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The Historical Hogwarts Mystery That Most Harry Potter Fans Ignore

One of the reasons the Harry Potter books turned into such a worldwide phenomenon is J.K. Rowling's careful, complex worldbuilding. Although all the details about how magic works aren't made clear, the history of Harry Potter's world is sketched in great detail, and by the end of the seventh book, we have a good sense of how that world has changed over the course of the story.

The first time the series really dug into the history of magic was in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, when Harry learns about how Hogwarts was founded. The school was established by four extremely gifted witches and wizards, and each served as the head of the house that bears their name: Salazar Slytherin, Rowena Ravenclaw, Godric Gryffindor, and Helga Hufflepuff. Although each ran a house, this arrangement left a gaping hole at its center. None of the founders was ever the school's headmaster, which created an air of mystery around the first person who held the job. So who was it?

The first headmaster of Hogwarts is never named

Although Albus Dumbledore's office contains the portraits of many previous Hogwarts headmasters, there's no explicit reference to the first headmaster among that gallery. Instead, there's a golden statue of the school's first headmaster (who appears to be male) within the castle, which can be seen in both Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. In the film version of the Battle of Hogwarts, the statue is destroyed, buried under a pile of rubble. 

In general, the history of Harry Potter is rich with detail. It's so rich, in fact, that an entire prequel series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, has been created to further flesh it out. Unfortunately, though, that history doesn't stretch all the way back to the first headmaster of Hogwarts.

For both Harry and Voldemort, the school represented an escape from the lives they led before. Hogwarts was so important to Voldemort that he ultimately used objects belonging to the four founders as horcruxes. However, even Voldemort, who knows a great deal about the school's history, doesn't seem to have paid much attention to the first headmaster — leaving his identity a mystery.