Once Upon a Time
It’s been more than six years since Harry Potter fans have had any chance to speculate and theorize about what to expect in upcoming books. With J.K. Rowling’s announcement of spin off movie series about Newt Scamander, it’s time to get back at it.
We have very little information about the project, but the tidbits we did get in the press release allow us to revert to an old Potter fan favourite activity: Extrapolate wildly from every syllable that comes out of J.K. Rowling’s mouth. So below I’ve put together a list of what we know and what we can expect from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
The best place to start is with Newt Scamander, the main character of the series. Newt was born in 1897 and graduated from Hogwarts. From there he worked for two “tedious” years at the Ministry of Magic’s Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures in the Office for House of Elf Relocation. If we assume that Newt finished Hogwarts in the standard seven years and started at age eleven, then he would have been at the Ministry from 1915/16-1918. In 1918 he was commissioned to travel the world and compile a list of Magical Beasts (eventually titled Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) by Augustus Worme of Obscurus Books. The first edition of the book was published in 1927.
Harry’s story in the Philosopher’s Stone technically starts the day after Lily and James’s deaths in 1980, but let us assume that she is referring to when the story begins from Harry’s perspective in 1991 (this fits in much more closely with the context provided above). This puts us in the 1920s, which aligns nicely with the years in which Scamander started to write Fantastic Beasts. I think that makes it fair to assume the series will take place during this period from when Scamander was commissioned to write the book in 1918 and it’s initial publication in 1927. During this period Newt was be 21-30 years old.
J.K. Rowling also made it explicitly clear that this movie will not constitute a Harry Potter prequel in any way. However, for the sake of additional context it is interesting to note what was happening in the Wizarding World during this period that relates to Harry’s story. In 1925, Bob Ogden visited the Gaunt’s house. Later that year, Merope Gaunt used love potion to trick Tom Riddle Senior into marrying her. 1926 is marked by the birth of Tom Marvolo Riddle on New Year’s Eve. This almost certainly will not play a significant role in the story of Newt Scamander although there may be a reference or two thrown in as Easter Eggs for observant fans of the series.
Throughout the Harry Potter canon, there have been various references to what the Wizarding World is like outside of Britain, but now we will finally get to see first hand what the Wizarding World was like in New York in the 1920s.
For an insight into the muggle side of New York City in the 1920s, we can look to what is arguably the most famous American novel of all time, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, much of which deals with the culture of the time in New York. The book describes a culture typified by excess, plenty and extravagance. Undoubtedly this will provide an interesting backdrop for where Newt’s story begins, how this will translate to the Wizarding World we can only guess.
One thing we know for sure is that the beasts mentioned in the book will be featured in the film. With the knowledge that the film begins in New York we can narrow down which beasts are likely to appear based on their geographical information in the book. Below is a list of beasts that appear all across the world (or where it isn’t specified) and those said to be native to America or North America.
– Ashwinder: A thing pale-grey serpent born in magical fires
– Basilisk: Giant snake that kills with its stare
– Bundimun: Fungus-like creature with eyes, infests houses
– Chizpurfle: Crab-like parasite with fangs
– Doxy: Fairy covered in black hair with an extra pair of arms and legs
– Fairy: Similar to muggle concept of fairy, but very unintelligent
– Flobberworm: Brown worm that produces mucus
– Ghoul: Lives in wizarding houses and resembles an ugly ogre
– Hippogriff: Flying horse with head of a giant eagle
– Kneazle: Highly-intelligent cat
– Merepeople: Human-like people who live underwater
– Mooncalf: Calf that dances on its hind legs in moonlight
– Plimpy: Spherical fish with two webbed feet
– Puffskin: Docile spherical creature covered in custard coloured fur
– Salamander: Lizard that feeds on flames
– Sea-Serpents: Reaches up to a length of 100 meters, but not particularly dangerous
– Snidget: Small golden bird, used as early snitches
– Streeler: Giant snail that changes colour and leaves a venomous trail
– Werewolf: Human that becomes a violent wolf at the full moon
– Winged-Horse: Various breeds of winged horses are found worldwide
– Clabbert: Looks like a cross between a monkey and a frog, tree-dweller
– Dugbog: Resembles a dead piece of wood and lives in marshes
– Gnome: Garden pest about a foot high
– Jarvey: Resembles an overgrown ferret, but can talk
– Jobberknoll: Blue speckled bird silent until the moment of its death
– Knarl: Hedgehog-like, but takes offers of food as an attempt to trap it
– Nogtail: Demons that resemble stunted piglets
– Re’em: Giant ox with golden hide, drinking its blood gives immense strength
– Shrake: Fish covered in spikes that lives in the Atlantic Ocean
This list leaves a myriad of possible beasts that could appear in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Hopefully these ideas will help spawn many more theories about what J.K. Rowling’s latest wizarding world endeavor will entail and Harry Potter fans can get back to what Harry Potter fans are best at… theorizing and wild speculation!
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