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Lily Evans: "It is real, isn't it? It's not a joke? Petunia says you're lying to me. Petunia says there isn't a Hogwarts. It is real, isn't it?"
Severus Snape: "It's real for us, not for her. But we'll get the letter, you and me."
— Discussing of Hogwarts school[src]

The Hogwarts letter is a letter of acceptance to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, sent to British wizards and witches prior to their first year at Hogwarts. A special quill exists, which writes down the name of every magical child in Britain at the time of their birth. This allows Hogwarts letters to be sent to all magical children at the appropriate time, even those who are Muggle-born.

The Hogwarts letter consists of a note of acceptance from the Deputy Headmaster or Headmistress of Hogwarts. This note is written in green ink and is accompanied by a list of required textbooks and materials for the upcoming school year.

Letter delivery

Hogwarts letters privet drive

A bombardment of Hogwarts letters addressed to Harry Potter

The letter is written on parchment paper and delivered to the recipient by owl, except in the case of Muggle-borns. When a student is Muggle-born the acceptance letter is delivered in person by a member of the Hogwarts faculty. The faculty member acts as a special messenger, who explains everything to the student and parents.

Harry Potter's initial acceptance letter was delivered by regular Muggle post, as Vernon and Petunia Dursley were aware of the existence of the wizarding world and Hogwarts. Hogwarts is able to magically tell whether or not a child has read his or her Hogwarts letter. This was evidenced by the bombardment of 4 Privet Drive with letters, despite at least one of them having been opened and read by Vernon and Petunia Dursley.

History

Harry Potter first received one during the summer holidays of 1991. He was stunned at receiving such a letter, as he normally never received any correspondence, and held on to it. This caused Vernon Dursley to joke that he might be checking for letter bombs. When Dudley discovered what the letter said, Vernon seized the letter and burned it. Then he moved Harry to theSmallest Bedroom. He went to increasingly elaborate measures to try to stop the delivery of the letters, eventually resulting in Rubeus Hagrid personally visiting the Hut-on-the-Rock to deliver the letter.

Hogwarts letters burrow

Hogwarts letters arrive at The Burrow

When Harry was rescued from the Dursleys by Fred, George, and Ron Weasley Hogwarts knew to send his letter (containing his book-list) the Burrow, instead of 4 Privet Drive. His book-list arrived with everyone other students present within the house. This could have been because Dumbledore was informed that Harry was no longer with this relatives.

Contents

First page

HOGWARTS SCHOOL of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY


Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore
(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock,
Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. of Wizards)


Dear Mr/Ms. [Surname],
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.
Term begins on 1 September. We await your owl by no later than 31 July.
Yours sincerely,

Minerva McGonagall sig

Minerva McGonagall
Deputy Headmistress

Second page

HOGWARTS SCHOOL of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY


UNIFORM
First-year students will require:
1. Three sets of plain work robes (black)
2. One plain pointed hat (black) for day wear
3. One pair of protective gloves (dragon hide or similar)
4. One winter cloak (black, with silver fastenings)
Please note that all pupil's clothes should carry name tags.
COURSE BOOKS
All students should have a copy of each of the following:
The Standard Book of Spells (Grade 1)
by Miranda Goshawk
A History of Magic
by Bathilda Bagshot
Magical Theory
by Adalbert Waffling
A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration
by Emeric Switch
One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi
by Phyllida Spore
Magical Drafts and Potions
by Arsenius Jigger
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
by Newt Scamander
The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection
by Quentin Trimble
OTHER EQUIPMENT
1 wand
1 cauldron (pewter, standard size 2)
1 set glass or crystal phials
1 telescope
1 set brass scales
Students may also bring, if they desire, an owl OR a cat OR a toad.

PARENTS ARE REMINDED THAT FIRST YEARS

ARE NOT ALLOWED THEIR OWN BROOMSTICK


Yours sincerely,

Lucinda Thomsonicle-Pocus sig

Lucinda Thomsonicle-Pocus
Chief Attendant of Witchcraft Provisions

Behind the scenes

  • In LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4, the letters come from additional places like the toaster, washing machine and in between the windshield wipers on the way to the beach.
  • In The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, customisable Hogwarts Acceptance Letters are sold, with the individual's name printed, along with a list of school supplies.
  • On Pottermore, the user is able to view Harry's Acceptance Letter in Chapter 4 (Keeper of the Keys), Moment 2 (Harry receives his Letter at last). Also, the Shopping List is viewable during the user's first encounter at Diagon Alley and is then placed in the user's trunk.
  • It is a wide misconception that you receive the letter on your 11th birthday as Harry received his first letter about a week before his birthday and most of the subsequent ones between then and his birthday, he happened to receive his final letter that he actually read through Hagrid on his birthday.
    • At the very least students who have August birthdays would need to receive their letters prior to their birthdays as the cut off date for confirming their places is July the 31st and they would also need time to get supplies.
    • It is confirmed on Pottermore that Minerva McGonagall received her letter exactly on her birthday, meaning it does sometimes happen, though not always.
  • In the European Portuguese translation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter e a Pedra Filosofal, "one caduceus" is added to the list of required equipment.
  • In the GBC version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the letter is written as follows by Dumbledore:
Dear Mr Potter, 
Screenshot 850

In the game

You have been accepted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Yours sincerely,
Albus Dumbledore
Headmaster

Appearances

Notes and references