The Harry Potter Timeline
What we know so far
By Steve Vander Ark
The Second Rise of Lord Voldemort/Harry Potter comes to Hogwarts—1991–1996
When Harry Potter, the boy of the prophecy, turns eleven, he rejoins the wizarding world. He starts at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and quickly discovers that he is again the target of Voldemort. As the 1990s go by, the forces of darkness grow stronger and Harry finds himself battling Death Eaters and even facing Lord Voldemort himself on more than one occasion. Eventually, the Dark Lord regains his body and begins gathering his Death Eaters back to his side.
The wizarding world remains blissfully unaware of Voldemort’s return, due in a large part to the cowardly actions of Cornelius Fudge, the Minister for Magic. All that changes when a pitched battle is fought in the Department of Mysteries ending in a duel between Voldemort and Dumbledore. The Wizarding world must face the reality of a return of Lord Voldemort.
-- book one: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone --
- Saturday, June 23 (note: the dates for events don’t necessarily match the dates in our world. Rowling made no effort to match dates with days of the weeks in any particular year) – Dudley’s eleventh birthday, spent at a zoo with his friend Piers Polkiss and Harry. In the reptile house, Harry unknowingly uses magic to release a boa constrictor.
- July 24 through 30 – letters arrive at the home of the Dursleys inviting Harry Potter to attend Hogwarts. Uncle Vernon does everything he can to avoid the letters, eventually taking the family on a wild car ride around Britain and ending up at a hut on a rock out at sea on the evening of July 30.
- Tuesday, July 31 – Harry’s eleventh birthday. Just at midnight, Hagrid knocks on the door of the hut on the rock. He reveals Harry’s true identity, tells off the Dursleys, and in the morning takes Harry to Diagon Alley to buy his school things. In Diagon Alley, Harry visits Gringotts Bank, meets Draco Malfoy and Quirrell, and receives his owl, Hedwig, as a gift from Hagrid. That same day, Voldemort forces Quirrell to attempt to steal the Philosopher’s Stone (Sorcerer’s Stone to U.S. readers) from Gringotts, but the attempt fails.
August – Voldemort, frustrated by Quirrell’s failure in stealing the Stone, possesses Quirrell and exists as a face looking out from the back of Quirrell’s head. Quirrell starts wearing a turban to hide this fact.
- Sunday, September 1 – Harry boards the Hogwarts Express to begin his schooling. On board, he meets Ron Weasley and the two become friends. He also meets a bossy girl named Hermione Granger and doesn’t like her at all.
- Monday, September 2 – classes begin.
- Friday, September 6 – Harry and Ron visit Hagrid’s hut for tea.
- Thursday, September 12 – Harry has his first flying lesson and discovers that flying is something he’s really good at. McGonagall sees him and puts him on the Gryffindor Quidditch team, the youngest house player in a century.
October 31 – A mountain troll interrupts the Halloween feast. Harry and Ron defeat the troll, rescuing Hermione Granger, and the three become friends.
December 25 – Harry receives his father’s Invisibility Cloak as a gift; He uses it to explore the castle after dark and comes upon the Mirror of Erised. He sees his father and mother for the first time in that mirror.
Late April – Hagrid hatches Norbert, a Norwegian Ridgeback Dragon, in his wooden cabin. Eventually, in early May, Harry and Hermione bring Norbert up to the tallest tower at midnight and give the dragon to some of Charlie’s dragon keeper friends, who bring Norbert to Romania. Harry and Hermione get caught on their way back down from the tower, and they are ordered to serve detention. Malfoy and Neville also are caught and will serve the detention with them.
May – Harry’s detention takes him into the forest, where he encounters Quirrell drinking unicorn blood. Harry is rescued by Firenze the centaur.
Early June – Harry follows Quirrell down into the chambers below the castle where Dumbledore has hidden the Stone. Harry meets Voldemort face to face and battles with Quirrell. Harry wins…barely.
-- book two: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets --
- July 31 – Harry turns twelve. He is visited in Privet Drive by Dobby the house-elf, who gets him into a lot of trouble. Harry is locked in his room.
- August 3 – Late on the evening of this day, Ron and his brothers turn up outside Harry’s window in a flying car. They rescue him from the Dursleys and take him to their home, the Burrow. They arrive at daybreak on August 4.
September 1 – Harry and Ron miss the train at King’s Cross, so they set off for Hogwarts in the flying car. They get in all sorts of trouble when they finally get there.
Early fall – Under the influence of Tom Riddle’s diary, which is a Horcrux holding a piece of Voldemort’s soul, Ginny Weasley opens the Chamber of Secrets and releases the basilisk.
October 31 – Nearly Headless Nick’s 500th deathday party. Harry, Ron, and Hermione attend, after which they get in trouble for being at the scene of an attack which Petrifies Mrs. Norris, the cat belonging to the caretaker, Mr. Filch.
November 8 – Harry breaks his arm playing Quidditch. Lockhart then proceeds to remove all the bones from it. Colin Creevey is Petrified by the unknown assailant.
December 18 – Justin Finch-Fletchley and Nearly-Headless Nick are petrified.
December 25 – Harry, Ron, and Hermione take Polyjuice Potion to take on the appearance of some Slytherins. Harry and Ron discover that Malfoy has had nothing to do with the attacks. Hermione, however, suffers a partial transformation into a cat and spends the month of January in the hospital wing.
- May 8 – Hermione is Petrified. Hagrid is sent to Azkaban and Dumbledore is removed as Headmaster through the underhanded actions of Lucius Malfoy.
- May 24 – Harry and Ron enter the Forest and meet Aragog.
- May 29 – Harry and Ron figure out how to get into the Chamber of Secrets. After a cave-in, Harry alone faces the basilisk and Tom Riddle—Voldemort’s 16-year-old self—and defeats him. The next day, Dumbledore and Hagrid are back and Dobby the house-elf is freed. The diary Horcrux is destroyed. However, the mysterious power of this magical book gives Dumbledore the first notion that Tom Riddle may have created Horcruxes.
-- book three: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban --
Summer – During the last week of July and the first three weeks of August, Ron and his family visit Bill in Egypt. On July 30, Sirius Black escapes from Azkaban.
July 31 through August 7 – Aunt Marge, Uncle Vernon’s horrible sister, visits Privet Drive. Harry finally loses his temper and blows her up like a balloon. Then he runs away from home, only to be picked up by the Knight Bus.
Last three weeks of August - Harry spends the rest of the summer staying at the Leaky Cauldron and visiting Diagon Alley. This carefree period is the last he will have. The forces of evil are closing in around Harry, little by little, and he will never again be as happy as he is during these three weeks of freedom.
- September 1 – Harry and his friends take the Hogwarts Express to school. Hogwarts is now surrounded by dementors. Remus Lupin is the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.
- September 2 – in Care of Magical Creatures, Malfoy is injured by a hippogriff named Buckbeak. The fault is entirely Malfoy’s, but Hagrid is blamed.
- October 6 – During a Quidditch match, Harry is overcome when dementors show up on the pitch, and he falls from his broom. His Nimbus 2000 is destroyed when it floats off into the Whomping Willow.
- October 31 – After a Hogsmeade weekend (which Harry misses out on), the evening is taken up with the Halloween feast. During the feast, Sirius Black attempts to enter Gryffindor Tower, but is stopped by the Fat Lady.
- December 18 – Harry receives the Marauder’s Map from Fred and George and sneaks into Hogsmeade. He hears the story of Sirius Black’s supposed betrayal of his parents.
- December 25 – Harry receives a Firebolt for Christmas, but McGonagall confiscates it.
February 3 – Harry gets his Firebolt back in time to use it in the Quidditch match against Ravenclaw the following Saturday, the fifth. That evening, Sirius Black sneaks into Gryffindor Tower and attacks. Although he is really trying to attack Scabbers, Ron thinks he is the target.
April 16 – Gryffindor wins the Quidditch Cup.
June 3 through 6 – Exams. On the last day, Buckbeak is scheduled to be executed. Harry hears Trelawney make a genuine prediction, and that evening he, Ron, and Hermione encounter Sirius Black in the Shrieking Shack. They are followed by Lupin and Snape. Scabbers is revealed to be Peter Pettigrew. Peter escapes and Sirius is captured. He is to be given the Dementor’s Kiss, which is worse than a death sentence, but he is rescued by Harry and Hermione, who travel back in time to free Buckbeak just before his execution and bring the hippogriff to Sirius, who flies away to freedom.
-- book four: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire --
- Bertha Jorkins, on holiday in Albania, encounters Pettigrew and is taken to Voldemort.
- July 31 – Harry’s fourteenth birthday.
- August 20 – early in the morning, Frank Bryce is killed in the Riddle House by Lord Voldemort.
- Monday, August 22 – Final of the Quidditch World Cup. Ireland defeats Bulgaria, 170 to 160.
September 1 – Harry and his friends travel to Hogwarts aboard the Hogwarts Express. The school year begins with “Mad-Eye” Moody in the Defense Against the Dark Arts position.
October 30 – delegations from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, two European wizarding schools, arrive at Hogwarts. The next day, on Halloween, the Goblet of Fire chooses champions from each school to compete in the Triwizard Tournament. Inexplicably, a fourth champion is chosen—Harry Potter.
November 24 – First Task of the Triwizard Tournament. The contestants must capture a golden egg from in front of a mother dragon.
December 25 – The Yule Ball, from 8 pm until midnight. Harry attends with Parvati Patil. Hermione is Victor Krum’s date, much to Ron’s dismay.
February 24, 9:30 am – Second Task of the Triwizard Tournament. The contestant must swim to the bottom of the lake and rescue their friends from the merpeople.
June 24, at dusk – Third Task of the Triwizard Tournament. The contestants must battle magic spells and creatures to get to the Triwizard Cup in the center of a huge maze. Cedric Diggory and Harry take the Cup together and find themselves transported to the Little Hangleton graveyard. Cedric is killed and Harry is unwillingly used in a ceremony which allows Voldemort to regain his body. Harry escapes after his wand and Voldemort’s react in a bizarre way, releasing shadows of people Voldemort has killed. Back at Hogwarts, Harry warns Dumbledore, but is almost killed by Moody, who turns out to be a Death Eater in disguise. Cornelius Fudge refuses to believe that Voldemort is back, which marks the beginning of a split between Fudge and Dumbledore.
July 2 – End of the Year Feast where Dumbledore makes his famous “Remember Cedric Diggory” speech.
-- book five: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix --
- July 31 – Harry’s fifteenth birthday.
- August 2 – Harry and Dudley are attacked by dementors in an alley near Privet Drive. He learns the true identity of Mrs. Figg.
- August 6 – Harry is rescued from Privet Drive by members of the Order of the Phoenix. He is taken to number twelve Grimmauld Place.
- August 12 – Harry faces a disciplinary hearing at the Ministry of Magic. He is acquitted of all charges when Dumbledore arrives to defend him.
September 1 – Harry and his friends leave on the Hogwarts Express. He meets Luna Lovegood for the first time.
October 5 – Harry convenes the first meeting of Dumbledore’s Army, in the Hog’s Head; the first official meeting in the Room of Requirement happens the following Wednesday, October 9.
November 2 – Quidditch match, Slytherin against Gryffindor, after which Harry, Fred, and George are banned from playing Quidditch for life.
December 18 – Harry and Cho kiss under the mistletoe. Later that evening, Mr. Weasley is attacked in the hall near the Department of Mysteries by Voldemort in the form of a giant snake. He is taken to St. Mungo’s, gravely injured. Harry and the Weasleys are Portkeyed to Grimmauld Place by Dumbledore.
Christmas Day – Harry, Ron and Hermione meet Lockhart at St. Mungo’s.
Valentine’s Day – Harry and Cho go on a date into Hogsmeade. It doesn’t go well. Later, Harry gives an interview to Rita Skeeter where he tells the truth about what happened. The interview is published in The Quibbler on February 23.
- Dumbledore’s Army is betrayed. Harry is caught, but Dumbledore takes the blame and is removed from his post by Fudge.
- First Monday after Easter – Fred and George quit school and leave in a blaze of glory.
- First two weeks – Harry, Ron, and Hermione take their O.W.L.s.
- On the day of the last exam, Harry and other members of the D.A. travel to London where they infiltrate the Department of Mysteries. There they fight a pitched battle with a group of Death Eaters. They are joined by members of the Order of the Phoenix, and in the melee Sirius Black is killed. Dumbledore and Voldemort join the fray and fight a massive duel. Voldemort escapes with Bellatrix Lestrange. Fudge sees Voldemort and realizes that he was wrong. Harry finally learns of the Prophecy that has had such a profound impact on his life.
-- book six: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince –
With Voldemort out in the open, the second war begins.
It’s a busy two weeks:
- When Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge refuses to step aside for Voldemort, the Brockdale Bridge is destroyed, killing dozens of Muggles.
- Amelia Bones, Head of Magical Law Enforcement, and Emmeline Vance, a member of the Order of the Phoenix, are murdered—the former by Voldemort himself.
- Destruction in Somerset is reported; Muggles suspect a hurricane, but it is probably the work of giants working for Voldemort.
- Dementors are breeding, causing cool weather and persistent mist across Britain.
- Cornelius Fudge is sacked and Rufus Scrimgeour, head of the Aurors, takes his place.
- A Junior Minister in the Muggle government, Herbert Chorley, has a bad reaction to an Imperius Curse and thinks he’s a duck. He is spirited away to St. Mungo’s and Kingsley Shacklebolt takes a position as a secretary to the Muggle Prime Minister to guard him.
- Fudge visits the Muggle Prime Minister and introduces him to Scrimgeour.
- Voldemort is furious with the failure of his Death Eaters to retrieve the prophecy. He assigns Draco Malfoy the task of killing Dumbledore, at least in part to punish Lucius’s failure, since Draco will almost certainly be killed.
- Narcissa Malfoy, followed by her sister Bellatrix, visits Severus Snape in his house on Spinner’s End and get him to take the Unbreakable Vow that he will protect Draco and, if necessary, kill Dumbledore for him.
- Harry spends two weeks at number four, Privet Drive.
Early July – Dumbledore visits Privet Drive and takes Harry to theBurrow. On the way, they stop by Budleigh Babberton and convince Horace Slughorn to return to Hogwarts and teach Potions.
July 31 – Harry’s sixteenth birthday. Harry celebrates at the Burrow, but the celebrations are marred by reports of dementor attacks and disappearances brought home by Arthur, Bill, and Lupin.
August 3 – Harry, Hermione and the Weasleys visit a much-changed Diagon Alley. There they have a run-in with Draco and Narcissa Malfoy in Madam Malkin’s, visit Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, and follow Draco to Borgin and Burkes, where they overhear him threatening Mr. Borgin.
Circa September 2 – On Harry’s first day of class, he receives the Half-Blood Prince’s old Potions book.
Circa September 7 – Harry has his first one-on-one lesson with Dumbledore. They view Bob Ogden’s memory of the Gaunt house, and discuss the circumstances surrounding Voldemort’s birth.
October – Harry’s second lesson with Dumbledore. Together they view Dumbledore’s memory of going to meet young Tom Riddle at his orphanage.
December 25 – Rufus Scrimgeour visits the Burrow on Christmas Day. He shows up under the pretense of Percy wanting to see his family. It soon becomes apparent, however, that what he actually wants is to ask Harry to support the Ministry. Harry refuses to help him and walks away.
January 6 – Harry’s third lesson with Dumbledore. Harry and Dumbledore together watch the memory of Tom Riddle returning to the Gaunt house and a fuzzy memory of Riddle asking Professor Slughorn about Horcruxes.
March 1 – Ron’s seventeenth birthday. Shortly after waking up, Ron accidentally has some of Romilda Vane’s love potion—and after Slughorn provides him with an antidote, he inadvertently poisons Ron as well. Fortunately, Harry reacts quickly and gives Ron a bezoar, saving his life.
March 10 – Harry’s fourth lesson with Dumbledore. Harry arrives at his lesson with Dumbledore having forgotten to do his homework and get the full memory from Slughorn. They watch several memories, including Voldemort’s applying to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts, and Dumbledore warns Harry that further lessons will be useless without the memory from Slughorn.
April 21 – Horace Slughorn finally gives up his memory to Harry—thanks to Felix Felicis. He races to Dumbledore’s study at midnight and together they watch the full memory, discussing Voldemort, Horcruxes, and the prophecy—along with how Harry is going to react to all three.
Circa May – Gryffindor wins the Quidditch Cup without Harry playing, as he is in detention with Snape. Harry returns to Gryffindor Tower after his detention to find a massive celebration—and immediately kisses Ginny in front of everybody.
June – Harry and Dumbledore retrieve the fake Horcrux from inside Voldemort’s sea cave. They return to find the castle in turmoil.
The Battle of Hogwarts – While Dumbledore is away, a gang of Death Eaters, led by Draco Malfoy, sneaks into Hogwarts through the Vanishing Cabinet in the Room of Requirement. They battle the Order of the Phoenix, and when Dumbledore and Harry return, Dumbledore freezes Harry and Draco arrives to disarmDumbledore.
After a standoff, Snape arrives and kills Dumbledore, and the Death Eaters flee the school. Harry then discovers that the locket is not the real Horcrux, but rather that it was replaced by a fake one by R.A.B.
June – Dumbledore’s funeral. Much of the British wizarding world comes to Hogwarts to bid farewell to the “greatest headmaster Hogwarts ever had.” 2
After rejecting Scrimgeour again and breaking ties with Ginny, Harry walks off with Ron and Hermione. He pledges to find the Horcruxes himself, and they pledge to stand with him the whole time. Harry says that he plans to go to Godric’s Hollow, since that’s where this all started.
-- book seven: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows --
Although Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows might find Harry away from Hogwarts and many things will be different, we can make a few shrewd guesses about what is to come…
Summer – Bill and Fleur will be married in June. Harry will go back to Privet Drive one more time for the protection that offers him. He will visit Godric’s Hollow at some point during the summer. On July 31, Harry will turn seventeen and come of age.
The 1997–1998 school year – Will McGonagall be made Headmistress? Will Hogwarts reopen? If it does, will Harry return there for his seventh year or will he spend the year finding the remaining Horcruxes and destroying them? We can assume that at the end of it all, presumably in June of 1998, Harry will finally face Voldemort and defeat him, but at what cost?
1. Rowling, Chamber of Secrets, 311.
2. Rowling, Sorcerer’s Stone, 58.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. New York: Scholastic Press, Arthur A. Levine Books, 1999.
———, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York: Scholastic Press, Arthur A. Levine Books, 1998.