Is a canonical Harry Potter timeline possible?
#1
I've been re-reading the books (as much as my schedule permits). I started with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix a couple of weeks ago, went on to Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince and this weekend I reread Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I may try Prisoner of Azkaban this week but I'm not sure I'll have time.

Anyway, there is a Harry Potter timeline site whose dates just don't add up for me (especially given multiple dates for Tom Riddle's birth). Harry Potter Lexicon seems to have a better one except for the annoying popup time turner gizmo.

What are the canonical sources? Just the Harry Potter books (of which only six have been published so far, not counting the charity books about beasts and quidditch)?

Has J.K. Rowling published stuff on her Web site about the history? I know she has explained some facts (like how Hermione's pet Crookshanks is a half-beazle). I don't recall any dates.

Now, we're told that Chamber of Secrets takes place in 1992 becase Sir Nicholas celebrates his 500th Deathday on October 31, 1992. Several passages explain that the Chamber of Secrets was opened 50 years before, and Riddle's diary takes Harry back to June 13 (which must be June 13, 1943), the day Riddle framed Hagrid for the murder of Moaning Myrtle (is her last name mentioned anywhere? I don't recall).

The book says Tom was "about sixteen" on that date, and Tom's memory told Harry that the Chamber was opened in his fifth year. Tom was made a prefect that year.

If he was 16 years old in 1943, he had to have been born either in late 1927 or early 1928. The timeline site I linked to above shows two other dates (1926 -- noted as "most likely" -- and 1929).

In Slughorn's memory (from Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince) Slughorn mentions that Tom is a prefect, and Tom has also acquired the black ring that had belonged to Slytherin (Marvolo's ring, that Morfin possessed until Tom took it from him). Does that mean we're now into Tom's sixth year (1943-44)? Since he became Head Boy in his 7th year, the timing for his murder of the Riddles is a bit sticky. I would say (and others have said it before me) that it had to occur over the summer of 1943, after he had framed Hagrid. Having committed murder already (through the basilisk), he had already started down the dark road.

Dumbledore does tell Harry, "At the same age as you are now, give or take a few months, Tom Riddle was doing all he could to find out how to make himself immortal." I think that since Half-blood Prince occurs in Harry's sixth year it is safe to conclude that the Slughorn memory also occurs in Tom's sixth year. Odds may be that it occurred sometime in 1944.

Dumbledore defeated a dark wizard named Grindelwald in 1945, according to his Chocolate Frog card. That would have been either during the later half of Tom's 7th year at Hogwarts or in the early half of the following school-year. That must also have been the year that Galatea Merrythought retired as Defense Against The Dark Arts teacher.

Tom went to work at Borgin and Burkes the same year, I guess. How long was he there? The story doesn't say. I woud guess no more than 1-2 years. If we assume for the sake of discussion that he murdered Hepzibah Smith around 1947, then he returned to Hogwarts in 1957 to ask Dumbledore for the DADA job. By this time Tom had already openly started using the name Lord Voldemort and his followers were not-too-secretly calling themselves "Death Eaters".

Dumbledore told Harry that after that last visit Hogwarts was never able to keep a DADA teacher for more than 1 year (Quirrel having been a sort of exception, in that he taught at Hogwarts, went off for at least a year, and then returned as Voldemort's slave).

Harry was born in 1980. Voldemort killed James and Lily Potter in 1981, at which time Dumbledore told McGonagall "we've had precious little to celebrate for 11 years", meaning Voldemort and the Death Eaters began acting openly around 1970.

So for about 13 years after his last visit to Hogwarts Voldemort spent time building up his forces, or doing whatever it is that would-be Dark Lords do for 13 years.

A lot of speculation has been published over the last couple of years about the mysterious R.A.B. I don't have any particular hypotheses to put forward, although I'm not convinced that Sirius' brother Regulus is R.A.B. Nor am I convinced that it would be Mr. Borgin, either. If R.A.B. is someone who has been named in any of the stories it could easily be the other Regulus Black, or Amelia Bones (assuming she has a first name we don't know about), or Alphard Black (assuming he has a first name we don't know about), or Andromeda Black (Tonks' mom, assuming she has a first name we don't know about), etc.

I don't see Arthur and Molly eloping in 1969. Unless they had inside information on the Death Eaters' plans, they could not have eloped before 1970. That would still leave enough time for Bill Weasley to be born in late 1970 or early 1971 as various timelines calculate.

The Severus-James connection seems odd. Sirius half-jokingly teases Snape into following Lupin, forcing James to save Severus. So Severus then learns that Voldemort will be threatened by a child born at the end of July, tells Voldemort, and after Voldemort chooses Harry Potter Severus repents. That just seems so odd.

Now Severus was quite offended when Harry kept calling him a coward after killing Dumbledore. It does seem to me that Dumbledore had ordered Severus to ensure that Draco did not commit murder. Was Dumbledore dying from the curse he had endured while breaking the horcrux in Slytherin's ring? Was Severus sparing Dumbledore a worse type of death?

When did Dumbledore begin collecting memories, trying to piece together Riddle's history? At what point did he begin to suspect that Voldemort had been creating horcruxes? He seems already to have suspected that Voldemort had found a way to survive death in 1981. Why else leave Harry with the Dursleys and place that protective enchantment on the family? I don't think Dumbledore feared the Death Eaters alone could do Harry any harm. He also mentioned that "scars can come in handy" when McGonagall asked if he could remove Harry's scar.

I would guess that Dumbledore realized something was up the day the Potters died. But he didn't yet understand what Voldemort had done.

When Harry was explaining what happened in the Chamber of Secrets, he was at a loss to prove that he had really confronted Riddle. He turned to Dumbledore, who said, "What interests me most is how Lord Voldemort managed to enchant Ginny, when my sources tell me he is currently in hiding in the forests of Albania."

This reflects something that occurred at the end of the "Rogue Bludger" chapter, where Dumbledore concludes that the Chamber of Secrets really has been opened again. McGonagall asks "who", to which Dumbledore replies, "The question is not who...the question is, how?"

Dumbledore praised Riddle's brilliance after Harry revealed what the diary had done in Chamber of Secrets, and in Half-blood Prince he told Harry, "Four years ago I received what I considered certain proof that Voldemort had split his soul." Dumbledore had already received proof of Voldemort's survival the previous year, when Harry confronted Quirrel and Voldemort.

But what I've never understood is why Dumbledore went to great lengths to protect the Sorceror's Stone in the first place. The book doesn't explain what led Dumbledore to be concerned about it. Was it the fact that Harry was finally leaving the safety of the Dursleys' home? Did he sense a change in Quirrel?

There are still some huge gaps in the timeline which, hopefully, will be explained in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
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#2
We know the day of Tom Riddle's birth, although not the year, from JKR's site:

Quote:We learned in book six that Merope Gaunt staggered into the orphanage of New Year’s Eve and gave birth to Tom Riddle ‘within the hour’. Was Voldemort born on December 31st or January 1st?

He was born on December 31st.
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#3
Dumbledore told Harry that he first suspected LV had used Horcruxes to ward off death, after Harry told of encountering "Diary Tom" in Chamber of Secrets.

Dumbledore always believed LV was not dead, and he made no secret of that. Hagrid it was that told Harry that people didn't know what happened to LV, after his killing curse rebounded off Harry, onto himself, but that Hagrid didn't believe he was dead {though, Hargid said, some thought so} but Hagrid said, LV didn't have enough Human left in him to die. Well, that was pretty much Dumbledore's view, that he didn't knpw what happened, but that LV wasn't dead and would be back.

The encounter with Diary Tom confirmed this concept, and pointed the way to "how".

It would be after that that Dumbledore began seeking memories to learn specifics, as to what Tom knew, when and where he learned it, and so to track the "whats" and "where hiddens" of the Horcrux items.
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#4
Dumbledore had the prophecy to guide him to some extent. I think he began to suspect something was up when Voldemort killed the Potters and Harry survived. The diary showed Dumbledore something about what Voldemort was up to, but Dumbledore had to know Voldemort had done something unusual no later than when Harry shared what happened with Quirrel.
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#5
Dumbeldore clearly thought LV had not died when he failed to kill Harry. That was his reason for leaving Harry with the Dursleys', and he said so: that Harry was safest there. If LV were really dead, there would have been no reason to protect Harry from LV and his minions.

Dumbledore knew LV was "there" with Quirrel. He understood "possession". Quirrel had been traveling in the area {Albania? I think} where LV was "reported" to have been hiding in his spirit form {reported by whom? we don't know}.

Dumbledore assured Harry that Harry had not killed Quirrel; Dumbledore arrived "in time" to save Harry, and Quirrel/Mort at that point was not "after" the stone anymore, he was trying to kill Harry. With Dumbledore's arrival, LV 's spirit fled, leaving Quirrel to die. [The movie implies Harry's action killed him; but in the book it is clear that Harry did not.]

So with the episode of Quirrel/Mort, Dumbledore has positive confirmation that LV is attempting a comeback. We don't know why D. suspected LV might make a move on the Sorcorors' Stone, but he did; and he was aware that LV's spirit was back in England, and attempting to make a new body using the Stone. Surely the purpose of the death of the Unicorns was understood by D.

D specifically TOLD Harry, after the Chamber of Secrets events, that he knew then that it was a Horcrux system that LV had put into place. I think he would have "suspected" this much, much earlier; when Tom Riddle visited Hogwarts to ask for a job, and his appearance was much changed. D of course knew about Horcruxes. He knew the process involved "splitting the soul", and by mutilating the soul, the wizard's body showed the 'inhuman' effects of the process.

So he suspected.

When Harry revealed the story of Diary/Tom, his idea that LV might have made a Horcrux was confirmed. Of course, Diary/Tom was thwarted; but Harry asked if he might be back, and D said he would try again; but that he must be thwarted again, and again, and if someone stood against each attempt, in the end, it might be that he {LV} would not succeed.

So D was certain at that point that using Horcrux magic was what LV had done, but also suspected that he had done it more than once which wasn't usual. Perhaps the awful changes in his phusical appearance were the clue.

And so I believe it was after "Chamber of Secrets" that D began to hunt down memories, and when he had gathered enough facts, began to hunt Horcrux. He had made a good start identifying items; and of seeking locations. And so was able to give Harry some clues ......

The Prohecy was a guide to D in that he understood he must nurture and protect Harry ........ but not 'over' protect him, so that he didn't grow up 'soft'. Harry needs his anger and self reliance, which he may not have developed if reared in a loving home. Don't see how the Prophecy would aid in the Horcrux issue.
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