The Harry Potter Lexicon
|Name:||The Harry Potter Lexicon|
|Owner/Maintainer:||Steve Vander Ark|
|Dates:||July 2000 - present|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
In 2007-08, the print version of this lexicon was the subject of a high-profile lawsuit. See The Harry Potter Lexicon Trial.
Rowling's Comments and Changing Opinions
In 2004, the Lexicon was a winner of J. K. Rowling's Fan Site Award. Rowling said: (before she brought legal issue): "This is such a great site that I have been known to sneak into an internet café while out writing and check a fact rather than go into a bookshop and buy a copy of Harry Potter (which is embarrassing). A website for the dangerously obsessive; my natural home." 
In response to the proposed Lexicon book (see The Harry Potter Lexicon Trial), Rowling said in 2008: "I think it's atrocious. I think it's sloppy. I think there's very little research.... This book constitutes wholesale theft of 17 years of my hard work." 
The lexicon contains: Characters, Locations, Magic, Canon Events, Things, Creatures, and Essays.
- HPL: Essays - Index, Archived version ("Some of the most popular features of the Lexicon are the essays. They come in all genres, from comedy to literary analysis. They are not really canon, and there was a time when I seriously doubted that it would be a good idea to include them. That was back in the days right after book four came out and we were desperately trying to assimilate a lot of new information into our understanding of the Wizarding World. Then three things happened to make up my mind....")
- 2001 What's New? (2001), Archived version
- 2002: What's New? (2002), Archived version
- 2003: What's New? (2003), Archived version
- 2004: What's New? (2004), Archived version
- 2005: What's New?, Archived version
The People in Charge
Very Early On
Who are you anyway? Who created the Lexicon? How many people are involved?
First of all, let me make one thing clear. I am not J. K. Rowling or in any way associated with her or with Warner Bros. or Scholastic or anything official like that. I'm just a fan.
The Lexicon was created and is edited, written, and maintained primarily by one person, me. I'm a 47-year-old school librarian and an encyclopedia fan from way back. I started writing reference encyclopedias in the late 1960s using the notes I always took about television shows and books that I enjoyed. My first one was about Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, which I used to watch in black and white reruns. I've written references like the Lexicon for Star Trek and Star Trek the Next Generation, for Hogan's Heroes, for Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars books, and others, but never before have I had the chance to publish my work in a way that's accessable to so many people. With the Harry Potter Lexicon, I have had the extreme pleasure to create a reference that is actually used and enjoyed by thousands of people all over the world via the Internet. This is my hobby, and it's been a real thrill for my hobby to be appreciated and supported by so many people.
I'm also a writer. I have written professionally for many years, including stints at Compute magazine, where I was a columnist and reviewer, RUN Magazine, and others. I have freelanced for travel magazines, kids magazines, and professional publications for teachers and librarians. I lecture and teach on a variety of subjects, besides creating and running the library, media, and technology programs for a K-8 school in Michigan. I'm also a husband and father, and my family is obviously my first priority. As you can imagine, this all keeps me plenty busy, so if you don't see updates as quickly or as often as you'd like, keep in mind that the Lexicon is just a hobby and that I have plenty of other demands on my time.
I don't write everything, of course. I do have a number of contributors who have written some excellent material for the Lexicon. I find some of the best essays from the members of the Harry Potter for Grown Ups group on Yahoo, and if you're an adult, I highly recommend that you join th
Michele, a.k.a. the assistant/junior editor
I, likewise, am not J. K. Rowling nor am I in any way associated with her, Warner Bros., Scholastic, or anything official like that. I'm just a fan.
I first stumbled across the Harry Potter Lexicon sometime in July of 2003, not long after Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix first came out. I noticed various items in the Bestiary and Which Wizard that hadn't been updated with new information from OP, and began sending feedback to Steve with suggested updates, complete with citations to the relevant chapters of OP to indicate where the information was coming from. I was very flattered when Steve offered to bring me aboard as an assistant editor of the Lexicon, and accepted with pleasure. On August 17th 2003, Steve officially welcomed me to the Lexicon.Like Steve, I'm doing this in my spare time because I enjoy it. 
The Harry Potter Lexicon was written and edited by the following people:
Steve Vander Ark (SVA) is the creator, editor in chief, and webmaster. His email address is email@example.com. He started the Lexicon back in 2000 as a tiny little website with a few lists on it. He’s the one who created the graphics and most of the writing on the 700+ pages of the current Lexicon is his. Steve is also an freelance writer, a theatre teacher and director, a library media specialist, and a public speaker.
Nick Moline (NM) is the technical consultant for the Lexicon. Nick has been the know-how behind setting up the podcast, the storefront, the e-books, and other recent developments with the site. He and Steve are currently working to bring the venerable Lexicon website up to modern standards. Nick’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paula Hall (PH) joined the staff at the end of 2005, taking over a backlog of essays from Penny and Steve. Since then she edited and published many new essays in our collection.
Lisa Bunker (LB) was a senior writer for the Lexicon and is now Senior Editor Emeritus. Lisa is a librarian, just like Steve, so they both speak reference-talk, which is a bit scary. Lisa edited the character pages specifically, but also acted as a web design consultant for the Lexicon. Lisa is also the editor of Accio Quote, the most complete and amazing archive of Rowling interviews and related material on the web. Lisa’s blog is “Madam Pince’s Potter Pages.”
Jeanne Kimsey (JK) came on board in the spring of 2015 and is now Senior Editor, helping to manage the massive task of transfiguring the original Lexicon into its beautiful new format. Jeanne has been a friend and supporter of the Lexicon for many years and is a wonderful asset to the team.
A full list of editors, past and present, can be found on our Credits page.
Former staff members:
Kip Carter was the Commander in Chief of the Lexicon Forum. His amazing ability to work with both people and computers has allowed the Forum to grow into one of the best Harry Potter communities on the web.
Denise Proctor was Kip’s assistant. She’s as talented as Kip and as nice as anyone you could possibly hope to meet – unless you’re a troll on the forum, in which case she’s one of the most dangerous people you could possibly hope to meet. Denise and Kip are nothing short of incredible. The Lexicon is just so lucky to have people like this on staff.
Penny Linsenmayer handled email and project management.
Josh Santilli also served in the early years as an editor and assistant, working through lists of new canon and adding details all over the site.
Michele Worley (MLW) was a senior writer. She deserves a lot of the credit for the Lexicon being updated as quickly as it was after OP came out. Michele edited the magic pages and the Reader’s Guides, among other things.
Belinda Hobbs (BH) served as the editor for the jkrowling.com guide section of the Lexicon. Belinda’s enthusiasm and creativity made it the best guide to Jo’s site to be found anywhere. Bel also managed the Floo Network page and helped in numerous ways all over the Lexicon.
Josie Kearns came aboard just before the release of Half-Blood Prince to help manage the influx of new information that a new book brings. Josie is now the webmaster of the excellent Harry Potter Companion website.Clint Hagen joined the staff in 2005 and coded the Remembrall, the Portkey, the Timelines, and the Knight Bus Tours. 
The Harry Potter Lexicon began before I (Steve) even finished reading the first [Harry Potter] book. You see, I’ve always kept notes and drawn diagrams and made lists about things I enjoy. I have blueprints that I drew of the Death Star, painstakingly drawn in 1977. I have a huge chart of all the episodes of Hogan’s Heroes, listing everything from writers and directors to the gadgets that were used and when. I wrote notebook after notebook of detailed descriptions of Star Trek characters and technology. When I encounter a well-designed and imagined world in movies, television, or books, I find it almost impossible not to catalog it.
Like I said, when I read the first Harry Potter book, the Lexicon began. I started cataloging it in my head, noticing details, scribbling down the page numbers where I could find the names of various books, and so on. I started scribbling maps of the castle. But I fought it. Cataloging something as thoroughly as I tend to do is HARD WORK. It takes a lot of time. It tends to take over my free time … and it’s also pretty much a thankless task, since no matter how carefully and expertly I do the work, no one ever sees and appreciates it.
This time it was different, though. This time there was the Internet.
It was about then that two key events happened. I joined Harry Potter for Grown Ups and Goblet of Fire came out.
The Lexicon came into official existence a week later, in July of 2000.
At first it was just a series of lists. Lists of books, lists of Wizard Cards, lists of Death Eaters, and so on. I was trying to think up a good name for the site and settled on Lexicon because Encyclopedia was taken (by the now defunt [sic] Encyclopedia Potterica). Lexicon refers to a list of words, and at first, that’s what this was. I can remember sitting on my back porch and running the name Harry Potter Lexicon over in my head and thinking that it sounded okay. I still think it sounds okay, although the Lexicon itself has grown way past being just a list of words.
In November, 2000 the Lexicon appeared for the first time on Yahoo (which was how we searched the web back then), and within a week was chosen as a featured site in USA Today.
Of course, once I started it was impossible to stop. I’m a librarian, and I could imagine what the perfect reference source would look like. Once I could picture it and knew I could do it, I just had to make it happen. So I turned the list of spells into the Spell Encyclopedia and added the Bestiary and the Atlas. That was in the spring of 2001. Since then the Lexicon has grown until it encompasses nearly all factual information from canon sources, organized and crosslinked. The Lexicon Forum was added to provide an opportunity for Harry Potter fans of all ages to discuss their favorite books. Kip Carter did a masterful job of managing the forum, and that wasn’t always an easy job.
Another exciting development for the Lexicon was the creation of The Floo Network. Several of the best Harry Potter websites in the world joined forces. Through a shared toolbar, each site linked itself to the others to provide for fans the world’s most complete and amazing set of tools for exploring the Harry Potter universe. The Floo Network is no longer in existence, sadly, but the websites involved are still going strong. The current Lexicon still references them whenever possible.
The next major milestone for the Lexicon was the release of Order of the Phoenix in June 2003. On that exciting weekend, the Lexicon was featured in a variety of places in the media–radio, television, magazines, and newspapers–and I was even interviewed on the Today Show. In mid-August, I brought Michele Worley on board as the first ever assistant editor, and since then the huge job of incorporating the new information from Order of the Phoenix and other books moved ahead very quickly.
At the end of June, 2004, Jo Rowling paid the Lexicon a high honor indeed. She gave the Lexicon her Fan Site Award. The traffic on the Lexicon grew by quite a bit and several new staff members were added to help out. Penny Linsenmayer came on board to handle email and oversee projects. Josh Santilli became the new editor, working closely with Steve to work through all the pages and find the typos, errors, omissions and to create new material. Lisa Bunker, who already was working on the Madam Scoops’ website (now Accio Quote), took over as editor of the character pages.
The Lexicon continued to grow, although after all seven books ere out the flow of new information slowed to a trickle. Most of the editorial staff moved on to other projects. Steve maintained the site and updated as he could.
By this time the Lexicon was starting to show its age. It had been created back when websites were built with individual HTML pages, connected with links. The result for the Lexicon was a maze of almost a thousand pages, connected by hundreds of individual links, often duplicating information. One editor described it as “boxes within boxes.” Editing was, well, an adventure. The only person who could edit effectively was Steve, who had the whole site in his head. Everyone else was pretty much lost. So a decision had to be made: let the Lexicon slide, getting less and less accurate and relevant, or update the site to modern standards — which seemed like an almost insurmountable task.
Nick Moline convinced Steve that the Lexicon could be updated. He and Steve met numerous times, sometimes for entire days of discussion, working out just how this could be accomplished. With Nick’s expertise as a Senior Software Engineer at Justia.com, they worked out a plan to upgrade the site in 2013. Over the next two years, a whole new staff of editors came on board to make the dream a reality. Patricio Tarantino volunteered to design the new site. Jeanne Kimsey was the first to try the new editing system and helped Steve fine-tune the process. As new editors were brought in, Jeanne became a Senior Editor to help manage the massive job.
The new Lexicon is shining example of the knowledge and deep understanding that fans have for the Harry Potter universe. The site is no longer the work of just a few passionate fans. It is now a showcase of the brilliance of many fans from all over the world who bring their wisdom and perspective to the site. Fans edit and write commentary. They submit essays and artwork. They critique and make improvements.And together we all welcome you to this amazing website: The Harry Potter Lexicon. 
The Legal Fracas Regarding the Proposed Print Version
Troubles came to the lexicon and fandom when Steve Vander Ark proposed creating a for-profit print version.
This led to a 2007-08 lawsuit. (Warner Bros. and J. K. Rowling v. RDR Books) in which J. K. Rowling and Warner Bros. sued the publishing company, RDR Books, in order to prevent them from publishing a print version of the Harry Potter Lexicon.
Steve Vander Ark, the principle author of the proposed book and the webmaster of the Lexicon website, was not sued himself, but his involvement in the affair received much attention (and wank) both within and outside Harry Potter fandom.
- The Harry Potter Lexicon is Back (July 2016)
- Steve Vander Ark. History of The Harry Potter Lexicon. (Accessed 08 May 2011.)
- J.K.Rowling Official Site, Section: Fan Sites - The Harry Potter Lexicon. (Archived 16 March 2006 by the Wayback Machine.)
- J.K. Rowling: 'I've made enough money' -- ‘Harry Potter’ author says lawsuit against fan doesn't stem from greed , USA Today, April 2008
- from Harry Potter and Lexicon FAQ INDEX of FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: Also known as "Fantastic Answers and Where to Find Them" , accessed October 2, 2016
- History, accessed October 2, 2016
- History, accessed Ocotber 2, 2016