6 Things You Never Knew About Professor Trelawney

Sybill Trelawney was one of the quirkiest and most hilarious characters in the Harry Potter series. Her grandiose predictions and dramatic nature made the divination scenes entertaining. And those scenes contrasted so sharply with her instances of actual prophecy that it sent chills down my spine. There's more to this professor than meets the eye, and that's why these facts about Sybill Trelawney are so fascinating.

J.K. Rowling recently released three new e-books, and in one of those books, Short Stories From Hogwarts Of Heroism, Hardship, and Dangerous Hobbies, the author discusses Professor Trelawney in-depth. That's right — Rowling reveals many interesting details about Trelawney’s past, delves into the meaning behind her unusual name, and even details her lukewarm relationship with Professor McGonagall. Here are six fascinating facts about Professor Trelawney from the new Pottermore Presents ebooks:

1. Some Of Her Predictions Come From Using 'Fortune Teller's Tricks'


Trelawney may seem like a complete phony, but she actually has some gifts of prophecy — that's clear in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban . But when she's not making real prophecies (without even realizing she's making them), she uses "fortune teller's tricks" to make good guesses. For example, she predicts that Neville will break his cup during the first class, because she sees how nervous and suggestible he is. So though she's not great at making real predictions, she is pretty observant.

2. She Is Professor McGonagall's Foil


Rowling considers Trelawney and McGonagall "polar opposites." Trelawney is "manipulative and grandiose," whereas McGonagall is "fiercely intelligent, stern and upright." Despite their differences, however, McGonagall leapt to Trelawney's defense because she sensed Trelawney's "underlying feeling of inadequacy." Three cheers for Professor McGonagall, the true star.

3. Rowling Wanted Her To Have An "Impressive And Attractive" Name


When naming Sybill Trelawney, J.K. Rowling wanted something more serious. Instead of giving away Professor Trelawney's quirky nature with an equally humorous name, she chose Trelawney because she thought it was "impressive and attractive."

4. Her Last Name Is Cornish And It's From A Song


Speaking of Trelawney's last name, there's even more to it: "Trelawney" is an old Cornish name, and it's actually from a song called "The Song of the Western Men." The chorus has her name in it:

And shall Trelawny live?

Or shall Trelawny die?

Here's twenty thousand Cornish men

Will know the reason why!

5. The Second 'L' In Her First Name Is Significant


J.K. Rowling's American editor wanted Sybill to be "Sybil," but J.K. Rowling stuck with the extra L. She intended this extra L to signify the idea of a clairvoyant, but in her mind, Professor Trelawney "did not really qualify as a 'Sybil.'"

6. Rowling Only Has A Faint Idea Of What Professor Trelawney Did Before Hogwarts


J.K. Rowling has written detailed backstories for many of her characters, but not with Sybill Trelawney. She has only a faint idea of what the professor did before her days at Hogwarts. Rowling says that she imagines Sybill drifted "through the wizarding world, trying to trade on her ancestry to secure employment, but scorning any that did not offer what she feels is the status due to a Seer." Luckily for Sybill, Dumbledore stumbled upon her and offered her sanctuary at Hogwarts. I bet she never saw that one coming.

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