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J.K. Rowling just settled a Harry Potter bet between a student and her chemistry teacher
Victoria Green bet her chemistry teacher JKR wouldn’t write a sequel—in 2011.
In 2011, Victoria Green got into a debate with a high school science teacher about Harry Potter that grew so heated it turned into a proper legal battle.
Five years later, the dispute has finally been settled—by J.K. Rowling herself.
Green and her sophomore chemistry teacher, Robert Hernandez, had strong feelings on the subject of a Harry Potter sequel. Green was sad there would never be another book, but Mr. H. was certain Rowling would one day answer the siren call of a return to the HP world.
After arguing extensively over whether Rowling would ever write a new book, they decide to settle their beef the old-fashioned way: by drawing up a legal contract to decide who was right.
Green and Hernandez agreed to the wording of the contract and had their legal contract officially notarized and signed by witnesses.
The terms: Rowling must write a new novel by the time Green graduated college.
At stake: honor and glory. The loser must, in all sincerity, declare the winner “Mighty.”
“My high school chemistry teacher and a couple students were talking about Harry Potter in like 10th grade,” Green told the Daily Dot.
“I was lamenting that there would never be another Harry Potter adventure. Mr. H disagreed. He argued J.K. Rowling would never create anything as successful as the HP series. I said she wanted to do other things. The convo got more heated and it turned into a proper wager.”
As her fans are aware, Rowling has indeed returned to the series since the 2011 wager was made, with not one, but two new offerings in the form of the prequel movie trilogy Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and the sequel play about Harry’s son Albus, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
But even though Rowling is writing Fantastic Beasts, it’s a screenplay, not a novel. And even though The Cursed Child is a sequel (not a prequel!), it’s not actually written by Rowling, but by playwright Jack Thorne. Rowling is credited as a contributor to the story.
This week Rowling announced that The Cursed Child would be made immediately available as a published script upon the premiere of the London stage production. This prompted another flurry of clarifications that, no, the play was still not a prequel, and also not an actual novel. Green decided the moment was right to show Rowling her legally binding five-year-old contract.
And Rowling responded by confirming that Green is currently the mightiest of all:
“I think we are still shocked she responded,” Green told the Daily Dot. “I was screaming in my dorm room at six this morning.”
Asked if Mr. Hernandez was frustrated to be so narrowly losing the bet, Green responded, “He must be. But that’s why the terms of the contract are clear.”
However, she added that all hope isn’t lost for those who want Rowling to write a new novel: “I don’t graduate until next May, so according to the contract he’s still got a chance.”
Despite their years-long vendetta, Green had nothing but praise for Hernandez, with whom she’s stayed in touch throughout the years.
Now a 21-year-old environmental science major at Duke, she described Mr. H. as “such a fantastic teacher.”
“He always encourages crazy creativity and ridiculousness in his students,” she said.
Clearly, even though Mr. H. hasn’t yet won the bet, he’s proven a larger point to his former student: All that creativity and whimsy can have a mighty payoff.
Photo via JK Rowling/jkrowling.com
Aja Romano is a geek culture reporter and fandom expert. Their reporting at the Daily Dot covered everything from Harry Potter and anime to Tumblr and Gamergate. Romano joined Vox as a staff reporter in 2016.