- "It detects the birth of a magical child and writes his or her name down in a large book. Every year, Professor McGonagall checks the book and sends owls to the children who are turning eleven, to inform them that they have a place at Hogwarts."
The Quill of Acceptance, also known as the Magical Quill, was a quill at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry that detected the births of all magical children and wrote their names down in a big, parchment book known as the Book of Admittance.
The Quill of Acceptance was created by the founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It was created sometime before the completion of Hogwarts Castle, as it and the Book of Admittance were ready to be placed inside the small locked tower they reside in upon the castle's completion.
The exact nature of the spells placed on the quill is unknown. It is believed to be an Augurey feather, yet is capable of writing despite the fact that the silver ink pot it sits in has no ink inside, and Augurey feathers repel ink regardless. Though some wizards may know the secret of the quill, none have divulged it. Albus Dumbledore implied to have known how both the quill and book work, but noted that divulging such information would cause needless, tedious explanations to wizarding parents who would be furious that their child was not selected.
The Book and Quill's decision is final and no child has ever been admitted whose name has not first been inscribed on the book's yellowing pages. At the precise moment that a child first exhibits signs of magic, the Quill floats up out of its inkpot and attempts to inscribe the name of that child upon the pages of the Book. The Quill's sensitivity, coupled with the Book's implacability, have never yet made a mistake.
Since this record contained the name and birthdate of every magical child, it was used to determine who was eligible to attend Hogwarts, and when. Every year, at least during her tenure as Transfiguration teacher and Deputy Headmistress, Minerva McGonagall would check the book and send an acceptance letter by owl to children who were approaching their eleventh birthdays, letting them know of their place at the school.
The quill activates at the slightest hint of magical ability in a child, attempting to write in the book on this instance. The book, however, will snap shut, and refuse to allow the quill to write in it until sufficient evidence of a child's magical ability has been manifested. This system has ensured that no Squib (who will sometimes have a faint magical aura from their parents) has ever been admitted at Hogwarts.
Behind the scenes
- It is assumed (though not explained) that this quill only records magical births within the United Kingdom and Ireland. Whether around the time of its creation it also recorded magical births in Little Britain (Brittany) is not known.
- It is unknown why Professor McGonagall is the one to check the book, possibly due to her status as Deputy Head (and later Headmistress).
- On Pottermore, the Magical Quill was used as a way to register people on the website early, from July 31st-August 6th, 2011. People had to to solve a riddle on the homepage and add the answer to the riddle to the end of the special, otherwise inaccessible URL http://quill.pottermore.com/ to obtain a chance at early registration for the site. If they answered the riddle correctly, then they were normally redirected to a Harry Potter related website to search for the Magical Quill. If they found it, they had to do something to it, such as click on it or levitate it. If they were successful, they were allowed to register for the website prior to the scheduled public launch. There were seven riddles, one each day for the duration of the week. Each one related to one of the different Harry Potter books. Day one's riddle was about Philosopher's Stone, day two's was about Chamber of Secrets, and so on. The riddles became progressively easier as the week went along, with the riddles for the first three days being more difficult than those for the last four days.