The Harry Potter Timeline
What we know so far
By Steve Vander Ark
The Years Between—1946–1969
After Tom Riddle disappears, twenty years pass and life goes on in relative peace and quiet. It is during this time that Molly and Arthur attend Hogwarts. We don’t know the years for sure, but since their son Bill is born in 1970, we can guess that they probably are students during the 1960s. We do know that they eloped during the unsettled time after Voldemort began exerting his power. During these years a number of people are born who will play an important part in the story of Harry Potter, including Lucius Malfoy, Rita Skeeter, and Bellatrix Black... and of course, his parents and their contemporaries.
All this time, Tom Riddle is becoming the evil Dark Lord Voldemort, consorting with the worst of wizardkind and learning secrets and Dark magic that will change him forever from the handsome, talented boy of the 1940s into a twisted, horrible villain who would be known as the most evil wizard of the age. He is creating more Horcruxes with the goal of having a seven part soul, a very magical number. One can only imagine Dumbledore keeping watch for all these years, waiting and wondering what happened to the boy he knew as Tom Riddle...
Some important dates from this era:
1951 – Birth of Rita Skeeter and Bellatrix Black.
1954 – Lucius Malfoy is born.
1955 – Albus Dumbledore succeeds Armando Dippet as headmaster of Hogwarts; Narcissa Black is born.
1956 – In December, Minerva McGonagall begins teaching at Hogwarts.
1957 – Ten years after the death of Hepzibah Smith, Voldemort returns to Hogwarts accompanied by Death Eaters, to apply for the job of Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Dumbledore turns him down.
Approximately 1959 – James Potter, Lily Evans, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Peter Pettigrew, and Severus Snape are born (Snape on January 9).
Early 1960s - While still a small boy, Remus Lupin is bitten by the werewolf Fenrir Greyback. Remus’s parents worry that he’ll never be accepted at Hogwarts.
1961 – Regulus Black is born. Regulus is the brother of Sirius and very likely the mysterious R.A.B.
1962 – Bartemius Crouch is born.
1965 – Lucius Malfoy starts his first year at Hogwarts. He is sorted into Slytherin.
1969 – Arthur Weasley elopes with Molly Prewett.
The Years of Terror—1970–1981
During the 1970s, Voldemort begins to gather followers who are eager for a share of his power. The closest followers of Voldemort are known as the Death Eaters. At first, many wizards who believe in the superiority of pure-blood families are attracted to Voldemort’s movement. However, once they realize the lengths to which he was willing to go to further his ambition, they pull away. For some it is too late to escape.
As Voldemort’s influence grows, terrible events begin to happen. Voldemort is merciless with those who oppose him. Some witches and wizards become controlled by the Imperius Curse and are forced to commit atrocities, including the torture and murder of Muggles. Voldemort capitalizes on the prejudice and distrust between the giants and the wizarding world; the giants become Voldemort’s followers and kill and torture many people. No one dares to become friendly with strange witches and wizards, not knowing if they are Voldemort supporters.
Bartemius Crouch becomes head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. He gives his Aurors the authority to use drastic methods not differing greatly from the tactics used by the Death Eaters they are fighting. The wizarding world is filled with fear, violence, and mistrust.
During these terrible years, James Potter and his contemporaries attend Hogwarts. The school becomes one of the few safe places in the wizarding world because Dumbledore, now headmaster, is the one person Voldemort fears. Dumbledore forms the Order of the Phoenix to combat the Dark Lord. The members of the Order find themselves hopelessly outnumbered; many are killed by Death Eaters or by Voldemort himself.
When they leave school, James and Lily, now married, join the Order. While Lily is pregnant with her first child, a prophecy is made about a boy who will defeat the Dark Lord. James and Lily’s child would be that boy.
Some important dates during this era:
1970 – Bill Weasley is born on November 29.
Approximately 1970 – The Shrieking Shack is constructed and the Whomping Willow is planted. James, Lily, Snape, and their contemporaries begin their first year at Hogwarts. Lucius Malfoy is a seventh year Slytherin.
1972 – Charlie Weasley is born on December 12.
1973 – Nymphadora Tonks is born. She will be in the same year at Hogwarts as Charlie.
1974 – James, Sirius, and Pettigrew learn to become Animagi and once a month join Lupin—who is in werewolf form—in romping around the castle grounds.
1975 – James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter sit their O.W.L.s in June. After their Defense Against the Dark Arts O.W.L., James torments Snape for Sirius’s amusement. About the same time, Sirius plays a fateful practical joke on Severus, which almost gets him killed. Snape is saved from death by James. All of these events will directly impact Harry’s life more than twenty years later.
1976 – Percy Weasley is born on August 22. That fall, James and his friends create the Marauder’s Map using the information they’ve learned about the castle while transformed into animals.
1978 – Fred and George Weasley are born on April 1. In June, James and his friends, as well as Snape, leave Hogwarts.
1978 or 1979 – James and Lily are married. Sirius Black is best man. They join the Order of the Phoenix. During this short time, James and Lily manage to defy Voldemort three times, as do another couple in the Order, Frank and Alice Longbottom.
1979 – Hermione Granger is born on September 19. Both Lily Potter and Alice Longbottom become pregnant late in the year. Meanwhile, Peter Pettigrew begins passing information to Voldemort. During this year, Regulus Black attempts to back out of being a Death Eater, but is killed on Voldemort’s orders. The circumstances of Regulus’s death are unknown at this time.
- Early in the year, Dumbledore interviews Sybill Trelawney for the post of Divination teacher at Hogwarts. During this interview, Trelawney makes a prediction about a boy who will be born at the end of July to parents who have thrice defied the Dark Lord, a boy who would be able to defeat Voldemort. It is this prophecy which sets in motion the events of the Harry Potter books themselves.
- Ron Weasley is born on March 1. The other students in Harry’s year, including Draco Malfoy, are also born during this time.
- Two boys are born at the end of July who could fit the description in Trelawney’s prophecy. Alice and Frank Longbottom have a son, Neville, on July 30. James and Lily Potter also have a son, Harry, who is born on July 31.
- Ginny Weasley is born on August 11.
- Snape is hired by Dumbledore to be the Potions teacher, although he applied for the Defense Against the Dark Arts position.
- Around October 24, James and Lily, who know that Voldemort is after them, prepare a Fidelius Charm to protect them and their son. They are planning to use Sirius Black as their Secret Keeper, but at the last moment and at Sirius’ suggestion, they use Peter Pettigrew instead.
- On the evening of October 31, Pettigrew betrays the Potters to Voldemort, who comes to their home in Godric’s Hollow. Voldemort first kills James when he tries to buy time for his wife and their son to escape. Then Voldemort kills Lily as she shields one-year-old Harry to protect him. Finally, he tries to kill Harry, but the curse rebounds and hits Voldemort. The Dark Lord is reduced to a non-corporeal state, barely alive, and flees.
- Hagrid and Sirius Black meet at the ruins of the Potters’ house. Hagrid takes baby Harry and Sirius sets out after Peter Pettigrew. Black alone knows what Peter has done. But the Dark Lord is gone. The years of terror are over.
- November 1 finds the wizarding world celebrating the downfall of Voldemort, but Dumbledore is making arrangements for Harry to be raised in safety by his only remaining blood relatives, the Dursleys. Just before midnight on November 1, Hagrid delivers Harry to the Dursleys’ home in Privet Drive, where McGonagall and Dumbledore are waiting. They leave the boy on the doorstep with a letter explaining the circumstances.
- Sirius Black catches up with Peter Pettigrew, but Pettigrew has a trick up his sleeve. He blows a hole in the street, killing twelve Muggles in the process, and escapes into the sewer having transformed into a rat. Ministry wizards swarm onto the scene and Black is arrested for the murders. He is subsequently sent to Azkaban without a trial.
- Bellatrix Black Lestrange, Rodolphus Lestrange, Rabastan Lestrange, and Bartemius Crouch Jr. are arrested for using the Cruciatus Curse on Frank and Alice Longbottom in an attempt to discover the whereabouts of Voldemort; all of the accused are sent to Azkaban.
- Frank Longbottom and his wife Alice are committed to St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries, driven insane from the Cruciatus Curse.
- Bartemius Crouch Jr. is secretly rescued from Azkaban. His mother uses Polyjuice Potion to take his place there, where she dies within a year. Bartemius Crouch Jr. is kept a virtual prisoner in his father’s home, tended by Winky, a loyal house-elf.
- In disguise as a rat, Peter Pettigrew becomes a pet of Percy Weasley.
For the next ten years, Harry Potter lives with his Aunt Petunia and his Uncle Vernon, who treat him very poorly and never tell him that he’s a wizard. They tell him that the scar on his forehead is the result of the car crash that killed his parents. Hermione Granger, whose parents are Muggle dentists, attends Muggle primary school, while Ron Weasley is home-schooled by Molly.
1989 – Quirrell takes a year off to get some first-hand experience fighting the Dark Arts. He encounters Voldemort in Albania. Voldemort manages to turn Quirrell to the Dark side, and travels with him back to Britain. At this point, Voldemort’s goal is to find the Philosopher’s Stone (called the Sorcerer’s Stone in the U.S. editions) in order to gain immortality.