Features

Some interesting facts about witches you may not have known

The wizarding world boasts many iconic witches, from McGonagall to Hermione. Here’s our favourite facts about some of these magical ladies, and some lesser-known witchy trivia.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

Professor McGonagall gave up love for her career

This immensely talented and fierce Transfiguration professor may always seem so stern at Hogwarts, but her history is one tinged with sadness. In her younger years, Minerva fell for a Muggle farmer called Dougal – whom she intended to marry, but knew she could never have a career at the Ministry, and later Hogwarts, if she went down that particular path.

Iolanthe Peverell was the witch who passed the Invisibility Cloak down the Potter line

While we know that the story of the three Peverell brothers is how the Deathly Hallows came to be, the Invisibility Cloak actually came into Harry’s family line thanks to the witch, Iolanthe Peverell, Ignotus’s granddaughter. In absence of a male heir, she was the one who inherited the cloak, and when she married one of Harry’s ancestors, Hardwin Potter, the cloak would one day become Harry’s. Iolanthe never revealed the secret of the cloak’s origins.

You can read more about the Potter family tree here.

Singing sensation Celestina Warbeck is one of J.K. Rowling’s favourite ‘off-stage’ characters

We don’t know much about this wizarding world singer-songwriter, just that she likes to sing about cauldrons quite a lot – and is a favourite of Mrs Weasley. But this is actually one of the lesser-known witches that J.K. Rowling loves the most, as per her notes right here on Pottermore. Apparently, Rowling knew about her from the very beginning, and she imagined her to look like Shirley Bassey!

Millicent Bagnold, Minister for Magic through the 80s, left her post for an amazing reason

We all know Cornelius Fudge, who served as Minister for much of the time Harry grew up. However, before him, there was Millicent Bagnold, who sounded far more fun. This Minister for Magic (who was a Ravenclaw, by the way) gave up her post for breaching the International Statute of Secrecy after Lord Voldemort’s first downfall (remember that Muggle ‘weather report’ about meteor showers?) In response to this flagrant flaunting of magic, she simply said: ‘I assert our inalienable right to party’. Fudge could never.

Jocunda Sykes was the first person to fly over the Atlantic Ocean on a broom

According to Quidditch Through the Ages, many witches are famous for shaping the sport, such as the Holyhead Harpies, the popular all-witch team. In 1935, Jocunda Sykes broke the record for flying across the Atlantic Ocean on a broom before anyone else. Go, Jocunda!

Read more on the witches who shaped Quidditch.

Isolt Sayre founded the American version of Hogwarts

Read up on the inspiring tale of Isolt Sayre, who lost her family at an early age (remind you of anyone?) and was haunted by an evil aunt who chased her across the Atlantic. Never getting to go to Hogwarts herself, Isolt simply invented her own in her new home, America – Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Read Isolt's story, by J.K. Rowling here.

Lily Potter’s wand can teach us a lot about her

Lily, Harry’s late mum, had a rather unique wand wood – willow. According to the notes of Mr Ollivander, willow is an uncommon wand wood with healing power, that many customers want above others for their wands. The expert said that ‘willow wands have consistently selected those of greatest potential’. Lily was certainly known to be a very talented witch – taken too soon.

Ignatia Wildsmith invented Floo Powder

The enviable transportation device of Floo Powder first came about in the thirteenth century, thanks to a witch called Ignatia Wildsmith. This substance made it far easier for wizarding kind to get around, especially if they weren’t especially adept at flying... Where would the wizarding world be without Ignatia? Stuck in the fireplace, probably.

Hermione was supposed to have a sister

Damn, there could have been two Grangers! Yes, according to a 2004 interview, J.K. Rowling initially planned for Hermione to have a younger sibling, but ‘she never made an appearance’ and ‘it might be a bit late now’. Just imagine the combined powers of two Granger sisters – taking on the world.

Who is your favourite Wizarding World witch?