this point at the end of the play, stating that he always believed his father wasn't afraid of anything. In Albus' mind, this was another significant difference between them, because Albus was afraid of many things, all the time.
In the spirit of mending the broken fence between them, Harry confessed to his son that there were several things he was afraid of. Among them: the dark, small spaces (probably stemming from all those years he lived under the stairs on Privet Drive), and of all things... Pigeons.
Albus scoffs at this, but Harry assures him he's serious. "Nasty, pecky, dirty things," he calls them. He adds that they creep him out, while also admitting that he knows it's an irrational fear. It's just one more little detail that makes Harry as human as the rest of us.
1 Harry will outlive us all
Given the conceit that the timeline of Harry's life roughly lines up with the release of the books (or the first one, anyway), then Harry was born on July 31, 1980. That makes him almost 37 years old at the time of this writing. But don't assume that this means Harry is nearing middle age. According to an interview J.K. Rowling gave to Scholastic.com in 2000, "wizards have a much longer life expectancy than Muggles." How much longer?
Well, Albus Dumbledore was well over 100 years old when he died. In that same Scholastic interview, Rowling claimed that Dumbledore was 150 at that time, but this was later superseded by canonical information in The Deathly Hallows, which indicates (if you do the math) his birth date as being around the year 1881.
A newspaper prop from the film series includes a headline stating, "Wizard Life Expectancy Reaches 137¾," meaning that the average witch or wizard can expect to live that long. That's about twice the life span of the average Muggle. Just as we Muggles can live to be 100 years old or even older, it stands to reason that healthy wizards like Harry could conceivably live to be at least twice that old.