The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a tremendously immersive one, and the Fantastic Beasts/Harry Potter timeline is a masterpiece of storytelling. Its most recent installment, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, takes place in 1937 in the events leading up to World War 2. Here’s the Harry Potter timeline explained. Over more than two decades, the franchise carefully built an entire world around the central character, with a rich and detailed history. There have been Harry Potter books, movies, plays, and more, while Rowling’s official Harry Potter resource website, Pottermore, has vastly deepened the Wizarding World timeline.
The introduction to the Wizarding World began with the Harry Potter series and then moved back into the timeline of the Fantastic Beasts series. While the Harry Potter movies came out first, the Fantastic Beasts timeline is actually set about 70 years prior. The interesting thing about the way these two franchises were released, is that Fantastic Beasts explains a lot of Harry Potter lore and ties up some loose ends (such as Nagini’s maledictus origins or pieces of Dumbledore’s story in Secrets of Dumbledore). Here is the complete Harry Potter timeline that connects the Harry Potter franchise to Fantastic Beasts, along with other HP works that are set in the future.
The Years Each Fantastic Beasts And Harry Potter Story Take Place
Given the complexity of the Wizarding World franchise and the Harry Potter timeline, it can be tricky to understand the relationship between the many events that weave the Wizarding World together. As such, here’s a basic timeline of when the Harry Potter/Fantastic Beasts films – and the stage play – are set:
- 1926: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
- 1927: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
- 1937: Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore
- 1991–1992: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
- 1992–1993: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- 1993–1994: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- 1994–1995: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- 1995–1996: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- 1996–1997: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- 1997–1998: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I and II
- 2017-2021: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Click here to watch the Complete Harry Potter timeline on YouTube.
How To Work Out The Official Harry Potter Timeline
Although the Harry Potter books initially didn’t provide exact dates for the Harry Potter timeline, clues such as Nearly-Headless Nick’s 500th Death-Day and the Potters’ tombstones placed them in the 1990s, from 1991 to 1998. Considering the first Harry Potter book was published in 1997, this may have been story insurance for Rowling, ensuring no real events could influence the plots of her novels. While the movies were made in the 2000s and reflect that decade, clues suggest that they also occur in the 1990s. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child picks up from The Deathly Hallows‘ epilogue, set 19 years later. Meanwhile, the Fantastic Beasts movies begin in New York City in 1926.
Those are the essential events in the Harry Potter timeline so far, but the franchise continues to expand. Looking forward, any future Fantastic Beasts films are expected to continue to explore the first half of the 20th century. It has been suggested that the third film in the franchise, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore takes place in 1937. The franchise is slowly building the story of the rise and fall of Gellert Grindelwald, a dark wizard defeated by Albus Dumbeldore in 1945. Meanwhile, Rowling continues to use her Pottermore website to fill in more details about the history and culture of her Wizarding World. And there is always the chance that another book, movie, or even television show about Harry Potter himself could manifest in the future.
The Harry Potter timeline is remarkable in its consistency. There are a handful of minor continuity issues brought about by the expansion of the universe to spin-off stories (the casting of Fiona Glascott as the young Professor McGonagall in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the perfect example) but, in general, Rowling has a masterful understanding of continuity, and plot and character threads weave through the decades and even centuries. The following is a detailed breakdown of the most important moments in wizarding history in the Harry Potter/Fantastic Beasts canon timeline.
The Official Harry Potter Timeline In Full
The Harry Potter timeline spans much farther than the movies cover. From the founding of Hogwarts to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, there is over a millennium’s worth of lore that J.K. Rowling has created with the Wizarding World, meaning the movies and books themselves are simply a drop in the bucket. The Wizarding World is exactly what it is named, an entire world, and with that, its own history spanning from the earliest recordings in the 10th century all the way up to 2021. While some of this Harry Potter mythos appears in the books, its primary purpose is to fully flesh out the Wizarding World at large and provide a more intriguing context to Harry’s life, trials, and tribulations.
The Founding of Hogwarts and the Deathly Hallows
The Harry Potter timeline begins in earnest towards the end of the 10th century, with the founding of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It’s not clear whether Hogwarts was the first such wizarding school or not; dates for most of the other schools, such as Beauxbatons Academy of Magic, have rarely been stressed. But Hogwarts is certainly the most important to Rowling’s Wizarding World stories, which tend to focus on the British wizarding community.
Until the founding of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter timeline, most British witches and wizards had been homeschooled. The establishment of a dedicated learning center led to a massive boom in the discovery of new spells, with some sorcerers growing to real prominence and significant influence. Merlin, for example, was a Slytherin who championed Muggle rights (he may even have been taught by Salazar Slytherin himself, although he clearly rejected Slytherin’s anti-Muggle philosophy). And the Peverell brothers, as featured in the children’s fairy tale collection The Tales of Beedle the Bard, either discovered or – more likely – created the Deathly Hallows.
By the end of the 17th century in the Harry Potter timeline, the wizarding community was growing tired of constant conflict with Muggles. As a result, the International Confederation of Wizards established the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy, one of the most important events in the Fantastic Beasts timeline.
- 990 AD: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was established by Godric Gryffindor, Salazar Slytherin, Helga Hufflepuff, and Rowena Ravenclaw. Each of the four founders taught students of magic based on their own focus and philosophy, sorting the students into four distinct groups. However, the relationships between Slytherin and the other founders grew increasingly strained as he stressed the need to train only Pureblooded witches and wizards in the ways of magic. Slytherin created the Chamber of Secrets beneath the school; it’s believed he originally intended to use it as a secret place to train his students in spells the other founders disagreed with teaching. It’s unclear how long Slytherin stayed at Hogwarts once these tensions arose but, in the end, he left his post at the school in a fury, sealing an enchanted Basilisk within the Chamber of Secrets. He established a legend that the Chamber would one day be opened to purge Hogwarts of those unworthy of magic.
- 1100s: Merlin became part of the Court of King Arthur. A firm believer in Muggle rights, he founded the Order of Merlin to prevent wizards from using magic against them.
- 1200s: The Deathly Hallows were created. According to legend, the Peverell Brothers – Antioch, Ignotus, and Cadmus – met Death on a lonely road, and walked away with the Hallows. Although the brothers were largely believed to be a myth told as a children’s fairy tale, after the events of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows revealed that the Hallows actually exist, it was speculated that the brothers were real. They may have actually been three powerful wizards who created the Hallows themselves.
- 1300s: The French alchemist Nicolas Flamel successfully created the Philosopher’s Stone (or Sorcerer’s Stone), which granted Flamel and his wife immortality when they consumed the Elixir of Life created by the stone.
- 1400s: The Yorkshire-born Beedle the Bard wrote down his “fairy tales,” immortalizing legends such as the tale of the Deathly Hallows.
- 1692: In the face of growing anti-magic violence worldwide, the International Confederation of Wizards established the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy. This is a crucial event in the Fantastic Beasts timeline and is essentially the beginning of modern wizarding society. Wizards went into hiding for good, creating secretive magical communities. Many small villages and hamlets – such as Godric’s Hollow – became home to groups of magical families, who banded together to protect one another.
- 1700s: The Chamber of Secrets was almost discovered when Hogwarts installed a complex new plumbing system. Corvinus Gaunt, a member of the Gaunt family and thus a direct descendent of Salazar Slytherin, was a student at Hogwarts at the time and was there to ensure that the Chamber remained concealed.
- 1707: The Ministry of Magic was officially founded in the United Kingdom.
- 1880s: Albus, Aberforth, and Ariana Dumbledore were born.
The Fantastic Beasts Timeline Begins
The Fantastic Beasts timeline essentially begins with Albus Dumbledore – a secretive wizard from a family that suffered a horrific tragedy. A young Albus Dumbledore found himself drawn into the orbit of charismatic anti-Muggle campaigner Gellert Grindelwald and even briefly helped Grindelwald put together his campaign and strategy. The two had an intense romantic relationship and separated in heartbreaking circumstances. They would forevermore be opposed to one another.
Grindelwald successfully acquired the Elder Wand in the Harry Potter timeline and began to launch rallies across Europe. His name was associated with a wave of anti-Muggle violence, and an international search began to find and detain him. By the 1920s, Grindelwald had focused on gaining a powerful ally; he learned of a powerful Obscurus in New York and traveled there to find him. That leads directly into the events of the first two Fantastic Beasts movies. When The Secrets of Dumbledore takes place, there’s been about a ten-year jump ahead and Grindelwald’s takeover is in full swing. Dumbledore recruits a new team to fight against him, and ends up breaking the blood pact.
This era is also notable for a series of events in the Harry Potter timeline revealed in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. While Grindelwald was gaining power and notoriety as a formidable Dark Wizard in the Fantastic Beasts timeline, another darkness loomed in the future of the Harry Potter timeline. In the same era, Merope Gaunt became infatuated with a Muggle and gave birth to Tom Riddle – the infant who would become Lord Voldemort.
- 1890: Tragedy struck the Dumbledore family when six-year-old Ariana was attacked by a group of Muggle boys. Her father, Percival, attacked the Muggles and, for this crime, was sentenced to life imprisonment in Azkaban. The Dumbledores moved to Godric’s Hollow to keep Ariana secret.
- 1890 – 1891: Hogwarts sees a new fifth-year student with ancient magic powers that could be the key to bringing down Ranrok during the Goblin Rebellion in the game Hogwarts Legacy.
- 1899: The young Gellert Grindelwald was expelled from the Durmstrang Institute. Fascinated by the legend of the Deathly Hallows, he traveled to Godric’s Hollow in England to research them. There, he met Albus Dumbledore, who had returned to his family home after the death of his mother, charged with looking after his sister, Ariana. Albus and Grindelwald shared a strong but brief friendship, which Rowling has confirmed was an intense romantic relationship, a crucial aspect of the Fantastic Beasts movies. Grindelwald was ultimately confronted by Albus’s brother, Aberforth, and a three-way duel ensued in which Ariana Dumbledore was accidentally killed. Shortly after this, rumors circulated that the European wand-maker Gregorovitch had acquired the Elder Wand. Grindelwald ambushed him, gaining mastery of the Elder Wand.
- 1900s: The Lestrange family sent an unwanted son, Corvus Lestrange, to New York, accompanied by the young Leta Lestrange. Frustrated by the crying child, Leta switched the baby with another nearby – right before the ship they were on began to sink. The baby Corvus died in the storm. The child Leta had saved was handed over to Mary-Lou Barebone, who hated magic with a passion. He was given the name Credence Barebone.
- 1908: Newt Scamander and Leta Lestrange attended Hogwarts under the tutelage of Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall.
- 1920s: Gellert Grindelwald began to gather followers to his fanatical cause, leading to an international search.
- 1925: Merope Gaunt, a poor witch living in the village of Little Hangleton, grew obsessed with the Muggle Tom Riddle. She bewitched him and eloped with him.
- 1926: A pregnant Merope was abandoned by her husband once she lifted the love spell. She died giving birth to her son, Tom Marvolo Riddle, at Wool’s Orphanage in London.
- 1926 – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Newt Scamander traveled to New York and discovered the presence of the Obscurus Credence Barebone. Grindelwald was successfully captured while attempting to acquire the Obscurus.
- 1927 – Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald: Grindelwald escaped during a prisoner transfer and tracked Credence Barebone to France. He held one of his rallies in Paris, recruiting a number of wizards to his cause, including Credence – who he revealed to be Aurelius Dumbledore, nephew to Albus, Aberforth’s son, and Ariana’s nephew. Leta Lestrange was killed.
- 1937 – Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore: Dumbledore recruits a new team to fight against Grindelwald in the form of Newt Scamander, his brother Theseus, Ilvermorny Professor Lally Hicks, Yusuf Kama, and Jacob Kowalski. Dumbledore is still bound by his blood pact, and Credence is now leading Grindelwald’s army. Grindelwald attempts to rig the election of Supreme Ruler of Bhutan but ultimately fails, thanks to Newt. It’s revealed that Credence is the illegitimate child of Aberforth Dumbledore. In an effort to protect him, Dumbledore breaks his blood pact with Grindelwald.
Voldemort’s Rise to Power
War raged in the wizarding world until 1945 in the Harry Potter timeline, the year that Albus Dumbledore is credited with bringing an end to Grindelwald’s atrocities. In the shadows, a new threat was growing; Tom Marvolo Riddle was recruited as a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Delighted to discover he was a wizard, Riddle became convinced that he was destined for power when he learned he was the Heir of Slytherin.
Riddle disappeared from wizarding society after graduating from Hogwarts in the Harry Potter timeline, and began to call himself “Lord Voldemort.” Voldemort’s rise to power in the 1970s is one of the bleakest periods in the entire Harry Potter timeline, with Dumbledore’s Order of the Phoenix desperately attempting to hold the ascendant evil at bay. It wasn’t until 1980 that there would be a flicker of hope, with a prophecy that the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord would soon be born.
- 1938: Albus Dumbledore recruited the young orphan Tom Riddle to attend Hogwarts. Dumbledore was immediately disturbed by the cruel boy but hoped that studying at Hogwarts would help Tom become a good wizard and person. Dumbledore had no idea how important he would be to the future of the Wizarding World.
- 1943: Tom Riddle successfully opened the Chamber of Secrets, proving himself the Heir of Slytherin. The Basilisk within launched a spate of attacks on Muggle-borns, including the death of student Myrtle Warren, when she encountered Riddle and Slytherin’s Basilisk at the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets. When Riddle learned the school may have to close, though, he relented, not wanting to be sent back to Wool’s Orphanage. The dark wizard framed fellow student Rubeus Hagrid for his crimes and closed the Chamber once again. Riddle successfully traced his family history and visited the Riddles in Little Hangleton. He murdered his Muggle father and grandparents and framed his uncle Morfin for the crime. This was perhaps the first time Riddle killed anyone directly.
- 1944: Riddle became interested in Horcruxes, and hit upon the idea of splitting his soul seven times in order to protect his mortal body from a fatal attack. Riddle goes to trusted Professor Slughorn for information about Horcruxes.
- 1945: Albus Dumbledore defeated the dark wizard Grindelwald in a legendary battle. The true circumstances are shrouded in mystery, but will likely be revealed by the end of the Fantastic Beasts franchise. Around the same time, Tom Riddle left Hogwarts and began seeking artifacts to enchant as Horcruxes. He then disappeared from wizarding society for a decade, traveling extensively in order to learn dark magic. When he returned, Riddle had begun to call himself only Lord Voldemort, and gather followers as his Death Eaters.
- 1970: Voldemort and his Death Eaters declared open war on the Ministry of Magic, launching a spate of anti-Muggle attacks. With the Ministry infiltrated by the Death Eaters, Dumbledore formed (or, potentially, reactivated) the Order of the Phoenix to oppose Voldemort.
- 1971: James Potter, Lily Evans, Remus Lupin, Peter Pettigrew, and Sirius Black attended Hogwarts. They soon created the Marauders Map, and, in their second year, James, Peter, and Sirius became unregistered Animagi in order to support their werewolf friend, Remus.
- 1979: Shortly after graduating from Hogwarts, James Potter married Lily Evans. Although the couple was publicly associated with Dumbledore, they went into hiding in 1979, when Lily became pregnant. Sometime later, Regulus Black, one of Voldemort’s Death-Eaters, learned of the Horcruxes. Disillusioned with the Dark Lord, he stole one Horcrux (Slytherin’s Locket) and attempted to destroy it. Although this event initially went unrecorded by history, it was probably the first time Voldemort had ever been vulnerable at the hands of one of his followers. Black died in the attempt, leaving the locket with the Black family house-elf, Kreacher.
- 1980: Peter Pettigrew betrayed the Order of the Phoenix, and the war entered its most desperate phase as he identified Order of the Phoenix members to Voldemort. Crucial to the Wizarding World timeline, Sybil Trelawney prophesied that the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord would soon be born in the month of July. Voldemort learned of the prophecy and targeted the Potter family. Ironically, this caused a heartbroken Severus Snape – who had always loved Lily Evans – to betray Voldemort and the Death Eaters.
The Harry Potter Saga
This, of course, is the centerpiece of the Harry Potter timeline. Lord Voldemort’s attack upon the young Harry Potter backfired, leaving him powerless and on the brink of death. The Death Eaters were forced into retreat, and many were imprisoned in Azkaban. The wizarding world entered a period of peace – but Albus Dumbledore believed it was just the calm before another storm.
Each of the Harry Potter books and films is set in a single school year in the Harry Potter timeline, occurring from 1991 through 1998. During this period, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger attended Hogwarts, and the threat of Lord Voldemort once again loomed on the horizon. The Dark Lord’s return truly began in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, when he managed to restore himself to full power with a potion incorporating Harry Potter’s own blood. Within two years, he had once again taken control of the wizarding community in Britain. However, he hadn’t factored in Harry Potter and his friends successfully destroying Voldemort’s Horcruxes and killing him.
- 1981: The Potters unwisely made their friend Peter Pettigrew their Secret Keeper, and he betrayed them to Lord Voldemort. Voldemort attacked the family in Godric’s Hollow, killing James Potter first. Lily’s love protected Harry after she sacrificed herself to protect him, and Voldemort’s killing curse backfired at him, and his mortal body was destroyed. A bond was created between Harry and Voldemort that would ultimately be crucial to the Dark Lord’s final defeat. Voldemort fled and was believed defeated by the wizarding community. Not long thereafter Pettigrew framed Sirius Black as the traitor who betrayed the Order of the Phoenix and ultimately caused the deaths of the Potters. Black was also framed for Pettigrew’s own supposed (faked) murder. Black was sentenced to life in Azkaban. Then, realizing that Lily’s love protected Harry, Dumbledore had Harry sent to his Muggle relatives, the Dursleys.
- 1990-1991: Quirinus Quirrell, a teacher at Hogwarts, took a year’s sabbatical to seek out knowledge. He stumbled upon Lord Voldemort and was partially possessed by the dark wizard. Voldemort began to seek out the Sorcerer’s Stone as a means to his restoration.
- 1991-1992 – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: Harry’s first year at Hogwarts saw him build a close friendship with Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. The three discovered that the Philosopher’s Stone was hidden at Hogwarts and prevented Voldemort from acquiring it.
- 1992-1993 – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: Harry’s second year at Hogwarts saw Lucius Malfoy conspire to open the Chamber of Secrets again, using a diary that Voldemort had entrusted to him before his defeat. Malfoy didn’t know that the diary, which he slipped into Ginny Weasley’s cauldron to ensure it would arrive at Hogwarts, was actually one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes. Although the Chamber was opened and many students attacked, Harry succeeded in killing Slytherin’s Basilisk and destroying the Horcrux.
- 1993-1994 – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Harry’s third year at Hogwarts saw him bond with Azkaban escapee Sirius Black. Unfortunately, Harry was unable to prove that Sirius, his godfather, was innocent of betraying the Order of the Phoenix. Peter Pettigrew (who had been in hiding as Ron’s pet Scabbers the rat for years) was exposed and fled to Voldemort’s side.
- 1994-1995 – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: With Pettigrew’s help, Voldemort began to manipulate events to ensure he regained his life once more. The Dark Lord took advantage of the Triwizard Tournament to trap Harry Potter and used Harry’s blood as part of a spell to revive himself. Despite Voldemort’s best efforts Harry escaped and revealed the truth of Voldemort’s return to Dumbledore.
- 1995-1996 – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: The Ministry of Magic refused to believe that Voldemort had returned, and the Order of the Phoenix and Death Eaters engaged in a shadow war. Dumbledore realized Voldemort could manipulate Harry’s mind but was initially unable to protect him, and Harry and his friends fell into an almost-fatal trap. Dumbledore was forced to reveal Professor Trelawney’s prophecy to Harry, stating that either Harry or Voldemort would have to defeat the other in the end.
- 1996-1997 – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Harry Potter’s sixth year at Hogwarts saw Dumbledore take a personal hand in his education, and the two wizards launched a plan to destroy the Horcruxes. Dumbledore was ultimately killed by Severus Snape. According to the canon stage-play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Bellatrix Lestrange also gave birth to Lord Voldemort’s daughter, Delphini. This is not depicted in either the books or movies.
- 1997-1998 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Parts I and II: With Dumbledore dead, Voldemort rose to power and took over the Ministry of Magic as well as Hogwarts. Harry, Ron, and Hermione went on the run, leading a successful mission to destroy Voldemort’s remaining Horcruxes, abandoning their seventh school year. The Dark Lord was finally killed in the Battle of Hogwarts.
After Harry Potter’s School Years At Hogwarts
The core Harry Potter series concludes in 1998, but that doesn’t mean the Harry Potter timeline ends there. Rowling has quite enjoyed giving details about every character’s future; she’s happily chatted about everything from Luna Lovegood’s future love life to Harry Potter’s future career. What happens to Harry and his friends after the Battle of Hogwarts is also explored in the canon stage-play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which saw a terrifying new threat emerge to face the wizarding world: Delphini, the previously-unsuspected daughter of Lord Voldemort himself.
- 1998: Hermione Granger returned to Hogwarts to take her NEWTs. Harry Potter and Ron Weasley didn’t bother. Hermione would initially work in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, where she championed House-Elf rights. She then moved to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.
- Date Unknown: Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley married; Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley married.
- 2004: James Sirius Potter was born.
- 2006: Rose Granger-Weasley was born.
- 2006: Albus Severus Potter was born.
- 2007: Harry Potter became head of the Auror Office at the Ministry of Magic.
- 2008: Hugo Granger-Weasley and Lily Luna Potter were born.
- Date unknown (believed to be late 2010s): Harry Potter’s school-friend, Luna Lovegood, married Rolf Scamander, the grandson of Newt Scamander. This subtle detail ties the Fantastic Beasts and Harry Potter timelines together.
- 2017 – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child begins: Albus Potter attends his first year at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. To his family’s shock, he was Sorted into Slytherin and began to build a firm friendship with Scorpius Malfoy. This is also the year when the 19-years-later epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows occurs.
- 2019: Hermione Granger became Minister for Magic. She is the only known female Minister for Magic to date.
- 2020 – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child ends: Harry Potter became Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. He led a raid that acquired a prototype Time-Turner, which was stolen by his son, Albus, and Scorpius Malfoy. The boys were unwittingly being manipulated by the daughter of Bellatrix Lestrange and Lord Voldemort, Delphini. Delphini’s true goal was to rewrite history so that Voldemort was never defeated. She managed to travel back to 1981, where she intended to prevent Voldemort from attempting to kill the baby Harry Potter; fortunately, she was defeated before she could succeed in this mission. In a moment that is darkly poetic, Harry and his son Albus chose to watch as the Dark Lord attacked Godric’s Hollow and killed Harry’s parents. As painful as it was, it was also a moment of healing for both.
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