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NYC Sweepstakes Reading Canon Summaries


I’ve been waiting for a full transcript from Leaky, but want to post this list of canon summaries now. I figure I can add to it later. These summaries are actually based upon four sources: TLC and HPANA, as well as Eldritchhobbit‘s and iamstarmoms LiveJournals. All were present at the reading. Please extend Dumbledore-like courtesy to those you disagree with in the comments please.

P.S. Please give me time to update the new character information carefully and methodically. It isn’t as simple as just posting bits here and there, and I had promised the hubby that this weekend I would actually try to get out from behind the computer.

P.P.S. There were of course three other readings last week. The canon summaries for ALL of them are over at Accio Quote!

  • Neville married Hannah Abbott, who eventually became the landlady at The Leaky Cauldron. His students think this is cool.
  • Molly was the one to defeat Bellatrix because Jo wanted Molly to have a chance to show how powerful she is, and because she found it satisfying to create a face-off between unhealthy obsessive love and strong maternal love.
  • Jo decided not to kill Arthur Weasley in Book 5 so that Ron wouldn’t have to grow up as quickly.
  • The orphaning of Teddy Lupin brought the series full circle, though Harry was a much better godfather than Sirius.
  • Jo says (tongue in cheek) that Aberforth‘s inappropriate goat charm had to do with keeping it clean or its horns curly.
  • Dumbledore was gay; he fell in love with Gellert Grindelwald but was “terribly let down by him” when he realized what Gellert was capable of.
  • Parseltongue is not a language that people can learn. Ron really only memorized the sound of one word (“open”).
  • Dumbledore‘s first letter to Petunia (she was 12-ish) was very kind and explained why he couldn’t let her become part of the Wizarding world and join her sister at Hogwarts. His 1981 letter reminded her of her wish, appealed to her sense of fair play, and asked her to take care of Harry.
  • Petunia desperately wanted to be a part of the Wizarding world and hated that “Lily had what she couldn’t have.”
  • What Petunia almost said when Harry left Privet Drive for the last time was “I do know what you’re up against and I hope it’s OK.” But she couldn’t say it because she was too hardened by pretending not to care for so long.
  • Harry’s Horcrux was not destroyed by the basilisk poison in book2 because the poison’s damage was stopped in time by Fawkes’ tears.
  • Dumbledore worried that Harry would give in to his “reckless” impulses and seek the Deathly Hallows so he gave the book with the clues to cautious Hermione.
  • When Harry decided not to seek the Hallows after Dobby died it scared him because it was the first time he had decided not to act.
  • JKR: Portraits can “only move between portraits in the same building” or other places where the same portrait exists.
  • The parallels between Voldemort’s goals and methods and those of the Nazi Regime were deliberate, but there are also parallels to regimes that exist today.
  • JKR: “The Potter books in general are a prolonged argument for tolerance, a prolonged plea for an end to bigotry…. You should question authority and you should not assume that the establishment or the press tells you all of the truth.”
  • There is no magic involved in life debts.
  • After Book 7, Draco Malfoy goes back to “being an improved version of what he was but we shouldn’t expect him to be a really great guy any time soon.”
  • James, Lily and Sirius became full time members of the Order of the Phoenix after leaving Hogwarts and did not have regular jobs. They lived off of James’s money.
  • The Potters did not go into hiding until Lily became pregnant.
  • Lupin was “unemployable” when he left Hogwarts; he fought full time for the Order of the Phoenix.
  • Voldemort’s first rise to power did not go as far as the second one did because he was not able to infiltrate the Ministry the first time.
  • Hagrid never married. Mme. Maxime was too sophisticated for him, and there weren’t many other giantesses around.
  • Severus Snape‘s portrait does indeed hang in the Headmaster’s office. Harry had a role in making sure that Snape’s abdication did not affect his place there.
  • Headmaster portraits don’t appear immediately; the person needs to be dead.
  • Jo was surprised that no one had ever asked her what Dumbledore’s wand was made of.


Pensieve (Comments)

  • Patrick

    Great bits of information! But the Dumbledore revelation is disapointing, althought I’m sure a large number of fans will be happy with this answer.

  • Moony =luna lupin

    Concerning the letter Dumbledore wrote to Pethunia about the fact she couldn’t join Lily: I suppose this wasn’t written in 1981, because that’s the year Lily died. perhaps a typo?
    Lisa, I tried to send you something about Kingsley Shacklebold, you spelled the name often as Kinglsey Shackelbold (other variations can be found on certain pages of the lexicon). I realy hope, there is an easy way to correct this? Because, if you have to correct this manually, I fear you’ll need several minutes.

  • Domoor

    There is more to the portraits of course, because we see Dilys and Phineas Nigellus visit their portraits somewhere else. I guess the rules for the paintings are like this:
    1. Within a building any inhabitants of any painting can visit any other.
    2. A portrait of a particular wizard can visit his own portraits, wherever they are.

  • beauxbatons

    By the way, Moony=luna lupin, “Shacklebolt” takes a “t” at the end of it, and not a “d”… 🙂

  • andrew

    yey, good ole JK.

  • Moony =Luna Lupin

    Thanks for correcting me concerning Kingsley Shacklebolt. Dumbledore wrote a letter in 1981, the letter left with Harry on the doorstep.
    Concerning making the portraits, I hope we’ll know more after an update on jkr’s website, or after the release of the Encyclopedia. I hope the same concerning food and Gamp’s law of elemental transfiguration.
    If I had the chance to ask something, I would ask these questions concerning food:

    1a: Food is one of the first of five
    Principal Exceptions to Gamp’s Law of
    Elemental Transfiguration (Hermione told
    this in dh15). Does this mean there
    couldn’t be wishing tables or wishing
    clothes (cf. Household Tales, by
    Brothers Grimm: e.g “The Wishing-Table,
    the Gold-Ass, and the Cudgel in the
    Sack”, “The Knapsack, the Hat, and the
    Horn”) in the

    1b: What are the other 4 Principal
    Exceptions to Gamp’s Law of Elemental

  • Moony =Luna Lupin

    And these are the questions about the portraits/paintings in the hp-universe:
    How exactly are the portraits created? I mean: do the creation needs a painter?
    (e.g. there wasn’t one mentioned in creating Dumbledore’s portrait, and Dumbledore was a very busy
    man, so it would
    be difficult to portray him.) I know, in many cultures they believed a depicted person/object captured the ghost/essence of the real person/object, in this cultures, making portraits/paintings was an act of magic (cf. the paintings in the caves of animals that were hunted by the cro-magnon, homo sapiens neanderthalensis, …

  • Kez

    I wonder how Harry ‘had a role’ in making Snape’s painting appear, if, like Dumbledore’s did, paintings just appear after the headmaster has died…

    And, well done to JK for outing Dumbledore. I think it’s very touching that he did in fact have a romance in his life, and, like his mistakes with his family, makes us see the human behind the icon.

  • Thanks for consolidating all this new information. Of course, it all brings up a number of new questions. What I most want to know: When and how did Neville and Hannah end up together? Did she not say anything about Remus living off James’s inheritance and working for the Order as well, given that he was unemployable?

    I am, of course, very excited at the news about Dumbledore, and I’m glad that Jo did this the way she did. Obviously, it should not have been included as part of the books since it is not relevant to Harry’s journey, but mentioning it after the fact like this sends an important message: The most powerful, respected wizard of the 20th century was gay. This fact did not in any way diminish him or hold him back. Thank you, Jo.

    Albus/Gellert has so much potential for angst and tragedy. What a beautiful, sad story. Poor Dumbledore! I almost hope that Jo will get around to writing it for us one day, but I know better than to hold my breath.

  • Oryx

    Neville and Hannah – I’m happy for them, I wonder how often they get to see one another. Especially if Neville becomes Head of Gryffindor (which he deserves to be).

    Dumbledore’s letters to Petunia – there were at least 2 of them, one to Petunia as a girl, written around 1971, in response to Petunia’s wish to attend Hogwarts like her sister, and one addressed to Petunia and Vernon, left with Harry in 1981. (There were also a letter to both of them when Harry and Ron crashed into the Whomping Willow and the howler sent at the beginning of OOTP).

    I wish Rowling’s call for tolerance extended towards members of Slytherin House, and reached a certain red-haired former Gryffindor.

    Now that Rowling said the Potters were in hiding since Lily became pregnant I need to know when exactly the prophecy was made. Was the prophecy made before Harry’s conception in late October or early November 1979? Or did the Potters go into hiding because of their previous run-ins with Voldemort, not wanting to risk their future child? And does this means all 3 Voldemort encounters took place between June 1978 and November 1979?

    Regarding Snape’s portrait – the way I understand it is that when an acting Headmaster dies a portrait of hir appears magically. The castle considered Snape’s escape as a desertion of duty so a portrait was not created automatically, but after Harry revealed Snape’s true story a portrait of Snape was made.

    OK, so what were the properties of Dumbledore’s original wand? And what became of it when he started using the Elder Wand?

  • Oryx – I’m wondering about the James and Lily timeline too. The statement “the Potters did not go into hiding until Lily became pregnant,” does not have to mean that they hid from the moment she became pregnant. Dumbledore would not have known that the prophecy applied to them until he knew the due date of the baby, but it’s possible Peter knew the due date first (being a “close friend”) and that the Potters were targeted before they had a chance to go into hiding. And with things as busy as they were and the war on, it might have been a month or more before Lily even realised she was pregnant, and longer before she and James told anyone. I can’t imagine that the Potters were in hiding before about January of 1980.

  • Reader2

    I wouldn’t be too worried about Neville and Hannah, after all they can apparate.
    I am sure glad to hear that Neville got some female attention, and it sounds like he won her over from Ernie Mcmillan. Most impressive.

  • Darcy

    I am ruined right now. I can’t beleive Dumbledore to be gay. I never would of thought this. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this though. But i just can’t believe it. I would guess this of Snape, Not Dumbledore. Great info Thanx to all who participated.

  • Darcy

    P.S. Dumbledore is and always will be my favorite. R.I.P THE GREATEST HEADMASTER.

  • Marco


    all known teacher stayed during term in Hogwarts over night, but this does not neccessarily mean, that this is compulsory for every teacher.

    Like Reader2 wrote, Neville can easily apparate home every evening after work. But, however, he may have turns to spend nights in Hogwarts, p.e. to maintain discipline and for emergencies.

  • Sirius Black

    Great information! Except Dumbledore’s is a bit dissappointing…

  • Colleen

    Wow… that Neville bit ruined some fanfics of mine, and the Dumbledore revelation was… unusual.

  • Concerning the food – has anyone else noticed that McGonagall produced bread and pumpkin juice for Ron and Harry, when they couldn’t join the first dinner in the 2nd year, because of the flying Ford anglia and thus had to eat in Snape’s office???

    Concerning Lily’s pregnancy – Jo’s exact words were: “But they were full-time fighters, that’s what they did, until Lily fell pregnant with Harry. So then they went into hiding.”
    Leaky says: “Hagrid never married and James and Lily went into hiding SHORTLY after she first became pregnant with Harry.”

  • Lisa Marie – McGonagall probably summoned the food from the kitchens, rather than creating it. I think we see this get done a lot. It would be hard to tell the difference if she did it wordlessly.

  • kaye

    from HP5, c 27:
    “You know, Minister, I disagree with Dubmledore on many counts … but you cannot deny he’s got style …” ~Phineas Nigellus


  • Reader2

    Snape was an odd loner, who got bullied as a teenager and shunned as an adult.
    If he turned out to be gay, it would be reinforcement of a stereotype.
    That would go against everything the book stands for.

  • roonwit

    I am still trying to decode Jo’s comments about Hagrid. Was she saying that Maxime was too sophisticated for Hagrid, or Hagrid wasn’t sophisticated enough for Maxime. I didn’t think it would work though, as Hagrid seems well rooted at Hogwarts and I can’t see Mme. Mxime giving up her role of Headmistress .

  • hpboy13 – Wait! Cho married a muggle?! I missed that bit! Heh. You know, I have been planning to write a fic where she and Dudley meet at Harry and Ginny’s wedding and get together. Awesome! :p

  • Bandersnatch

    roonwit said:
    >Was she saying that Maxime was too sophisticated for Hagrid, or Hagrid wasn’t sophisticated enough for Maxime.

    Hmmm. Is there a difference?

  • Bandersnatch – Perhaps only that their tastes and interests are incompatible?

  • I found another excellent eyewitness account here: http://eldritchhobbit.livejournal.com/175955.html

  • sheena

    Can someone please tell me why (in book 6) Dumbledore tells the Dursley ” The best that can be said is that he has atleast escaped the appalling damage tht you hv inflicted on the unfortunate boy sitting between you”.

    What is that supposed to mean?

  • Deborah Hubbard

    Sheena, a spoilt child is an abused child, and Dudley is spoilt rotten. I’ve always thought, in real life as in fiction, that parents who indulge their children are afraid that they will be rejected if they discipline them … so spoiling a child = fear of losing the child’s love and esteem. Sad for Vernon and Petunia, if so, but much sadder for Dudley, on his way out into a world that will take him at face value … and what a face!

  • sheena

    had another question about Dumbledore – how does he manage to disappear from hogwarts, holding on to Fawkes. Isnt that apparating, which cannot happen in Hogwarts??

  • Mikkel Larsen

    Sheena, houseelves can apparate in Hogwarts so it stands to reason that a phonix may too. Probably the spell against apparating is only against ‘wandbearers’ as Griphook would say.

  • Keta

    Somehow I’m not suprised by the revelation about Dumbledore.. For a long time I was wondering why in the world such big as the one created by JKR wasn’y anybody like that..

    But what interested me more was: why if James supported Lily and Sirius, why he at least didn’t try to help Remus, even if he was too proud to take help..
    Or even more, why Remus wasn’t full time in the order, since he didn’t have a job. What’s the difference? Not earning any money and beeing in ORder, or not earning any mony, and not beeing in the order full time. What he was doing then and later.

    Has not anybody asked yet, what he was doing those 12 years? [Or I have just missed the answer?]

  • Keta

    ah well..
    got at least one answer.. Remus was in the order full time, even if he wasn’t supported by James.

  • Elle

    Sorry for the shameless pedantry, I really am, and I love what you do here, but… “Harry had a role in making sure that Snape’s abdication did not effect his place there.” It should be affect.

  • Marco


    Fawkes is a creature with extraordinary magical proberties, so it might have been possible to dissapear with Fawkes help.

    P.e., it might also be possible to apparate from or into Hogwarts side-along with a house-elf.

  • Deborah Hubbard

    Apparating and disapparating are instantaneous and accompanied by a distinctive sound. Flying isn’t … and it’s perfectly possible to fly in and out of Hogwarts (flying Anglia, Harry and Dumbledore in HBP). Madam Rosmerta probably keeps spare brooms available for customers who need them.

    The reason why the Bad Guys didn’t fly in for the HBP Hogwarts Invasion, for which poor little Draco had his one moment of success with the Cabinet, has got to be the need for secrecy … and the psychological impact of having Death Eaters suddenly swarming all over the school. They could have flown, but it would have been boring (and might have been impossible because of the new protection charms … not usually a problem).

    It certainly seems that House Elf magic is remarkably powerful, so a witch or wizard under the protection of an Elf could probably apparate with the Elf concerned. In general, nothing would surprise me about House Elves!

  • Darcy

    I just meant the way Snape looked nothing more. I am thrilled to know that he has and always was in love with Lily that made me like him so much more.

  • Taj

    El Cronista de Salem (and everybody else), here’s what Jo said to the Leaky crew:

    1. Helga Hufflepuff was the Hogwarts founder to bring the house-elves to Hogwarts. She offered the house-elves refuge at the school, but we shouldn’t look at this action as too nice and merciful because they still worked as slaves.

    2. Harry was not technically a Horcrux, due to Voldemort’s lack of intent. However, Harry was described as a “Horcrux” as a matter of convenience – because there is no better term to describe him.

    I haven’t finished listening to it yet, but I’ll add more if there is more.

  • Taj

    PotterCast canon continued…

    3. When Neville first put on the Sorting Hat, the Hat initially wanted to put him into Hufflepuff House.

  • Taj

    Are we sure that Jo meant that there is no magic involved in life debts? Dumbledore tells Harry in “Prisoner of Azkaban” that when one wizard saves anothers life, it creates a bond between them and that this bond is MAGIC at its deepest and most impenetrable. Is this just a contradiction? A mistake?

  • hpboy13

    Taj, in reference to the magic of life-debts, I think DD uses magic not as the actual magic, btu something beyond control. I’m recallign when he calls music “a magic greater than any we teach here”. There can’t be that much magical about ordinary music, so I think DD might have nto said “magic” literally.

  • RB

    In HBP Slughorn makes a comment along the lines of “when you have lived as long as I have, you will realise the power of obssesive love” and describing the love potion as perhaps the most powerful and dangerous potion of all. I got the idea that Dumbledore decided that lust, obssesive love and power were his three greatest dangers and weaknesses and he should steer clear from them.
    And I do believe that eventually Snape became his friend

  • El Cronista de Salem

    thank you, taj! i didn’t know nothing about this canon until you posted it here! 🙂

  • Yaxley

    I hate to say it but i don’t know if i’ll ever look at Dumbledore the same again. I always thought that him and McGonagall had some sort of thing going but i guess that theory was blown out of the water.

    P.S I wonder if Grindelwald was gay too? I bet he wasn’t and pretended he was just to take advantage of Dumbledores mind.

  • Yes, thanks Taj! My browser keeps crashing so I haven’t been able to listen to the whole thing yet!

    And Elle, I corrected effect/affect. duh. Thanks for the heads up.

  • I’m chuffed to be used as a source for the Lexicon! Two corrections though:
    – the letter to Petunia: Jo referenced TWO letters – the one that Dumbledore sent her in reply to hers, expressing regrets she couldn’t come to Hogwarts (the one that Lily and Severus finds) and the second is the one Dumbledore left with baby Harry: in that one he *reminds* her of her own wish to join the wizarding world and asks her to care for Harry remembering what it had meant to her.

    The second correction is about the portraits: they can also move to *other* places/buildings where they have portraits, such as Phineas Nigellus’.

  • Starmom,
    I absolutely adored your account of the event! Thank you for sharing it with us all in such a descriptive way. 🙂

  • Bandersnatch

    In addition (please correct me if I’m wrong), the point about the headmaster portraits is that they appear when the headmaster dies — but only if he never renounced his position. If he deserted the post (like the castle “thought” Snape did), he doesn’t get a portrait.

    At least, I think that was the point. It was a bit unclear. TLC’s transcript has “it’s like British royals. You only get good press if you die in office. Abdication is not acceptable.” But I don’t think she literally meant that to get a portrait a headmaster has to die while in office — surely some of them have retired before dying?

  • Bandersnatch

    Argh. Never mind. Now that I read Lisa’s summary of the point a bit more clearly, I see that there actually isn’t any difference between what she said and what I just said. I blame lack of sleep.

  • Thanks starmom! That definitely clarifies things for us.

  • I don’t understand why James had to support Sirius financially when he had that much money inherited from his uncle?! Because in HBP Harry receives Sirius’s money (a notable amount of money, apparently) due to his last will…weird

  • kamion

    Bandersnatch wrote:

    In addition (please correct me if I’m wrong), the point about the headmaster portraits is that they appear when the headmaster dies — but only if he never renounced his position. If he deserted the post (like the castle “thought” Snape did), he doesn’t get a portrait.

    Maybe the castle was wiser then it’s teachers and did not consider Snape to resign, but temporaru at leave. Just as Dumbledore left twice during the years of Harry. He was even officially sacked by the Ministry, but the Headmaster’s office did not let Umbridge in.

  • sheena

    Lisa Marie, Its possible that Sirius inherited the Black wealth after the death of his parents and brother. He was, in all probability, disowned by his family while they were alive. So, I guess, he had to depend on James for financial support.

  • Mistral

    To Lisa Marie.
    Oops..was it not so that James had to support Lupin – and not Sirius? Or did I understand something wrong? Please correct me if I got that false. 😉

  • Mistral

    Lisa-Marie, just as I wanted to close the Lexicon, I saw that Lisa had written on “Reports from the evening session at New York”
    James, Lily and Sirius became full time members of the Order of the Phoenix after leaving Hogwarts and did not have regular jobs. They lived off of James’s money.
    Surprised how I was so mistaken in thinking in was Remus – I went and had a look at:http://www.accio-quote.org/ and here it says: James supported Lupin financially, as he was unemployable. James, Lily, Sirius and Remus were full time Order fighters.
    Now I wonder what is right? Seems to me it would be more like James supported Lupin – since he was unenployable. Help Lisa 🙂

  • Lexicon Lisa

    I will try to straighten that out when I get home from work. I think what happened here is that she said James supported Sirius when she meant Lupin.

  • Mistral

    Thank you Lisa 🙂 and I hope you don’t find us so nit-picking! I saw this only per chance – and I believe it is exactly the way you see it.

  • Big_Kelpie

    Sirius lived off his uncle’s money.
    he explains it in OotP
    I think his uncle was called Arcturus and was blasted off for giving him the money

  • Bandersnatch

    For the record, it was Alphard, not Arcturus, gave Sirius the money and was blasted off the tapestry. Too many star names start with A! 🙂

  • Mistral, the eyewitness reports all consistently say that James supported Lily and Sirius, even though she had just said that Lupin was unemployable. I think she just got them mixed up. She did this once before at the World Book Day talk when she listed Lupin’s name twice and left Pettigrew off the list of Marauders.

  • Thanks Lisa, I was wondering. Because Sirius said that he bought a house when he was 17 in OotP, so that was a bit weird…

  • Mistral

    Lisa you are wonderful, thanks a lot. I am sure Jo is going to clear this up on her Website.I mean, with so many people in a room – a slip like that is nothing unusual;-)
    By the way, Switzerland will finally get the German Version of “Harry Potter und die Heiligtümer des Todes” tommorrow after Midnight.(In Switzerland we speak four languages – German, French, Italian and Grisons. The Italian and French speaking, have still to wait!) There will be Harry Potter parties everywhere and there was absolutely nothing negative in the News:-)
    How about in your country Lisa-Marie?

  • Ginevra Potter

    From this interview: “Parseltongue is not a language that people can learn. Ron really only memorized the sound of one word (‘open’).”

    From the Bloomsbury chat just after the release of DH:

    Delailah: How does dumbledore understand parseltongue?
    J.K. Rowling: Dumbledore understood Mermish, Gobbledegook and Parseltongue. The man was brilliant.

    Don’t these statements conflict? How did Dumbledore’s brilliance aid in his understanding parseltongue if parseltongue cannot be learned?

  • Classicsquid592

    Understanding and speaking are two different things, I would imagine.

  • @ Mistral:

    We get our translations (German) tonight, actually! Yeah, there’ll be a midnight party at my nearest book shop, but I don’t think I’ll attend it, since I’ve already bought and read the English version!

  • Reader2


    She said that Dumbledore could understand Parselotongue, but she never said he could speak it.

    You can not say that he learned the language when he can not speack it, can you?

  • Mistral

    I wholly agree with your explanation why Albus Dumbledore understood Parseltonque. Without wanting to boast 😉 I myself speak, German, Italian and English – and would you believe it or not, even though I never studied French – I can understand most of it! Maybe that’s what happened also in this case. Once Dumbledore had an adequate knowledge of many extraordinary language ‘s, – Parseltonque came as an “extra-bonus” 🙂
    To Lisa. Happy Germans Harry Potter fans 🙂

  • Ginevra Potter

    In my opinion, you can learn a language without speaking it. Would you say that a mute in an English speaking country could not learn or know English because he cannot speak it?

    Also, why would Dumbledore not be able to speak the language if he understood it? I can’t think of a reason since Ron was able to speak one word.

  • Reader2

    Ron manged to repeat one word, but it sounds very likely that most of parselatangue simply can not be repeated by a human being.
    May be Dumbledore could repaeat a couple words, but that is not enought to claim that he speacks the landguages.

    A mute would be able to speack a language in signs or writing, but I doubt that there are hand-signs or letters for the sounds of snakes.

    Although, there might be some runes for it, who knows.
    Evidently, even Dumbledore hadn’t discovered those.

  • Ugh, I just spent a couple hours trying to find where in DH it said that Dumbledore spoke Parseltongue. It is in my notes, but without a chapter notation. I am beginning to think that I mean the Bloomsbury Chat, where Jo said he “understood” Parseltongue. As readers here have pointed out, that is not the same as speaking it. I cannot find any canon for him speaking it so I have changed the Dumbledore page.

  • Necie

    I have to comment.. It is so unimportant to me where Dumbledore’s “affections” lay, and I was dissapointed that this had to be added later, as it is also so unimportant to the story. I have to say it changed the way I feel about future story lines. With so many millions of children (and adults) being fans of the series, did this have to be brought up at all? There is too much ‘political correctness’ out there today.

  • Reader2


    It was just one of those things for people who can not get enough even after seven books.

    Those whose appetite was satisfied with the books can happily pretend it never happened.

    Perhaps Rowling just wanted to add one more ati-prejudice statement to her collection and that was the best way for her to do it.

  • Taj

    There is no hidden agenda behind Rowling’s revelation! She was simply asked a question, and answered it truthfully.

  • Bandersnatch

    I don’t think he ever spoke it in the books. He might have understood it in the Bob Ogden pensieve scene, although I’m not sure if even that is clear from the actual words in that chapter. I’ll have to look at it again.

  • Bandersnatch

    It’s interesting. The two Pensieve scenes involving Parseltongue (HBP 10 and 17) never explicitly state that Dumbledore could understand what was being said. But Dumbledore is able to discuss the scenes in detail with Harry afterward, and he never asks Harry to translate for him, so I guess that means that he could. Anyway, Jo certainly seems to hold that he could from what she said in the interview, even if the text isn’t 100% explicit about it. (But why, then, didn’t Dumbledore understand the basilisk in the pipes the way Harry did? Just wasn’t in the right place at the right time?)

    Ginevra Potter, perhaps the best way to resolve your contradiction is to read Jo’s comment as:
    “Parseltongue is not a language that people can [easily] learn. Ron really only memorized the sound of one word (’open’).”
    But Dumbledore was brilliant, so he was able to succeed in the extremely difficult task of learning to understand Parseltongue.

  • Taj

    Lisa, Jo said that Dumbledore could understand Parseltongue in that live Bloomsbury chat she gave after the book came out — I just checked.

  • Reader2

    I guess the power of Parselomouth allows the wizard not only to understand snakes, but also hear them, even when the hiss is too low for other people to hear.

    Technically, the memory of Bob Ogden does not require a translator.
    Marvolo had translated almost everything Morfrin said (which leaves it rather unclear whether Merope is a Parselomouth).

    The scene from Morfrin’s own memory comes without translation, but even someone less brilliant than Dumbledore would have no difficulty what Morfrin and Tom were talking about.

    Although, Dumbledore wouldn’t settle for a guess in this case, would he?

  • Bandersnatch

    I agree, Reader2. In fact, until I read Jo’s statement, I was wondering if perhaps Dumbledore could not understand what was being said exactly, but had figured it out anyway through other means. But Jo’s statement in the Bloomsbury Chat seems to say otherwise (unless she made a mistake).

  • Reader2


    This hardly qualifies as a mistake.
    Jo’s statement does not really contradict anything in the book.

    So Dumbledore knew the details of Tom and Morfrin’s conversation.
    That only means that he had a little more evidence to work with.
    Good for him.

  • anonymous

    Late comment on the Dumbledore revelation — I’m disappointed by it, but apparently for different reasons than some of the other posters here.

    If Jo’s thought is that the message of the books is tolerance, why did she have to leave Dumbledore’s sexuality for a post-book interview? Especially when the revelation doesn’t even explain anything, or even fit particularly well with the books as written (i.e., there’s nothing that suddenly “makes sense” once we learn that Dumbledore is gay). Why not be more explicit about the issue, if tolerance is a concern? From a literary standpoint, why not make it more relevant to the plot?

    Anyway, that’s my gripe, and I have to say, as a whole, it applies to most of the other items on this list — great, nice to know, but I wish she’d made them more meaningful.

  • K L

    Anonymous – I agree with you. The post-story revelations did nothing, IMHO, to add to the story or clarify events. There were no clues or inferences to Dumbledore’s sexuality in the story. AND it doesn’t affect the story or his interactions with the other characters. I don’t think it was even necessary as a hint to explain his friendship with Grindewald.
    As a teacher who uses these novels in class, I am afraid that it will be just one more reason for parents to object to the novels!

  • Ginevra Potter

    “This hardly qualifies as a mistake.
    Jo’s statement does not really contradict anything in the book.”

    You are right that her statement doesn’t seem to contradict anything in the books, but her confirmation that Dumbledore understood Parseltongue may contradict her most recent interview statement: “Parseltongue is not a language that people can learn.”

    If Parseltongue cannot be learned, how did Dumbledore understand it?

    The only explanation where these statements don’t contradict each other is the one Mistral gave: because Mistral speaks several languages, she can understand French but presumably would have no idea how to put a sentence together or which words to use. Perhaps this is what Jo meant.

  • Bandersnatch

    I don’t know, how hard can it be to learn Parseltongue?


    There you go. I’m sure I must have just said something… ::goes off to find on-line snake-to-English dictionary::

  • Reader2

    You know Ginvera,

    You are probably right.
    I am in a somewhat similar situation.
    My first language is Russian.
    I often come accross people who speack Ukranian.
    The two languages are so much alike that we can understand each other (at least when we speack slowly).
    However, if I was asked to speack Ukrainian, I would be at a loss.
    At most, I would be able to repeat a couple words.
    Perhaps, Paseltoung and Mermish are that much alike.

    Do you have also a fish-to-English dictionary?
    May be you could compare.

  • Deborah Hubbard

    So, KL, you teach children whose parents are likely to complain that there is no reference at all to Dumbledore’s sexuality in the HP series? What wonderful people!

  • elor

    Well, Bandersnatch, my Parseltounge isn’t that good, but I’m pretty sure you said “How do you like my new earmuffs?”

  • JJB

    “And he was a Parselmouth,” interjected Harry. “Yes, indeed; a rare ability, and one supposedly connected with the Dark Arts, although as we know, there are Parselmouths among the great and the good too.” HBP13

    “As we know”? It is from this statement that I have assumed Dumbledore ranked himself among the good or great who could speak parseltongue—a parselmouth being one who can speak parseltongue, not merely understand it. I thought it was a clue as to how Dumbledore understood the memories without a translator. Maybe not.

  • Bandersnatch

    I’d have to see that quote in context, JJB, but I think I assumed Dumbledore was giving a compliment to Harry.

  • pam

    I share KL’s concern about parents. My class’s parents are great and they trust me. But I am afraid that some will have heard the news reports and be concerned. In the many years that I have been reading SS and CS to my third graders, only one parent ever asked me (nicely) about the witchcraft issue. (Another teacher had been telling his class that the books were anti-Christian. I, and my fellow Potterites on staff have since corrected him). The parent listened to my explaination, read a bit of the book and was fine. They are not awful people, just concerned about their kids. I am Jo’s man through and through but I hope I don’t have to defend the books age.
    By the way, I am impressed with the level of discussion that I find in the Penisve. Much more thoughtful than on other sites.

  • spward

    Dear KL
    You said about Dumbledore’s sexuality, “it doesn’t affect the story or his interactions with the other characters”. That should be exactly the point. As a gay man, I look forward to the day when a character can be gay and it doesn’t effect the story. Maybe that very point is what you can teach your students.

  • JJB

    Bandersnatch, it seemed to me that Dumbledore really was talking about Harry and himself; Harry was the good and Dumbledore was the great. Albus made several comments about his own greatness and cleverness in HBP so it didn’t seem so out of place in this case. It also seemed unlikely to me that Dumbledore would refer to Harry as “great”, at that point in his career at least.

  • JJB

    Also, Bandersnatch, this falls into the hair-splitting category but… in the quote Dumbledore mentions “there are parselmouths” in the plural rather than saying ‘there is a parselmouth among the good and the great.” Also, and this is microscopic hairsplitting I admit, it is odd to define two groups—the good, the great—if speaking of only one person; it should have been more like “among the great and good” or something like that. I confess my awkward phrasing doesn’t necessarily count as an argument in one’s favor but I’ll take or make mini-clues where I can find them. 😉

  • Bandersnatch

    “Yes, indeed; a rare ability, and one supposedly connected with the Dark Arts, although as we know, there are Parselmouths among the great and the good too.” HBP13

    I think you may be taking the quote a bit too literally, JJB. I don’t think Dumbledore is saying, “There are also two Parselmouths who are not Dark wizards: one among the great (forgive my lack of modesty, but that’s me, ‘cuz I rock), and one among the good (that’s you, Harry).”

    Rather, I think “the great and the good” is just a turn of phrase for “the good guys,” and Dumbledore is stating that there have been Parselmouths throughout history who have not been Dark wizards. The “as we know” is a sort of tip of the hat to Harry: clearly a Parselmouth is not necessarily an evil person — just look at yourself.

    I admit that he could also be including himself as well, I just don’t think he is being quite as explicit as you’re making him out to be. Anyway, Jo says he is a Parselmouth (or at least that he understands the language), so that is what he must be.

  • Bandersnatch

    Yeah, my last sentence should have read, “Anyway, Jo says he understands Parseltongue, so he must.” She didn’t actually say that he could speak the language, only that he understood it. (Which is what we’ve been talking about the whole time. Get with the program, Bander. 🙂 )

  • anonymous

    Same anonymous as above. spward, I completely agree with your point. However, what I was trying to get across was that (1) Rowling said she wanted the books to be about tolerance, and then made a traditionally tolerance-related topic an afterthought when she could have made it more relevant; and (2) like so much of the seventh book, it does feel like an afterthought, which I find unfortunate.

  • K L

    Deborah – I teach students from 17 countries and 6 different religions. Yes, their parents are wonderful! Unfortunately, every country is not so tolerant of homosexuality. I would hate for kids to miss this wonderful series, with so many good messages because of this. As I said, it is not even alluded to in the series. But, parents will hear headlines, or read them on AOL and jump to conclusions.

  • Ginevra Potter

    Anonymous, Jo has said, “I didn’t intend to teach or preach to children. In fact, I think that, except for some rare exceptions, fiction literature works for children lose interest when the author is more focused in teaching morals to their readers than in captivating them with his or her tale.” http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/2003/1025-princeasturias-speech.htm

    Although the books are about tolerance, Jo wanted to stay away from deliberately trying to teach and preach with these novels. I imagine she did not make Dumbledore gay to show tolerance: rather, Dumbledore was gay because that is how he revealed himself to her. Jo probably chose not to explicitly reveal Dumbledore’s sexuality because of the fallout it would create, so she dropped hints and left room for ambiguity, instead…until she was moved by a single reader with a direct question, that is.

  • sally

    As far as I understand from this: Headmaster portraits don’t appear immediately; the person needs to be dead – headmasters could retire and die long after their term of office came to an end. So that could be used to argue that Snape did not die of Nagini’s wound. The headmaster does not need to die a headmaster. So unless the castle can decide on its own, it seems to me that Snape, the double agent he was, escaped and lived in hiding (?) until his time came.

  • Reader2

    That is a fun idea for fanfiction, but this site is for facts.
    It’s all too obvious that this is not a part of JKR’s intentions.
    It would siriously go against the mood of the story, not to mention, there is no book left for Snape to reappear in.

  • sheena

    why has the other pensieves been closed?.Had a quick question regarding the invisibility cloak. If the cloak which Harry had was ‘only one of its kind’ and ‘rare’, then how is it tht Mad eye moody already had one. I think I had read something in OOTP. Please correct me if I am wrong.

  • Reader2

    This was discussed in DH, right after the trio finds out about the Hallows.
    Harry’s cloack is unique in a sence that it can not be worn out and is immune to almost any spell.
    For example, remember how one of the Death Eaters at Hogsmeade tried to summon it?
    Plenty of other wizards have invisiblity cloacks, but those cloack are just traveling cloack with a Disillusionment Charm on them, not nearly as effective.
    Remember how Sturgis Podmore got busted under such cloack?

    While we are on topick, I wonder if Dumbledore came up with a spell to see through Harry’s cloack while he was examining it on the night when James and Lily were killed.
    Other than that, the cloack is supposed to be immune to ALL spells.

  • Javajolene

    If these comments are still being accepted, what is going on with the Lexicon??? Has all enjoyment of the work here evaporated with the arrival of the suit? I keep checking for word of updates and new pages . . . HELP! I keep looking for signs of life here, but for the past three weeks . . . nada.

  • trelawney

    interesting secrets. really cool. some are very funny.

  • Reader2

    I guess, the suit does not leave the Lexicon staff any time for fun and games.
    I see why most pensives have wanished.
    Lawyers can in fact be sinister.

  • Reader2

    Rowling’s sit is updated, and the Lexicon does not comment on it.

    I guess this is actually dead.

    Killed by the lawsuit.

  • hpfan1234578

    Dumbledore revelation=good
    Parents who hate HP because of it=bad
    Those parents(sorry, but…) you’re going with Laura Mallory as some of the worst people in my book.

  • Nomiun

    Why arent people in Mongolia dont even get interest in Harry Potter?(Except few one)
    Does anyone think it is fantastic enough to be interested. But why are they being so creepy. I cant stand them anymore.Who else think same as I?

  • Nomiun

    Why Mongolians dont read Harry Potter. Well except few ones.I think it is fantastic enough to be readen. But why arent they? Who else couldnt stand it?

  • Nomiun

    Does someone want to be a witch or wizard?

  • Ginny Weasley

    Many of those statements are false and need to be updated. One of them saying that in CoS the horcrux wasn’t destroyed is false because Harry doesn’t have to destroy it again in DH to kill Voldemort he just has to track down the others.

  • Ginny Weasley

    Also in reply to Nomiun sometimes I think it would be interesting but then again who knows there might be wizardsa dn witches all around the world hiding like they do in the books. Strange things do occur if you just take an interesting in what’s happeneing around you.