WARNING: Major spoilers for the entire "Harry Potter" series below.
With the news breaking this morning that not-a-prequel-definitely-not-a-prequel two-part play "Harry Potter and Cursed Child" is actually a sequel that takes place 19 years later and focuses on Harry's son, Albus Severus Potter, now seems like a good time to get our canonical history straight. If you'd like to start from the beginning and learn everything you can about wizarding history all the way through, in order, look no further.
Here's the order you should watch and read J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" canon, from books to movies to plays, to get the fullest understanding of her wizarding world's history.
~1920: "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" (Movie trilogy)
The upcoming movie trilogy will follow Newt Scamander's adventures in New York City in the 1920s as he searches for magical creatures. What will the magical world in the early 20th century look like? This'll give us a look.
1927: "Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them" is published.
According to the foreword to the book, written by Albus Dumbledore, magizoologist Newt Scamander's "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" has been a required textbook at Hogwarts since its initial publication in 1927. Want to learn all about Puffskeins and Kneazles? This is the book for you.
~1990: "Quidditch Through the Ages" is published.Warner Bros.
Harry is given a copy of this book, a history of wizarding sport Quidditch, before his first Quidditch match in his first year at Hogwarts. (Thanks, Hermione.) While we don't have an exact year of publication, it has to be 1991 or earlier for the Chosen One to give it a read. If you want a detailed outline of the history of a game you'll never be able to play, this one's for you.
1991: "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"Warner Bros.
The first book of J.K. Rowling's core seven-book series takes place from summer 1991 to spring of 1992, with a brief foray into 1981(ish), when baby Harry had his first showdown with Voldemort. Fast-forward to 1991, when Harry's all grown up (again, ish) and off to school. Notable events this year: Voldemort is back, and he lives on a teacher's face. The public in unaware. 1991 also marks the first recorded successful robbery of Wizarding bank Gringotts.
1992: "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets"Warner Bros.
In our next year of wizarding history, spanning from summer 1992 to spring 1993, the Chamber of Secrets is opened for the first time in decades. The general wizarding public is unaware that a past projection of Tom Riddle (AKA Voldemort) is behind it.
1993: "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban"
In the years of our lord 1993 and the first half of 1994, convicted murderer Sirius Black breaks out of Azkaban, is nearly given the Dementor's Kiss, then escapes again. The wizarding world is thrown into disarray in the ensuing manhunt, fearing that a man they believe to be Voldemort's most loyal servant is free.
1994: "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire"
In 1994, it is announced that Hogwarts will host the first Triwizard Tournament since 1792. (The tradition, which had been in place since 1294, was halted due to the high death toll among champions.) Also historic: for the first time ever, four champions compete in the tournament. Harry Potter, by mysterious circumstances, is the second champion from Hogwarts. In spring 1995, during the tournament's third task, fellow Hogwarts champion Cedric Diggory is murdered by a newly arisen Lord Voldemort, restored to his former power by the sacrifice of the blood of his servant, Peter Pettigrew. The general wizarding public is told that Voldemort is not back, and that Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore are delusional. The summer of 1994 also marks the first time the Dark Mark has been seen in more than a decade, during anti-Muggle activity at the Quidditch World Cup between Ireland and Bulgaria.
1995: "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"
In the summer and fall of 1995, as Harry Potter enters his fifth year at Hogwarts, the wizarding world has branded him a liar. He's discredited in the press, especially by Rita Skeeter. Meanwhile, disappearances are still happening, and the Order of the Phoenix has quietly reformed. The Ministry has inserted a presence at Hogwarts in the form of Dolores Umbridge, who is eventually named High Inquisitor of Hogwarts. She makes sure curriculum conforms to Ministry guidelines denying the danger in the real world, and at one point expels headmaster Albus Dumbledore from the school. After a showdown between the Order and Voldemort at the Ministry of Magic and the Department of Mysteries in spring 1996, the Ministry is forced to confirm that Voldemort is actually back. This is also the year that student resistance group Dumbledore's Army is formed.
1996: "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"
While the Ministry struggles with how to take Voldemort down, more disappearances and killings are happening in the wizarding world. In the spring of 1997, wizarding world luminary and Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore is killed by Severus Snape.
1997: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows"Warner Bros.
In the summer of 1997, Harry Potter decides he won't return to Hogwarts for his seventh and final year of schooling. Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger decide to go with him. While the trio is on a secret mission with a bounty on their heads for being truant from school, a strong anti-Muggle sentiment has crept into the government, with and Muggle-born wizards being accused of stealing their magic, and magical creatures being persecuted. On May 2, 1998, the Battle of Hogwarts puts an end to the war. Voldemort is defeated once and for all after facing off with Harry Potter, the Order of the Phoenix and Dumbledore's Army.
2016: "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child"
In the new two-part play, which will premiere in London's West End just months before it's meant to take place in real time, we'll learn where the wizarding world is 19 years after the Battle of Hogwarts. The play will follow grown-up Harry Potter and his family, focusing on "cursed child" Albus Severus Potter, who will enter his first year at Hogwarts.