So, go ahead and decorate your walls a lovely shade of blue… and bronze, or maybe even silver and gold, and celebrate all things Ravenclaw!
Today, October 4th marks the day of two very important birthdays: mine (not to brag) and my personal favorite Hogwarts professor, one who has proven to be the wisest and most badass character in all of Harry Potter, Minerva McGonagall!
Image via Vulture
While this surface-level description paints her in a blindingly positive light, the reality is that deep down (if you do your research), she has been through far more than anyone, muggle or wizard, had ever gone through or could even bear to live with and is actually one of the most tragic characters within the world that Rowling has crafted around the “Boy Who Lived,” all of which just adds an extra layer to her already complex character that came to be an all-round crowd favorite amongst the Potterheads (including me).
So, here are seven facts about Minerva McGonagall that you may not have known about from just reading the books or watching the movies. (Also, Maggie Smith’s strong acting chops adds another layer to the reader’s imagination of McGonagall’s badassery.)
1. Her sorting into Gryffindor took over five minutes
Image via Thought Catalog
If you actually counted every time a young witch or wizard gets sorted into a house in any of the movies, then you would get no more than a minute, or two tops.
Very much like Hermione (my personal favorite character of the series and whom the Hat was initially stumped on placing in either Ravenclaw or Gryffindor), Minerva has the special kind of qualities that can really stump – or stall – the Sorting Hat for at least five minutes straight upon placing a new-coming student into a House that it’s quite literally a “Hat-Stall,” until she was finally placed in Gryffindor, just like Hermione, and has really lived up to her House name in more ways than just being the House Head!
2. She was named after the Roman name for a Greek goddess
Image via commons.wikimedia.org
Speaking of living up to Gryffindor’s name, if you ever studied Greek/Roman mythology, then you should probably recognize McGonagall’s first name Minerva, which was the Roman name given to the Greek goddess Athena (a.k.a. goddess of wisdom, courage, and justice, especially when it comes to warfare).
As for her surname McGonagall, while it for sure shows off her Scottish lineage and was actually named after the Scottish poet William Topaz McGonagall (a.k.a. the worst poet known throughout the U.K.), it’s actually a name that’s not at all within the Wizarding World, which brings us to this fact…
3. She is a half-blood witch
Image via Bustle
While her mother Isobel Ross was a full-blooded witch, Minerva’s father Robert McGonagall, however, was a muggle, and Isobel, sworn by the International Statute of Secrecy not to reveal herself or anything about the Wizarding World to muggles, did not tell Robert until long after the birth of their first child Minerva, who started to exhibit her magical abilities to her parents.
Robert decided to stay and keep Isobel’s identity a secret, showing how loving and loyal her husband really was, and when her parents even later had two boys, Minerva helped her mother out in cleaning up the messes caused by her brothers’ magic.
(Keep her magically-mixed parents in mind: they will pop up again later…)
4. She won awards for Transfiguration and later, the Order of Merlin: First Class
Image via YouTube
Not only is she awesome at her job teaching Transfiguration and at being a freakin’ Animagus (a.k.a. a product of Transfiguration that already made her more than qualified in teaching Transfiguration), she won awards for doing what she does best, including her badges for Prefect and Head Girl, top grades for her O.W.L and N.E.W.T exams, and upon leaving school, the Transfiguration Today: Most Promising Newcomer award.
Also, after the Battle of Hogwarts, because of her strong display of bravery (by far, her truest moment of living up to her Head of Gryffindor name) in protecting the Hogwarts grounds against Voldemort and his Death Eaters, she so rightfully earned the Order of Merlin: First Class, an award specifically given for acts of bravery or entertainment within the Wizarding World.
5. She was engaged to a muggle (for less than a day)
Image via Radio Times
Now, here is just a taste of what makes Minerva a tragic character of the series…
The summer after graduating from Hogwarts, Minerva returned home to Scotland and met Dougal McGregor, who was the son of a muggle farmer and with whom Minerva fell deeply in love. In fact, later that very summer, she accepted his proposal to marry him!
However, and this is the part where I get back to her parents, not willing to make the same mistake her mother made but still not willing to risk the secrecy of the Wizarding World, Minerva broke off the proposal the very next morning after their engagement, but she very much later regretted her decision to do so: during Voldemort’s rise, McGregor was murdered in the crossfire of an anti-muggle attack by the Death Eaters.
Try looking at her the same way you did before…
6. She married her former boss (for three years)
Image via Hollywood.com
If you thought the previous point about Minerva’s tragic life was dark (but then again, this is the world of Harry Potter we’re talking about), here’s an extra dark layer…
While Elphinstone Urquart (Minerva’s boss from her first job working at the Ministry of Magic, a fact that I didn’t much room to make for on this list) over the years had asked Minerva to marry him, even while she was briefly engaged to McGregor, at one point, she finally accepted his proposal and of course, married and lived with him in a cottage at Hogsmeade. However, their marriage only lasted three years, as Urquart died from a Venomous Tentacula bite, and Minerva moved back to her Hogwarts chambers, leaving behind the home she shared with her last love.
I swear Minerva can never catch a break with her personal life!
7. She got to be permanent headmistress after Voldemort’s defeat
Image via The Book Addict’s Guide to MBTI
Well. At least she’s got one of many things going for her: after the Battle of Hogwarts, she was appointed Headmistress of Hogwarts. Permanently! And that is where we see her today…
I don’t think it’s too much of a coincidence that she and I both share a birthday: we’re both smart Libras with so much to offer the world. Happy Birthday, Minerva, my Hogwarts kindred spirit.
Also, to anyone out there in the U.K. if you ever find a normal-looking tabby cat looking down at a map, then you know where Minerva McGonagall is…
Featured Image via Wizards And Whatnot
And also, to me.
A few days a week, my third-grade teacher would read us Harry Potter books. At recess, word would get out that we were on the brink of story time and everyone would feel a little less trapped (not a good word to use when talking about grade school, I know). I vividly remember being amongst thirty or so (deathly quiet) kids as we all listened to her read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Most of my memories of elementary school involve a lot of headaches and staring at the clock, but I don’t remember those days ever really feeling long. Naturally, I convinced my mom to buy me more Harry Potter books.
The next year, I was told I was an inept reader and writer; my teachers wanted to put me in a special class. That never happened, mostly because my mother is a fucking rockstar, but also because I read the shit out of Harry Potter books. After Harry Potter I read pretty much every Gary Paulsen book known to man: Hatchet (and all the sequels), Mr. Tucket (and sequels), The Rifle, The Car, The Foxman, etc—very stereotypical “boy” reading list. That last part might not exactly be relevant other than to articulate the beginning trajectory of my literary career (if one can call it that)—a journey that began with a bespectacled boy who lived.
Kids are the heroes of their own stories, equipped with their imaginations. JK Rowling created the catalyst for many imaginations to thrive—the story of a wizarding world beneath our own has resonated with billions. The story always felt very personal to me, and I can only imagine many other people feel the same way. I can remember the sound of my dad’s bad country music in the background when I read Cedric Diggory’s death; I can remember the smell of pot roast when Snape killed Dumbledore.
When the movies came out, I was the exact same age as the characters onscreen. Watching each new movie per year literally felt like I was watching my classmates or something. The illusion of connectivity only grew more mesmerizing as the stories became darker and the characters grew along with their audience—an audience that had been hooked since childhood.
Everyone knows of JK Rowling’s humble beginnings: having very little wealth, even at one point being considered homeless. The manuscript for the first Harry Potter novel was rejected by all the major rivals of the publishing company that eventually bought it, Bloomsbury Publishing. Years ago, the company’s chairman, Nigel Newton, revealed the only reason he even took a chance on Rowling: his daughter Alice. The eight-year-old read a sample chapter and demanded more.
“She came down from her room an hour later glowing,” Newton recalls, “saying, ‘Dad, this is so much better than anything else.’ She nagged and nagged me in the following months, wanting to see what came next.”
I’m not sure that any series will ever be able to compete with the overwhelming power of the wizarding world. For fourteen years, the story was a cornerstone of everyone’s shelves and screens. Hagrid burst through the door on Harry’s eleventh birthday, and, the next thing we knew, we were exposed to giants, goblins, werewolves, mountain trolls, dementors and courageous elves—magic. Booger flavored jellybeans, cloaks of invisibility, spacially incomprehensible tents, flying cars, dangerous journals, and torturous quills. All of the iconically quirky things we’ve come to love and associate with the adolescence of three friends: Harry, Hermione, and Ron.
That’s really what Harry Potter is about right? Growing up. JK Rowling draws all these parallels with reality (although softly) and just surrounds it with magic. She attacks various (and obvious) social and political issues that deal with things like bigotry and discrimination, creating a modern-ish bureaucracy. Dysfunctional af. She clearly doesn’t trust certain characters (think Rita Skeeter) but still doesn’t condemn a society that is more or less indifferent throughout the narrative.
When you’re young, you don’t think about all the issues Rowling vaguely addresses—when Malfoy is a d*ck, it just feels wrong, and when Hermione punches him in the face, it just feels right. There’s nothing beguiling about what Rowling does; it always feels sincere. A good storyteller can teach you the difference between right and wrong without you even knowing it.
In the first book, we just wanted to make friends. In the books that followed, we learned the difference between right and wrong; we laughed, we cried, and we loved. We were swept away by the charm of it all—we learned to accept others and ourselves. To stand up for what we believe in. We made our peace with endings and, in turn, death. There’s a whole magical lifetime in those fricking books, and they will continue to entertain and teach for generations.
Happy Harry Potter day.
P.S I totally won Harry Potter trivia night at a local pub a few weeks back, so I have Rowling to thank for that as well.
Featured Image Via Wizardingworldpark.com
Witty, snotty, and a bit condescending, Draco Malfoy is a pure-blooded wizard who makes it his business to make Harry Potter and his friends’ world miserable. However, the actor who brought this platinum blonde and Slytherin prefect to life, Tom Felton, is actually a pretty sweet and awesome guy. It’s no secret that many Harry Potter fans loved Tom Felton’s portrayal of Draco Malfoy; he was a guy you love to hate, but hate to love. However, sometimes fans get a bit out of hand with their dedication and love (or hate) for the characters.
Tom Felton revealed during an interview with Yahoo! Movies that a strange occurrence happened when he was playing a young Draco Malfoy. A man who had legally changed his name to Lucius Malfoy (the fictional father of Draco Malfoy) reached out and offered to adopt him and make Tom change his name legally to Draco. Um, okay. Creepy. In the interview, Tom Felton stated:
One man wanted to adopt me. He had changed his name legally to Lucius Malfoy and wanted me to change my name to Draco Malfoy and to legally adopt me. I declined!
And don’t get him started on his fans from America. Some fans have a hard time differentiating between the character and the actual actor. We confuse the two then make the actor seem like they reflect their character. Tom Felton actually isn’t too bad; he’s a pretty chill person. However, it didn’t stop people from sending him angry letters, he said:
I’ve got some angry Americans tell me ‘Leave Harry Potter alone man! What did he ever do to you?’ but are deadly serious in how they deliver it… They seem to think I had some kind of influence on Rowling’s writing!
He can’t help with J.K Rowling wrote! He’s just depicting a character; it’s not his fault his character just happens to have a few flaws. However, like I said before, Tom Felton is a great person. When him and Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry Potter, come together, they have beautiful chemistry and though both have hung up their wands, it doesn’t mean they haven’t kept in touch. Recently, Tom Felton dropped by to watch Daniel Radcliffe perform on Broadway. He also visited Matthew Lewis, who portrayed Neville Longbottom.
Image Via Bustle
I guess that’s the ups and downs of being a Harry Potter actor. There’s always that one fan that takes it too far with angry letters and some unpleasant encounters. However, there are also the pleasant reunions between the now-older cast members. This happens when the magic blooms once again and a little bit of wizardry and magic spark back to life. We love you Tom Felton; you’re our favorite Slytherin and don’t ever change!
Featured Image Via List Challenges
The holidays are a perfect time for Harry Potter fans to shop! New toys and deals have been announced for this coming holiday season, we at Bookstr are living for it! LEGO, Funko Pop and Loungefly are rolling out some new items that will get your potions bubbling!
LEGO is offering a superb deal, The Diagon Alley set will be free with a purchase of a second set. If you love their brick sets, you know how great they are and why you should get one. The Diagon Alley set is equipped withGringotts Bank, Flourish and Blotts, Quality Quiddich Supplies, Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes and Ollivander’s Wand shop. The set will be available for free with a $99 purchase from November 9th – 21st.
Image via The Leaky Cauldron
Funko Pop is releasing a new pop figure to add to your shelves! Hedwig spreads her wings and come backs to life in this new figure. The pop figure features Harry Potter and his beloved owl Hedwig moments before going through the wall at Kings Cross Station on Platform 9 ¾. And if you can’t get enough of Hedwig, Funko Pop is also promoting Loungefly’s new product that will feed your Potter fan soul.
Image via The Leaky Cauldron
Loungefly has announced its new BoxLunch exclusive, a Hedwig backpack! This snowy owl backpack is a must have for this holiday season. Both the Funko Pop and backpack will be available for purchase for November 3 and November 4 at the BoxLunch stores. Get your wizard and witchy friends this gear for this upcoming season, it’s a gift they will forever love you for!
Image via The Leaky Cauldron
Featured Image via Slash Film