Spoilers Ahead. If you haven't watched Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald yet, please do not read further.

According to this and many other such fan pages, Minerva McGonagall, Harry's Transfiguration teacher was born in 1935 (although Pottermore only mentions October 4, and no year). Now, in The Crimes of Grindelwald, we see a "Professor McGonagall" when the Aurors come to question Dumbledore about the whereabouts of Newt Scamander, which must have happened at least in the late 1920s if not exactly in 1927, if we follow the timeline shown in Fantastic Beasts. The same professor is also seen in a flashback which may have happened around ten years before this incident, when Dumbledore is teaching Newt and Leta's class. This would have happened in the 1910s then?

I even conjectured that maybe this is a different McGonagall teaching at the time Newt was a student, but the credits show Minerva McGonagall! If she was born in 1935 and these events occurred in 1927 or so (and earlier in the flashback), she wouldn't even have been born yet. How come she is fully grown and teaching in 1927? Was this some Minerva McGonagall senior? An ancestor to our beloved Transfiguration teacher and headmistress?

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    We know that JKR is bad at maths but this is a rediculous mistake. I think she intentionally broke canon to include the backstory that was never written in the books. Commented Nov 16, 2018 at 6:03
  • 1
    A Time Turner was surely involved.
    – Adamant
    Commented Nov 16, 2018 at 6:11
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    A Time Turner to transport McGonagall back in time twice? And why? And if it was because she travelled back in time, how did the students know who she was when Dumbledore asked them to go with her? Commented Nov 16, 2018 at 6:34
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    Speculatively, the familiar McGonagall could've been named after an ancestor. Star Trek fans may recall Worf and his grandfather Worf (played by the same actor).
    – Cadence
    Commented Nov 16, 2018 at 7:34
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    @Cadence Could not be the case. McGonagall is her father's name and he was from a muggle family.
    – Shana Tar
    Commented Nov 17, 2018 at 17:34

4 Answers 4


I think there might be an explanation in store in future movies.
The year 1935 is never mentioned anywhere "official", neither on Pottermore nor in the "Short stories from Hogwarts" ebook, where her life story is told. it only ever says "4th October".

The reason so many people believe she was born in 1935 is because when asked by Umbridge in book 5 how long she has worked at Hogwarts, she says "this december it will be 39 years". From there, using the information we have about her life and when she started, the year 1935 can be calculated for her bith.

Meaning, this 1935 date relies entirely on the assumption that Minerva told Umbridge the truth!

The scene where she talks to Umbridge is the ONLY clue we ever got to her actual age. If we assume that she lied, it's totally plausible for her to have been alive and teaching in 1927. She'd still be younger than Dumbledore, so it's not far-fetched to assume she'd still be around in the 90s.

It might just have been a mistake of course, but I personally still have a bit of faith that there's a good explanation to all of this, and that we might even get a reason that would make her lie to Umbridge later (though she might just have done it because she hated her).

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    This actually makes a lot more sense, because I doubt Rowling remembers that at Book 5 she mentioned that McGonagall worked at Hogwarts for 39 years. Commented Nov 18, 2018 at 5:27
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    @Lefteris008 - I would imagine she's entirely aware. The whole point of including her was to generate fan-outrage and hence hype for the upcoming film.
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 18, 2018 at 8:55
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    (1/2) Initially the "JKR is bad at maths thing" came into my mind, but then I thought "this isn't that she's bad at maths. That means she doesn't know how to count". But then, I searched what @Meg states and found that it is true; in her recent biography on Pottermore, Jo does not state McGonagall's birth year. It's far more possible that she messed up and didn't check her notes about the "39 years in Hogwarts" thing, or at least thought that this was too abstract to limit her appearance, than being aware that she was born in 1935 and having said "screw that, I'll include her for fan service". Commented Nov 18, 2018 at 9:03
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    (2/2) Having said that, this does not mean that McGonagall's inclusion was not for fan service. At least in FBCoG, she does not play any part in the story except for a brief appearance. This only implies that maybe JKR did not break canon intentionally. Multiple times during the course of the series, dates changed, characters were mentioned as being younger or older and so on. Dumbledore himself was implied as being more than 145 years old by JKR herself, until it was mentioned that he was born around 1890 (making him 115 when he died). Commented Nov 18, 2018 at 9:11
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    The whole "Oh my dear maths" basically came about because she wasn't able to count the number of students/wizard population iirc. IMO she IS that bad at maths.
    – Skooba
    Commented Nov 25, 2018 at 0:59

It is unclear as to who this McGonagall is, though it is almost certainly the Minerva we know from the main Harry Potter series.

The Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original Screenplay by J. K. Rowling only states her to be a "young Minerva McGonagall" (emphasis mine):

The class laughs. The door opens. TRAVERS, THESEUS, and four other AURORS enter, YOUNG MINERVA MCGONAGALL behind them.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original Screenplay, Scene 64

Of course the timeline doesn't work out if this is the same Minerva from the main series as she was most likely born on the 4th of October, 1935 (as detailed in the linked question) whereas The Crimes of Grindelwald takes place in 1927/1928. We also have the scenes from 13 year old Newt and Leta at Hogwarts so from approximately a decade earlier. The film opens in 1927, 6 months after Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (set in 1926), and then a further 3 months pass before the main events of the film.


Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original Screenplay, Scene 1

SPIELMAN (Germanic) ... you’ll be glad to be rid of him, I expect.

PICQUERY We’d be more than happy to keep him here in custody.

SPIELMAN Six months are enough. It’s time for him to answer for his crimes in Europe.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original Screenplay, Scene 3


Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original Screenplay, Scene 17

It is possible that this could be Minerva's grandmother, who she was named after, who is described as "an immensely talented witch" so could have taught at Hogwarts. Though this points to Isobel's grandmother not Robert's and so most likely wasn't a McGonagall so it is unlikely to have been her.

The birth of the young couple’s first child, Minerva, proved both a joy and a crisis. Missing her family, and the magical community she had given up for love, Isobel insisted on naming her newborn daughter after her own grandmother, an immensely talented witch.

Pottermore, Professor McGonagall By J.K. Rowling, Childhood

  • Hmm...okay... The Cursed Child also doesn't stick completely with the timelines and facts of the main Harry Potter series...It's a shame, but I guess we'll have to live with it unless Rowling decides to explain... Commented Nov 16, 2018 at 11:09
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    The actress who plays Minerva is 35 years old, so if we assume the character is the same age -- i.e. aged 35 in 1927 -- then she'd become a grandma at age 43, which is young, but not impossibly so.
    – Martha
    Commented Nov 17, 2018 at 8:14
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    Kudos for scouring the screenplay for more evidence. After The Cursed Child, I don't think I'll be brave enough to buy another script-book from the Potterverse.
    – Mikasa
    Commented Nov 17, 2018 at 14:57
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    The Minerva that Prof. McGonagall is named after was her great-grandmother. She was Isobel’s grandmother, not her daughters. That rules her out as a possibility even more firmly. Commented Nov 19, 2018 at 9:07
  • @ShanaTar: "Never a McGonagall"? Just because one grandmother's name is not McGonagall, doesn't mean the other's can't be. It's merely unlikely. Commented Nov 19, 2018 at 18:58

Here is an interview where Jude Law says about a deleted scene (transcript is mine, so sorry for the mistakes):

Another Professor... certain Professor... which didn't make it, which I wish had, because I just love that she is back in this world. It was in Hogwarts, yes... She is in the film, but flittingly. We had this scene where she really got to do the full [???] that was really funny.

It is apparently about McGonagall. While we can assume that Jude Law didn't know if she was THE McGonagall and just did his guessing without enough background, it seems very unlikely. If they had a scene in the film with both Dumbledore and Minerva interacting it should be something based on Dumbledore-McGonagall relationships without any uncertainty who they are.

So I believe there was only one Minerva McGonagall in Hogwarts.

The information is at 7:20 in this video

  • I think Jude Law was only saying "Another Professor... certain Professor..." to not give spoilers, not because he was doing guesswork. And I'm not sure why that led you to believe there's only one Minerva McGonagall in Hogwarts... Commented Nov 23, 2018 at 6:03
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    @IshitaSinha Yes, he surely didn't name McGonagall to not give spoilers, but he certainly was talking about McGonagall. And he said "I just love that she is back in this world" - meaning she was the same McGonagall, not some of her relatives. I was saying that it is possible that Jude Law just automatically assumed she was the same Minerva while she was not. But I do not think it is the case. If he says "she is back in this world" and he filmed the full scene with her - that means he probably knew what he was talking about and she is the same Minerva McGonagall, not her gran or something.
    – Shana Tar
    Commented Nov 23, 2018 at 7:46

Minerva had a grandmother named Minerva as well according to the Harry Potter wikia page on Minerva.

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    Still seems a bit sketchy... Commented Nov 18, 2018 at 4:39
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    Yes that's Minerva's great-grandmother Minerva, a witch and possibly alive at the right time - but her last name wasn't McGonagall. That name came from "our" Minerva's muggle father
    – Meg
    Commented Nov 18, 2018 at 15:56

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