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The Hogwarts Collection by J K Rowling | Book review

How often have we heard during discussions on street corners about cricketers and athletes that they should retire when they’re on top?

This is very true and probably easier to do when the work needs a very high level of physical fitness which cannot be maintained in older age. But, what about the creativity of writers and their mental faculties?

The creative mind wants to do something different every time rather than keep writing about the same world they have created in the previous books. And so they move on. But, the fans always feel disappointed when a beloved story comes to an end and they seek solace in either writing ‘fanfiction’ or actively reading what other fans are writing.

Millions of people actively live and breathe in the fanfiction world. But the imitation fan-fiction doesn’t always contain the same quality or entertainment for the real fans of the world.
So it feels like a treat when writers like J K Rowling continue expanding the magical world of Hogwarts and Harry Potter and keep publishing little articles online via her digital publishing company called ‘Pottermore’.

These publications cover a wide variety of pieces from news, features, previously unreleased writing by J K Rowling, her thoughts, unpublished texts, etc. Since its beginning in 2011, Pottermore has also conducted several challenges including the Magical Quilt Challenge.

Now the writings have been combined and published as ‘The Hogwarts Collection’ and we recently had a chance to read volumes 1-3 this lovely collection.

Volume 1:

Book Title : Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies (Kindle Single) (Pottermore Presents Book 1)
Author :
Publishers : Pottermore Publishing; Published: (6 September 2016)
# of Pages : 1732 KB 68 (Kindle Edition)
Purchase Link(s) :

Volume 1 is called ‘Short Stories from Hogwarts – Of Heroism, Hardship, and Dangerous Hobbies‘.

Short Stories from Hogwarts – Of Heroism, Hardship, and Dangerous Hobbies

Short Stories from Hogwarts – Of Heroism, Hardship, and Dangerous Hobbies

This volume contains following stories:

  1. Minerva McGonagall – Animagi
  2. Remus Lupin – Werewolves
  3. Sybill Trelawney – Naming Seers
  4. Silvanus Kettleburn

The book starts with this preface note from the editor:

Chapter 1. Minerva McGonnagall – Animagi

The first story is about that stern professor who can quell an entire class with one look. Minerva McGonagall is one of the most gifted witches at Hogwarts, second in line of command at school after Albus Dumbledore, but in Harry Potter books, she has remained just that. Her personal life is never mentioned.

In this short story, J K Rowling takes us to Minerva‘s childhood home in the highlands of Scotland, her troubles during growing up as a witch with a father who is a Presbyterian minister. She finds love in early life only to lose it and later finds companionship with much older husband Elphinstone Urquart. This story tells us about her school career, her early years at the Ministry of Magic and later her move to Hogwarts as a teacher, where she spent rest of her life educating young witches and wizards.

As we have noted in the book, she was a passionate enthusiast when it came to Quidditch and thanks to this story we know that it was one of her prime hobbies to watch Quidditch along with correcting articles in Transfiguration Today.

Talking about transfiguration, our first introduction to Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter world was in form of a tabby cat as she waited in Privet Drive for Dumbledore to arrive. Minerva McGonagall was one of the few animagi in wizarding world and hence, her story would be incomplete without a little background article called ‘Animagi’. In this segment, J K Rowling outlines in detail the arduous process of becoming an animagi.

Chapter 2. Remus Lupin – Werewolves

The second story is about the tragic and heart-breaking fate of Remus Lupin. As the author notes,

Being an Animagus is a privilege – one that requires immense skill and hard work. Being a werewolf, on the other hand, is something that happens to witches and wizards against their will.

Remus John Lupin was the son of wizard Lyall Lupin and muggle mother Hope Howell. Lyall Lupin was a distinguished wizard in the field of Non-Human Spiritous Apparitions. He was born with magical gifts and by all expectations a bright future. But as it so often happens, he became the innocent victim of the adult feud and was bitten by the werewolf Fenrir Greyback, who wanted to teach Lyall Lupin a lesson.

And even though he became a werewolf once a month, Remus Lupin remained a much beloved son of his parents and when Albus Dumbledore arranged for him to attend Hogwarts, it seemed that he might, after all, be able to live his life with dignity. But you know rest of the tragic story of his life and death through Harry Potter books.

J K Rowling says that she used Remus Lupin’s character as a metaphor to represent all those people who carry diseases like AIDS and are shunned by the larger community.

This story is backed by a small article on Werewolves which provides many interesting facts and trivia including the truth about silver bullets.

Chapter 3 Sybill Trelawny

A seer with the diluted power of her great great grandmother Casandra Trelawny, who changed the course of Harry Potter’s life through her prophesies is one of the quirkiest characters that inhabit the Hogwarts castle. Often seen drunk, her lessons take us through the muddled, obviously ‘made-up’ and fraudulent ways of predicting future.

This very short chapter gives us some more details of her life.

However, the better part of this segment is called ‘Naming Seers’, where J K Rowling discusses the naming traditions existing in wizarding families, e.g. the Black family names their children after Stars and Constellations including Sirius, while most families used to consult ‘Naming Seers’ in old days to get an idea of the child’s aptitude and inclinations before naming them.

Chapter 4 Silvanus Kettleburn

Who was Silvanus Kettleburn? He taught “Care of Magical Creatures” at Hogwarts until he was replaced by Rubeus Hagrid in Harry’s third year at school. While he doesn’t feature much in the books, here we are told that he was also prone to underestimate risk associated with magical beasts like Hargird and was put on probation a record 62 times during his teaching career at Hogwarts. There are some fun facts about his lost limbs and prosthetics that get burnt every time he goes visiting dragon sanctuaries.

Personally, what we found quite interesting about this collection is J K Rowling’s thoughts at the end of each story, where she explains how she came to pick a particular name for each character, e.g., Minerva was the Roman goddess of warriors and wisdom. Or that Sybill is a homonym for ancient seer Sybil and she gave Sybil a very ancient Cornish name of Trelawny to show how she was prone to use her family name to establish her superiority over others.

Volume 2:

Book Title : Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists (Kindle Single) (Pottermore Presents Book 2)
Author :
Publishers : Pottermore Publishing; Published: (6 September 2016)
# of Pages : 5372 KB 64 (Kindle Edition)
Purchase Link(s) :

Volume 2 is called Short Stories from Hogwarts – Of Power, Politics and Pesky Poletergiests.

Short Stories from Hogwarts – Of Power, Politics and Pesky Poletergiests

Short Stories from Hogwarts – Of Power, Politics and Pesky Poletergiests

This volume cotnains following stories:

  1. Dolores Umbridge
  2. Ministers for Magic and Azkaban
  3. Quirinus Quirrel
  4. Peeves the Poltergeist

Chapter 1 Dolores Umbridge

This chapter outlines the dark background story behind the cruel and sadistic personality of Dolores Umbridge who turned Hogwarts into a nightmare in Harry’s fifth year at school. Dolores Jane Umbridge was part of a dysfunctional family comprised of a wizarding father with no worldly ambitions, a muggle mother and a squib brother. The father and daughter parted ways with rest of the family early on and since then she pretended to be part of a pure-blood lineage. Her ruthless and ambitious run at the ministry ended up in her being convicted of torturing muggleborns when Lord Voldemort lost the battle of Hogwarts and the wizarding world found some peace.

J K Rowling explains that the character of Umbridge was developed by combining different characteristics from some people she has met in real life including her love for kitty posters, frills and girlish accessories. Even her name is a play on the expression ‘to take umbrage’ – indicating her pettiness and rigidity of character – and Dolores means sorrow which she wholeheartedly imparted to everyone she met.

Chapter 2. Ministers for Magic and Azkaban

This chapter informs us that the Ministry of Magic was formed in 1707 and the first minister of magic was called Ulick Gamp. Since then the post has been held by a variety of interesting witches and wizards that were elected either formally or informally and the full list is available here.

This chapter also tells us about a sorcerer called Ekrizdis who practiced evil magic on the island of Azkaban to lure and torture muggle sailors. When he finally died, the Ministry of Magic found this foul place and eventually an anti-muggle Minister for magic converted it into a prison. Since then, it has remained a controversial subject of discussion amongst wizarding community over its advantages and disadvantages. Pros being the perfect record of security from this prison for centuries and cons being the inhumane and terrible condition in which the dementors drive the prisoners mad.

Ultimately, after the battle of Hogwarts, the island was purged of Dementors and the guards are now aurors who are rotated on the regular basis. J. K. Rowling explains that she derived the name Azkaban by synthesizing the muggle prison island ‘Alcatraz’ and a Hebrew word ‘Abaddon’ which means ‘depths of Hell’.

Chapter 3. Horace Slughorn

This chapter recites the story of Horace Slughorn from his childhood through to the battle of Hogwarts and his final retirement. While the essence of his character is already revealed through Harry Potter books, here J K Rowling further emphasizes that he was “A little weak, a little lazy, certainly snobbish but a man that was good at heart…”.

He had fallen victim to young To Riddle’s charm and given away the secret of Horcruxes to him, or so he thought for most of his life, although Voldemort had already made one Horcrux before he ever asked Slughorn about them. He avoided meeting Voldemort after that, until the Battle of Hogwarts, where he was one of the last ones to duel with Voldemort alongside Kingsley Shacklebolt and Minerva McGonagall before Voldemort‘s final encounter with Harry.

The name Slughorn can mean both a fierce battle cry and a limpid, sluggish creature, which works rather well with the character .

Considering how Professor Slughorn was considered one of the most gifted potion makers in the wizarding world, J K Rowling backs up this chapter with some interesting history of potion making including details about ingredients used in this cumbersome, precise, methodical and yet inventive branch of magic.

Chapter 4 Quirinus Quirrel

This is a very short chapter describing the gifted but unfortunate Professor Quirrel who became Voldemort’s temporary horcrux during one of his world travelling adventures. His name is derived from an obscure roman God called Quirinus and Quirrel is like Squirrel, small, cute, trusting and harmless.

Chapter 5. A Pesky Poltergeist

Anyone who has read the Harry Potter books is familiar with this naughty and mischievous Peeves, the Poltergeist who doesn’t really like to abide by any laws or do much of anything useful. The name Poltergeist itself means a ‘noisy ghost’, and it has been a well-known concept in the western world that describes a noisy presence that slams doors, move objects and in general makes a lot of noise – especially in a place full of adolescents. In a school full of young witches and wizards, it is hardly any wonder that he becomes the ‘peeve’ of every Hogwarts caretaker.

Volume 3:

Book Title : Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide (Kindle Single) (Pottermore Presents Book 3)
Author :
Publishers : Pottermore Publishing; Published: (6 September 2016)
# of Pages : 5418 KB 80 (Kindle Edition)
Purchase Link(s) :

Volume 3 is called Hogwarts – An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide.

Hogwarts – An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide

Hogwarts – An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide

This volume contains following stories:

  1. The Journey to Hogwarts
  2. The Sorting
  3. The Castle and Grounds
  4. Lessons at Hogwarts
  5. Castle Residents
  6. Secrets of the Castle

This volume is full of short and funny chapters that take you through the entire journey of young witches and wizards, right from platform 9 and ¾ to Hogwarts castle and its grounds including the lake. In addition to what is already described in Harry Potter books, there are some bonus places like the Hufflepuff common room that Harry never visited.

J K Rowling also explains how she came up with some of the concepts while writing the book, e.g., how she figured out the sorting process…Names out of a hat – A talking hat – Put on the hat – Sorting Hat…

And here is one of our most favourite part of the whole volume, which talks about the futility of chasing the unattainable while life passes you by. In J K Rowling’s own words:

Albus Dumbledore‘s words of caution to Harry when discussing the Mirror of Erised express my own views. The advice to “hold on to your dreams” is all well and good, but there comes a point when holding on to your dreams becomes unhelpful and even unhealthy. Dumbledore knows that life can pass you by while you are clinging on to a wish that can never be – or ought never to be – fulfilled.

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