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Doing the Math: How many kids are at Hogwarts?

by David Haber

On October 16, 2000, in an interview, J.K. Rowling was asked, "How many students attend Hogwarts, and how many students per year per house?" and she replied, simply, "There are about a thousand students at Hogwarts." And because she said it, this has persisted as the proper answer accepted by most fans. But I don't see how that could be correct.

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Reader Comments: (Page 8)

I don't know exactly how I know this but I know that Hogwarts has about 600 students. I think I read it in a follow-up interview somewhere (maybe mugglenet?) where Rowling said the 1000 figure was just a guestimate and when she really thought about it, it was more like 600. She admits she's not all that good with numbers so, there you go.

Posted by Bnickel from IL, USA on January 13, 2008 10:53 AM

You can't assume that the only people in Gryffindor are the ones that are mentioned. Most of them were probably not mentioned as they had no real importance in the book.
Double lessons mean that there are two of that lesson, one after the other, not that two houses share a lesson.
And anyway, JK wrote the book so what she says goes.

Posted by ug from england on January 13, 2008 11:45 AM

Gryffindor and Slytherin share a lesson every time we "see" them together: at least, potions and care for magical creatures, in which Harry and Malfoy are together.

Care for magical creatures is not optional in first year: I can't recall a moment when Harry had to choose whatever lesson he would attend. I'm not even sure it's optional until 5th year. That would have to be checked (and if it really is optional, why are there so many students in a course nobody wants to attend and everybody fears?)

Posted by herve from strasbourg on January 14, 2008 07:28 AM

I always thought that there were only 10 pupils in each year in each house in hogwarts, because none others are mentioned,and no more that 10 pupils are ever mentioned as being in the same house in the books. however, that would mean that the sorting hat would have to split the pupils carefully, with 5 girls and 5 boys in each, which is very coincidental if it managed to do that for all the hundreds of years hogwwarts has been around for.

Also, of course there have to be other wizarding schools, because we "meet" other schools in the triwizard tournament from different countries, and it is highly unlikely that there would only be one school for each country, especially the countries which have a larger population, so Britain must have more too.

Posted by Lucy from Scotland on January 15, 2008 10:00 AM

Dave, hello. I think your count is much more accurate... besides, JK has been known to make mistakes about details such as that one.
Regarding the double class, I always assumed a double potions class means two periods, not two houses together. Of course, we have seen there are two houses in many classes: Gryffindor and Slytherin in potions, as well as in Care of Magical Creatures, for instance. But I don't recall two houses together during Transfiguration or Divination... seems to me that there are two houses together in subjects where a lot of active practice is required: Potions, Herbology, etc.

Posted by Ari on January 15, 2008 4:45 PM

Care of magical creatures is optional, chosen for 3rd yr onwards and seems a favourable one as compared to Arithmancy and Muggle stus.

Posted by swati from India on January 15, 2008 11:13 PM

I belive that there is more than just 200. I think that 600-800 is a good number.

Posted by kevin on January 16, 2008 1:24 PM

David, I think you have oversimplified a bit but good effort.I would tend to ignore anything seen in the movies of the books cos as you may have noticed, they don't follow the books exactly. Someone else commented on Hufflepuff taking anyone, so they would be a much larger house than any of the others.The books all descibe the largeness of Hogwarts which hints at the large number of students that attend or used to attend.the eaters ed a lot of people 15-20 years before Harry went to Hogwarts which would mean there were less kids born to be able to attend Hogwarts. In the books there is mention of 5 wizarding schools: Beauxbatons(french), Durmstrang(german) & Hogwarts(english). There are 2 others not specifically named. 1 in Brazil & 1 in the USA. plus the "The Salem Witches' Institute" in the USA which might be a school.I think that 1 of the books says that Hogwarts is the only school in England & that it is not compulsory to attend.If this is true of the others, then the total number of students at these schools would not reflect the true number of wizards & witches.It would certainly explain how 1 school is enough for each country.

Posted by clane from Australia on January 17, 2008 4:53 PM

I always assumed that The Salem Witches' Institute, mentioned as being seen on a banner in the crowd at the Quidditch World Cup, I believe, was the American equivalent of Britain's Ministry for Magic. But now that I think of it, it could be a school, like Massachusetts Institue of Technology...

Posted by Dave Haber from Los Angeles, CA on January 19, 2008 06:56 AM

I think it would actually have been a bit boring if Jo had gone into more detail about the 1000 potential students at Hogwarts. I believe it was more a writing constraint than anything. Consider if I were to write a story about when I was in high school. I would focus on the 10 people closest to me, maybe occasionally mention or interact with a relative few of my other classmates and fellow members of clubs - maybe another hundred or so over the years. That doesn't change the fact that there were 592 students in my graduating class alone. I wouldn't have the time or energy to mention the crowds at pep rallies and dances more than a few times, and it would cause the story to drag on unnecessarily if I did.

On the flip side, though, I took Hogwarts to invite anyone from the British Isles, including Ireland. However, it doesn't seem that every witch and wizard that is invited goes to Hogwarts; some go to other countries (i.e. Draco almost went to Durmstrang), some may be home schooled, some may not learn properly at all (i.e. Merope Gaunt), some may be of Muggle parentage whose parents or even they themselves may choose not to go. And were does it say that Hogwarts is the only school in Brittan? I believe it is only mentioned that Hogwarts is the best (can't remember who's opinion that is... I think Hagrid's but I can't find the quote at the moment). Perhaps there are other, smaller schools that students may go to.

Posted by monkeeshrines from orlando fl on January 20, 2008 12:02 AM

Skirting thru the last book, I believe there are more students than 280. Remember the last few chapters, where even after half the school leaving; there were a quite number of students staying back.

Posted by Jeffy Jacob from Kochi, India on January 21, 2008 02:43 AM

I think Rowling's mistake might have had something to do with when the comment was made-- 2001, only 2 years after the first book was released and 6 years prior to the completion of the final installment. It's possible that she didn't have the details worked out to the degree that she does today; also, she probably wasn't as good at staying cool during interviews as she is now.

Posted by Sam from Fort Collins, CO on January 21, 2008 9:01 PM

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