What do we know about the four people who actually founded Hogwarts? Enjoy these new illustrations of Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Salazar Slytherin and Rowena Ravenclaw, and their stories.

Illustration of founders of the four houses - Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd.™ Warner Bros.

According to Professor Binns, Godric, Helga, Salazar and Rowena ‘built this castle together, far from prying Muggle eyes’. For the most part, the four worked on creating Hogwarts in harmony, but it wasn’t long before Salazar Slytherin’s troubling views on the wizarding world caused an almighty rift.

But what of the founders’ individual stories?

Godric Gryffindor

Stories of the Hogwarts founders: Godric Gryffindor
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd.™ Warner Bros.

‘Bold Gryffindor, from wild moor’ dwelled at Godric’s Hollow, the future home of many well-known Harry Potter characters, from Bathilda Bagshot to the Potters themselves.

Much like the Hogwarts house he founded, Gryffindor, Godric was known for his bravery, and his skills as an accomplished dueller. He even had a special sword created for him by Ragnuk the First, the finest of the goblin silversmiths. The sword was ‘gleaming silver’ with ‘rubies the size of eggs’. The sword was so beautiful that Ragnuk tried to take it back, accusing Godric of stealing it. Thankfully, Godric was not one to be trifled with, and eventually took back what was his from the goblin community. This didn’t stop the goblins creating a ‘fake myth’ of Gryffindor theft, however.

Legend has it that Godric was also the man who gave Hogwarts the Sorting Hat, a sentient piece of headwear that soon became the one to sort the school’s students into houses long after Godric and the other founders were gone. The hat contains the intelligence of all founders, so it can pass on their intuition on each Hogwarts student forever.

Godric will always be known for his accomplished skills in battle, and his fight against Muggle discrimination in the wizarding world. In fact, it was a serious argument between Godric and Salazar that finally made the Slytherin founder leave Hogwarts. Godric was a man, certainly, ahead of his time.

Helga Hufflepuff

Stories of the Hogwarts founders: Helga Hufflepuff
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd.™ Warner Bros.

Helga, ‘from valley broad’, was the founder of the house which valued those that were ‘just and loyal’. According to the Sorting Hat, Helga vowed to ‘teach the lot’ – and didn’t judge certain students over others, no matter how much talent they had or what families they came from.

At Hogwarts, Hufflepuff was known for her talents in Charms, and used her remarkable skills for preparing food – a speciality of hers – to create splendid feasts that were enjoyed by all. Her talent would bring the whole school together in harmony.

Helga Hufflepuff’s fantastic recipes are still used in the Hogwarts kitchens to this day and her portrait can be found in the Hufflepuff common room, toasting her students with her golden cup. No wonder the Hogwarts feasts are always so triumphant and bountiful.

And as for that golden cup? Well, that very cup would be passed down to Helga’s descendants, eventually falling into the hands of one Hepzibah Smith, a ‘distantly descended’ witch with a penchant for possessing valuable trinkets. Unluckily for her, a young fellow called Tom Riddle was well aware of this, and once he had hold of it, Helga’s trusty cup engraved with a badger would become one of Lord Voldemort’s Horcruxes.

Salazar Slytherin

Stories of the Hogwarts founders: Salazar Slytherin
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd.™ Warner Bros.

For many years, all was well among the four founders. Yet when shrewd Salazar Slytherin, ‘from fen’, suggested that only those from magical families deserved to come to Hogwarts, his three friends stood against him.

Salazar Slytherin left the school. Before he did however, he built a secret room inside the castle with a great statue of himself and a monster inside that only he could control.

The chamber would remain a secret, until Salazar Slytherin’s heir came to Hogwarts, ready to finish his ancestor’s work. Slytherin also left behind a golden locket, which would become a treasured family heirloom, and eventually a Horcrux of Lord Voldemort too.

Despite his flaws, Salazar was a talented wizard, skilled in Legilemency and Parseltongue, and his twisted legacy and talents lived on through many members of his bloodline, specifically Lord Voldemort. Thankfully, his hostile nature towards Muggle-borns was something that not many of the wizarding community agreed with. And not all of Salazar’s legacy was bad. A very distant descendant of his, Isolt Sayre, would go on to find Ilvermorny School, and Salazar’s wand would eventually be buried in the school’s grounds, turning into a snakewood tree with leaves with restorative powers.

Rowena Ravenclaw

Stories of the Hogwarts founders: Rowena Ravenclaw
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd.™ Warner Bros.

Rowena Ravenclaw, ‘from glen’, was the most brilliant witch of her time, but her story is one of tragedy. Known for her wit and love of learning, she wore a diadem that was said to grant wisdom to the wearer.

However, Rowena’s own daughter grew jealous of her mother’s incredible intelligence. Helena Ravenclaw stole her mother’s diadem and ran away, a fact that Rowena kept hidden from her fellow founders even when she fell ill.

Desperate to see her daughter one last time, Rowena sent a man to bring Helena home. Unfortunately, that man was the Bloody Baron, who was head over heels with Helena, and stabbed her in a rage when she refused to come home. After Helena was tragically killed, legend tells us that Rowena Ravenclaw died of a broken heart. No wonder Helena’s ghost, that became Ravenclaw’s house ghost, would often roam the corridors in silence.