by Emily Neutron, Fourth Year, Ravenclaw
Subject of the portrait: Willis Arthur Ambleton Milligant III
Location of portrait: Grand Staircase, Third Floor Landing, above and to the left of the door to the Third Floor corridor
This month’s Portrait of the Month is that of the famed Transfigurationist Willis Arthur Ambleton Milligant III. He is best known by his famous initials, WAAMIII (pronounced “wammy”), 1884 – 1942. The painting, done in 1938 by the French wizarding artist Pierre Nanparille, fancifully depicts Dr. Milligant eating a meal using all four of his hands. Monsieur Nanparille was not able to have Mr. Milligant sit as a subject for this painting; it is thought that he used a photograph taken earlier in the subject’s life (when he had only two hands). This may account for the nonplussed look on Milligant’s face; he never allowed paintings or photographs of himself to be done after the accident.
Background: WAAMIII’s contribution and accident
Willis Arthur Ambleton Milligant III was born in 1884 in Little Tolling, Evesham, Worcestershire, to a wizarding family of modest means. He graduated from Hogwarts in 1902. He achieved top marks in Transfiguration, and was awarded the “Most Promising Newcomer Award” for 1902 by Transfiguration Today. Mr. Milligant supplemented his work in Transfigurations by attending Muggle Universities to study chemistry. He went on to join the Ludicrous Patents Office at the Ministry of Magic. But Mr. Milligant’s first love was always his magic and the study of Transfiguration.
In 1920, while he worked at the LPO, Mr. Milligant experimented with various kinds of human transfiguration, including the growing of extra limbs. It was during one of his experiments that a bolt of lightning (thought to be from a thunderstorm, but it might also have been a prank pulled by a certain Gerdie Edwards, then a young employee of the Official Gobstones Club) supposedly struck his apparatus.
The lightning strike would prove a catastrophe for Mr. Milligant, causing him to permanently grow two new arms. He spent six months in St. Mungo’s attempting treatments for this condition, but the arms proved impossible to remove. In the end, he learned to use them, but his changed physical appearance meant that he could no longer be seen in the Muggle world. It was after the accident that Mr. Milligant became camera-shy, not allowing photographs of himself to be taken. He took to wearing a large overcoat for the rest of his life.
During his stay at St. Mungo’s, Willis Milligant was visited by the young Gerdie Edwards. The visits were frequent enough that the two seem to have developed a genuine affection for each other (or perhaps it was merely guilt on Miss Edwards’ part), and the two were married in 1921. They would go on to have four children, none of whom was born with extra arms, despite numerous rumors to the contrary.
Mr. Milligant went on to author such famous books as “Transfiguration: The Very Basics,” “The Dos and Don’ts of Human Transfigurations,” and “Cautionary Tales of Transfiguration: Warnings to the Unwary.” These books have been staples in the community for many years, and can be found in bookshelves from Dover to Inverness, from Norwich to Galway, and even across the sea in North America. Milligant’s books have been translated into 15 languages.
Willis Milligant died tragically in 1942. His physical form supposedly made him an attractive target for recruiting by Grindlewald’s Army, who was rumoured to hope to use him to help destroy Wizarding secrecy and make the Wizarding world known to Muggles the world over. For many years, Milligant lived with his family in hiding. But in 1941, during the Muggle Second World War, it is said he fled his home in order to protect his family from Gridlewald’s Army. He moved from town to town for months, and in late Spring 1942 made it to York. He was killed in a night-time Muggle German bombing raid during the Baedecker Blitz when the building in which he was staying was leveled. Gerdie died in 1978, a victim of dragon pox.
Interacting with the Painting
Milligant’s portrait is quite high up on the wall and somewhat inaccessible. As a result, he is sometimes lonely, and is therefore a bit of an attention hound. In short, he is almost the opposite of the reclusive figure he is meant to represent. The portrait reacts well to questions, and adores compliments. He can be actually quite talkative, and loves to talk about what he sees. So don’t go snogging on the Third Floor landing unless you’ve covered him up first. But beware: he’s likely to mope a great deal if you try, and may not forgive you.