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Clues J.K. Rowling gave us about the Harry Potter books: Harry’s friends and family

We're sifting through the many clues J.K. Rowling teased to us about the Harry Potter stories before they were published. First up: everything we learned about Harry’s friends and family.

Harry about to go into Tom Riddle's diary
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

‘The best questions – the ones from really attentive and thoughtful readers – are always the ones I can't answer: they give too much away!’

Red Nose Day chat, BBC Online, 12 March 2001

J.K. Rowling had a whole wizarding world in her head, but there was only so much she could share with her readers. In this three-part series we look back over the many hints the author dropped about future books during interviews.

Obviously, there will be spoilers. As the author was so careful to keep her plot twists secret, we’d strongly suggest finishing the books before going any further.

Harry showing his scar to Ron on the Hogwarts Express
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

‘The shape is not the most significant aspect of that scar, and that's all I'm going to say!’

World Book Day chat, 4 March 2004

It makes sense now, doesn’t it? What was really important about the scar was that it marked Harry as a Horcrux. Admittedly, that lightning bolt shape is still pretty cool.

‘People are always wondering who Harry might be related to…’

World Book Day chat, 4 March 2004

Many readers suspected Harry might be descended from a powerful wizard like Godric Gryffindor. Book seven would reveal his famous ancestor was Ignotus Peverell, the youngest sibling from ‘The Tale of the Three Brothers’.

‘Where did James get his Invisibility Cloak?’
JKR: ‘That was inherited from his own father – a family heirloom!’

America Online chat, 19 October 2000

Specifically, it was a Peverell family heirloom and a strong indicator of Harry’s heritage. Plus it allowed Harry to carry on the Potter family tradition of sneaking around Hogwarts.

The Invisibility Cloak
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

‘You'll find out more about both Harry's parents later…’

America Online chat, 19 October 2000

‘… it's important to a later plot.’

Scholastic online chat, 3 February 2000

J.K. Rowling couldn’t tell us what Harry’s parents did for a living before book five but stressed it was significant plot-wise. All became clear at Grimmauld Place when we learned about James and Lily’s work with the Order of the Phoenix.

‘… he has his mother's eyes and that's very important in a future book.’

Boston Globe, 18 October 1999

After ‘The Prince’s Tale’, how could we possibly forget about Lily’s eyes? Speaking of Lily…

‘… you'll find out something very significant about her [Lily] in book five, and you'll find out something incredibly important about her in book seven.’

‘The Connection’, WBUR Radio, 12 October 1999

We did indeed. Lily Evans intervened in a horrible bullying incident, shown in book five through the memories of Severus Snape. When the Pensieve was revisited in book seven, we learned so much more about both characters.

No Image
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

‘You won’t need a prequel; by the time I am finished, you will know enough.’

Edinburgh Book Festival, 15 August 2004

Book seven connected the dots with the previous Hogwarts generation. Still, we’d gladly hear more about Lily, Snape and the Marauders given the chance.

‘If Harry's aunt and uncle hate him so much, why don't they just throw him out?’
JKR: ‘Well, that's a very shrewd point, and it will only be explained in book five.’

Book Links, July 1999

Four words: ‘Remember my last, Petunia!’ And while we’re on the subject...

‘There is a little more to Aunt Petunia than meets the eye and you will find out what that is in book seven …’

Radio City Music Hall, New York, 2 August 2006

We also found out that Petunia was definitely a Muggle, rather than a Squib.

‘She is not a Squib, although that is a very good guess.’

Edinburgh Book Festival, 15 August 2004

In the end, the answer was a lot more simple. Poor Petunia desperately wanted to attend Hogwarts with her sister, but it was never meant to be. Given her disdain for the magical world in later life, we’d never have guessed that she once longed to be part of it.

The Privet Drive front door from the Chamber of Secrets
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

‘She [Petunia] overheard a conversation, that is all I am going to say.’

Edinburgh ‘cub reporter’ press conference, ITV, 16 July 2005

When asked how Petunia knew about Dementors, J.K. Rowling mentioned Lily but stressed ‘there is more to it than that’. It turned out ‘that awful boy’ Petunia heard talking to her sister was not James Potter, but Severus Snape.

‘… one of Harry's classmates, though it's not Harry himself, does end up a teacher at Hogwarts …’

‘The Connection’, WBUR Radio, 12 October 1999

During a radio interview, a teacher called in from her classroom and the children were eager to join the fun. When invited to guess which of Harry’s friends would grow up to be a teacher, they answered ‘Ron’. Though we can’t help wondering how Professor Weasley would have coped (probably with lots of help from Hermione), it was never going to happen. Instead Neville Longbottom would go on to teach his favourite subject, Herbology.

‘More boy-girl stuff, inevitably. They're 15 now; hormones working overtime.’

‘Harry Potter and Me’, BBC, 28 December 2001

This interview took place before Harry’s first kiss under the mistletoe, which he did with zero regard for any possible Nargle infestation.

‘In Book IV Harry does decide he likes a girl, but it's not Hermione or Ginny.’

Scholastic online chat, 3 February 2000

Harry teaches Cho how to cast a Patronus during time with Dumbledore's Army.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Cho Chang was Harry’s first crush, though it was suggested that she wouldn’t be his last. In the same interview, J.K. Rowling said that Harry was still only 14 ‘so there’s plenty of time to change his mind’. About two more books should do the trick!

‘He (Harry) might well be receiving another kiss (or two) but I'm not saying who the kisser's going to be…’

World Book Day chat, 4 March 2004

Naturally, there were plenty of questions before that kiss with Ginny Weasley. The author was cagey over Harry’s love life but quick to debunk the idea that Hermione might be the one. Speaking of which (or should that be ‘speaking of witch?’)…

‘Hermione would also see herself closely entwined... with... another... person …’

Radio City Music Hall, New York, 2 August 2006

Though many questions were avoided about what certain characters might see in the Mirror of Erised, we were told that Hermione would see her and her friends triumphant after their mission. However, in J.K. Rowling’s own words, ‘What’s life without a little romance?’ And if there was any question over that ‘person’ in the mirror ...

JKR: (slight frown) ‘Hermione and Harry! Do you think so?’
Interviewer: ‘No, I’m kidding.’
JKR: ‘Ron and Hermione, I would say, have more tension there.’

Dateline NBC, 20 June 2003

That would be one of several ‘anvil-sized’ hints J.K. Rowling reported dropping about the future romance between Ron and Hermione. As if seeing them bicker like an old married couple throughout their school years wasn’t enough!

Come back next Wednesday for part two: ‘Heroes, villains and Hogwarts’.