J.K. Rowling certainly made good on her Harry Potter Halloween promise. Last week, the author announced plans to publish an essay chronicling the backstory of evil Hogwarts professor Dolores Umbridge as an October 31st treat on her Pottermore website. But she went one step further, posting that tale and five others, all of which explore the rich universe of her popular fantasy series – including details about the founding of wizard prison Azkaban and the process wizards have for naming their offspring.
Finding these revealing new stories isn’t so simple – users must navigate the maze-like structure of the Pottermore site, unlocking hidden chapters by clicking on various images. But Potter fans will be rewarded for their patience.
As Vulture notes, Rowling expresses deep hatred for Umbridge, noting that the pink-obsessed character was inspired by a teacher whom she despised. “I have noticed more than once in life that a taste for the ineffably twee can go hand-in-hand with a distinctly uncharitable outlook on the world,” she writes. “[Umbridge’s] desire to control, to punish, and to inflict pain, all in the name of law and order, are, I think, every bit as reprehensible as Lord Voldemort’s unvarnished espousal of evil.”
In the five other stories, Rowling fleshes out a variety of characters and settings. Some of the juiciest tidbits include the following: Azkaban was once home to a dark magician named Ekrizdis, who captured muggle sailors and subjected them to horrifying torture; alcoholic Professor Trelawney is, in the author’s estimation, “90% fraud,” and her marriage “ended in rupture when she refused to adopt the last name Higginbottom”; the magical flying thestrals (which can only be seen after witnessing death) are carnivorous but also “reward all who trust them with faithfulness and obedience.”
Rowling also breaks down the history of the Ministry of Magic, detailing all the Ministers – including “Basil Flack (1752): Shortest serving Minister. Lasted two months; resigned after the goblins joined forces with werewolves.” Exploring the wizard-naming process, the author reveals that some parents consult with a Naming Seer, who selects a name after predicting a child’s future.