I am currently writing a joint fic with Claire, about Rowena Ravenclaw.
The problem is, we don't know much about her character, besides the fact that she was intelligent. Would it be okay to make up some personality traits? What is there to know about her?
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I think that creating Rowena's personality would be like creating one of those characters mentioned at the sorting. You know their name and their house, but everything else is a mystery. Of course, we know that she was smart and intelligent, because she was Ravenclaw, but everything else is left for us to imagine. The only thing that I know for sure, is that she's from the glens, but that gives little information about her. The only other clue to her personality is that what's given in the Sorting Hat's song in the fifth book According to that, she only wanted the school to accept those who were smart. So there has to be some sort of trait that made her believe that brains was much more important than anthing--blood, courage--and if you didn't have brains you weren't worth as much. Also I think she would have some sort of pride to her nature, like I think all of the Founders would have had a bit of pride, if they weren't willing to comprimise or found themselves unable to get over their differences and join together. Other than those things to consider, I think that Rowena is fairly free to work with.
Even the HP Lexicon has very little to say about her. She is the Founder that we know the least about. She is remembered for her intelligence and her creativity, and is also credited for the ever-changing floor plan at Hogwarts. So you pretty much have free reign over her. Just keep in mind that she doesn't take those who are just SMART, they have to love to learn also.
If you ask me (though this is just my opinion) I think she was quite small, with dark brown hair, and she was very lively and mischievous. She didn't seem to care very much about blood, and probably had lots of heated debates about blood vs. brains with Salazar Slytherin.
I've also (for some strange reason) always imagined her as being in love with Godric. Don't know why, but I think they'd make a good couple.
You need to explain why the eagle and her house colours are so important to her. Maybe she had a pet eagle, or lived by the sea when she was young.
But, as everyone has said, you have little to go by, which makes things more fun!
Okay, everyone has some goood thoughts going here, so I'm just going to add a bit to what everyone else has said so far. Here is what we know of Rowena: (taken from the Lexicon and canon)
--She was intelligent and creative
--She was the founder of Ravenclaw house
--She was from the glens (probably Scotland)
--She was fair, meaning she had light colored hair and skin
--She was responsible for the changing floor-plan of Hogwarts
--Her symbol and colors were the Eagle, Blue/Bronze
Other than that, Rowena is possibly the least known founder. What else can we find out about her. Well, here are some things you could also look at:
--She lived over 1,000 years ago. What was going on during this time in the world?
--What does "Rowena" mean...nationality, origin, people who share the name
--She was a founder of Hogwarts, so obviously she was a talented witch. What else could she have accomplished to make her eligible for running such a prestigious place?
--Why was her symbol the Eagle, and why were her colors Blue/Bronze? You could check on the meanings of those, as well.
Those are just some thoughts I had and I hoped I helped! Good luck with your story!
This is an interesting take on Rowena. She is usually written as a well-behaved women who is, later on in her life, weary of the world. She is usually in love with Salazar, but I tend to agree with this view.
Originally Posted by Phoebe Gruzelieur
All in all when writing Rowena you need to remember not to clump her into one category as many Ravenclws are (remember that both Luna Lovegood and Cho Chang are in this her house) and give Rowena multiple layers to her personality.
I was doing a little research and found out this about the origin of the name Rowena. First of all, Rowena has no definate name etymology; the closest that anyone can guess it is derived from the Old English words for fame and joy also it's possible that it's Welsh and means fair lance.
The only famous Rowenas though are Rowena in Ivanhoe and I'm pretty sure that Jo didn't get inspiration from her because she's pretty ditzy.
The other was the daughter of Hengest, who was the king of Kent somewhere around 450 A.D. It's been suggested that he was in the works "Fight at Finnsburg" and "Beowulf". In these texts, Hengest is a Danish warrior who takes control of the Danish forces after the prince Hnæf is killed, and succeeds in killing the Frisian lord Finn in revenge for his lord's death. The events in these accounts had a historical basis, and have been supposed by historians to occur in approximately AD 450 This makes these events contemporary with the Anglo-Saxon invasion of England, though what connection (if any) exists between the two Hengests is unknown. It is also possible that he was merely a mythical figure.
Okay, now that i have gone off track for awhile, I'll return to my original subject.
There is nothing really in the origin of the name Rowena that'll probably help you with Ravenclaw. Hengest lived too early to have a connection. She doesn't sound like Ivanhoe's Rowena and I can't see her having anything to do with fame and joy.
In the 10th sentury nothing really interesting was going on in Europe. China was in the middle of a lot of political upheaval, but Europe was basically the Dark Ages and that's it. Although that can be used. The Mayan civilization collapsed at the time, although I don't think that that's relevant. Reindeer also became extinct at that time in Scotland. The usual political stuff in the U.K.
Since you don't know much about her... of course you'd have to make up some personality traits... but traits that are believable and not overly-exaggerated. Ravenclaw was probably a woman with a very complex personality... for as far as we know, she wanted the smart children in her house, and her and the founders disagreed about who should be accepted into Hogwarts, and yet they were obvioulsy good friends if they started a school together. You should really go deep into the relationships between all the founders and how, despite their differences, they were able to work together to create a school. It's like detailing how very different people (like D. Malfoy, H. Potter, L. Lovegood, and perhaps someone like C. Diggory) could all be friends with such different traits, interests, etc. And if you're planning to ship her and Gryffindor, you should probably plan on their being several obstacles and problems that should arise between the founders. Good luck with the story!
I have a few thoughts...
Ravenclaw house is characterised as not just being home of the intelligent: its students are wise, witty, and enjoy learning. It's important to show more than the simple characterisic of intelligence: Rowena is probably eager to learn (inquisitive, likes to know how things work), a good problem solver (she would carefully examine problems and consider a variety of solutions) and someone who others may turn to for advice.
Her qualities must be considered when writing her relationships with the other founders: because of their differing values, perhaps arguments would arise between them- not just on the topic of who should be allowed to attend the school. For instance, in a dangerous situation Godric might jump right in without thinking, and Rowena would criticise him for not going about it in a more sensible way. Furthermore, she might be quite stubborn and firmly believe that her way is the right way.
If you're going to ship two founders, their different personalities could be source of great conflict, so think about how they could overcome any difficulties.
The way she treats her students would also reflect her personality and values: she would probably expect a high level of achievement from them, and she would want them to learn new concepts quite quickly (she would not be fond of students like Neville, for example, while she would like Hermione, who can learn spells easily). As she values learning, she would want them to be very focussed- no laziness in her classes.
Of course, as many people have said, you have a lot of freedom when it comes to many of her characteristics: is she very friendly? outgoing or shy? quite quirky like Luna or matter-of-fact like Hermione? is she quiet, does she speak her mind? tidy and organised? severe if students misbehave? what's her sense of humour like- quite dry, witty? is she generally quite fearful- does she like to play it safe or is she brave? is she kind and motherly? You can really take a lot of liberty with characters we have only brief descriptions of.
Also, if you want to have any particular events occurring in her past, then make sure her personality today fits in with her experiences.
So, go ahead- give her whatever traits you like to go along with the little we know about her, just make sure she's well-rounded and the way she interacts with others is realistic based on the qualities you've given her. Good luck!
Spoiler In This Post
Rowena Ravenclaw was featured as the Witch of the Month for August 2007 so we know quite a bit more about her since you've asked this question.
Copied/pasted this directly from the Founders page on the Lexicon so as to trim out spoilers.
Appearance: "Fair Ravenclaw, from glen." The word "fair" can refer to overall attractiveness (as in "Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all" in Snow White) as well as paleness of skin color or hair. Although neither one is canon, both the image by Lightmaker from Jo's website (1) and the one on the original Famous Wizard card (2) show Ravenclaw with long dark hair and brown eyes. (See below)
Home: According to the Sorting Hat..."Ravenclaw came "from glen," which, according to Lexicon reader Ian, probably means somewhere in Scotland, such as Glencoe or the Great Glen where Loch Ness is.
Skills: Her Famous Wizard card tells us that "[i]t's thought that she came up with the ever-changing floor plan. She's best remembered for her intelligence and creativity."
Colors: Blue and bronze.
According to Jo's website, Ravenclaw was "the most brilliant witch of her time," who, according to legend, died of a broken heart (cause unknown) (JKR).
She is said to have stated: "We will teach those whose intelligence is surest." (OP11) Rowena was dear friends with Helga Hufflepuff.
Beth: As helpful as this post was, the spoilers were too hard to avoid. No spoilers in posts yet. An announcement will be made when spoilers can be posted in all threads. 5 points from Slytherin