Beloved Harry Potter character Professor Dumbledore is set to appear in an earlier guise in the Fantastic Beasts film franchise.

And author JK Rowling has hinted that the rumours about a sequel featuring a gay relationship between the character Grindelwald and a young Dumbledore are true.

Addressing the speculation, JK said: “I can’t tell you everything I’d like to say because obviously it’s a five-part story and there’s lots to unpack in that relationship.

Professor DumbledoreProfessor Dumbledore, played by Michael Gambon in the Harry Potter films (Warner Bros Pictures/YouTube grab)

“I will say you’ll see Dumbledore as a younger man and quite a troubled man because he wasn’t always the sage. He was always very clever.

At a press conference for Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them in New York, she added: “We’ll see him at what I think was the formative period of his life. As far as his sexuality is concerned, watch this space.”

Johnny Depp has already been revealed as taking on the role of dark wizard Grindelwald in the next instalment of Fantastic Beasts, but an actor has not yet been linked to the role of Dumbledore.

In the original Harry Potter films, Dumbledore was played by Richard Harris for the first two and then by Michael Gambon in the next six.

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find ThemFantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them , starring Eddie Redmayne (Jaap Buitendijk/2016 Warner Bros/PA)

In 2007, the Harry Potter author confessed she always thought of the wizard – best known as the headmaster of Hogwarts and a mentor to the boy wizard himself – as gay.

She said: “Dumbledore fell in love with Grindelwald, and that added to his horror when Grindelwald showed himself to be what he was.”

At the event, JK also praised Johnny as “incredible” for the work he has done so far on the character of Grindelwald.