Tom Marvolo Riddle was a gifted young wizard born of a witch mother (Merope Gaunt) and a Muggle father (Tom Riddle, Sr.) on December 31, 1926. His mother had fallen in love with his father, who was a Muggle, and tricked him into marrying her with a love potion. While she was pregnant with Tom Jr. she allowed the love potion to wear off and he abandoned her and moved back into the Riddle house with his parents. Merope died giving birth to her son so Tom Jr. was raised in a Muggle orphanage.
While living at the orphanage, Tom proved an unusual child. He was often suspected of misdeeds and bullying but never caught. He stole things and hid them away in a box in his wardrobe. During an outing to the seashore, Tom lured two other children into a sea cave and they returned terrorized. He was also suspected of killing another boy’s pet rabbit (HBP13).
Tom grew up to be a very powerful wizard. He excelled at Hogwarts, winning awards for service to the school and magical merit. He was even head boy in his seventh year, but he was already dabbling in the Dark Arts while still at school. Some of his closest friends in Slytherin were already calling him Voldemort, a name Riddle had chosen by rearranging the his given name into “I am Lord Voldemort.” (PS17)
After leaving Hogwarts, Riddle began working at Borgin and Burke’s in Knockturn Alley. His job was to ferret out items of value and obtain them at the lowest price possible. He disappeared one day (after murdering Hepzibah Smith), and when he returned he was known only as ‘Lord Voldemort.’ Few people except perhaps for Dumbledore and his early followers remembered the Dark Lord’s origins.
Manipulating others, can talk to snakes
See also the Lord Voldemort character page.
Tom Marvolo Riddle's biography bears a somewhat vague but fairly consistent resemblance to that of the character Joe Christmas in William Faulkner's novel Light in August.
From the Web
A Woman and a Snake: Did Lord Voldemort really Know Nothing of Love? by Adrienne
Death Eating, or Why Merope Died, and Why her Son Refuses Death by entspinster
Harry Potter and the Order of Archetypes: Voldemort, the Creator by Katie Majka
The Existence of Evil Part 1 - The Making of Lord Voldemort by wellingtongoose