J.K. Rowling 'Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them' Tie-In Revolves Around American Hogwarts

By Victoria Guerra | Jun 29, 2016 03:48 PM EDT
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This year, Warner Bros. is introducing a new hero in the magical world of Harry Potter: Newt Scamander, played by Eddie Redmayne in the upcoming Fantastic Creatures and Where to Find Them. Ahead of the release, author J.K. Rowling has launched a series of related stories on Pottermore, and the most recent one, about the American version of Hogwarts, Ilvermorny, is totally nostalgia-inducing.

Following up on her series of stories regarding the many wizardry schools around the world as well as the controversial take on American magical history, Rowling has published a new, extensive history of North America's Ilvermorny school ... and it contains references as varied as the Mayflower, Irish mythological queen Morrigan and canon character Salazar Slytherin.

As it turns out, the school was founded by a descendant of Salazar Slytherin's --- namely, someone in fact related to evil personified himself, Lord Voldemort. The school was founded by an Irish witch who came on the Mayflower, Isolt Sayre, alongside her No-Maj (muggle) husband, James Steward, in Massachusetts.

Isolt, a descendant of legendary witch Morrigan as well as Salazar Slytherin, left Ireland fleeing from her pure blood-obsessed aunt, Gormlaith Gaunt (which fans will recognize as the surname of Voldemort's mother). There, she formed alliances and studied the magical creatures of North America, as well as adopting two children and having two biological ones with her No-Maj husband.

The decision to create Ilvermorny came from a desire to teach her young adopted children magic, as she couldn't go back to the United Kingdom and await their Hogwarts letter for fear of the purity-obsessed aunt. The school grew for many years, ultimately becoming the place where pilgrims could send their magical children to learn, while Native American witches and wizards agreed to share their magic secrets in the school in exchange for the knowledge on how to do magic with wands.

The story, a beautiful tale of a group of humans and magical creatures who wanted to make a place for themselves, can be read entirely right here.

Ilvermorny, much like Hogwarts, also has four houses, though these are named after magical creatures: Horned Serpent (which "favors scholars"), Wampus (where "warriors" usually end up), Pukwudgie (for "healers") and Thunderbird, "adventurers." Rowling has already said there's no direct equivalent to the four Hogwarts houses of Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin -- and you can get sorted!

For the past two decades, most of what fans have learned about the magical world Rowling created revolved around the United Kingdom, as that's where the Harry Potter story is entirely located. While the fourth installment of the saga, Goblet of Fire, dabbled into international aspects between the Quidditch World Cup and the Triwizard Tournament, the truth is we knew very little about the magic world outside the U.K. until Rowling's recent stories.

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