Pottermore
Pottermore

Everything We Know About Harry Potter's 4 New Wizarding Schools

Pottermore
Pottermore

J.K. Rowling continues to expand the Harry Potter universe ahead of the November release of the spin-off movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Last night, at the annual Harry Potter Celebration at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, four new schools of magic were revealed; they join Hogwarts, France’s Beauxbatons Academy, and the Durmstrang Institute. (There are “11 long-established and prestigious wizarding schools worldwide,” Rowling writes on Pottermore, so we can probably expect her to reveal more at some point in the future.) Here’s what we know about these new additions to the wizarding world.

1. MAHOUTOKORO // JAPAN

How to say it: Mah - hoot - o - koh - ro
Location: The “uninhabited” volcanic island of Minami Iwo Jima
Its castle: “Ornate and exquisite … made of mutton-fat jade.”

This school—the smallest of the 11 registered with the International Confederation of Wizards—takes students as young as 7, who are flown back and forth each day on giant storm petrels. Boarding begins at age 11. Rather than the plain black robes used at Hogwarts, Mahoutokoro students don “enchanted robes” as soon as they arrive, Rowling writes on Pottermore, “which grow in size as they do, and which gradually change colour as the learning of their wearer increases, beginning a faint pink colour and becoming (if top grades are achieved in every magical subject) gold.” If the robe turns white, it means that “the student has betrayed the Japanese wizard's code and adopted illegal practices ... or broken the International Statute of Secrecy.” The penalty for turning white is immediate expulsion and trial at the Japanese Ministry for Magic.

In addition to being academically impressive, Mahoutokoro also has a reputation for being excellent at Quidditch which, “legend has it, was introduced to Japan centuries ago by a band of foolhardy Hogwarts students who were blown off course during an attempt to circumnavigate the globe on wholly inadequate broomsticks.”

2. UAGADOU // AFRICA

How to say it: Wag-a-doo
Location: “Mountains of the Moon,” Uganda
Its castle: “A stunning edifice carved out of the mountainside and shrouded in mist, so that it sometimes appears simply to float in mid-air.”

There are many smaller schools in Africa, Rowling writes, but Uagadou is the oldest; it’s been around for at least 1000 years. Located in Uganda, the school accepts students from all over the continent and is different from other magical schools in a couple of ways: Hogwarts students are notified of admission by letter, but Uagadou uses Dream Messengers, who “appear to the children as they sleep and will leave a token, usually an inscribed stone, which is found in the child’s hand on waking. No other school employs this method of pupil selection.” In addition, wands aren’t the normal method of magic-making. “The wand is a European invention,” Rowling writes, “and while African witches and wizards have adopted it as a useful tool in the last century, many spells are cast simply by pointing the finger or through hand gestures. This gives Uagadou students a sturdy line of defence when accused of breaking the International Statute of Secrecy (‘I was only waving, I never meant his chin to fall off’).”

The school’s graduates are particularly good at Astronomy, Alchemy and Self-Transfiguration. Uagadou has a number of notable alumni, including “Babajide Akingbade, who succeeded Albus Dumbledore as the Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards.”

3. CASTELOBRUXO // BRAZIL

How to say it: Cass - tell - o - broo - shoo
Location: “Deep in the rainforest”
Its castle: “An imposing square edifice of golden rock, often compared to a temple” that “appears to be a ruin to the few Muggle eyes that have ever fallen upon it.”

Students from all over South America attend this magical school (whose name, translated from Portuguese, means, literally, “Castle Wizard”), where students wear “bright green robes and are especially advanced in both Herbology and Magizoology.” Whereas Hogwarts has Peeves, Castelbruxo has “Caipora, small and furry spirit-beings who are extraordinarily mischievous and tricky, and who emerge under cover of night to watch over the students and the creatures who live in the forest.” The school runs a popular student exchange program.

Famous alumni include Libatius Borage, author of Advanced Potion-Making and Have Yourself a Fiesta in a Bottle!, and João Coelho, who captains “the world-renowned Quidditch team the Tarapoto Tree-Skimmers.”

4. ILVERMORNY // NORTH AMERICA

How to say it: Ill - ver - morn - ee

Rowling hasn’t posted anything about this new school on Pottermore yet, but according to a press release, “All of you eagle-eyed fans had an inkling that word was going to mean something special, and Pottermore will bring you more writing by J.K. Rowling on this magical school soon.” Redditors are already on the case, trying to figure out what the name might mean; leave your own guesses in the comments below, and we’ll update this post as we find out more!

All images courtesy of Pottermore.

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See the Secret Paintings Hidden in Gilded Books
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YouTube/Great Big Story

The art of vanishing fore-edge painting—hiding delicate images on the front edges of gilded books—dates back to about 1660. Today, British artist Martin Frost is the last remaining commercial fore-edge painter in the world. He works primarily on antique books, crafting scenes from nature, domestic life, mythology, and Harry Potter. Great Big Story recently caught up with him in his studio to learn more about his disappearing art. Learn more in the video below.

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11 Secrets of Romance Writers
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iStock

Some readers may snicker at book covers featuring aerobicized men and titles like The Firefighter’s Woman or The Bull Rider’s Christmas Baby. But if it weren’t for the steamy, escapist fantasy of romance novels, a healthy portion of the publishing industry would cease to exist: According to the Romance Writers of America (RWA), romantic fiction brings in $1.08 billion annually and accounts for 13 percent of all fiction sales in the marketplace.

What keeps readers coming back for more? We asked some of the genre’s top authors for insight into the “secret baby" trope, why pen names are necessary, and the one rule of romance that can never, ever be violated.

1. THEY WEAR PERIOD CLOTHING.

Novelist Shelley Adina (A Lady of Resources, A Lady of Integrity) writes historical, Amish, and steampunk-themed fiction, just a few of the many sub-categories that appeal to niche audiences. To better understand her characters, Adina dresses in period outfits to gather what she calls “tactile details.”

“I like to feel how a heroine would feel in the clothes,” she says. “I’ve been laced into a proper corset and you realize what kind of dance steps you can do, or why a lady’s back never touches a chair—a tight corset won't allow it."

2. THE REASON THEY USE PEN NAMES ISN'T WHAT YOU THINK.

Covers of two romance novels by Shelley Adina
Shelley Adina

The authors of romance novels don't use pen names out of embarrassment. Adina (a.k.a. Adina Senft) says that pseudonyms—many authors have more than one—help readers compartmentalize writers who generate multiple series. “People who read Amish fiction may not read steampunk,” she says. Another, bigger reason: Bookstore software can use “kill orders” on authors who don’t sell a certain number of titles. If they fall below parity, retailers will automatically stop ordering more copies from that author. “If that happens,” she says, “you have to reinvent yourself with a new name.”

3. THEY’LL DIGITALLY REVISE THEIR WORK AFTER PUBLISHING IT.

The analog publishing model has traditionally been one of permanence: Once a book is in print and in readers' hands, there's no going back. But romance novel readers are a very particular clientele with certain expectations about how they’d like their protagonists to behave—and the self-published digital distribution model that's popular within the genre allows for a little customization. Author Heather C. Leigh (the Famous series) found that out when her first books featured a heroine who was a little too acerbic. “My first three books sold well, but there were critiques that my female lead was too sarcastic,” she says. “I understood and took it out. I don’t mind making work better based on feedback.”

4. COVER MODELS OFTEN LOSE THEIR HEADS.

The covers of two romance novels by Heather C. Leigh
Heather C. Leigh

Despite seeing hundreds of new titles published every month, the romance genre still manages to find new ways to visualize their shirtless male protagonists. In many cases, though, the beefcake winds up getting decapitated. “A lot of times, the man will be turned away or cut off at the forehead,” says author Eliza Night (The Conquered Bride series). “Readers want to imagine his looks in their own mind.” Grooming is also a necessity. “I had a cover with chest hair once. My readers did not like it.”

5. THEY HAVE BONUS SCENES.

Self-published authors (who make up about two-thirds of the total romance e-book revenue on Amazon) spend much of their time marketing their work. To help maintain interest from their existing readership, some send out email newsletters with updates on new titles and include exclusive passages that can enhance the experience of a previous book. “My first book was about an actor who had to do a love scene with a woman he hated,” Leigh says. “It was never going to be in the book because that was from his girlfriend’s point of view, but I got a chance to write it as a bonus.”

6. THEY WANT READERS TO BECOME WRITERS.

While resources for aspiring writers of all genres are plentiful, the romance field makes an exceptional attempt to recruit new talent. Industry interest group RWA doubles as a conduit between established writers and novices, hosting conferences and panels on the best ways to break in. “We don’t live in a competitive hierarchy,” Adina says. “There are so many readers with so many diverse tastes. It’s a big community where we support one another.”

7. THEY GET HELP FROM THE AMISH.

An Amish woman walking in a field
iStock

While the Amish sub-genre has received media attention for its peculiarity, Adina doesn't believe it's so unusual: She says readers are attracted to a pastoral environment “without having to leave their wired-up house.” For accuracy’s sake, the author has enlisted an Amish reader to vet her titles for details. The popularity of the books “mystifies them,” she says. “They don’t understand the interest. They just hope the books might be able to point people to God.”  

8. THE “SECRET BABY” TROPE IS A READER FAVORITE.

Readers like resourceful women and skilled, wealthy love interests—and they especially like it when the former keeps their baby a secret from the latter. “The trope is that the hero and heroine have an affair, she gets pregnant, never tells him, and he comes back around five, 10, or 20 years later and finds out,” Adina says. “Reunion stories are popular. It’s the appeal of a responsible man.”

9. THEY’RE HISTORY GEEKS.

The cover of a romance novel by Eliza Knight
Eliza Knight

Knight cringes at the idea romance authors do little more than transcribe their own lurid fantasies. A self-described “history geek,” she travels frequently for research into Scottish history. “Most of us who write history nerd out on it,” she says. While once writing about a zeppelin-riding heroine, Adina jumped into one that offered rides over Silicon Valley to see how it would feel. She also got her motorcycle license for the same reason. “We’re serious about it,” Adina says. “We’re not sitting around in housecoats with barking Pomeranians.”

10. THEY’D APPRECIATE NOT BEING ASKED ABOUT THEIR SEX LIFE.

Many romance authors have at least one story to tell about people in their private life finding out they write for the genre and subsequently losing any sense of boundaries. “Strangers have asked me, ‘Do you test out scenes before you write them?’” Leigh says. “It’s like they lose a filter. It’s not real life. J.K. Rowling isn’t a wizard.”

11. THERE’S ONE RULE THAT CAN NEVER BE BROKEN.

While writing instructors invariably have all kinds of techniques for nourishing a story, the romance genre spells it out in an unequivocal manner. According to the RWA, nothing can be considered a “romance novel” without a central love story (naturally) and what authors have come to refer to as the Happily Ever After ending, or HEA. “Romance is a courtship story,” Adina says. “Readers expect the bond will be created at the end of the book. If not, it’s Nicholas Sparks or Romeo and Juliet. It would be like having a mystery where the detective doesn’t solve the case.”

This story originally appeared in 2016.

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