J.K. Rowling Shares the History of Ilvermorny, the 'American Hogwarts'

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Author J.K. Rowling has published another story detailing the founding and traditions of Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the American equivalent of Hogwarts. The piece helps set up the upcoming film, "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," due to be released in November. Carlo Allegri/Reuters

As the release of the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them draws near, J.K. Rowling continues to tease audiences with bite-sized revelations about the centuries-old magical community in North America.

The Harry Potter author released a new tidbit on Tuesday detailing the founding story and some traditions of the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the American equivalent of Hogwarts. The story, along with an Ilvermorny Sorting Ceremony and a video linking it all to the upcoming movie, were posted on Rowling's Pottermore website. Labeling it the "second in a series of new writing," the site promises more to come.

Fans had thousands of pages of Harry Potter books at their disposal to become well-versed in the intricacies of the British wizarding world as they headed to movie theaters for the film adaptations. Rowling published a slim volume in 2001 titled Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Formatted as the textbook mentioned in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, it came complete with "handwritten" notes by Potter and his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger.

But in the movie version—due to be released on November 18—the adventures of the textbook's fictional author, Newt Scamander, seem as entrenched in the history of American magic as they are in the world of magical creatures he writes about.

In increments this year, Rowling has sketched out the the magical world that lies beyond Hogwarts and the U.K.—at once providing helpful background knowledge for faithful fans and steadily drumming up an audience for the film. In January, she revealed there were 11 "prestigious wizarding schools worldwide" and wrote about a few of them, like Mahoutokoro in Japan and Castelobruxo in Brazil. Over the course of a week in March, she released four chapters recounting the "History of Magic in North America." Readers learned a host of facts, from the name of American magical currency—called a "Dragot"—to the origins of the Magical Congress of the United States of America.

Now, Rowling has shared the backstory of Ilvermorny, which was founded by the Irish witch Isolt Sayre and her No-Maj (or non-magical) husband James Steward. For fans hoarding information about the American wizarding world, here are 14 things to know about Ilvermorny:

1. Isolt Sayre was born in Ireland in the early 17th century. Both of her parents were killed when she was 5 years old by her aunt, Gormlaith Gaunt, an evil and fanatical pureblood.

2. Gormlaith then raised Isolt. She kept her niece isolated from neighbors, cursed or jinxed Muggles and animals who came near them and refused to send Isolt to Hogwarts when her letter came.

3. Isolt stole her aunt's wand, which she didn't know had once belonged to Salazar Slytherin, one of the founders of Hogwarts. She escaped to the New World aboard the Mayflower, disguised as a Muggle boy named Elias Story.

4. In America, Isolt came across magical creatures, like the Hidebehind, a "forest-dwelling spectre that preys on humanoid creatures," and the Pukwudgie, "a short, grey-faced, large-eared creature distantly related to the European goblin," who "[hunts] with deadly, poisonous arrows and [enjoys] playing tricks on humans." There were also Hodags, Snallygasters and Wampus kittens as well as a Horned Serpent who lived in a river.

5. Isolt, it seems, understood Parseltongue, since she heard the Horned Serpent speak to her.

6. Isolt and her Pukwudgie companion, whom she'd saved from a Hidebehind and named William after her late father, found two wounded young wizards in the forest whose parents had been killed by another Hidebehind.

7. Isolt raised the two boys, Chadwick and Webster Boot, along with James Steward, a Muggle she met when she returned to the forest to bury the boys' parents and later married.

8. Isolt, James and the two Boot boys dreamed up a school modeled after Hogwarts, which Isolt spoke about wistfully despite never attending. They named its four houses Thunderbird, Wampus, Horned Serpent and Pukwudgie. When the school became well known, it was said that "Horned Serpent favors scholars, Wampus, warriors, Pukwudgie, healers and Thunderbird, adventurers."

9. Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Witchcraft and Wizardry grew from Isolt's and James's home atop Mount Greylock. They later concealed it from other No-Maj eyes with a set of enchantments.

10. The couple also had twin girls: Martha, who turned out to be a Squib, and Rionach, who later taught Defense Against the Dark Arts at Ilvermorny.

11. Gormlaith came to find Isolt, intending to destroy Ilvermorny as she had Isolt's childhood home. But Chadwick, Webster and William the Pukwudgie helped Isolt destroy her cruel aunt. When William shot her through the heart with an arrow, Gormlaith became "as solid and as brittle as coal before shattering into a thousand pieces."

12. Isolt and James both lived past the age of 100 and served for years as the headmistress and headmaster of Ilvermorny, "the most democratic, least elitist of all the great wizarding schools." By the 19th century, it became internationally renowned, and statues of its founders stand by the doors of the castle.

13. The school's robes are blue and cranberry in color, and they're held together with a gold Gordian Knot, a nod to a brooch that belonged to Isolt's mother, which she took with her on the Mayflower.

14. Instead of donning the Sorting Hat in the Great Hall at Hogwarts, new students at Ilvermorny are sorted in the school's round entrance hall. Each young witch or wizard steps into the center of the room and waits for giant wooden carvings representing the four houses to react. If more than one does, the student may choose his or her house.