10 Things We Learned From the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Script

ISTOCK (BACKGROUND) / AMAZON (COVER)
ISTOCK (BACKGROUND) / AMAZON (COVER)

The special rehearsal script for the West End’s most magical show, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two, hit retailers today. The play, conceptualized by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne and written by Thorne, is a sequel to the book series—and it’s the last Harry adventure we’ll get. “He goes on a very big journey during these two plays and then, yeah, I think we're done,” Rowling told Reuters. “This is the next generation, you know. So, I'm thrilled to see it realized so beautifully but, no, Harry is done now."

Can't make it to London to see the show, but curious to find out a bit about it? We read the script front to back; here are a few things we learned. (Beware: Some spoilers below!)

1. THE PLAY PICKS UP RIGHT WHERE DEATHLY HALLOWS LEFT OFF.

Just before it ended, in fact—many lines of dialogue come directly from Deathly Hallows’s epilogue, when Harry and Ginny send Albus Severus off to his first year at Hogwarts. Albus’s first three years go by quickly, and within 50 pages, we’re in his fourth year.

2. ALBUS BECOMES BESTIES WITH SCORPIUS ...

On the train to Hogwarts, Albus ditches Rose Weasley to sit with Scorpius Malfoy. The two become fast friends—and, like Scorpius, Albus is sorted into (gasp!) Slytherin.

3. … AND HE’S NOT THAT GOOD AT MAGIC.

Harry and Ginny’s middle child struggles with spells—and Quidditch. In fact, he hates it.

4. THERE'S A NASTY RUMOR ABOUT SCORPIOUS'S PARENTAGE.

According to the rumor mill, Draco Malfoy and Astoria Greengrass had trouble conceiving, so she went back in time and found a more powerful, sinister wizard to father her child: Lord Voldemort himself.

5. HARRY AND ALBUS HAVE A VERY STRAINED RELATIONSHIP.

They just can’t seem to understand each other. After one particularly bad argument, Harry has a nightmare. When he wakes up, his scar is aching—for the first time in 22 years.

6. HERMIONE HAS A BUNCH OF BANNED BOOKS IN HER OFFICE—AND SHE TURNED THEM INTO WEAPONS.

That’s so Hermione. (Oh yeah, she’s also the Minister for Magic.)

7. THERE’S A LOT OF TIME TRAVEL.

Much of Cursed Child’s first two acts revolve around the quest to bring one character back from the dead using time travel. We know what you’re thinking: All of the Ministry’s Time-Turners were rendered useless during the Battle of the Department of Mysteries in Order of the Phoenix. But in Cursed Child, it’s revealed that a wizard named Theodore Nott created a new kind of Time-Turner. In a raid, Harry—now head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement—confiscates it; it’s placed in Hermione’s office, where it’s guarded by her weaponized, riddle-spouting books.

Using Polyjuice Potion, Albus, Scorpius, and a character named Delphi solve the riddles, get past the books, and knick the Time-Turner from Hermione’s office. Messing with time is dangerous, but that is a warning Scorpius and Albus didn’t receive—and their well-intentioned fiddling leads to some very dark days. (“Voldemort Day,” for example.)

8. SOME FAN FAVORITES—AND NOT-SO-FAVORITES—MAKE APPEARANCES.

Hagrid, centaur Bane, Dumbledore, Moaning Myrtle, and Umbridge all pop up in Cursed Child, as well as other characters we won’t spoil here.

9. THERE’S SOME PRETTY AMBITIOUS MAGIC IN THE STAGE DIRECTIONS.

Hermione’s bewitched books, for example, reach out, grab, and swallow characters; there are also fiery magical battles and epic on-stage Transfiguration.

10. HARRY POTTER IS AFRAID OF PIGEONS.

iStock

Well, we’re all scared of something.

Pick up your own copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child here.

Annotations in Copy of Shakespeare's First Folio May Have Been John Milton's

GeorgiosArt/iStock via Getty Images
GeorgiosArt/iStock via Getty Images

It's a well-known literary fact that William Shakespeare had an enormous influence on "Paradise Lost" poet John Milton, and new evidence suggests that super fan Milton—who even wrote a poem called "On Shakespeare"—might have owned his idol's first folio.

The folio, which contains 36 of Shakespeare’s plays, was published in 1623—seven years after the Bard’s death. An estimated 750 first folios were printed, with only 233 of them known to have survived, including one with annotations written throughout it. As it turns out, those scribbles might be Milton's.

According to The Guardian, Cambridge University fellow Jason Scott-Warren believes that Milton wrote those important annotations. Scott-Warren read an article about an anonymous annotator written by Pennsylvania State University English professor Claire Bourne. The Folio copy in question has been stored in the Free Library of Philadelphia since 1944, and Bourne was able to date the annotator back to the mid-1600s. (Milton died in 1674.) It was Scott-Warren who noticed that the handwritten notes looked similar to Milton’s handwriting.

"It shows you the firsthand encounter between two great writers, which you don’t often get to see, especially in this period,” Scott-Warren told The Guardian. “A lot of that kind of evidence is lost, so that’s really exciting.”

If the writing does indeed belong to Milton, it’s not the first time the poet has left notes on another writer's work; he supposedly marked up his copy of Giovanni Boccaccio’s Life of Dante as well. Scott-Warren and Bourne plan to pair up to find out if Milton left annotations on any other notable works.

"It was, until a few days ago, simply too much to hope that Milton’s own copy of Shakespeare might have survived—and yet the evidence here so far is persuasive,” Dr. Will Poole, a fellow and tutor at Oxford's New College said. "This may be one of the most important literary discoveries of modern times."

11 Scrumdiddlyumptious Roald Dahl Facts

Ronald Dumont / Getty Images
Ronald Dumont / Getty Images

A world without Roald Dahl would be a world without Oompa Loompas, Snozzcumbers, or Muggle-Wumps. And who would ever want to live in a world like that? Celebrate the author with these gloriumptious facts about the master of edgy kids' books.

1. Writing was never Roald Dahl's best subject.

Dahl held onto a school report he had written as a kid, on which his teacher noted: “I have never met anybody who so persistently writes words meaning the exact opposite of what is intended.”

2. Making up nonsensical words was part of what Roald Dahl did best.

When writing 1982’s The BFG, Dahl created 238 new words for the book’s protagonist, which he dubbed Gobblefunk.

3. Roald Dahl's first profession was as a pilot.

And not just any pilot: Dahl was a fighter pilot with the Royal Air Force during World War II. And it was a plane crash near Alexandria, Egypt that actually inspired him to begin writing.

4. Roald Dahl got into some 007 kind of stuff, too.

Alongside fellow officers Ian Fleming and David Ogilvy, Dahl supplied intelligence to an MI6 organization known as the British Security Coordination.

5. Roald Dahl's first published piece was accidental.

Upon recovering from that plane crash, Dahl was reassigned to Washington, D.C., where he worked as an assistant air attaché. He was approached by author C.S. Forester, who was writing a piece for The Saturday Evening Post and looking to interview someone who had been on the frontlines of the war. Dahl offered to write some notes on his experiences, but when Forester received them he didn’t want to change a word. He submitted Dahl’s notes—originally titled “A Piece of Cake”—to his editor and on August 1, 1942, Roald Dahl officially became a published author. He was paid $1000 for the story, which had been retitled “Shot Down Over Libya” for dramatic effect.

6. Roald Dahl's first children's book was inspired by the Royal Air Force.

Published in 1942, The Gremlins was about a group of mischievous creatures who tinkered with the RAF’s planes. Though the movie rights were purchased by Walt Disney, a film version never materialized. Dahl would go on to become one of the world’s bestselling fiction authors, with more than 100 million copies of his books published in nearly 50 languages.

7. Roald Dahl read Playboy for the articles.

Or at least his own articles. While he’s best known as a children’s author, Dahl was just as prolific in the adult short story sphere. His stories were published in a range of outlets, including Collier’s, Ladies Home Journal, Harper’s, The New Yorker, and Playboy, where his topics of choice included wife-swapping, promiscuity, suicide, and adultery. Several of these stories were published as part of Dahl’s Switch Bitch anthology.

8. Quentin Tarantino adapted a Roald Dahl short story for the big screen.

One of Dahl’s best-known adult short stories, “Man from the South” (a.k.a. “The Smoker”), was adapted to celluloid three times, twice as part of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (once in 1960 with Steve McQueen and Peter Lorre, and again in 1985) and a third time as the final segment in 1995’s film anthology Four Rooms, which Quentin Tarantino directed.

9. Roald Dahl's own attempts at screenwriting were not as successful.

One would think that, with his intriguing background and talent for words, Dahl’s transition from novelist to screenwriter would be an easy one ... but you would be wrong. Dahl was hired to adapt two of Ian Fleming’s novels, the James Bond novel You Only Live Once and the kid-friendly Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; both scripts were completely rewritten. Dahl was also hired to adapt Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for the big screen, but was replaced by David Seltzer when he couldn’t make his deadlines. Dahl was not shy about his criticisms of the finished product, noting his “disappointment” that the film (and its changed title) shifted the story’s emphasis from Charlie to Willy Wonka.

10. Roald Dahl made an important contribution to the field of neurosurgery.

In 1960, Dahl’s four-month-old son Theo’s carriage was struck by a cab driver in New York City, leaving the child suffering from hydrocephalus, a condition that increases fluid in the brain. Dahl became very actively involved in his son’s recovery, and contacted toymaker Stanley Wade for help. Together with Theo’s neurosurgeon, Kenneth Till, the trio developed a shunt that helped to alleviate the condition. It became known as the Wade-Dahl-Till valve.

11. Even in death, Roald Dahl's sense of humor was evident.

Roald Dahl passed away from a blood disease on November 23, 1990 at the age of 74. Per his request, he was buried with all of his favorite things: snooker cues, a bottle of Burgundy, chocolate, HB pencils, and a power saw.

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