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Clues J.K. Rowling gave us about the Harry Potter books before they came out: heroes, villains and Hogwarts

In part two of our series, here’s everything J.K. Rowling teased to us about heroes, villains and Hogwarts.

Voldemort casts a spell in front of his Death Eaters at Malfoy Manor in a film still from The Deathly Hallows Part 1
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1

Time for another hark back to the sneaky clues J.K. Rowling gave us before the books were published that gave us miniature prophecies of things to come. How many of these did you spot at the time?

Once again, there will be spoilers.

‘You see a lot of old characters in book five.’

CBBC Newsround, 8 July 2000

It was always great knowing when our favourite characters would be coming back. But these were no mere cameos – they were secretly reforming the Order of the Phoenix.

‘Why did Dumbledore have a look of triumph in his eyes at the end of book four?’
JKR: ‘Good question... excellent question, in fact...’

America Online chat, 19 October 2000

‘That's still enormously significant... that's for seven.’

The Leaky Cauldron and MuggleNet interview, 16 July 2005

Ah, the gleam of triumph – didn’t we all wonder what that was about? Dumbledore knew that by using Harry’s blood, Voldemort had effectively tethered Harry to life thanks to Lily’s protection. All was revealed in the chapter ‘King’s Cross’. He was a sharp one, that Dumbledore!

Dumbledore and Harry watch Tom Riddle as a child in a memory.
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

‘… for theories you should read six again.’

The Leaky Cauldron and MuggleNet interview, 16 July 2005

When asked what Dumbledore’s Boggart would look like, J.K. Rowling stated that the answer would give too much away. Knowing his tragic family history, we can probably imagine what form it took. She also refused to comment on what Dumbledore would see in the Mirror of Erised before Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. You mean it wasn’t woolly socks?

‘Can we have a book just on Dumbledore? Like a life story?’
JKR: ‘Oh, all right then.’

The Leaky Cauldron and MuggleNet interview, 16 July 2005

Careful what you wish for! The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore might have been a bestseller, but Rita Skeeter wasn’t exactly known for accurate portrayals.

‘Whatever happened to Sirius’s flying motorbike?’
JKR: ‘Ah, good question. You’ll find out, but the real sleuths among you might be able to guess.’

World Book Day Chat, 4 March 2004

Who in the world would be tinkering with an enchanted Muggle vehicle? Arthur Weasley of course, and the bike’s new features came in pretty handy for Harry and Hagrid.

The seven potters and companions leave Privet Drive
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1

‘… I have been spending nearly all my time sitting in front of my computer writing, re-writing and taking the occasional break to bang my head off the desk in frustration or else rub my hands together in fiendish glee.’

J.K. Rowling’s website, 10 December 2004

In a later interview J.K. Rowling was asked which section inspired the gleeful hand rubbing. It was revealed to be Luna Lovegood’s unique approach to Quidditch commentary.

‘… you know that they are a member, but you haven’t really met them properly yet...’

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

This elusive member of the Order turned out to be Aberforth Dumbledore. We hadn’t met him ‘properly’, however we did briefly see him behind the bar in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, as some astute readers noted:

‘Why is the barman of the Hog’s Head vaguely familiar to Harry? Is he Dumbledore’s brother?’
JKR: ‘Ooh – you are getting good.’

Edinburgh Book Festival, 15 August 2004

© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

‘Has Voldemort or Tom Riddle ever cared for or loved anyone?’
JKR: ‘Now, that’s a cracking question… you will find out a lot more about that.’

Edinburgh Book Festival, 15 August 2004

Short answer – no. But it was better to find out through Voldemort’s life story in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Jeremy Paxman: ‘What else are you willing to tell us about what's in book five?’
JKR: ‘Obviously a new Defence against the Dark Arts teacher.’
Jeremy Paxman: ‘Is that going to be a woman?’
JKR: ‘Yes. And it’s not Fleur, which everyone on the internet speculates about. And it’s not… Who’s the other one they keep asking about? Mrs Figg. It’s not Mrs Figg.’

BBC Newsnight, 19 June 2003

If only! Fleur certainly knew her defensive spells and we’d rather have Mrs Figg’s cats prowling Hogwarts than Dolores Umbridge’s sickening kitten plates. Unfortunately, this was not the last we’d see of old toad-features...

‘… she (Umbridge) is going to side with the people who give her the authority.’

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

She certainly did, and she used that authority as head of the Muggle-Born Registration Commission to become an even bigger bully than ever.

Dolores Umbridge in her office
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

‘If you could travel to Hogwarts for an hour, what would you do there?’
JKR: ‘Go straight into a certain room, mentioned in book four, which has certain magical properties Harry hasn’t discovered yet!’

Red Nose Day chat, BBC Online, 12 March 2001

The real question is, what would our favourite author find in the Room of Requirement? We’re guessing a writing desk, a Time-Turner (to make the most of that hour) and endless supplies of tea, coffee and sherbet lemons.

‘Do Hogwarts chefs accommodate vegetarians?’
JKR: ‘If you ask them very nicely. You’ll find out something about that in book four as well...’

South West News Service, 8 July 2000

To our surprise (and Hermione’s horror), we discovered all those extravagant Hogwarts banquets had been lovingly prepared by a team of house-elves. Plus we learned that Dobby and Winky managed to find work after all.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

‘Have any of the Hogwarts professors had spouses?’
JKR: ‘Good question – yes, a few of them.’

Red Nose Day chat, BBC Online, 12 March 2001

Not familiar with the life and loves of Professor McGonagall? Read Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide or click here.

‘What was Professor Trelawney’s first genuine prediction?’
JKR: ‘You’ll find out!’

Red Nose Day chat, BBC Online, 12 March 2001

Oh, now that would be telling! We knew by the end of book three that Trelawney had made a grand total of two. Her first prophecy was stored away safely in the Ministry of Magic, though perhaps not quite safely enough.

‘…we’ve hardly seen anything of Firenze.’
JKR: ‘Well, just keep your eyes open.’

CBBC Newsround, 8 July 2000

Who could have guessed Firenze would teach Divination at Hogwarts? Maybe we should have kept our inner eyes open!

Firenze asks Harry to stay behind after his Divination lesson to discuss Hagrid
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

‘Ravenclaw will have its day.’

‘She’s called the Grey Lady. But you don’t know that yet.’

Interview with Owen Jones, ITV Network, 17 of July 2005

While many readers felt the house that prized ‘wit beyond measure’ had been somewhat neglected, plans were in place for a quest involving a prized Ravenclaw artefact. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Harry finally spoke to the Grey Lady, uncovered the Ravenclaw family history and discovered the house founder’s long lost diadem. Let’s not forget the support Harry got from the Ravenclaw students at the Battle of Hogwarts.

‘Will HP and his friends discover the other house common rooms in future books?’
JKR: [teasingly] ‘Maybe…’

South West News Service, 8 July 2000

Harry paid a visit to Ravenclaw Tower while hunting Horcruxes, but sadly we never got to see the cosy common room for Hufflepuff. Fancy a peek? It’s right here on Pottermore.

*Read part one to discover what J.K. Rowling revealed about Harry’s friends and family here before the later books came out. Our final part of the series explores death and redemption.