Happy Birthday, Mister Ollivander!

Sep 24, 2017

Posted by: Amanda Kirk

Birthdays, Character Birthdays

We know that wandmaker extraordinare Garrick Ollivander was born on September 25, but we don’t know the year.  Since Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was released, there has been speculation that he was born in or before 1907 because he is listed as the wandmaker on a 1926 wand permit application.  In order to have graduated from Hogwarts by then, he would have had to be born in 1907 at the latest, and that would still make him a very young wandmaker in 1926, just beginning full-time work in the family business.

So, Ollivander would be at least 110 in 2017 but, as wizards are long-lived, it is entirely possible that he is still making wands, perhaps slowing down a bit and transferring more wandmaking duties to his son.  Ollivander also had a daughter, who could have worked in the family business for some years as well, but we learned via Pottermore that she died.

Ollivander’s family have been wandmakers in Diagon Alley since Roman times.  Our Mr Ollivander is the latest in a long line of skilled wand craftsmen.  Imagine the pressure he must have grown up with, to live up to the family name and reputation.  Luckily, Garrick was a bright lad, sorted into Ravenclaw.  He studied wandlore and was blessed with a perfect memory of every wand he ever sold.  His devotion to his trade made him quite possibly the best wandmaker in the world but it had the unfortunate side effect of overriding all other considerations.  When Harry first meets Ollivander, he isn’t entirely sure that he likes him, mainly because of his comment about Voldemort doing things that were “terrible, yes, but great.”  It’s a bit like someone in the Muggle world praising the genocidal skills of some brutal dictator:  Well, yes, it was terrible he invaded that country and killed all those people, but look at how skilfully he did it, what a great accomplishment.  Yeah, that’s a bit creepy, and that’s how Harry thought of Ollivander.

Harry’s opinion wasn’t much improved when he learned how Ollivander had divulged information on the Elder Wand to Voldemort under torture rather than be killed.  Harry had known so many brave people who died to stop Voldemort that he wasn’t very impressed with Ollivander’s sense of self-preservation.

But let’s not be too hard on him today.  It is his birthday, and he did make Luna a new wand after their imprisonment in Malfoy Manor.  I must say, I am a bit confused about that gift.  It is, after all, Ollivander who informed us that “the wand chooses the wizard” so I am not sure how a wand can be custom-made.  One would think Luna would have to visit his shop and try out many wands until one chose her.  Ah, well, add that to the long list of questions we would like to ask J.K. Rowling.

Happy Birthday, Mr Ollivander.  May you have many more years of expert wandmaking ahead of you.


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