Witchcraft and Schools of Magic: The University of the Unseen.

Young Woman Embracing a Thorn Bush.
Kay Nielsen

Unbeknownst to many, the idea of an academic institution teaching magic actually long predates J.K. Rowling and the infamous Harry Potter series. It actually appears in works by Avram Davidson and the late great Diana Wynne Jones. But even before them, we can see the idea of magic being a teachable, refineable art via the the Wizard’s apprentice trope, which was a heavier part of older high fantasy works that lent itself to the idea of magic having a larger institution.

Being a massive fan of the fantasy genre in a both classical and contemporary sense, I knew that I wanted to do a magical academy book eventually, but lean more into the Dark Academia side of things than what I was currently seeing released. More than that, I wanted to go heavier on the fantasy side, having seen that a majority of the magical academy books that have been released as of lately are more paranormal leaning than fantasy.

So, writing up a list of the words I wanted this story to evoke and coming up with new rules and ideas that were more firmly rooted in the history of witchcraft, I embarked on a journey to create a new world of witchcraft that was wholly different from what I had created before, marrying elements from my previous books that I enjoyed (the openness of magic in the City of Crows and the whimsy of Candlelit) while investing more in a heavier, darker series that would read inherently older.

And so with that in mind, we’re going to talk about Knox in a very short blog post today.

Knox University – The University of the Unseen

Harvard at night.
The Ivies were a massive inspiration for how I wanted to approach this project.

Knox University is the most well of the 19 Wizarding universities in the world, and one of only six to offer masters and doctoral programs in magic.

Founded by the Knox brothers shortly following the establishment of America, it has become a hub for magical scholars the world over and was one of the first universities in the world to have both a coed and mixed race student body, the general approach at Knox being “progress at any cost.” Of course, in many ways this coincides with the university’s motto, translated from a long since lost pagan tongue to mean, “take more than you give.” How students choose to interpret that motto is their choice, but the glimmering walls of the Magpie, the oldest dormitory on campus, may hint that the founders intended for the statement to be taken literally.

The University is not only known for being at the forefront of the Psycheological field, having discovered ways not only to preserve familiars long after their owner’s death, but also being one of the few to examine the human soul at its barest through the innovations of the widely renown professors; Dr. Avarelle and Jones– their labs somehow managing to reside under the same roof despite the professors long held rivalry.

Like every other magical institution in the world, Knox University employs apprenticeships under well respected professors as a part of its graduate level programs, locking its students in a master/apprentice partnership until their graduation during which they not only aid in research studies, but also learn the practical magic skills from their master that they utilize to present their end of study research project to a board of licensed professionals.

But of course, there is more to Knox than meets the eye, because under all of that fame and world renown innovation, mystery blooms. The death of a professor, the snapping of a student, and whispers of something more residing within the basement of the Magpie…

Surely, it can’t be true.

Can it?

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