The Timeline of the Harry Potter Books

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While the years the Harry Potter books take place between 1991 to 1998, the lore J.K. Rowling provides us of the wizarding world dates back centuries. Hogwarts, for example, was established around the 10th century by the original four founders that made Hogwart’s four houses, almost a thousand years before Harry Potter was even born.

In this article, I go through the notable events from 1991 to 1998 featured in the original Harry Potter books from The Philosopher’s Stone to The Deathly Hallows. While a lot of events in the books can be considered notable, these are the notable events in the wizarding world that would’ve been featured in The Daily Prophet, The Ministry of Magic, history books, or anything of note to the witches and wizards (and the reader) during that time.

1991 (Notable Events During Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone)

  • Break-in of Gringotts Wizarding Bank. Prior to this break-in, Gringotts was believed to be one of the safest places in the wizarding world after Hogwarts. This was because the bank is owned and operated by goblins who have enchanted the place to make it nearly impossible for anyone to steal from their vaults since goblins are known for their extreme greed and need to protect valuables at any cost. The attempt happened on July 31, 1991, in Vault 713, which was holding the Philosopher’s Stone. Luckily, Albus Dumbledore had sent Rubeus Hagrid to take it earlier that day. While the goblins refused to give any details and the public never found out who did it, it was actually Quirinus Quirrell, whom Harry had seen earlier that day.

1992 (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets)

  • Professor Quirrell dies in Hogwarts. While Professor Quirrell is not the person in history to die within the school, his death would’ve been noteworthy due to the way he died and why. Having been convinced by Lord Voldemort to serve him, Quirrell had been trying to steal the Philosopher’s Stone to restore Voldemort. In an attempt to take the stone from 11-year-old Harry Potter, Quirrell disintegrated and died.
  • Harry receives a warning from the Improper Use of Magic Office from the Ministry of Magic. In an attempt to keep Harry away from Hogwarts, Dobby the House Elf uses a Hover Charm that the Ministry of Magic’s Improper Use of Magic Office picks up from Harry’s Trace and assumes it was his. They send a warning Howler to Harry against underaged magic.
  • Ginny Weasley opened the Chamber of Secrets. Ginny got her hands on Tom Riddle’s Diary, which happened to be one of Lord Voldemort’s Horcruxes. This allowed Voldemort’s memory to slowly consume Ginny’s soul, possessing her long enough to open the Chamber of Secrets. In the process, several students, a ghost, and a cat are petrified. In the following year, Hagrid would be accused of having a hand at this and sentenced to Azkaban.

1993 (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)

  • Albus Dumbledore is removed as headmaster of Hogwarts. Due to multiple students being petrified, Lucius Malfoy, one of Hogwart’s Board of Governors, convinces the rest of the Board and the Minister of Magic to remove Dumbledore as Headmaster. This is only temporary, and he is reinstated within the same year while Malfoy is removed from the board.
  • Harry destroys one Horcrux. Harry destroys the Horcrux with a basilisk fang. Dumbledore will later realize what the diary is and use it as a basis to find more Horcruxes.
  • Celebrity and Hogwarts Professor, Gilderoy Lockhart sustains permanent brain damage. Prior to his teaching stint at Hogwarts as a professor for the Defense Against the Dark Arts, Gilderoy Lockhart was a handsome wizard known for defeating various magical creatures (though in truth he stole the stories of other brave wizards, erased their memories, and passed off their adventures as his own). In an attempt to erase the memories of Harry and Ron, Lockhart ends up wiping his own memories and sustaining permanent brain damage, making him a permanent patient in St. Mungo’s for Magical Maladies and Injuries. The truth about his treachery was most likely revealed to the public.
  • Dolores Umbridge starts an anti-werewolf legislation. This makes it difficult for people like Remus Lupin, who suffers from lycanthropy, to find employment. When Lupin is offered a position in Hogwarts as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts, he has to keep his lycanthropy a secret. While this takes place in 1993, this isn’t mentioned until Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
  • Sirius Black escapes from Azkaban. Sirius Black is accused of being a mass murderer who betrayed his friends Lily and James Potter to Voldemort and proceeded to kill 10 muggles in his attempt to escape from Peter Pettigrew. In an effort to protect Harry, Hogwarts security is fortified with dementors. Sirius Black enters Hogwarts anyway. In reality, however, Sirius remained loyal to Harry’s parents and went to Hogwarts to kill Pettigrew, who had been disguised as Scabbers, Ron’s pet rat.
  • Hearing of Buckbeak the Hippogriff. During a class in Care of Magical Creatures, Buckbeak the Hippogriff scratches Draco Malfoy. While the injuries are extremely minor, Malfoy faked the severity of his injuries while his father coerced the Ministry of Magic to side with him and have the animal put to death. In the following year, Buckbeak was sentenced to death.

1994 (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)

  • Sirius Black and Buckbeak escape execution. Sirius had successfully proved his innocence to Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Lupin. However, because of Pettigrew’s escape and Severus Snape’s hatred for Sirius, there was no evidence to vindicate him, and was still sentenced to the Dementor’s Kiss. Using Hermione’s Time Turner, Harry and Hermione went back in time to rescue Buckbeak and Sirius from their executions. They have since been on the run, with Buckbeak taking the new name Witherwings.
  • Death Eater riot during the 422nd Quidditch World Cup. After the match, Death Eaters stormed the camp grounds to torture Muggles and Muggle-born wizards. The riots ended when someone fired a Dark Mark (Voldemort’s symbol) over the campgrounds.
  • The Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare is established. After the House Elf Twinky was blamed for the Dark Mark and promptly fired by her master, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement Barty Crouch Senior, Hermione realized the truth of how house-elves were treated. She founded SPEW as a means to promote awareness and convince others to change the way house-elves are treated. While it’s unknown what happened to SPEW after 1998, it’s implied that Hermione went on to advocate for house elves’ equal rights in her future career in the Ministry of Magic.
  • Hogwarts hosts the 1994 Triwizard Tournament. The Tournament was discontinued around 1792 due to the high death toll but was reinstated in 1994 with restrictions to make it safer for the participants. Visiting schools included Durmstrang Institute and Beauxbatons Academy of Magic.

1995 (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix)

  • Cedric Diggory is murdered during the Triwizard Tournament. Murdered by Peter Pettigrew, the only casualty of the 1994 Tournament.
  • Lord Voldemort is restored to his physical form. His revival with Peter Pettigrew and Barty Crouch Jr.’s death immediately follows his attempt to kill Harry. Following this, most of the Death Eaters reconvene when he called. Upon learning of Voldemort’s return, the Order of the Phoenix reunites shortly after.
  • The Second Wizarding War unofficially begins. The Ministry of Magic refuses to believe Voldemort’s return, so no steps are taken to defend the Ministry and the wizarding world against him and the Death Eaters.
  • Harry Potter is expelled from Hogwarts after the Improper Use of Magic Office catches him using underage magic in front of a Muggle. He was expelled after the Trace detected him using a Patronus Charm to ward off Dementors. He was acquitted 10 days later. He learns the following year that it was Dolores Umbridge who sent the Dementors in an attempt to get him expelled and discredited.
  • Ministry of Magic appoints Dolores Umbridge as the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. They appoint her Hogwarts High Inquisitor months later. The Minister of Magic suspects Dumbledore is trying to undermine his power for his own ambitions and sends Umbridge to try to stifle his supposed attempts.

1996 (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince)

  • Dolores Umbridge is appointed Headmistress of Hogwarts. This only lasts for two months. During the span of her reign, most of the students and faculty do what they can to undermine her term by pulling pranks, skipping classes, and making it more difficult for her to perform her duties. She is later fired from Hogwarts and Dumbledore is restored to his position.
  • Battle of the Department of Mysteries. Since the previous year, Voldemort had been trying to steal a prophecy from the Department of Mysteries. Using a false vision, he lures Harry (joined by his friends) to the Department of Mysteries as he is the only one who can claim it. In the ensuing battle between the Death Eaters and the Order of the Phoenix, Sirius Black is killed. He is posthumously recognized as innocent.
  • Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge recognizes that Voldemort has returned. He personally sees Voldemort at the end of the Battle and recognizes that Dumbledore was telling the truth. He resigns and Rufus Scrimgeour is appointed Minister of Magic months later.

1997 (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)

  • The Battle of the Astronomy Tower. Draco Malfoy, the newest and youngest Death Eater, smuggles in Death Eaters after attempts to kill Dumbledore throughout the year. Eventually, however, Severus Snape kills Dumbledore in the Astronomy Tower.
  • The Battle of the Seven Potters. In an attempt for the Order of the Phoenix to safely move Harry from his home in Privet Drive to the Burrow, six of Harry’s friends disguised themselves as him to confuse anyone that would follow him. They were ambushed by Voldemort and his Death Eaters. While the body count for the Death Eaters is unknown, Mad-Eye Moody was killed and George Weasley was injured.
  • Voldemort takes over the Ministry of Magic. After Scrimgeour is killed, Voldemort’s cronies took over the Ministry of Magic, placing an Imperiused Pius Thicknesse in power to stage a coup on the Ministry. This allowed Voldemort and his Death Eaters with more power to move around the wizarding world.

1998 (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)

  • Birth of Delphini. Bellatrix had secretly given birth to her and Voldemort’s child. Very few Death Eaters would know about Delphini’s existence. If you believe that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is canon to the series, this is an important event in 1998 as Delphini would go on to manipulate the last three years in an attempt to change her future and her father’s fate.
  • Skirmish at Malfoy Manor. The first time Harry Potter is publicly seen after running in the Ministry of Magic, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are found by snatchers in the woods. Dobby the House Elf dies during the escape, and Harry disarms Draco Malfoy. This allows him to eventually take ownership of the Elder Wand.
  • The Battle of Hogwarts. The final battle between Voldemort and his supporters and Harry and his. Many deaths and injuries are reported on both sides, but Harry ultimately wins when the Elder Wand rebounds Voldemort’s Killing Curse and kills him.

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