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Literature / Quidditch Through the Ages

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Quidditch Through the Ages is a book mentioned in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone which was later Defictionalized as a real book by J. K. Rowling writing as Kennilworthy Whisp. Published in 2001, it is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, describing the long history and current state of the wizarding sport of Quidditch, and including information about Flying Broomsticks and other sports played on them.

Albus Dumbledore's introduction claims that it is a duplicate of the copy kept in the Hogwarts library and describes how Madam Pince was reluctant to let it be made available to Muggles.

A companion piece to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and followed by The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

Quidditch Through the Ages was re-released in 2018 as an audiobook containing additional material from the Pottermore website, most significantly an account of the 2014 Quidditch World Cup in the form of newspaper articles by Ginny Potter; the final match is portrayed through live commentary from Ginny and Rita Skeeter. In October 2020, an illustrated edition of the book was released with art by Emily Gravett.

This book provides examples of:

  • The Ace: The Montrose Magpies. They have the distinction of having won 32 of their own league's championships, have won the European league twice, and once had a seeker who was so good he actually petitioned to get the Snitch made faster because it was "too easy."
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: With the exception of Puddlemere United, every single one of the Quidditch teams described in the book, from the Appleby Arrows to the Wimbourne Wasps.
  • Ain't No Rule: Quidditch averts this trope spectacularly, with an appropriately arcane multitude of rules covering every possible event, although about 90% of those rules (specifically the rules on foul plays) originate from incidents where a player tried some wacky new tactic on the basis that, at the time, there weren't no rule agin' it.
  • All There in the Manual: This is the manual, revealing many details about Quidditch history, teams etc. that were never mentioned in the main book series.
  • Amazon Brigade: The Holyhead Harpies are the only all-female Quidditch team.
  • Amazon Chaser: After the all-female Holyhead Harpies defeated his Heidelberg Harriers, team Captain Rudolf Brand proposed to his opposite, Gwendolyn Morgan, right there on the pitch. There's no mention as to whether he changed his mind after she cold-cocked him or not.
  • Americans Hate Tingle: In-Universe:
    • Quidditch is less popular in America in comparison to Quodpot, a sort of hot-potato game involving a Quaffle that has been tampered with and explodes — probably a joke on Americans who prefer American football to soccer and are obsessed with Stuff Blowing Up. (Ironically, one of the strongest American Quidditch teams, the Sweetwater All-Stars, comes from a region where American football is overwhelmingly the sport of choice in Real Life.)
    • In Asia, Quidditch is only slowly gaining appeal because Asian wizards have traditionally preferred flying carpets to flying broomsticks. The exception to this rule is Japan.
  • Animal Motif: Many different professional Quidditch teams have animals for mascots and often take colors associated with them. The Moutohora Macaws go the extra step further by modeling their uniforms like their namesake, a scarlet macaw.
  • Badass Decay: In-Universe, the Chudley Cannons. They've won the league championship 21 times... but the last time they did so was in 1892. Since that point, they've been pitiful. After eighty years of mediocrity, their motto even got changed from "We shall conquer" to "Let's all just keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best."
  • Barrage of Bats: During the final of the Quidditch world cup in 1473, between Flanders and Transylvania, the Transylvania captain smuggled a swarm of vampire bats onto the pitch inside their robes and released them to attack the Flanders players.
  • Blood Knight: The Falmouth Falcons' motto is "Let us win, but if we cannot win, let us break a few heads." The reputation of their Beaters for, let's say, enthusiastic play bears this out.
  • Blood Sport: Creaothceann, an ancient Scottish broom game, involved players catching plummeting rocks with cauldrons strapped to their heads. The game itself is illegal today due to massive casualty rates (heck, the book cited an excerpt from a poem which told of one game where 10 of 12 players got killed), though there's evidence that it may have inspired the Bludgers of Quidditch, flying iron balls that attack players indiscriminately.
  • Butt-Monkey: The Chudley Cannons, Ron's favorite team, are described as essentially being the Chicago Cubs of Quidditch, having a laughably awful track record for decades. Their motto was once "We Shall Conquer", and was eventually changed to "Let's All Just Cross Our Fingers And Hope For The Best".
  • Clue, Evidence, and a Smoking Gun: A magical historian is quoted on the discovery of ancient lead Bludgers, which are distinguished from Muggle cannonballs by their perfectly symmetrical construction, marks left by Beaters' bats, and "the fact that each and every one of them whizzed around my study and attempted to knock me to the floor when released from its case."
  • Continuity Nod: Two of the Quidditch fouls listed- flying with intent to collide and excessive use of elbows- occurred in the Quidditch World Cup in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: One of the review quotes on the back of the book reads "I've read worse". Said quote, unsurprisingly, comes from Rita Skeeter.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: In-Universe; Japanese players have a seppuku-like custom of destroying the broom after a loss, as a way for the player to regain honor. Outside of Japan, the practice is considered a waste of useful hardwood which also makes the Japanese look like sore losers.
  • Endangered Species: The Golden Snidget, after the early Quidditch games. Snidget-hunting was already a popular wizarding pastime, and the introduction of the Snidget to the game caused numbers to plummet until they were banned from Quidditch and protected.
  • Expy:
    • Puddlemere United is a mixture of the Liverpool and Manchester United football clubs. They have the success, widespread appeal, and share a similar name with Manchester United, and apparently have a song written for the team that's come to define them, like Liverpool.
    • The century of poor performance the Chudley Cannons have brought is based on Manchester City's legendarily poor performance for a period, where they failed to win anything for 30 years, despite being at one point one of the best football clubs in the UK.
    • Quodpot seems to be an Expy for American Football, with it being the preferred sport in the United States while Quidditch is largely ignored. Quodpot is also much riskier and violent for the players, boasting a ball that explodes under certain conditions.
    • Swivenhodge is the wizarding equivalent of tennis and other racquet sports; players sit backwards on their brooms and smack a ball back and forth over a hedge using the broom tails.
  • Fictional Document: This a manual for Quidditch, a fictional magic sport.
  • Flawed Prototype: The first broomsticks were flyable, but they were not very aerodynamic, their speeds varied from broom to broom, and they were painfully uncomfortable and prone to shrapnel in really sensitive areas.
  • Flying Broomstick: Their origins are described in the book. Broomsticks were initially chosen to be enchanted for flight because they were unsuspicious objects, but the irony is that wizards were still terrible at keeping them secret, which is why flying broomsticks are so common in muggle art.
  • Footnote Fever: Footnotes explain references to elements of the wizarding world not directly related to Quidditch, such as the inflation rate of Galleons and the right to carry a wand at all times.
  • Golden Snitch: The origins of the Trope Namer are detailed. The Snitch was not originally part of the game, but was introduced in the form of the Golden Snidget, a tiny round hummingbird whose incredible speed made it difficult to catch. The Chief of the Wizards' Council threw one into a match while offering 150 Galleons to the first player that could catch it. From then on, it became customary to include Golden Snidgets in the game, with the team that caught them granted 150 points in honor of the original bet, but the dark side was that the Snidget tended to be killed in the process. Eventually, their numbers dropped so low that inclusion of them was banned, and an artificial replacement was built, the Golden Snitch.
  • History Repeats: Twice, it's shown a rule change prompts wizards to say "They Changed It, Now It Sucks!" — once for turning the goals from baskets on stilts into fixed-size hoops, and another for banning "two Chasers knocking out the Keeper". The Daily Prophet articles are exactly the same in terms of formula: "A QUOTATION FOR A HEADLINE": An "insert synonym for worried here" ministry official, his quotation, his being assaulted by a rain of Quidditch-related objects, an "insert facial characteristic here" wizard, and his quotation. As the articles ran less than two years apart, they probably shared the same in-Verse writer. invoked
  • Home Field Advantage: Quidditch goals began as trees before progressing to baskets on poles, and then open hoops. During the basket era, teams would often place very small, difficult-to-score-in baskets at their own goals, and enormous "wicker caves" (as one Ministry official put it) at the opposing goals. Such lopsided pitches prompted the change to hoops, which were standardized at a fixed size.
  • It Will Never Catch On: The Marsh Witch hated Quidditch. Or everything, really.
  • Letter Motif: Other than one exception, all the named members of the Holyhead Harpies have a first or last name (or both) that starts with the letter 'G'. This eventually includes Ginny Weasley.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Apparently applies to every Quidditch player or fan, as the game's officialdom refuse to publish a comprehensive list of Quidditch fouls for fear of giving unscrupulous players ideas.
  • Misaimed Fandom: In-Universe. The original Golden Snidget was saved by a witch who was appalled at its abusive treatment. Unfortunately, she failed to prevent the abuse of later ones, and Snidget catching at Quidditch matches became so popular that the species almost became extinct. Thankfully the Snidget was saved with more lobbying after the Golden Snitch's inventor showed that the Golden Snitch was invulnerable to being crushed.
  • Named After the Injury: This book mentions a historical figure named Magnus "Dent-Head" Macdonald.
  • Noodle Incident: The 1473 Quidditch World Cup, because every sport has a really bad day at some point — all seven hundred fouls were committed. This included all ten of the most commonly seen fouls as well as:
    • Transfiguring of a Chaser into a polecat.
    • Attempted decapitation of a keeper with a broadsword.
    • The release of one hundred blood-sucking vampire bats from under the Transylvanian Captain's robes during the game.
    • Setting fire to an opponent's broom tail.
    • Attacking an opponent's broom with a club.
    • Attacking an opponent with an axe.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: It's mentioned that the exhaustive list of fouls (which apparently number in the hundreds) has never been made public to avoid giving the players ideas. Though it's also mentioned that the list is mostly redundant, since the ban on using wands during play renders 90% of the fouls on the list impossible to commit.
  • Product Placement: Ballycastle's mascot, Barny the Fruitbat, is featured in Butterbeer advertisements. He even comes with a cheesy slogan (Barny says, "I'm batty about Butterbeer!").
  • The Rival: It's an organized sport. There's bound to be a few.
    • Appleby Arrows vs. Wimbourne Wasps. Due to a nasty incident involving a Beater batting an actual wasps' nest at an Arrows Seeker (the most likely reason behind the Wasps name), the two teams are in a fierce rivalry.
    • The Thundellara Thunderers vs. the Wollongong Warriors. The rivalry is so bad that the very idea of refereeing a game between the two clubs is implied to be a nasty one. Heck, in wizarding Australia, the common reply to an unlikely claim or boast is, "Yeah, and I think I'll volunteer to ref the next Thunderer–Warrior game."
  • Scary Librarian: The book is the official copy from the Hogwarts library, but Dumbledore notes that the librarian Madame Pince was extremely reluctant to hand it over. He also warns the reader that he can't guarantee he's removed all the anti-vandalism curses Pince put on her books to keep kids from mistreating them.
  • Seppuku: Apparently, Japanese players set fire to their brooms after a defeat.
  • Sparse List of Rules: There are over seven hundred Quidditch fouls, but most are kept secret, and the book only lists the ten fouls most commonly seen.
  • Unnecessary Roughness: Quidditch fouls include, for example, "attacking one's opponent with an axe."
  • Vindicated by History: In-Universe; Modesty Rabnott was initially viewed as a killjoy for saving the Golden Snidget being hunted as a bet, and lost her house to pay the fine. After the hunting of Golden Snidgets was banned, a wildlife preserve for the endangered birds was given her name.
  • Wacky Racing: It's mentioned that Sweden holds an annual broomstick race that goes through a dragon reserve, and thus has a really high death count.
  • Wronski Feint: Trope Namer, specifically after famed Polish Seeker Josef Wronski. A Seeker pretends to see the Snitch and dives towards the ground in a bid to get the opposing Seeker to follow him, then pulls up sharply, hoping his opponent will crash.