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Profile of
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore

Albus Dumbledore, copyright Alice Wack.Albus Dumbledore was the Headmaster of Hogwarts for close to forty years, a time period that encompassed both of Voldemort’s attempts to take over the Wizarding world. Considered to be the most powerful wizard of his time, Dumbledore was awarded the Order of Merlin, First Class, and was the Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards as well as the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot.

Although in his later years Albus Dumbledore was known as much for his eccentricity, gentle humor and unfailing kindness as his magical abilities, he was deeply ashamed of some of the things he did -- and thought -- in his youth. He learned the hard way about the seductiveness of power, and its costs, and spent the rest of his life trying to understand and contain the darker impulses in Wizarding society.

Dumbledore was the oldest of the three children of Kendra, a Muggle-born witch, and Percival Dumbledore, a wizard. When Albus was ten and his brother Aberforth was eight, tragedy born of the friction between the Muggle and Wizarding worlds struck the family and changed it forever. Albus’s six-year-old sister Ariana was beaten by three Muggle boys when she frightened them by performing magic. She survived, but was so badly injured that her development was permanently damaged. Her brother Aberforth told Harry that she refused to use her magic but couldn’t remove it either, and that drove her mad. Her magic would explode out of her in uncontrolled, unpredictable ways.

When their father Percival was sent to Azkaban for attacking the boys that injured Ariana, Kendra decided to keep her daughter’s condition a secret and moved the family from Mould-on-the-Wold to Godric’s Hollow where the family kept to themselves. Albus, and later Aberforth, would attend Hogwarts, but Ariana remained hidden, and her magic untrained and uncontrolled.

Albus went on to be a stand-out student at Hogwarts, and was about to go on a grand tour of the Wizarding world with Elphias Doge in 1899 when Ariana accidentally killed their mother Kendra. Instead of traveling the world and launching a great career, Albus reluctantly stayed to care for Ariana. That summer he met young Gellert Grindelwald and became entranced with Gellert and his ideas: visions of Wizard supremacy, and his search for the three Deathly Hallows. Ariana was neglected while Albus became infatuated with Gellert and discussed Wizard takeovers “for the greater good” of the world. Eventually, Albus's brother Aberforth confronted the two of them about Ariana, a fight ensued, and Ariana was killed. Gellert fled, and Albus fully realized what his friend was capable of, and where his ideas would have taken them. Albus deeply regretted his role in his sister's death for the rest of his life.

Instead of conquering the world, Albus avoided politics and concentrated on scholarship, discovering the twelve uses of dragon’s blood, and exploring alchemy with Nicholas Flamel. At some point in the 1930s he became a professor at Hogwarts where he taught Transfiguration. In 1938, Tom Riddle was admitted to Hogwarts. While others were impressed with his brilliance, Dumbledore began to be disturbed by Tom’s fascination with power and cruelty toward others. As Europe descended into totalitarianism and war, Tom Riddle became fascinated by similar ideas of Wizard supremacy. He changed his name to Lord Voldemort, and began gathering objects of power and seeking ways to cheat death. After Dumbledore’s spectacular defeat of his onetime friend Grindelwald in 1945, Albus Dumbledore became the only wizard that Voldemort feared.

When Lord Voldemort and the Death Eaters began their brutal subjugation of Wizarding society in the 1970s and the Ministry of Magic could not cope, Dumbledore (now Hogwarts Headmaster) formed the Order of the Phoenix to fight against Voldemoert and for the rights of Muggles and Muggle-born wizards. The Order suffered tremendous losses, but prevailed when Voldemort’s power was broken by Lily Potter’s instinctive self-sacrifice for her infant son Harry, “the boy who lived.” Dumbledore delivered the orphaned Harry to his Muggle aunt for protection, and a ten-year period of relative peace began.

Unfortunately for nearly everyone, Voldemort survived and eventually regained enough of his strength to try again to realize his monstrous ambitions. Dumbledore realized that the Wizarding world’s best hope lay in an eleven-year-old boy named Harry Potter who had just begun his schooling at Hogwarts, for Harry had been prophesied to be the one with “the power to vanquish the Dark Lord” before his birth. This time, Dumbledore had an unlikely ally, former Death Eater and Potions Master Severus Snape.

Harry was Dumbledore’s man from the very beginning; Dumbledore had much more difficulty with the relationship. Instead of a pawn to prepare for sacrifice, he had a neglected, loving, courageous child who needed to be both confident and selfless enough to do the unthinkable. At Harry’s first Christmas, Dumbledore gave Harry his father’s Cloak of Invisibility, a rare object of unusual power, and then stood back and waited to see what he did with it. This odd, detached teaching method was very effective with Harry, but it also enabled Dumbledore to make an “old man’s mistake” and delay fully disclosing the complete details and implications of Trelawney’s prophecy to him.

Dumbledore made another mistake, but this one was fatal. As Harry was learning to trust his friends, his power and his instincts, Dumbledore had begun the hunt for Tom Riddle’s Horcruxes and discovered that he wasn’t immune to the lure of the Deathly Hallows after all. He already had the Elder Wand (taken from Grindelwald in battle), Harry had the legendary Cloak of Invisibility, and there in the Peverell ring Horcrux was the Resurrection Stone which would allow him to see his parents and sister again. Unthinking, he put the cursed ring on his right hand. After containing the damage, Snape later told Dumbledore that he could not completely stop the damage from spreading, as it was a type of curse that strengthened over time. Dumbledore had about a year left to shape events before he died.

Severus Snape had lived up to his word to Dumbledore so many years ago, and protected Harry’s life while maintaining his credibility with Voldemort. Now, at this crossroads, Dumbledore ruthlessly compelled Snape to promise one more thing -- to kill him, if needed, to maintain his cover and spare young Draco Malfoy the experience. Snape agreed, though this clearly repelled him.

During his last year of life, Dumbledore showed Harry how to hunt for Horcruxes, and left clues about the Deathly Hallows for Harry and his friends to work out for themselves. He knew Harry well enough by then to be sure that – unlike himself – Harry would not be tempted by the Hallows for long. Dumbledore was killed by Severus Snape in June of 1997 and buried in a white marble tomb on the grounds of Hogwarts.

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Original page date 2 October, 2007; Last page update 18 October, 2007.