Silvanus Kettleburn was the Care of Magical Creatures teacher at Hogwarts until Harry’s third year, when he was replaced by Rubeus Hagrid.
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Index ID: PPSKET — Publication date: September 6th, 2016
Index ID: PPMMCG — Publication date: September 6th, 2016
Minerva McGonagall was the first child, and only daughter, of a Scottish Presbyterian minister and a Hogwarts-educated witch. She grew up in the Highlands of Scotland in the early twentieth century, and only gradually became aware that there was something strange, both about her own abilities, and her parents’ marriage.
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Index ID: PPPEEV — Publication date: September 6th, 2016
The name ‘poltergeist’ is German in origin, and roughly translates as ‘noisy ghost’, although it is not, strictly speaking, a ghost at all. The poltergeist is an invisible entity that moves objects, slams doors and creates other audible, kinetic disturbances. It has been reported in many cultures and there is a strong association with the places where young people, especially adolescents, are living.
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Index ID: PPSLUG — Publication date: September 6th, 2016
Horace Eugene Flaccus Slughorn was born into an ancient wizarding family, the only son of doting and wealthy parents. Although a fundamentally good-tempered boy, he was educated to believe in the value of the old boys’ network (his father was a high-ranking Ministry official in the Department of International Magical Co-operation), and encouraged to make friends ‘of the right sort’ once he arrived at Hogwarts. The Slughorn family is one of the so-called ‘Sacred Twenty-Eight’, (a select list of the only families designated ‘pure-blooded’ by an anonymous author in the 1930s) and while Slughorn’s parents were never militant in their pure-blood beliefs, they encouraged a quiet belief in the family’s innate superiority.
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Index ID: PMPFAM — Publication date: September 22nd, 2015
The Potter family is a very old one, but it was never (until the birth of Harry James Potter) at the very forefront of wizarding history, contenting itself with a solid and comfortable existence in the backwaters.
Potter is a not uncommon Muggle surname, and the family did not make the so-called ‘Sacred Twenty-Eight’ for this reason; the anonymous compiler of that supposedly definitive list of pure-bloods suspected that they had sprung from what he considered to be tainted blood. The wizarding Potter family had illustrious beginnings, however, some of which was hinted at in Deathly Hallows.
In the Muggle world ‘Potter’ is an occupational surname, meaning a man who creates pottery. The wizarding family of Potters descends from the twelfth-century wizard Linfred of Stinchcombe, a locally well-beloved and eccentric man, whose nickname, ‘the Potterer’, became corrupted in time to ‘Potter’. Linfred was a vague and absent-minded fellow whose Muggle neighbours often called upon his medicinal services. None of them realised that Linfred’s wonderful cures for pox and ague were magical; they all thought him a harmless and lovable old chap, pottering about in his garden with all his funny plants. His reputation as a well-meaning eccentric served Linfred well, for behind closed doors he was able to continue the series of experiments that laid the foundation of the Potter family’s fortune. Historians credit Linfred as the originator of a number of remedies that evolved into potions still used to this day, including Skele-gro and Pepperup Potion. His sales of such cures to fellow witches and wizards enabled him to leave a significant pile of gold to each of his seven children upon his death.
Linfred’s eldest son, Hardwin, married a beautiful young witch by the name of Iolanthe Peverell, who came from the village of Godric’s Hollow. She was the granddaughter of Ignotus Peverell. In the absence of male heirs, she, the eldest of her generation, had inherited her grandfather’s invisibility cloak. It was, Iolanthe explained to Hardwin, a tradition in her family that the possession of this cloak remained a secret, and her new husband respected her wishes. From this time on, the cloak was handed down to the eldest in each new generation.
The Potters continued to marry their neighbours, occasionally Muggles, and to live in the West of England, for several generations, each one adding to the family coffers by their hard work and, it must be said, by the quiet brand of ingenuity that had characterised their forebear, Linfred.
Occasionally, a Potter made it all the way to London, and a member of the family has twice sat on the Wizengamot: Ralston Potter, who was a member from 1612-1652, and who was a great supporter of the Statute of Secrecy (as opposed to declaring war on the Muggles, as more militant members wished to do) and Henry Potter (Harry to his intimates), who was a direct descendant of Hardwin and Iolanthe, and served on the Wizengamot from 1913 – 1921. Henry caused a minor stir when he publicly condemned then Minister for Magic, Archer Evermonde, who had forbidden the magical community to help Muggles waging the First World War. His outspokenness on the behalf of the Muggle community was also a strong contributing factor in the family’s exclusion from the ‘Sacred Twenty-Eight’.
Henry’s son was called Fleamont Potter. Fleamont was so called because it was the dying wish of Henry’s mother that he perpetuate her maiden name, which would otherwise die out. He bore the burden remarkably well; indeed, he always attributed his dexterity at duelling to the number of times he had to fight people at Hogwarts after they had made fun of his name. It was Fleamont who took the family gold and quadrupled it, by creating magical Sleekeazy’s Hair Potion ( ‘two drops tames even the most bothersome barnet’ ). He sold the company at a vast profit when he retired, but no amount of riches could compensate him or his wife Euphemia for their childlessness. They had quite given up hope of a son or daughter when, to their shock and surprise, Euphemia found that she was pregnant and their beloved boy, James, was born.
Fleamont and Euphemia lived long enough to see James marry a Muggle-born girl called Lily Evans, but not to meet their grandson, Harry. Dragon pox carried them off within days of each other, due to their advanced age, and James Potter then inherited Ignotus Peverell’s Invisibility Cloak.
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Index ID: DMPM — Publication date: Decemer 22nd, 2014
New from J.K. Rowling
Draco Malfoy grew up as an only child at Malfoy Manor, the magnificent mansion in Wiltshire which had been in his family’s possession for many centuries. From the time when he could talk, it was made clear to him that he was triply special: firstly as a wizard, secondly as a pure-blood, and thirdly as a member of the Malfoy family.
Draco was raised in an atmosphere of regret that the Dark Lord had not succeeded in taking command of the wizarding community, although he was prudently reminded that such sentiments ought not to be expressed outside the small circle of the family and their close friends ‘or Daddy might get into trouble’. In childhood, Draco associated mainly with the pure-blood children of his father’s ex-Death Eater cronies, and therefore arrived at Hogwarts with a small gang of friends already made, including Theodore Nott and Vincent Crabbe.
Like every other child of Harry Potter’s age, Draco heard stories of the Boy Who Lived through his youth. Many different theories had been in circulation for years as to how Harry survived what should have been a lethal attack, and one of the most persistent was that Harry himself was a great Dark wizard. The fact that he had been removed from the wizarding community seemed (to wishful thinkers) to support this view, and Draco’s father, wily Lucius Malfoy, was one of those who subscribed most eagerly to the theory. It was comforting to think that he, Lucius, might be in for a second chance of world domination, should this Potter boy prove to be another, and greater, pure-blood champion. It was, therefore, in the knowledge that he was doing nothing of which his father would disapprove, and in the hope that he might be able to relay some interesting news home, that Draco Malfoy offered Harry Potter his hand when he realised who he was on the Hogwarts Express. Harry’s refusal of Draco’s friendly overtures, and the fact that he had already formed allegiance to Ron Weasley, whose family is anathema to the Malfoys, turns Malfoy against him at once. Draco realised, correctly, that the wild hopes of the ex-Death Eaters – that Harry Potter was another, and better, Voldemort – are completely unfounded, and their mutual enmity is assured from that point.
Much of Draco’s behaviour at school was modelled on the most impressive person he knew – his father – and he faithfully copied Lucius’s cold and contemptuous manner to everyone outside his inner circle. Having recruited a second henchman (Crabbe being already in position pre-Hogwarts) on the train to school, the less physically imposing Malfoy used Crabbe and Goyle as a combination of henchman and bodyguard throughout his six years of school life.
Draco’s feelings for Harry were always based, in a great part, on envy. Though he never sought fame, Harry was unquestionably the most talked-about and admired person at school, and this naturally jarred with a boy who had been brought up to believe that he occupied an almost royal position within the wizarding community. What was more, Harry was most talented at flying, the one skill at which Malfoy had been confident he would outshine all the other first-years. The fact that the Potions master, Snape, had a soft spot for Malfoy, and despised Harry, was only slight compensation.
Draco resorted to many different dirty tactics in his perpetual quest to get under Harry’s skin, or discredit him in the eyes of others including, but not limited to, telling lies about him to the press, manufacturing insulting badges to wear about him, attempting to curse him from behind, and dressing up as one of the Dementors (to which Harry had shown himself particularly vulnerable). However, Malfoy had his own moments of humiliation at Harry’s hands, notably on the Quidditch pitch, and never forgot the shame of being turned into a bouncing ferret by a Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher.
While many people thought that Harry Potter, who had witnessed the Dark Lord’s rebirth, was a liar or a fantasist, Draco Malfoy was one of the few who knew that Harry was telling the truth. His own father had felt his Dark Mark burn and had flown to rejoin the Dark Lord, witnessing Harry and Voldemort’s graveyard duel.
The discussions of these events at Malfoy Manor gave rise to conflicting sensations in Draco Malfoy. On the one hand, he was thrilled by the secret knowledge that Voldemort had returned, and that what his father had always described as the family’s glory days were back once more. On the other, the whispered discussions about the way that Harry had, again, evaded the Dark Lord’s attempts to kill him, caused Draco further twinges of anger and envy. Much as the Death Eaters disliked Harry as an obstacle and as a symbol, he was discussed seriously as an adversary, whereas Draco was still relegated to the status of schoolboy by Death Eaters who met at his parents’ house. Though they were on opposing sides of the gathering battle, Draco felt envious of Harry’s status. He cheered himself up by imagining Voldemort’s triumph, seeing his family honoured under a new regime, and he himself feted at Hogwarts as the important and impressive son of Voldemort’s second-in-command.
School life took an upturn in Draco’s fifth year. Although forbidden to discuss at Hogwarts what he had heard at home, Draco took pleasure in petty triumphs: he was a Prefect (and Harry was not) and Dolores Umbridge, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, seemed to loathe Harry quite as much as he did. He became a member of Dolores Umbridge’s Inquisitorial Squad, and made it his business to try and discover what Harry and a gang of disparate students were up to, as they formed and trained, in secret, as the forbidden organisation, Dumbledore’s Army. However, at the very moment of triumph, when Draco had cornered Harry and his comrades, and when it seemed that Harry must be expelled by Umbridge, Harry slipped through his fingers. Worse still, Harry managed to thwart Lucius Malfoy’s attempt to kill him, and Draco’s father was captured and sent to Azkaban.
Draco’s world now fell apart. From having been, as he and his father had believed, on the cusp of authority and prestige such as they had never known before, his father was taken from the family home and imprisoned, far away, in the fearsome wizard prison guarded by Dementors. Lucius had been Draco’s role model and hero since birth. Now he and his mother were pariahs among the Death Eaters; Lucius was a failure and discredited in the eyes of the furious Lord Voldemort.
Draco’s existence had been cloistered and protected until this point; he had been a privileged boy with little to trouble him, assured of his status in the world and with his head full of petty concerns. Now, with his father gone and his mother distraught and afraid, he had to assume a man’s responsibilities.
Worse was to come. Voldemort, seeking to punish Lucius Malfoy still further for the botched capture of Harry, demanded that Draco perform a task so difficult that he would almost certainly fail – and pay with his life. Draco was to murder Albus Dumbledore – how, Voldemort did not trouble to say. Draco was to be left to his own initiative and Narcissa guessed, correctly, that her son was being set up to fail by a wizard who was devoid of pity and could not tolerate failure.
Furious at the world that seemed suddenly to have turned on his father, Draco accepted full membership of the Death Eaters and agreed to perform the murder Voldemort ordered. At this early stage, full of the desire for revenge and to return his father to Voldemort’s favour, Draco barely comprehended what he was being asked to do. All he knew was that Dumbledore represented everything his imprisoned father disliked; Draco managed, quite easily, to convince himself that he, too, thought the world would be a better place without the Hogwarts Headmaster, around whom opposition to Voldemort had always rallied.
In thrall to the idea of himself as a real Death Eater, Draco set off for Hogwarts with a burning sense of purpose. Gradually, however, as he found that his task was much more difficult than he had anticipated, and after he had come close to accidentally killing two other people instead of Dumbledore, Draco’s nerve began to fail. With the threat of harm to his family and himself hanging over him, he began to crumble under the pressure. The ideas that Draco had about himself, and his place in the world, were disintegrating. All his life, he had idolised a father who advocated violence and was not afraid to use it himself, and now that his son discovered in himself a distaste for murder, he felt it to be a shameful failing. Even so, he could not free himself from his conditioning: he repeatedly refused the assistance of Severus Snape, because he was afraid that Snape would attempt to steal his ‘glory’.
Voldemort and Snape underestimated Draco. He proved an adept at Occlumency (the magical art of repelling attempts to read the mind), which was essential for the undercover work he had undertaken. After two doomed attempts on Dumbledore’s life, Draco succeeded in his ingenious plan to introduce a whole group of Death Eaters into Hogwarts, with the result that Dumbledore was, indeed, killed – though not by Draco’s hand.
Even when faced with a weak and wandless Dumbledore, Draco found himself unable to deliver the coup de grâce because, in spite of himself, he was touched by Dumbledore’s kindness and pity for his would-be killer. Snape subsequently covered for Draco, lying to Voldemort about Draco lowering his wand prior to his own arrival at the top of the Astronomy Tower; Snape emphasised Draco’s skill in introducing the Death Eaters into the school, and cornering Dumbledore for him, Snape, to kill.
When Lucius was freed from Azkaban shortly afterwards, the family was allowed to return to Malfoy Manor with their lives. However, they were now completely discredited. From dreams of the highest status under Voldemort’s new regime, the Malfoys found themselves the lowest in the ranks of the Death Eaters; weaklings and failures, to whom Voldemort was henceforth derisive and contemptuous.
Draco’s changed, yet still conflicted, personality revealed itself in his actions during the remainder of the war between Voldemort and those who were trying to stop him. Although Draco had still not rid himself of the hope of returning the family to their former high position, his inconveniently awakened conscience led him to try – half-heartedly, perhaps, but arguably as best he could in the circumstances – to save Harry from Voldemort when the former was captured and dragged to Malfoy Manor. During the final battle at Hogwarts however, Malfoy made yet another attempt to capture Harry and thereby save his parents’ prestige, and possibly their lives. Whether he could have brought himself to actually hand over Harry is a moot point; I suspect that, as with his attempted murder of Dumbledore, he would again have found the reality of bringing about another person’s death much more difficult in practice than in theory.
Draco survived Voldemort’s siege of Hogwarts because Harry and Ron saved his life. Following the battle, his father evaded prison by providing evidence against fellow Death Eaters, helping to ensure the capture of many of Lord Voldemort’s followers who had fled into hiding.
The events of Draco’s late teens forever changed his life. He had had the beliefs with which he had grown up challenged in the most frightening way: he had experienced terror and despair, seen his parents suffer for their allegiance, and had witnessed the crumbling of all that his family had believed in. People whom Draco had been raised, or else had learned, to hate, such as Dumbledore, had offered him help and kindness, and Harry Potter had given him his life. After the events of the second wizarding war, Lucius found his son as affectionate as ever, but refusing to follow the same old pure-blood line.
Draco married the younger sister of a fellow Slytherin. Astoria Greengrass, who had gone through a similar (though less violent and frightening) conversion from pure-blood ideals to a more tolerant life view, was felt by Narcissa and Lucius to be something of a disappointment as a daughter-in-law. They had had high hopes of a girl whose family featured on the ‘Sacred Twenty-Eight’, but as Astoria refused to raise their grandson Scorpius in the belief that Muggles were scum, family gatherings were often fraught with tension.
J.K. Rowling’s thoughts
When the series begins, Draco is, in almost every way, the archetypal bully. With the unquestioning belief in his own superior status he has imbibed from his pure-blood parents, he initially offers Harry friendship on the assumption that the offer needs only to be made to be accepted. The wealth of his family stands in contrast to the poverty of the Weasleys; this too, is a source of pride to Draco, even though the Weasleys’ blood credentials are identical to his own.
Everybody recognises Draco because everybody has known somebody like him. Such people’s belief in their own superiority can be infuriating, laughable or intimidating, depending on the circumstances in which one meets them. Draco succeeds in provoking all of these feelings in Harry, Ron and Hermione at one time or another.
My British editor questioned the fact that Draco was so accomplished at Occlumency, which Harry (for all his ability in producing a Patronus so young) never mastered. I argued that it was perfectly consistent with Draco’s character that he would find it easy to shut down emotion, to compartmentalise, and to deny essential parts of himself. Dumbledore tells Harry, at the end of Order of the Phoenix, that it is an essential part of his humanity that he can feel such pain; with Draco, I was attempting to show that the denial of pain and the suppression of inner conflict can only lead to a damaged person (who is much more likely to inflict damage on other people).
Draco never realises that he becomes, for the best part of a year, the true owner of the Elder Wand. It is as well that he does not, partly because the Dark Lord is skilled in Legilimency, and would have killed Draco in a heartbeat if he had had an inkling of the truth, but also because, his latent conscience notwithstanding, Draco remains prey to all the temptations that he has been taught to admire – violence and power among them.
I pity Draco, just as I feel sorry for Dudley. Being raised by either the Malfoys or the Dursleys would be a very damaging experience, and Draco undergoes dreadful trials as a direct result of his family’s misguided principles. However, the Malfoys do have a saving grace: they love each other. Draco is motivated quite as much by fear of something happening to his parents as to himself, while Narcissa risks everything when she lies to Voldemort at the end of Deathly Hallows and tells him that Harry is dead, merely so that she can get to her son.
For all this, Draco remains a person of dubious morality in the seven published books, and I have often had cause to remark on how unnerved I have been by the number of girls who fell for this particular fictional character (although I do not discount the appeal of Tom Felton, who plays Draco brilliantly in the films and, ironically, is about the nicest person you could meet). Draco has all the dark glamour of the anti-hero; girls are very apt to romanticise such people. All of this left me in the unenviable position of pouring cold common sense on ardent readers’ daydreams as I told them, rather severely, that Draco was not concealing a heart of gold under all that sneering and prejudice and that no, he and Harry were not destined to end up best friends.
I imagine that Draco grew up to lead a modified version of his father’s existence; independently wealthy, without any need to work, Draco inhabits Malfoy Manor with his wife and son. I see in his hobbies further confirmation of his dual nature. The collection of Dark artefacts harks back to family history, even though he keeps them in glass cases and does not use them. However, his strange interest in alchemical manuscripts, from which he never attempts to make a Philosopher’s Stone, hints at a wish for something other than wealth, perhaps even the wish to be a better man. I have high hopes that he will raise Scorpius to be a much kinder and more tolerant Malfoy than he was in his own youth.
Draco had many surnames before I settled on ‘Malfoy’. At various times in the earliest drafts he is Smart, Spinks or Spungen. His Christian name comes from a constellation – the dragon – and yet his wand core is of unicorn.
This was symbolic. There is, after all – and at the risk of re-kindling unhealthy fantasies – some unextinguished good at the heart of Draco.
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Index ID: STPM — Publication date: October 31st, 2014
New from J.K. Rowling
|Wand||Hazel and unicorn hair, 9 1/2 inches long, very flexible|
|Special abilities||A Seer, though the gift is unpredictable and unconscious|
|Parentage||Muggle mother, wizard father|
|Family||Early marriage ended in unforeseen rupture when she refused to adopt the surname ‘Higglebottom’. No children.|
|Hobbies||Practising making doom-laden prophecies in front of the mirror, sherry|
Sybill is the great-great granddaughter of a genuine Seer, Cassandra Trelawney. Cassandra’s gift has been much diluted over ensuing generations, although Sybill has inherited more than she knows. Half-believing in her own fibs about her talent (for she is at least ninety per cent fraud), Sybill has cultivated a dramatic manner and enjoys impressing her more gullible students with predictions of doom and disaster. She is gifted in the fortune teller’s tricks; she accurately reads Neville’s nervousness and suggestibility in his first class, and tells him he is about to break a cup, which he does. On other occasions, gullible students do her work for her. Professor Trelawney tells Lavender Brown that something she is dreading will happen to her on the sixteenth of October; when Lavender receives news on that day that her pet rabbit has died, she connects it instantly with the prediction. All of Hermione’s logic and good sense (Lavender was not dreading the death of the rabbit, which was very young; the rabbit did not die on the sixteenth, but the previous day) are lost: Lavender wants to believe her unhappiness was foretold. By the law of averages, Professor Trelawney’s rapid fire predictions sometimes hit the mark, but most of the time she is full of hot air and self-importance.
Nevertheless, Sybill does experience very rare flashes of genuine clairvoyance, which she can never remember afterwards. She secured her post at Hogwarts because she revealed, during her interview with Dumbledore, that she was the unconscious possessor of important knowledge. Dumbledore gave her sanctuary at the school, partly to protect her, partly in the hope that more genuine predictions would be forthcoming (he had to wait many years for the next).
Conscious of her low status on the staff, who are almost all more talented than she is, Sybill spends most of her time apart from her colleagues, up in her stuffy and overcrowded tower office. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, she has developed an over-reliance on alcohol.
Professors Trelawney and McGonagall are polar opposites; the one something of a charlatan, manipulative and grandiose, the other fiercely intelligent, stern and upright. I knew, however, that when the consummate outsider and non-Hogwartian Dolores Umbridge attempted to oust Sybill from the school, Minerva McGonagall, who has been critical of Trelawney on many occasions, would show the true kindness of her character and rally to her defence. There is a pathos about Professor Trelawney, infuriating though I would find her in real life, and I think that Minerva sensed her underlying feeling of inadequacy.
J.K. Rowling’s thoughts
I created detailed histories for many of the Hogwarts staff (such as Albus Dumbledore, Minerva McGonagall and Rubeus Hagrid), some of which were used in the books, and some of which were not. It is in some ways fitting that I only ever had a vague idea of what had happened to the Divination teacher before she washed up at Hogwarts. I imagine that Sybill’s pre-Hogwarts existence consisted of drifting through the wizarding world, trying to trade on her ancestry to secure employment, but scorning any that did not offer what she feels is the status due to a Seer.
I love Cornish surnames, and had never used one until the third book in the series, so that is how Professor Trelawney got her family name. I did not want to call her anything comical, or which suggested chicanery, but something impressive and attractive. ‘Trelawney’ is a very old name, suggestive of Sybill’s over-reliance on her ancestry when seeking to impress. There is a beautiful old Cornish song featuring the name (‘The Song of the Western Men’). Sybill’s first name is a homonym of ‘Sibyl’, which was a female clairvoyant in ancient times. My American editor wanted me to use ‘Sibyl’, but I preferred my version, because while it keeps the reference to the august clairvoyants of old, it is really no more than a variant the unfashionable female name ‘Sybil’. Professor Trelawney, I felt, did not really qualify as a ‘Sibyl’.
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Index ID: DUPM — Publication date: October 31st, 2014
New from J.K. Rowling
|Wand||Birch and dragon heartstring, eight inches long|
|Special abilities||Her punishment quill is of her own invention.|
|Parentage||Muggle mother, wizard father|
|Family||Unmarried, no children|
|Hobbies||Collecting the ‘Frolicsome Feline’ ornamental plate range, adding flounces to fabric and frills to stationary objects, inventing instruments of torture|
Dolores Jane Umbridge was the eldest child and only daughter of Orford Umbridge, a wizard, and Ellen Cracknell, a Muggle, who also had a Squib son. Dolores’s parents were unhappily married, and Dolores secretly despised both of them: Orford for his lack of ambition (he had never been promoted, and worked in the Department of Magical Maintenance at the Ministry of Magic), and her mother, Ellen, for her flightiness, untidiness, and Muggle lineage. Both Orford and his daughter blamed Ellen for Dolores’s brother’s lack of magical ability, with the result that when Dolores was fifteen, the family split down the middle, Orford and Dolores remaining together, and Ellen vanishing back into the Muggle world with her son. Dolores never saw her mother or brother again, never spoke of either of them, and henceforth pretended to all she met that she was a pure-blood.
An accomplished witch, Dolores joined the Ministry of Magic directly after she left Hogwarts, taking a job as a lowly intern in the Improper Use of Magic Office. Even at seventeen, Dolores was judgemental, prejudiced and sadistic, although her conscientious attitude, her saccharine manner towards her superiors, and the ruthlessness and stealth with which she took credit for other people’s work soon gained her advancement. Before she was thirty, Dolores had been promoted to Head of the office, and it was but a short step from there to ever more senior positions in the management of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. By this time, she had persuaded her father to take early retirement, and by making him a small financial allowance, she ensured that he dropped quietly out of sight. Whenever she was asked (usually by workmates who did not like her) ‘are you related to that Umbridge who used to mop the floors here?’ she would smile her sweetest, laugh, and deny any connection whatsoever, claiming that her deceased father had been a distinguished member of the Wizengamot. Nasty things tended to happen to people who asked about Orford, or anything that Dolores did not like talking about, and people who wanted to remain on her good side pretended to believe her version of her ancestry.
In spite of her best efforts to secure the affections of one of her superiors (she never cared particularly which of them it was, but knew that her own status and security would be advanced with a powerful husband), Dolores never succeeded in marrying. While they valued her hard work and ambition, those who got to know her best found it difficult to like her very much. After a glass of sweet sherry, Dolores was always prone to spout very uncharitable views, and even those who were anti-Muggle found themselves shocked by some of Dolores’s suggestions, behind closed doors, of the treatment that the non-magical community deserved.
As she grew older and harder, and rose higher within the Ministry, Dolores’s taste in little girlish accessories grew more and more pronounced; her office became a place of frills and furbelows, and she liked anything decorated with kittens (though found the real thing inconveniently messy). As the Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge became increasingly anxious and paranoid that Albus Dumbledore had ambitions to supersede him, Dolores managed to claw her way to the very heart of power, by stoking both Fudge’s vanity and his fears, and presenting herself as one of the few he could trust.
Dolores’s appointment as Inquisitor at Hogwarts gave full scope, for the first time in her life, for her prejudices and her cruelty. She had not enjoyed her time at school, where she had been overlooked for all positions of responsibility, and she relished the chance to return and wield power over those who had not (as she saw it) given her her due.
Dolores has what amounts to a phobia of beings that are not quite, or wholly, human. Her distaste for the half-giant Hagrid, and her terror of centaurs, reveal a terror of the unknown and the wild. She is an immensely controlling person, and all who challenge her authority and world-view must, in her opinion, be punished. She actively enjoys subjugating and humiliating others, and except in their declared allegiances, there is little to choose between her and Bellatrix Lestrange.
Dolores’s time at Hogwarts ended disastrously, because she overreached the remit Fudge had given her, stepping outside the bounds of her own authority, carried away with a fanatical sense of self-purpose. Shaken but unrepentant after a catastrophic end to her Hogwarts career, she returned to a Ministry which had been plunged into turmoil due to the return of Lord Voldemort.
In the change of regimes that followed Fudge’s forced resignation, Dolores was able to slip back into her former position at the Ministry. The new Minister, Rufus Scrimgeour, had more immediate problems pressing in on him than Dolores Umbridge. Scrimgeour was later punished for this oversight, because the fact that the Ministry had never punished Dolores for her many abuses of power seemed to Harry Potter to reveal both its complacency and its carelessness. Harry considered Dolores’s continuing employment, and the lack of any repercussions for her behaviour at Hogwarts, a sign of the Ministry’s essential corruption, and refused to cooperate with the new Minister because of it (Dolores is the only person, other than Lord Voldemort, to leave a permanent physical scar on Harry, having forced him to cut the words ‘I must not tell lies’ on the back of his own hand during detention).
Dolores was soon enjoying life at the Ministry more than ever. When the Ministry was taken over by the puppet Minister Pius Thicknesse, and infiltrated by the Dark Lord’s followers, Dolores was in her true element at last. Correctly judged, by senior Death Eaters, to have much more in common with them than she ever had with Albus Dumbledore, she not only retained her post but was given extra authority, becoming Head of the Muggle-born Registration Commission, which was in effect a kangaroo court that imprisoned all Muggle-borns on the basis that they had ‘stolen’ their wands and their magic.
It was as she sat in judgement of another innocent woman that Harry Potter finally attacked Dolores in the very heart of the Ministry, and stole from her the Horcrux she had unwittingly been wearing.
With the fall of Lord Voldemort, Dolores Umbridge was put on trial for her enthusiastic co-operation with his regime, and convicted of the torture, imprisonment and deaths of several people (some of the innocent Muggle-borns she sentenced to Azkaban did not survive their ordeal).
J.K. Rowling’s thoughts
Once, long ago, I took instruction in a certain skill or subject (I am being vague as vague can be, for reasons that are about to become obvious), and in doing so, came into contact with a teacher or instructor whom I disliked intensely on sight. The woman in question returned my antipathy with interest. Why we took against each other so instantly, heartily and (on my side, at least) irrationally, I honestly cannot say. What sticks in my mind is her pronounced taste for twee accessories. I particularly recall a tiny little plastic bow slide, pale lemon in colour that she wore in her short curly hair. I used to stare at that little slide, which would have been appropriate to a girl of three, as though it was some kind of repellant physical growth. She was quite a stocky woman, and not in the first flush of youth, and her tendency to wear frills where (I felt) frills had no business to be, and to carry undersized handbags, again as though they had been borrowed from a child’s dressing-up box, jarred, I felt, with a personality that I found the reverse of sweet, innocent and ingenuous.
I am always a little wary when talking about these kinds of sources of inspiration, because it is infuriating to hear yourself misinterpreted in ways that can cause other people a great deal of hurt. This woman was NOT ‘the real Dolores Umbridge’. She did not look like a toad, she was never sadistic or vicious to me or anyone else, and I never heard her express a single view in common with Umbridge (indeed, I never knew her well enough to know much about her views or preferences, which makes my dislike of her even less justifiable). However, it is true to say that I borrowed from her, then grossly exaggerated, a taste for the sickly sweet and girlish in dress, and it was that tiny little pale lemon plastic bow that I was remembering when I perched the fly-like ornament on Dolores Umbridge’s head.
I have noticed more than once in life that a taste for the ineffably twee can go hand-in-hand with a distinctly uncharitable outlook on the world. I once shared an office with a woman who had covered the wall space behind her desk with pictures of fluffy kitties; she was the most bigoted, spiteful champion of the death penalty with whom it has ever been my misfortune to share a kettle. A love of all things saccharine often seems present where there is a lack of real warmth or charity.
So Dolores, who is one of the characters for whom I feel purest dislike, became an amalgam of traits taken from these, and a variety of sources. Her desire to control, to punish and to inflict pain, all in the name of law and order, are, I think, every bit as reprehensible as Lord Voldemort’s unvarnished espousal of evil.
Umbridge’s names were carefully chosen. ‘Dolores’ means sorrow, something she undoubtedly inflicts on all around her. ‘Umbridge’ is a play on ‘umbrage’ from the British expression ‘to take umbrage’, meaning offence. Dolores is offended by any challenge to her limited world-view; I felt her surname conveyed the pettiness and rigidity of her character. It is harder to explain ‘Jane’; it simply felt rather smug and neat between her other two names.
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Index ID: PMCW — Publication date: August 18th, 2014
New from J.K. Rowling
|Wand||Larch and phoenix feather, 10½ inches long, flexible|
|Special abilities||Singing; Ability to drown out a chorus of banshees, tap-dancing, fancy baking|
|Parentage||Wizard father, Muggle mother|
|Family||Has married three times; one son|
|Hobbies||Travelling in fabulous style, breeding rough-coated Crups, relaxing in any of her eight homes|
Internationally-acclaimed singing sensation Celestina Warbeck (sometimes known as ‘the Singing Sorceress’) hails from Wales. Her father, a minor functionary in the Muggle Liaison Office, met her Muggle mother (a failed actress) when the latter was attacked by a Lethifold disguised as a stage curtain.
Celestina’s extraordinary voice was apparent from an early age. Disappointed to learn that there was no such thing as a wizarding stage school, Mrs Warbeck reluctantly consented to her daughter’s enrolment at Hogwarts, but subsequently bombarded the school with letters urging the creation of a choir, theatre club and dancing class to showcase her daughter’s talents.
Frequently appearing with a chorus of backing banshees, Celestina’s concerts are justly famous. Three devoted fans were involved in a nasty three-broom pile up over Liverpool while trying to reach the last night of her ‘Flighty Aphrodite’ tour, and her tickets often appear on the black market at vastly inflated prices (one reason why Molly Weasley has never yet seen her favourite singer live).
Celestina has sometimes lent her name and talents to good causes, such as raising funds for St Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries with a recording of Puddlemere United’s anthem Beat Back Those Bludgers, Boys, and Chuck That Quaffle Here. More controversially, Celestina was vocal in her disagreement when the Ministry of Magic sought to impose restrictions on how the wizarding community was allowed to celebrate Hallowe’en.
Some of Celestina’s best-known songs include You Charmed the Heart Right Out of Me and A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love. Her fans are usually older people who love her grandstanding style and powerful voice. The late 20th-century album You Stole My Cauldron but You Can’t Have My Heart was a massive global hit.
Celestina’s personal life has provided much fodder for the gossip columns of the Daily Prophet. An early marriage to a backing dancer lasted only a year; Celestina then married her manager, with whom she had a son, only to leave him for the composer Irving Warble ten years later.
J.K. Rowling’s thoughts
Celestina is one of my favourite ‘off-stage’ characters in the whole series, and has been part of the Potter world ever since its inception, making an early appearance in the short-lived ‘Daily Prophet’ series I produced for members of the equally short-lived fan club run by my British publisher, Bloomsbury. Although we never lay eyes on Celestina during the whole seven volumes of the Potter books, I always imagined her to resemble Shirley Bassey in both looks and style. I stole her first name from a friend with whom I worked, years ago, at Amnesty International’s Headquarters in London; ‘Celestina’ was simply begging to be scooped up and attached to a glamorous witch.
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Index ID: PMGL — Publication date: October 3rd, 2013
New from J.K. Rowling
|Wand||Cherry and dragon heartstring, nine inches, slightly bendy|
|Special abilities||Accomplished at Memory Charms; devised hair-care system involving Occamy egg yolks, which guaranteed ‘locks of lustrous luminosity’ (the shampoos were indeed effective, but too dangerous and expensive to produce for the mass market)|
|Parentage||Muggle father, magical mother|
|Family||Two Muggle sisters, no children|
|Hobbies||Autographing photographs of self, relentless self-promotion|
Born to a witch mother and a Muggle father, with two older sisters, Gilderoy Lockhart was the only one of his parents’ three children to show magical ability. A clever, good-looking boy, he was his mother’s unashamed favourite, and the realisation that he was also a wizard caused his vanity to blossom like a particularly pernicious weed.
The young Lockhart’s arrival at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was not the triumph that he and his mother had expected. Somehow, Lockhart had not appreciated that he would be in a whole school full of witches and wizards, many of them more accomplished than himself. (In fact, he had visualized for himself an entrance into Hogwarts not unlike the one that Harry Potter experienced, decades later. He had imagined walking down the corridors to excited whispers of his magical prowess, it never having occurred to him that every student at Hogwarts had had similar experiences before starting school.) In Lockhart’s own mind he was already a fully-fledged hero and genius, and it was a most unwelcome shock to discover that his name was unknown, his talents were unexceptional and that nobody was particularly impressed by his naturally wavy hair.
This is not to say that Lockhart had no talent. Indeed, his teachers felt that he was of above-average intelligence and ability, and that, with hard work, he might make something of himself, even if he fell short of the ambitions he shared freely with classmates (Lockhart told anyone who would listen that he would succeed in making a Philosopher’s Stone before leaving school and that he intended to captain England’s Quidditch team to World Cup glory, before knuckling down to becoming Britain’s youngest Minister for Magic).
Sorted into Ravenclaw house, Lockhart was soon achieving good marks in his schoolwork, but there was always a kink in his nature that made him increasingly unsatisfied. If he was not first and best, he would rather not participate at all. Increasingly, he directed his talents towards short cuts and dodges. He valued learning not for its own sake, but for the attention it brought him. He craved prizes and awards. He lobbied the Headmaster to start a school newsletter, because he liked nothing better than to see his name and photograph in print. Never very popular, he nevertheless achieved his primary goal of school-wide recognition through repeated, attention-getting exploits. He received a week’s worth of detentions for magically carving his signature in twenty-foot-long letters into the Quidditch pitch. He managed to create a massive, illuminated projection of his own face, which he would send skywards in imitation of the Dark Mark. He sent himself eight hundred Valentine’s cards one year, which caused such a pile-up of owls in the Great Hall that breakfast had to be abandoned (far too many feathers and droppings in the porridge).
When Lockhart finally left Hogwarts, it was to a faint sigh of relief from the staff. He was soon heard of in foreign parts, where his exploits began garnering increasing publicity. Many of his ex-teachers began to feel that they might have misjudged him because he was demonstrating both bravery and resilience in ridding various far-flung places of dangerous, Dark creatures.
The truth was that Lockhart had found his true calling at last. He had never been a bad wizard, only a lazy one, and he had decided to hone his talents in one direction: Memory Charms. By perfecting this tricky spell, he had succeeded in modifying the recollections of a dozen highly accomplished and courageous witches and wizards, allowing him to take credit for their daring exploits, returning to Britain at the end of each ‘adventure’ with a new book ready for publication which retold ‘his’ feats of bravery with a wealth of invented detail.
Within a decade of leaving school, Lockhart had achieved bestseller status with his series of autobiographical books and a reputation as a world-class defender against the Dark Arts. He even received the Order of Merlin, Third Class, became an Honorary Member of the Dark Force Defence League and – his good looks untarnished by the many life-and-death, tooth-and-claw battles he claimed to have had with werewolves, banshees and the like – won Witch Weekly’s Most-Charming-Smile Award no less than five times in a row.
Return to Hogwarts
Many staff were baffled as to the reason that Albus Dumbledore chose to invite Gilderoy Lockhart back to Hogwarts as Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. While it was true that it had become almost impossible to persuade anybody else to take the job (the rumour that it was cursed was gathering strength both inside and outside Hogwarts), many teachers remembered Lockhart as thoroughly obnoxious, whatever his later achievements.
Albus Dumbledore’s plans, however, ran deep. He happened to have known two of the wizards for whose life’s work Gilderoy Lockhart had taken credit, and was one of the only people in the world who thought he knew what Lockhart was up to. Dumbledore was convinced that Lockhart needed only to be put back into an ordinary school setting to be revealed as a charlatan and a fraud. Professor McGonagall, who had never liked Lockhart, asked Dumbledore what he thought students would learn from such a vain, celebrity-hungry man. Dumbledore replied that ‘there is plenty to be learned even from a bad teacher: what not to do, how not to be’.
Lockhart might not have been keen to return to Hogwarts, given how well his career of stolen glory was progressing, had Dumbledore not dangled the promise of Harry Potter over his fame-hungry head (a ruse that Dumbledore was to repeat four years later, when another teacher needed to be persuaded to come back to school). By subtly suggesting that teaching Harry Potter would set the seal on Lockhart’s fame, Dumbledore had set a lure that Lockhart could not resist.
By the time that he arrived at school, Lockhart’s magical skills (once rather good) had become rusty almost beyond repair. The only spell for which he had real ability was the Memory Charm, which he had been using repeatedly for years. His classes quickly became a charade, as he was revealed to be completely inept at everything in which he claimed, in his books, to be expert.
The accident that cost Lockhart his sanity occurred at the end of his year at Hogwarts, when he was hit by a backfiring Memory Charm that forever erased his past. He has since resided in the Janus Thickey Ward of St Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries.
J.K. Rowling Thoughts
An extract taken from a BBC Radio 4 interview with Stephen Fry and J.K. Rowling, recorded in the late summer of 2005 and broadcast as a Christmas special in December 2005:
Stephen Fry: Now do you actually trawl through books of rare words or OED [Oxford English Dictionary] or things, or are they just things that you somehow, you’ve got a good memory for words?
J.K. Rowling: Um…I don’t really trawl books. They tend to be things I’ve collected or stumbled across in general reading. The exception was Gilderoy – Gilderoy Lockhart. The name Lockhart, well, I know it’s quite a well-known Scottish surname…
JKR: …I found on a war memorial. I was looking for quite a glamorous, dashing sort of surname, and Lockhart caught my eye on this war memorial, and that was it. Couldn’t find a Christian name. And I was leafing through the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable one night. I was consciously looking for stuff, generally, that would be useful and I saw Gilderoy, who was actually a highway man, and a very good-looking rogue.
JKR: And Gilderoy Lockhart, it just sounded perfect.
SF: It is a perfect, perfect…
JKR: Impressive, and yet, in the middle, quite hollow, of course.
SF: Indeed, as we know, he was.
JKR: As we know.
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