Exclusive new details about the witch and Hogwarts Professor Dolores Umbridge were revealed today in the latest writing by J.K. Rowling available on the author’s website pottermore.com. The new facts and insights about Umbridge shed light on one of the most malicious characters in the Harry Potter series.
“…Dolores…is one of the characters for whom I feel the purest dislike…” writes J.K. Rowling in a note at the entry’s conclusion. “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.”
The new 1,700-word entry from J.K. Rowling also includes her musings and recollections about the inspiration for the mean character. Readers first encountered Umbridge as the Senior Undersecretary to the Minister for Magic in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Among the new details about Umbridge that have never before been disclosed:
- A real person was the inspiration for the character of Dolores Umbridge (J.K. Rowling is deliberately vague on her identity). She describes her as a person “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.”
- During detention, Umbridge forced Harry to cut the words “I must not tell lies” on the back of his hand, thus becoming the only person other than Lord Voldemort to leave a permanent physical scar on Harry.
- She is revealed to be a half blood – the daughter of a wizard and a Muggle (non-magical person). This is especially noteworthy because in the books Umbridge lies to bolster her own pure-blood credentials.
Potter fans know Umbridge for her many infamous deeds. These include sacking teachers she believed incompetent or offended her own beliefs, such as Hagrid, and orchestrating the Dementor attack on Harry and Dudley at Magnolia Crescent.
“A great fantasy novel can’t exist without a great villain,” wrote novelist Stephen King, author of more than 40 horror novels, in his review of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in the July 11, 2003, issue of Entertainment Weekly. “The gently smiling Dolores Umbridge, with her girlish voice, toadlike face, and clutching, stubby fingers, is the greatest make – believe villain to come along since Hannibal Lecter. We turn the pages partly in fervent hopes that she will get her comeuppance…but also in growing fear of what she will get up to next. For surely a teacher capable of banning Harry Potter from playing Quidditch is capable of anything.”
The essay about Dolores Umbridge is just one entry in over 5,500 words of new writing by J.K. Rowling posted on Pottermore at Halloween, to mark the launch of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix onto the website. Other entries include a look at the magical and mysterious creatures Thestrals, the Dark history of the wizarding prison Azkaban, thoughts on the character Sybil Trelawney, details of all who have held the position of Minister for Magic, and an introduction to the ancient wizarding practice of Naming Seers.