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12 Post-Potter Revelations J.K. Rowling Has Shared

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Any proper Harry Potter fan will insist that the series didn’t truly end with the release of the seventh and final book in July 2007, nor did it end with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 in theatres in July 2011. There’s no more obvious testament to the wizarding world’s enduring legacy than J.K. Rowling herself, the author who has so much left to give to fans who are always eager to hear more. She continues to release new material via the Pottermore website and has yet to quash rumors of a forthcoming authoritative Harry Potter encyclopedia (though she hesitates to use the e-word).

But some of Rowling's most surprising insights about the fates of Harry and friends have come straight from her own mouth in various interviews given since Deathly Hallows closed the book on their stories. Here are some of the most essential insights from those interviews—though if the past few years are any indication, they won’t be the last. Note: If you haven't read all the books or seen all the movies, spoilers abound!

1. Dumbledore was gay

Harry Potter Wikia

When a fan got the chance to ask Rowling whether beloved headmaster Dumbledore, with his twinkling blue eyes, had ever been in love, the answer must have been wildly unexpected: not only had Rowling “always thought” of Dumbledore as gay, but his one great love had been his former best friend and Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald, whom he ultimately defeated in a duel the likes of which were never surpassed by any two wizards since. By Rowling’s account, Dumbledore’s infatuation with Grindelwald may have blinded him to the danger which his plans of benevolent-but-totalitarian wizarding domination posed to the entire magical world. Rowling never explicitly states whether or not Dumbledore’s affections were ever returned, but either way, there’s a wrenching sense of tragedy in Dumbledore’s love life that never was.

2. Ron and Hermione’s relationship may have been a mistake

Harry Potter Wikia

In an interview with Emma Watson, otherwise known as the real-life Hermione Granger, Rowling dropped one of the biggest bombshells of her career when she confessed her sense that pairing off Ron and Hermione had been a mistake. She admits that at the time, she had pushed a Ron/Hermione relationship for “very personal reasons” and as a form of “wish fulfillment” in service of her original ideas of where the books would go, not because the two were a particularly “credible” couple; in retrospect, she thinks it would have made sense for Hermione to marry Harry instead.

Rowling’s most recent statement contradicted not only her published work, but her previous interviews, in which she claimed that Harry and Ginny were true “soul mates,” whereas Ron and Hermione operated on an opposites-attract level: “[They] are drawn to each other because they balance each other out. Hermione's got the sensitivity and maturity that's been left out of Ron, and Ron loosens up Hermione a bit, gets her to have some fun. They love each other and they bicker a bit, but they enjoy bickering, so we shouldn't worry about it”—and yet she has now joked (unless she wasn’t joking) that Ron and Hermione would have needed to seek relationship counseling. Fans predictably erupted at what they saw as Rowling’s unwanted editorializing on books long gone to print, though early fans of a Harry/Hermione pairing were quietly vindicated; either way, the books have been written, and there’s always fanfiction for all the rest.

3. Tonks and Lupin almost lived, but Ron and Arthur Weasley almost died

Authors are allowed to change their minds, but when it comes to matters of a character’s life or death, there’s a lot to consider. It seems inconceivable now, but Rowling admits that about halfway through the series, when she “wasn’t in a very happy place” in her own life, she considered going back on her previous commitment to herself to keep the Golden Trio alive, and almost killed off Ron Weasley. In retrospect, she now believes that she wouldn’t really have been able to do it, but at the time, she entertained the notion “out of sheer spite.” Luckily for Ron, Rowling’s fit of pique passed, and he was spared.

Arthur Weasley’s near-death was a subject of more serious deliberation: Rowling felt uncomfortable with the idea that the entire Weasley clan should survive (since purely on a statistical basis, that would have been hugely unrealistic), and she thought Mr. Weasley might be the one to go. She granted him a reprieve when she realized what a huge blow such a loss would deal not only to Harry, in whose life Mr. Weasley played the most stable father figure, but to Ron. As half an orphan—half of what Harry had been all his life—he would have lost his humor, and Rowling decided that she needed to keep Ron “intact,” thereby sparing Mr. Weasley. The honor of being the Weasley to die in battle therefore fell to Fred: Of the two twins, Rowling had always written George as the more sensitive one, and Fred as “the funnier, but also the crueler of the two.” Hoping to circumvent fans’ expectations that George, the more passive of the pair, should be the obvious choice to die, Rowling decreed that Fred had to go.

Rowling never intended for Lupin or Tonks to die in battle. Although she wanted to spare Ron the loss of a father, she did later decide that she needed a character to lose both parents as a means of bringing the orphan story full circle. Teddy Lupin, like both Harry and Neville, grows up without a mother or father, instead entrusted to the care of relatives; yet Rowling intended to show that unlike the two other boys who grew up without a traditional nuclear family, Teddy was able to grow up with loving caregivers in a world that, after Voldemort’s fall, was “a better place.” She also emphasizes that Teddy benefits from an even better godfather than Sirius: Harry becomes a true father figure to Lupin’s son, and despite his orphanhood, Teddy turns out okay.

4. Harry and Voldemort are blood relatives

Harry Potter Wikia

Clever fans may have sussed this out on their own simply by connecting some of the dots regarding ownership of two of the three Deathly Hallows, family heirlooms that were passed down from descendant to descendant before one reached Harry Potter and another, Lord Voldemort. When Albus Dumbledore gifted the Cloak of Invisibility to Harry on his first Christmas at Hogwarts, he had merely been keeping it safe on behalf of Harry’s father James, a direct descendant of Ignotus Peverell, its original owner and one of the “Three Brothers” whose story is fictionalized in an old wizarding fairy tale. The Resurrection Stone, having been set into a ring, passed similarly between generations from Cadmus Peverell to the Gaunt family and eventually to final surviving patriarch Marvolo Gaunt, Tom Riddle, Jr.’s maternal grandfather. When Marvolo died, his son Morfin inherited the ring, and it was from him that Lord Voldemort-to-be claimed the heirloom he believed to be his birthright. From there, it seems reasonable to assume that Harry and Voldemort might share a common ancestor through their pureblood connections, and Rowling confirmed that they are in fact distantly related through the Peverells. Then again, with the insular nature of wizarding lineage, Rowling notes, “nearly all wizarding families are related if you trace them back through the centuries.”

5. Harry and Dudley made amends

Harry Potter Wikia

The two cousins parted uneasily after a childhood of fearing, tormenting, and misunderstanding one another, with “I don’t think you’re a waste of space” remaining the kindest words Dudley ever spoke to Harry, yet in that brief instance offering some hope that the two might someday reconcile. Though Rowling sadly quashed the notion of Dudley appearing at King’s Cross in the Epilogue beside his own wizarding child, citing a conviction that “any latent wizarding genes would never survive contact with Uncle Vernon’s DNA,” she does say that he remains on “Christmas card terms” with Harry, who in turn makes an effort to drop in to see his cousin when in his neighborhood. Though their children manage to play together, Harry and Dudley merely “sit in silence” as they watch; some things never change.

6. Snape was remembered as Headmaster

Harry Potter Wikia

In the triumphant final scene after Voldemort’s defeat, Harry enters the Headmaster’s office to rousing applause from the moving portraits of Hogwarts’s former Headmasters and Headmistresses, but one figure is conspicuously absent: Severus Snape. Having abandoned his duties prior to dying, Snape would not have been considered worthy to take his place among the other, more revered Hogwarts heads. However, Rowling believes that Harry would later have insisted on Snape’s portrait being hung as deserved.

7. Neville’s parents never recover

Harry Potter Wikia

As if the slew of heartbreaking deaths during the Final Battle weren’t enough cause for fans to curse Rowling’s unwillingness to write too many happy endings, she also shared in an interview that Frank and Alice Longbottom never surfaced from their torture-induced madness. The long-time residents of St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries, placed in the incurable wing for continuing palliative treatment after overexposure to the Cruciatus Curse by Bellatrix Lestrange and her fellow Death Eaters, remained forever unaware of their son’s heroic role in avenging their fates.

8. Harry and Ron stayed Hogwarts dropouts

After so many incidences of Harry and Ron shamelessly copying Hermione’s notes and each other’s homework, it wasn’t hard to see this one coming: Only Hermione bothered to go back and finish her final year of education after Voldemort so rudely interrupted everyone’s studies. She took her N.E.W.T.s—presumably scoring top marks across the board—and would have been the only one of the trio to participate in the Hogwarts graduation tradition of riding the boats back across the lake, reversing the process by which she and her fellow first-years arrived.

9. The Golden Trio became high-ranking government employees

Harry Potter Wikia

Luckily, Harry and Ron’s lack of formal qualifications didn’t stop them from realizing their dream of becoming Aurors, officers of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement’s elite branch dedicated to combating the use of the Dark Arts. At age 17, Harry became the youngest Auror ever employed by the Ministry of Magic, and ascended to a position as head of the department just nine years later, under his friend and fellow Order of the Phoenix member Kingsley Shacklebolt as Minister for Magic. Hermione took a more conventional path through the Ministry ranks: Starting off in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, she continued her crusade for house elves’ rights before transferring to a position high within the Department of Magical Law Enforcement to help scrub wizarding law of its antiquated pureblood prejudices. Together, Kingsley and the Trio spearheaded a total reform of the Ministry from its old, corrupt ways. They were joined by Percy Weasley, whose change of heart suited him well as an official in the new Ministry.

10. Neville earned a reputation for being cool

Harry Potter Wikia

Awkward, fumbling Neville Longbottom has always had defenders, since the day he valiantly stood up to his own friends and begged them not to get into any more trouble (clearly not understanding what he’d gotten himself into by befriending Harry, Ron, and Hermione). He proved his mettle time and again, particularly as a member of both the original and reunited Dumbledore’s army, and not least when he beheaded Nagini with Godric Gryffindor’s own sword. After the Battle of Hogwarts, no one could deny that Neville was a great wizard in his own right, despite all those melted cauldrons in his youth. He earned his grandmother’s respect and a position as the new Hogwarts Herbology professor. Upon marrying Hannah Abbott, the new landlady at The Leaky Cauldron, he also gained some cachet with his students: they would’ve found it “very cool,” according to Rowling, that he lived above the pub.

11. Harry got a sweet new ride

Harry Potter Wikia

Though Sirius Black’s motorbike succumbed to damage during the mid-air battle between the Death Eaters and the Order of the Phoenix trying to transport Harry to safety, its broken bits found safe refuge in Arthur Weasley’s backyard tinkering shed. Mr. Weasley’s fascination with fixing all things magic and Muggle served him well, and he finally found time after the Second Wizarding War to repair the bike and return it to Harry.

12. Harry, Ron, and Hermione were immortalized on Chocolate Frog cards

Harry Potter Wikia

The three friends were all honored for their efforts in destroying Voldemort’s Horcruxes and defeating “the most dangerous dark wizard of all time” with commemorative Chocolate Frog cards, to be distributed alongside the sweets as collectible items. Like Albus Dumbledore, Ron Weasley considered this the greatest achievement of his life.

How Bats Protect Rare Books at This Portuguese Library

Visit the Joanina Library at the University of Coimbra in Portugal at night and you might think the building has a bat problem. It's true that common pipistrelle bats live there, occupying the space behind the bookshelves by day and swooping beneath the arched ceilings and in and out of windows once the sun goes down, but they're not a problem. As Smithsonian reports, the bats play a vital role in preserving the institution's manuscripts, so librarians are in no hurry to get rid of them.

The bats that live in the library don't damage the books and, because they're nocturnal, they usually don't bother the human guests. The much bigger danger to the collection is the insect population. Many bug species are known to gnaw on paper, which could be disastrous for the library's rare items that date from before the 19th century. The bats act as a natural form of pest control: At night, they feast on the insects that would otherwise feast on library books.

The Joanina Library is famous for being one of the most architecturally stunning libraries on earth. It was constructed before 1725, but when exactly the bats arrived is unknown. Librarians can say for sure they've been flapping around the halls since at least the 1800s.

Though bats have no reason to go after the materials, there is one threat they pose to the interior: falling feces. Librarians protect against this by covering their 18th-century tables with fabric made from animal skin at night and cleaning the floors of guano every morning.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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12 Facts About James Joyce
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

June 16, 1904 is the day that James Joyce, the Irish author of Modernist masterpieces like Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and who was described as “a curious mixture of sinister genius and uncertain talent,” set his seminal work, Ulysses. It also thought to be the day that he had his first date with his future wife, Nora Barnacle.

He was as mythical as the myths he used as the foundations for his own work. So in honor of that June day in 1904—known to fans worldwide as “Bloomsday,” after one of the book’s protagonists, Leopold Bloom—here are 12 facts about James Joyce.


In 1891, shortly after he had to leave Clongowes Wood College when his father lost his job, 9-year-old Joyce wrote a poem called “Et Tu Healy?” It was published by his father John and distributed to friends; the elder Joyce thought so highly of it, he allegedly sent copies to the Pope.

No known complete copies of the poem exist, but the precocious student’s verse allegedly denounced a politician named Tim Healy for abandoning 19th century Irish nationalist politician Charles Stewart Parnell after a sex scandal. Fragments of the ending of the poem, later remembered by James’s brother Stanislaus, showed Parnell looking down on Irish politicians:

His quaint-perched aerie on the crags of Time
Where the rude din of this century
Can trouble him no more

While the poem was seemingly quaint, young Joyce equating Healy as Brutus and Parnell as Caesar marked the first time he’d use old archetypes in a modern context, much in the same way Ulysses is a unique retelling of The Odyssey.

As an adult, Joyce would publish his first book, a collection of poems called Chamber Music, in 1907. It was followed by Dubliners, a collection of short stories, in 1914, and the semi-autobiographical A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (in which Clongowes Wood College is prominently featured) in 1916.


While attending University College Dublin, Joyce attempted to publish a negative review—titled “The Day of the Rabblement”—of a new local playhouse called the Irish Literary Theatre in the school’s paper, St. Stephen’s. Joyce’s condemnation of the theater’s “parochialism” was allegedly so scathing that the paper’s editors, after seeking consultation from one of the school’s priests, refused to print it.

Incensed about possible censorship, Joyce appealed to the school’s president, who sided with the editors—which prompted Joyce to put up his own money to publish 85 copies to be distributed across campus.

The pamphlet, published alongside a friend’s essay to beef up the page-count, came with the preface: “These two essays were commissioned by the editor of St. Stephen’s for that paper, but were subsequently refused insertion by the censor.” It wouldn’t be the last time Joyce would fight censorship.


By the time Nora Barnacle and Joyce finally married in 1931, they had lived together for 27 years, traveled the continent and had two children. The couple first met in Dublin in 1904 when Joyce struck up a conversation with her near the hotel where Nora worked as a chambermaid. She initially mistook him for a Swedish sailor because of his blue eyes and the yachting cap he wore that day, and he charmed her so much that they set a date for June 14—but she didn’t show.

He then wrote her a letter, saying, “I looked for a long time at a head of reddish-brown hair and decided it was not yours. I went home quite dejected. I would like to make an appointment but it might not suit you. I hope you will be kind enough to make one with me—if you have not forgotten me!” This led to their first date, which supposedly took place on June 16, 1904.

She would continue to be his muse throughout their life together in both his published work (the character Molly Bloom in Ulysses is based on her) and their fruitful personal correspondence. Their notably dirty love letters to each other—featuring him saying their love-making reminded him of “a hog riding a sow” and signing off one by saying “Goodnight, my little farting Nora, my dirty littlef**kbird!"—have highlighted the NSFW nature of their relationship. In fact, one of Joyce’s signed erotic letters to Nora fetched a record £240,800 ($446,422) at a London auction in 2004.


While Joyce’s persistent money problems caused him to lead a life of what could be categorized as creative discomfort, he had to deal with a near lifetime of medical discomfort as well. Joyce suffered from anterior uveitis, which led to a series of around 12 eye surgeries over his lifetime. (Due to the relatively unsophisticated state of ophthalmology at the time, and his decision not to listen to contemporary medical advice, scholars speculate that his iritis, glaucoma, and cataracts could have been caused by sarcoidosis, syphilis, tuberculosis, or any number of congenital problems.) His vision issues caused Joyce to wear an eye patch for years and forced him to do his writing on large white sheets of paper using only red crayon. The persistent eye struggles even inspired him to name his daughter Lucia, after St. Lucia, patron saint of the blind.


In 1904, Joyce—eager to get out of Ireland—responded to an ad for a teaching position in Europe. Evelyn Gilford, a job agent based in the British town of Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, notified Joyce that a job was reserved for him and, for two guineas, he would be told exactly where the position was. Joyce sent the money, and by the end of 1904, he and his future wife, Nora, had left Dublin for the job at a Berlitz language school in Zurich, Switzerland—but when they got there, the pair learned there was no open position. But they did hear a position was open at a Berlitz school in Trieste, Italy. The pair packed up and moved on to Italy only to find out they’d been swindled again.

Joyce eventually found a Berlitz teaching job in Pola in Austria-Hungary (now Pula, Croatia). English was one of 17 languages Joyce could speak; others included Arabic, Sanskrit, Greek, and Italian (which eventually became his preferred language, and one that he exclusively spoke at home with his family). He also loved playwright Henrik Ibsen so much that he learned Norwegian so that he could read Ibsen's works in their original form—and send the writer a fan letter in his native tongue.


There are about 400 movie theaters in Ireland today, but they trace their history back to 1909, when Joyce helped open the Volta Cinematograph, which is considered “the first full-time, continuous, dedicated cinema” in Ireland.

More a money-making scheme than a product of a love of cinema, Joyce first got the idea when he was having trouble getting Dubliners published and noticed the abundance of cinemas while living in Trieste. When his sister, Eva, told him Ireland didn’t have any movie theaters, Joyce joined up with four Italian investors (he’d get 10 percent of the profits) to open up the Volta on Dublin’s Mary Street.

The venture fizzled as quickly as Joyce’s involvement. After not attracting audiences due to mostly showing only Italian and European movies unpopular with everyday Dubliners, Joyce cut his losses and pulled out of the venture after only seven months.

The cinema itself didn’t close until 1919, during the time Joyce was hard at work on Ulysses. (It reopened with a different name in 1921 and didn’t fully close until 1948.)


The publishing history of Ulysses is itself its own odyssey. Joyce began writing the work in 1914, and by 1918 he had begun serializing the novel in the American magazine Little Review with the help of poet Ezra Pound.

But by 1921, Little Review was in financial trouble. The published version of Episode 13 of Ulysses, “Nausicaa,” resulted in a costly obscenity lawsuit against its publishers, Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap, and the book was banned in the United States. Joyce appealed to different publishers for help—including Leonard and Virginia Woolf’s Hogarth Press—but none agreed to take on a project with such legal implications (and in Virginia Woolf’s case, length), no matter how supposedly groundbreaking it was.

Joyce, then based in Paris, made friends with Sylvia Beach, whose bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, was a gathering hub for the post-war expatriate creative community. In her autobiography, Beach wrote:

All hope of publication in the English-speaking countries, at least for a long time to come, was gone. And here in my little bookshop sat James Joyce, sighing deeply.

It occurred to me that something might be done, and I asked : “Would you let Shakespeare and Company have the honour of bringing out your Ulysses?”

He accepted my offer immediately and joyfully. I thought it rash of him to entrust his great Ulysses to such a funny little publisher. But he seemed delighted, and so was I. ... Undeterred by lack of capital, experience, and all the other requisites of a publisher, I went right ahead with Ulysses.

Beach planned a first edition of 1000 copies (with 100 signed by the author), while the book would continue to be banned in a number of countries throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Eventually it was allowed to be published in the United States in 1933 after the case United States v. One Book Called Ulysses deemed the book not obscene and allowed it in the United States.


Ernest Hemingway—who was major champion of Ulysses—met Joyce at Shakespeare and Company, and was later a frequent companion among the bars of Paris with writers like Wyndham Lewis and Valery Larbaud.

Hemingway recalled the Irish writer would start to get into drunken fights and leave Hemingway to deal with the consequences. "Once, in one of those casual conversations you have when you're drinking," Hemingway said, "Joyce said to me he was afraid his writing was too suburban and that maybe he should get around a bit and see the world. He was afraid of some things, lightning and things, but a wonderful man. He was under great discipline—his wife, his work and his bad eyes. His wife was there and she said, yes, his work was too suburban--'Jim could do with a spot of that lion hunting.' We would go out to drink and Joyce would fall into a fight. He couldn't even see the man so he'd say, 'Deal with him, Hemingway! Deal with him!'"


Marcel Proust’s gargantuan, seven-volume masterpiece, À la recherche du temps perdu, is perhaps the other most important Modernist work of the early 20th century besides Ulysses. In May 1922, the authors met at a party for composer Igor Stravinsky and ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev in Paris. The Dubliners author arrived late, was drunk, and wasn’t wearing formal clothes because he was too poor to afford them. Proust arrived even later than Joyce, and though there are varying accounts of what was actually said between the two, every known version points to a very anticlimactic meeting of the minds.

According to author William Carlos Williams, Joyce said, “I’ve headaches every day. My eyes are terrible,” to which the ailing Proust replied, “My poor stomach. What am I going to do? It’s killing me. In fact, I must leave at once.”

Publisher Margaret Anderson claimed that Proust admitted, “I regret that I don’t know Mr. Joyce’s work,” while Joyce replied, “I have never read Mr. Proust.”

Art reviewer Arthur Power said both writers simply talked about liking truffles. Joyce later told painter Frank Budgen, “Our talk consisted solely of the word ‘No.’”


Joyce had a childhood fear of thunder and lightning, which sprang from his Catholic governess’s pious warnings that such meteorological occurrences were actually God manifesting his anger at him. The fear haunted the writer all his life, though Joyce recognized the beginnings of his phobia. When asked by a friend why he was so afraid of rough weather, Joyce responded, “You were not brought up in Catholic Ireland.”

The fear also manifested itself in Joyce’s writing. In Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the autobiographical protagonist Stephen Dedalus says he fears “dogs, horses, firearms, the sea, thunderstorms, [and] machinery.”

But the most fascinating manifestation of his astraphobia is in his stream of consciousness swan song, Finnegans Wake, where he created the 100-letter word Bababadalgharaghtaka-mminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk to represent a symbolic biblical thunderclap. The mouthful is actually made up of different words for “thunder” in French (tonnerre), Italian (tuono), Greek (bronte), and Japanese (kaminari).


Fellow Modernist Virginia Woolf didn't much care for Joyce or his work. She compared his writing to "a queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples," and said that "one hopes he’ll grow out of it; but as Joyce is 40 this scarcely seems likely."

She wasn't the only one. In a letter, D.H. Lawrence—who wrote such classics as Women in Love and Lady Chatterley’s Loversaid of Joyce: “My God, what a clumsy olla putrida James Joyce is! Nothing but old fags and cabbage stumps of quotations from the Bible and the rest stewed in the juice of deliberate, journalistic dirty-mindedness.”

“Do I get much pleasure from this work? No," author H.G. Wells wrote in his review of Finnegans Wake. “ ... Who the hell is this Joyce who demands so many waking hours of the few thousand I have still to live for a proper appreciation of his quirks and fancies and flashes of rendering?”

Even his partner Nora had a difficult time with his work, saying after the publication of Ulysses, “Why don’t you write sensible books that people can understand?”


Joyce was admitted to a Zurich hospital in January 1941 for a perforated duodenal ulcer, but slipped into a coma after surgery and died on January 13. His last words were befitting his notoriously difficult works—they're said to have been, "Does nobody understand?"

Additional Source: James Joyce


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