Quidditch Through the Ages

Back in 2001 only four Harry Potter books had been published, and Rowling took a short break from writing novels to publish two short “companion” books for charity. Quidditch Through the Ages was written to imitate the library book of the same title that Harry reads in his first year, and it’s a fun read, even explaining why some of the rules at times don’t seem to make much sense. :) Enjoy!

Kennilworthy Whisp, by Edgar Torné

About the Author

Kennilworthy Whisp is a renowned Quidditch expert (and, he says, fanatic)….

Gertie Keddle Queerditch Marsh, by A.Tree

The Game From Queerditch Marsh

Tuesday. Windy…. Ended up watching those numbskulls playing their game on the marsh…. Now they’ve got two big, heavy rocks flying around trying to knock them all off their brooms. Unfortunately didn’t happen while I was watching.

(by A.Tree)

Snidget, by Juan Ruben Juarez M.

The Arrival of the Golden Snitch

Golden Snidgets were soon being released during all Quidditch games…. By the middle of the following century, however, Golden Snidget numbers had fallen so low that the Wizards’ Council… [outlawed] both its killing and its use in Quidditch games.

Quidditch, by Katrina 'Rohanelf' Young

The introduction of the Golden Snitch may be said to have finished the process begun three hundred years before on Queerditch Marsh. Quidditch had been truly born.

Quidditch Pitch, by A.Tree

Changes in Quidditch Since the Fourteenth Century

The goalposts in Mumps’s time were still large baskets on poles.

(by A.Tree)

Accidental Incidents, by Miri

Quidditch Teams of Britain and Ireland: The Chudley Cannons

The club motto was changed in 1972 from “We shall conquer” to “Let’s all just keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.”

(by Miri)

Harpies, by Wacca

Quidditch Teams of Britain and Ireland: The Holyhead Harpies

The Holyhead Harpies is a very old Welsh club (founded 1203), unique among Quidditch teams around the world because it has only ever hired witches.

(by Wacca)

Hamish McFarlan, by Edgar Torné

Quidditch Teams of Britain and Ireland: The Montrose Magpies

Hamish McFarlan (Captain 1957-68) followed his successful Quidditch career with an equally illustrious period as Head of the Department of Magical Games and Sports.

Beauty of the Sport, by Agatha Macpie

The Spread of Quidditch Worldwide: Europe

The final between Transylvania and Flanders has gone down in history as the most violent of all time and many of the fouls then recorded had never been seen before – for instance, the transfiguration of a Chaser into a polecat, the attempted decapitation of a Keeper with a broadsword, and the release, from under the robes of the Transylvanian Captain, of a hundred blood-sucking vampire bats.

Woollongong Warriors, by Leela Starsky

The Spread of Quidditch Worldwide: Australia and New Zealand

The Woollongong Warriors have dominated the Australian League for the best part of a century.

Moosejaw Meteorites, by Chantelle

The Spread of Quidditch Worldwide: North America

The Moose Jaw Meteorites… were threatened with disbandment in the 1970s owing to their persistent practice of performing post-match victory flights over neighbouring towns and villages while trailing fiery sparks from their broom tails.

Devlin Whitehorn, by A.Tree

The Development of the Racing Broom

In 1967 the broom world was galvanised by the formation of the Nimbus Racing Broom Company. (Devlin Whitehorn, founder of Nimbus)

(by A.Tree)

The Wronski Feint, by TomScribble

Quidditch Today: The Wronski Feint

The Seeker hurtles towards the ground pretending to have seen the Snitch far below, but pulls out of the dive just before hitting….

Quidditch World Cup, by Agatha Macpie

Quidditch Today

The game of Quidditch continues to thrill and obsess its many fans around the world. Nowadays every purchaser of a Quidditch match ticket is guaranteed to witness a sophisticated contest between highly skilled fliers.

about the book

Something You May Not Have Noticed

Reading about all of the different Quidditch teams around Britain is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, the teams all hail from very small towns – not cities, like Muggle sports teams, and interestingly not even from towns where we know there to be a large wizarding population (like Godric’s Hollow, say, or Hogsmeade). Instead the towns are probably chosen for the accessibility of a deserted moor to house a stadium, and wizards choose to follow a team in their region.

But it’s also interesting when you consider the wizarding population of Britain. And quickly realize that Rowling’s maths are biting us again. Even if we take the most generous estimates we have – that there are 1000 students at Hogwarts and wizards live to be 150 – there are still under 40,000 total wizards in Britain. Yet this tiny population manages to support thirteen professional sports franchises! Sadly there’s no way to make these numbers make the remotest of sense. Perhaps the teams don’t pay their players, or pay them much; also, the talent level on these teams is likely not much higher than that of the teams at Hogwarts.

The Wizarding World

It’s interesting to read about the evolution of the flying broomstick, and think about the ways in which wizarding technology changes over time. It’s clear that, in some ways, magic evolves much the same way our own technology does – early brooms were rudimentary, and charms have made each new edition faster, more flexible, and more comfortable. Yet while broom flight was beginning around 962 A.D., with brooms that “only move forwards at one speed” and cause “exquisite discomfort,” so too were the founders of Hogwarts (not to mention the Peverell brothers) creating extremely powerful magic that has never been successfully duplicated in the millennium that has since passed. There are Muggle equivalents, of course – there were feats achieved by ancient civilizations that we still can’t explain. But it makes me interested to know more about what daily life would have been like back then. It’s hard to fathom.

The Power of Magic

Rowling likes to use broad superlatives to describe her characters. It’s clear that wizards consider Voldemort literally the most powerful dark wizard in the history of the world (and Grindelwald just happens to be second); Dumbledore is often referred to as the greatest wizard who ever lived, and considered to have given more to Hogwarts than any headmaster in its thousand-year history; Merlin, the four founders, and the Peverells all seem uniquely great too, and every single one happens to be British! Personally I tend to roll my eyes at any claim of such history and import being made about something so close to home. But in reading this book for the first time since Deathly Hallows, it’s hard not to have the book’s opening sentence jump off the page at me:

No spell yet devised enables wizards to fly unaided in human form.

Of course, a few short years after this book is published, we see Lord Voldemort accomplish just that.

The Boy Who Lived

One thing I find interesting (and which perhaps relates to my point above about the talent level of professional teams) is the fact that we never see an indication that there might be different levels of difficulty of Golden Snitches. Are they all the same? Is Harry Potter at Hogwarts chasing a Snitch that’s just as elusive as the one Viktor Krum catches at the Quidditch World Cup? Realistically, the answer is probably not. This would also explain why the games always seem so lopsided to us in favor of the Seeker – Harry nearly always catches the Snitch before either team has scored fifteen goals (and therefore his team wins every time he catches it). But he seems to be a particularly skilled Seeker, and we’ve heard scores from other Hogwarts games that lasted much longer. I wonder how much more difficult it becomes when you’re a professional?

The Final Word

“I had a blazing row with an ex-boyfriend. I had been writing Harry Potter books about…about a year I think I’d been working on Harry at that point, maybe slightly less, and I had decided that one of the unifying characteristics of any given society is sport, you know. Almost any society you can think of, they will have their own games and sports. And I decided I wanted to…and then we had this blazing row. I don’t know whether it was cause and effect. I doubt it. But I actually walked out of the flat and I booked into a hotel for a night and rather than sit there and mope about this row, I sat there and invented Quidditch.”–J.K. Rowling, July 2000
“I met a British journalist from quite a serious newspaper not very long ago. She said to me: “You obviously got the name ‘Quidditch’ from ‘quiddity,’ which is the word that means the essence of a thing.” And I looked at her and thought, “Oh, I really want to say, ‘Yes.’ Because that sounds so much cooler than the truth.” But the truth is that I invented the word for a totally whimsical reason. I just wanted a word that began with Q. Don’t ask me why. Just pure whim. I still have the notebook in which I invented all these words beginning with Q. On the page, you can see where I wrote Quidditch, and I circled it five times. I just really liked the sound of it.”–J.K. Rowling, June 1999


14 Responses to “Quidditch Through the Ages”

  1. Great post! I love the artwork!

    Re: superlatives – you know, I always did think about that myself, that it seems odd all these superlatives are happening in Britain. But I think we can contextualize that as just national pride – the Brits like to say “we have the biggest and the baddest.” I’m sure other countries have their own version of “most skilled wizard alive,” etc. And whatever Grindelwald did, he doesn’t sound nearly as impressive as Herpo the Foul, who was essentially the first to commit all the horrors that Voldemort would later take tot eh nth degree.

    Re: flight – what struck me about that wasn’t that Voldemort did it (we know he’s oen of the most skilled wizards of recent times), but rather that Snape did as well. Harry assumes that Voldemort would have taught Snape how to fly, but that doesn’t seem Voldy’s style, to share his gifts (and why not teach Bellatrix as well). I’ve always understood that Snape was likely the one who came up with it, since we know he has a habit of inventing spells, and taught it to Voldy.

    What this means is that Snape, at 37, achieved something no one else ever had – not even Dumbledore in all his years. So while I detest Snape as a person, this shows just what a brilliant mind the wizarding world lost at his death.

    Re: math – yeah… the eternal problem. The league consists of 91 active players, not considering reserves. Their recruitment pool is Hogwarts, as the only British wizarding school – which only has 28 players per year, and it’s very rare that all of them would be graduating at once. So it doesn’t seem that difficult to have a professional Quidditch career. The economy of it doesn’t surprise me – if we in the muggle world can pay millions of dollars to athletes on dozens of teams, I’m sure they can support thirteen teams whose players probably aren’t paid in the millions.

    Re: the Snitch – I never thought of it, but it makes so much sense! You’re brilliant, as ever.

  2. One technical thing before I begin: under the North America section your “Meteorite” is missing its first “T”.

    Re: Snitch: Genius. I love the idea that there are different settings of difficulty. Makes me wonder if those few games that we hear about taking forever (ex. the World Cup previous to the one in GoF that last five days) were accidentally-on-purpose set to a higher difficulty so that the matches would last longer.

    Re: hpboy13’s theory of flight. YES. It makes MUCH more sense for Snape to have come up with a non-verbal only spell which allows flight. And who knows how long he’d’ve known about it before sharing it. Voldemort can read minds and all, so, yeah. But I love it. I hope Rowling never says anything to contradict this new head canon.

    Re: Quidditch. Just a random, personal shout out. I LOVE that the book lists Peru as the best team from South America because that’s where my mother is from. Go Tree-Skimmers!

    Thanks again for this update, Josie!

  3. The husband would like to bring up a few points about sports in general that may help some of the JKR’s Quidditch information more clout:

    1. Quidditch seems to be the one sport that wizards support. So even though there isn’t a large population to attend or scout talent from, it’s the only real athletics kids are going to aspire to.

    2. Florida and New York both have populations of 19 million but each state has 13 minor league baseball teams in addition to their 2 major league teams.

    2. a. Using New York as an example: even though it has a population of 19 million, there are ten professional teams “based out of New York City” alone and they cover five different sports. This brings the fans:athletes ratio closer, although still larger, to that of wizards:Quidditch players.

    3. Great Britain has a population of 63 million but supports about 20 soccer teams in the Premiere League, 72 in the Football League, 68 in the Football Conference, and many more levels of professional soccer teams. (Really, we had a ridiculous amount of fun looking up professional soccer teams and there are a TON. We stopped at level 6 out of 10 because it got really complicated after lever 6.)

    4. Just because you’re in a professional sport doesn’t mean it’s your full-time job. In the AFL, you still have to have at least a part-time job to support yourself/family in addition to being on the team. Also, their pay could come solely from ticket sales rather than an owner. [Which could explain why the Chudley Cannons haven’t won in such a long time: they started to lose games, which lost fans, which lessened their revenue, which led to outdated equipment/fewer practices, which led to more losses, etc.]

    5. Also, teams have imports. They often scout outside their area, bring in new talent, but the athletes can still be a part of the national team. So the Holyhead Harpies may very well have taken some fanatic player from Kentucky onto their team since America has a much larger population than Great Britain but a fraction of the teams.

    So, I may not understand everything I just shared, but figured some of those points were interesting enough to at least bring up. :)

  4. Go Sweetwater All-Stars! Yeah, I’m from Texas, USA. It just tickles me that JKR put a Quidditch team in a small Texas town. This little town is well known in Texas, but not for Quidditch. They are well known for the Rattlesnake Round-up they hold every year. Rattlesnake hunters go out into the outlaying area and capture all the rattlesnakes they can find and they put a lot of them in holding tanks in town and people come from all over to see the snakes, see people get in the tanks with them (I think they are crazy), and eat rattlesnake meat. I am told it tastes like chicken. I will take their word for it, no way I am eating a snake. I love the name Sweetwater All-Stars, but maybe Jo should have named them the Sweetwater Rattlesnakes! That would certainly sound meaner and would have appealled to the memebers of Slytherin House.

  5. Regarding the large number of Quidditch teams among a small wizarding population in Britain (and Ireland, which admittedly doesn’t add many more to the number of wizarding folk). Consider a real life sport comparison, in Football. Within the Football Association there is quite a staggering number of teams at four levels. The Premier League is only the top tier, with 20 teams of professional clubs. There are 3 tiers below that, with I think about 20 teams in each. Then there are regional leagues, with more than one level within those, as well. At those levels they are often semi-professional rather than fully professional. Nonetheless, there are many teams. In London there are currently six clubs in the Premier League, and a number of clubs at the next levels, all with loyal followings coming largely from their regions within the metropolitan area. And this is only one sport. There are followings for cricket, and for Rugby (or Football Union). This probaly at least in part informs Ms Rowling’s ideas of the sport. There seems in Quidditch to be only one tier, comprising all the professional clubs in Britain.

    Then there are the national teams, which probably draw on players of the appropriate nationality from the various club teams. This, of course, also is reflected in soccer, or Association Football.

  6. Natalia, your comments earlier than mine make the point very well! I, too, was thinking of minor league baseball grouped in with the Major League teams. And yes, Quidditch seems the only organized sport for wizarding folk.

  7. As soon as sport goes professional, the possibility exists of recruiting foreign players to play in local leagues. This is why the English Premier League is so good, and English international football is so weak! So quite possibly at least some of the top Quidditch sides might feature players from outside Britain – these people would still be eligible to represent their own countries at international level. If the Cannons were suddenly to inherit megaGalleons from a crazed fan, they could try to hire a couple of top stars of the future from the Durmstrang side, or from the Tibet Terriers or whoever, and break their losing streak that way.

  8. hpboy13, I absolutely adore your Snape theory. He was the cursemaster, the spell inventor, and it’s only natural he would teach Voldemort (to remain in his good graces, at the very least). This makes me wonder, did Dumbledore know Snape could fly? Did Snape secretly teach Dumbledore, or would that be too risky with all the legilimency going on with Voldemort? We know Dumbledore is capable of some crazy things, including (what appears to be) apparition from inside Hogwarts… maybe Dumbledore helped Snape with the theory of flying. Everyone has brought up some very interesting points!

  9. Hey- Absolutely love the site! Could never gat a open comments section, though. I was think about Voldemort’s quest for immortality the other day when I was reading your essays. I believe that he had succeeded in his quest for it. Think about this- Even when Harry was in his 4th year at Hogwarts (before Voldemort came back), people were still calling him you-know-who. People still remember his name, they remember that he was the greatest dark wizard of all time, and these will be stories that people will pass down to their children (we can almost guarantee Severus, Lily, James, Rose, Hugo, etc. will be hearing about their parents at school) and print in books- essentially giving him immortality. This is, of course, only until another great dark wizard rises up (Lets face it, Grindelwald was just that other guy that Dumbledore defeated :-) Sorry for being off topic- Loving the new art, by the way!

  10. Just a picky thing: under the Moose Jaw Meteorites, the word disbandment is misspelled.

    To read that Jo was disappointed to have to admit that she just made up the word Quidditch is funny. I think that it shows her amazing creativity.

    Love this website, it has brought me to a better understanding for, and love of the books. The artwork is so wonderful. Thanks!

  11. Quidditch as sport strikes a chord. How athletic is it really? Other than being pummeled by magic balls. I mean Harry got hurt so many times cause forces were aiming at him. Also it seems the rules of Quidditch are rather flexible. But more so, wizardry seems to have a rather quixotic approach to life in general. So would their sport be any different? It certainly has the cache of being very pro magical. No Muggle would ever be able to play it.
    And I think the wizards are more inclined to look at the grace, the elegance of the games as opposed to winning for winning’s sake. And I guess the Chudley Cannons are the U.S. Team the Chicago Cubs equivalents. Face it, cubbies are die hard fans, so are the Cannon fodder. (sorry, my poor attempt at a nickname for the Cannon’s die hard fans.)
    Go Quidditch! Go J.K.!

  12. Oh yes, the artists are phenomenal, your comments are insightful and witty and the fellow posters are wise and delightful! Thanks to all of you for making my Harry Potter experience better.

  13. Another mathematical problem. Within the books, they mention that Wood is a reserve on one of the national teams (the name slips my mind, and I don’t have the books in front of me to look, so…do it yourself! :D). I would guess that this is similar to other national teams with their reserve units, which means realistically, there’s an even larger amount of players that are employed. Granted, we’ve already established that the entire wizarding world is in one way or another employed by the government (besides the fringe people, like Mundungus Fletcher, or those who live outside the law such as Voldemort), so realistically, these players would likely be employed by the ministry of magic in some other capacity.

  14. One quick thing before I begin.
    Matthew Jones: Oliver is a reserve for Puddlemere United.

    Anyway, as always I’m amazed by the gorgeous art. The very first picture n on the page was great! It looks like an animated film. Everything was so well-done and illustrated the book so well. Well done, Josie and all the artists.

    (now I need to reread and see if there’s a team from Massachusetts—that’s where I’m from)

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