December 28, 2023 | Miles Brucker

Magical Facts About Albus Dumbledore, Hogwarts' Tormented Headmaster


“It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be!”

We all know Dumbledore as the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and a mentor to Harry Potter. But this immensely powerful wizard lived a lifetime before Harry ever stepped onto Hogwarts' grounds. So, where did he come from? What made him so powerful? Read on for 40 facts about one of the greatest wizards to ever live.

SPOILER WARNING: FACTS 5 AND 7 CONTAIN SPOILERS FROM FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD


1. He Had A Mouthful of Names

The iconic Hogwarts Headmaster's full name was Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. Which begs the question, who needs three middle names? The best wizard ever, that’s who.

Dumbledore

2. Where He Came From

Though he was born in the village of Mould-on-the-Wold, Dumbledore grew up in the town of Godric’s Hollow, the same place as the founder of Gryffindor, Godric Gryffindor, and Harry Potter. There must be something in the water there…

Albus Dumbledore FactsFlickr, Tony Hisgett

3. His Power Was Immense

Dumbledore was such a powerful wizard that he had no need for an Invisibility Cloak. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Dumbledore tells Harry that he does not need one of those fancy cloaks if he wishes to be invisible. Dumbledore most likely could perform such a powerful Disillusionment Charm that it made him impossible to see.

Albus Dumbledore FactsHarry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone(2001), Warner Bros. Pictures

4. He Believed In Prophecy

Before Harry was born, there was a prophecy made about the boy who would be able to bring down Lord Voldemort. Professor Trelawney gave Dumbledore the prophecy at the end of her job interview for a position at Hogwarts. That certainly got her the job!

Albus Dumbledore FactsHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix(2007), Warner Bros. Pictures

5. He Knew How To Say Know

Dumbledore hated politics. He was apparently offered the job as Minister for Magic multiple times in his life...but always turned it down.

Albus Dumbledore FactsHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince(2009), Warner Bros. Pictures

6. Fawkesy Patronus

According to J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore website for Harry Potter fans, Dumbledore’s patronus was a Phoenix. This makes sense, as Dumbledore keeps a pet phoenix named Fawkes which saves Harry’s life in the Chamber of Secrets.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets factsHarry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Warner Bros.

7. A Muggle Lover

Also according to Pottermore, Dumbeldore’s wizard card lists his hobbies as ten-pin bowling and chamber music. I guess when you’re a great wizard you need a break from all that magic.

Albus Dumbledore FactsHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince(2009), Warner Bros. Pictures

8. His Very Handy Scar

In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Dumbledore claims that he has a scar on his left knee that is a perfect map of London’s Underground system. That sounds like it could just be a witty comment to an 11-year-old, but with Dumbledore, you never know...

Albus Dumbledore FactsHarry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone(2001), Warner Bros. Pictures

9. Go, Go Gryffindor!

When Dumbledore was a student at Hogwarts he was a member of Gryffindor house, and who can blame him? He was a clever and courageous wizard who was loyal to those he cared about.

Albus Dumbledore FactsHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince(2009), Warner Bros. Pictures

10.  A Range Of Other Interests

Besides being an incredibly powerful wizard, Dumbledore was also very smart. He is credited with discovering the twelve uses of dragon’s blood. He also dabbled in alchemy with his friend Nicolas Flamel, who went on to invent the Philosopher’s Stone.

Albus Dumbledore FactsHarry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone(2001), Warner Bros. Pictures

11. Dumbledore, The Inventor

Dumbeldore invented the Deluminator, the device that can turn out lights from a distance and appeared in the opening scene of the first Harry Potter film. After his passing he leaves it to Ron Weasley in his will. The Deluminator helps Ron find Harry and Hermione after he leaves them following an argument in the Deathly Hallows book and movie.

7375572456_280023ac05_k.jpgFlickr, Roe

12. Underwater Languages

Dumbledore spoke the language of Mermish. This is shown in the book of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire after the second task when Dumbledore confers with the leader of the Merpeople about what Harry did to save Ron and Fleur Delacour’s younger sister. Wonder where he learned that!

Albus Dumbledore FactsHarry Potter and the Goblet of Fire(2005), Warner Bros. Pictures

13. Starting to Teach

Of course, Dumbledore didn't start off as Hogwarts' headmaster—he needed to work his way up the ladder. After attending the school in the late 19th century, he returned first as professor of Defence Against the Dark Arts. However, after a run-in with an auror named Torquil Travers, Dumbledore was barred from teaching DATDA, and he became a professor of Transfiguration.

dumbledoreWarner Bros. Pictures, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone(2001)

14. A Long Life

According to J.K. Rowling’s website, Pottermore, he was born in 1881 and passed in 1997. Yet, despite living to 115-years-old, I'm sure we'd all agree that the great wizard still passed too young.

Albus Dumbledore FactsHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince(2009), Warner Bros. Pictures

15. Accolades

Dumbledore was given many awards during his lifetime, including the Order of Merlin First Class. The prize is given to witches/wizards who perform an outstanding act of bravery or distinction in magic. He was given the honor for defeating the dark wizard Grindelwald.

Albus Dumbledore FactsHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince(2009), Warner Bros. Pictures

16. Where We’re Going We Don’t Need Wands

Dumbledore had the ability to do magic without the use of a wand. For example, in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Dumbledore saves Harry without his wand when Harry falls off his broom in a game of Quidditch. He could also change the colors of the banners in the Great Hall without a wand, among many other feats. The guy was just that good.

Albus Dumbledore FactsHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(2004), Warner Bros. Pictures

17. Not Like His Old Man

Dumbledore’s father, a wizard named Percival, was sent to Azkaban for attacking a group of Muggle boys that had charged Dumbledore’s sister Ariana. His father was never released and spent the remainder of his life in the wizard penal institution.

Albus Dumbledore FactsHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince(2009), Warner Bros. Pictures

18. Ominous Wand

Dumbledore’s wand, the infamous Elder Wand, had a Thestral hair core. He earned the wand in his duel with Grindelwald, and it remains unclear what he had before it came to into his possession.

Albus Dumbledore FactsWikimedia Commons, Doug Kline

19. Resting Place

There is only one grave at Hogwarts: The White Tomb, where Dumbledore was laid to rest. The old Headmaster wanted to be buried at Hogwarts because it was the only place that he considered to be his real home.

Albus Dumbledore FactsHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince(2009), Warner Bros. Pictures

20. Trifecta!

Dumbledore was the first wizard to have possession of all three of Deathly Hallows. He never had all three at once, but he was the first to encounter all of them. He had the Invisibility Cloak after Harry’s parents were liquidated, the Resurrection Stone when he tracked Voldemort’s ring Horcrux, and the Elder Wand when he defeated Grindelwald.

Albus Dumbledore FactsHarry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone(2001), Warner Bros. Pictures

21. The Best of Enemies

Dumbledore and Grindelwald were friends when they first met. After finishing school at Hogwarts Dumbledore was introduced to Grindelwald by the latter’s great aunt, Bathilda Bagshot. Both were the best wizards of their age and they quickly became friends.

Albus Dumbledore FactsHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1(2010),Warner Bros. Pictures

22. Don't Judge a Book By It's Dragon Pox

Dumbledore befriended the young Elphias Doge, the man who would write Dumbledore’s obituary nearly a century later, while the two of the were at Hogwarts. Doge apparently had caught a brutal case of the Dragon Pox, which made all the other students avoid him. Dumbledore, though, was known for his ability to look past the surface, and he quickly befriended the pock-marked Doge.

Albus Dumbledore FactsHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1(2010),Warner Bros. Pictures

23. Snake Tongue

Dumbledore could understand Parseltongue. Evidence of this is given in the book of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, when Dumbledore shows Harry a memory from Bob Ogden, an employee of the Ministry of Magic. In it, Ogden visits the house of the Gaunts, Voldemort’s relatives, all of whom speak in Parseltongue to each other. Dumbledore seems to have understood the conversation the family members had.

Albus Dumbledore FactsHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince(2009), Warner Bros. Pictures

24. Pride!

Dumbledore was gay. JK Rowling made the announcement of the Headmasters sexuality around the time that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince movie was being filmed. This prompted the writers to make alterations to the script. Allegedly, there was a scene where Dumbledore was reminiscing about his past loves, and while reading over the movie, Rowling crossed out that line and simply scrawled "Dumbledore is gay" over it.

Dumbledore factsGetty Images

25. He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

Given the revelation about his sexuality, it is widely believed that Dumbledore was in love with his closest friend, Gellert Grindelwald. There is no proof that Grindelwald ever reciprocated Albus’ feelings though, and it has been argued that Grindelwald could never have loved anyone, because all he cared about was power.

Albus Dumbledore FactsHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince(2009), Warner Bros. Pictures

26. Quiet as a Mouse

When most wizards apparate, it made a loud popping noise, yet when Dumbledore does it, he does so completely silently. This may not seem like that big of a deal, but keep in mind that only one other wizard seems to possess this ability: Voldemort himself.

Albus Dumbledore FactsHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince(2009), Warner Bros. Pictures

27. Post-Disturbing Stress

When forced to drink the potion in the cave to get the locket Horcrux in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore begins to weep and say "it’s all my fault" over and over. This is believed to be because the potion made him relive the liquidation of his sister.

Albus Dumbledore FactsHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince(2009), Warner Bros. Pictures

28. Star Student

It’s hard to imagine, but the wise, ancient Headmaster was at one time a student at Hogwarts. As might be expected, he’s said to have been the most brilliant pupil that the school has ever seen. He won every important prize that a student could win, and apparently when he took his NEWTs, he “did things with a wand [the examiner had] never seen before".

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - Christmas at HogwartsWarner Bros. Pictures, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone(2001)

29. Busy Bee

Ever wonder how Rowling thought up a wacky name like Dumbledore? Well, she apparently imagined the Headmaster as a great music lover. She saw him walking around humming to himself like a bumblebee. So she took his name from an Old English word for the musical insect: “Dumbledore".

Albus Dumbledore FactsHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows(2011), Warner Bros. Pictures

30. All-Knowing

JK Rowling saw Dumbledore as a sort of way to insert herself into the world of Harry Potter. Dumbledore, like Rowling, knew everything about the magical world, so often times, when he speaks, he speaks for her. She also realized that this immense knowledge could be a burden on him, admitting that there were times where he would “rather not know".

Dumbledore's speechWarner Bros. Pictures, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(2004)

31. Ultimatum

The first actor to portray Dumbledore on screen was the beloved Richard Harris. The elderly actor apparently wanted to decline the role because he knew that his health was in decline, but he accepted when his 11-year-old granddaughter said that she would never speak to him again if he turned down the chance to play the great wizard. After Harris passed, the polarizing Michael Gambon took on the role.

Dumbledore FactsGetty Images

32. Anyone But Him

Before he passed, Richard Harris was determined to appear as Dumbledore for a third time, going so far as to tell David Heyman, a producer on the series, not to recast the role. Sadly, time was not on his side, and Harris passed before getting the chance to film Prisoner of Azkaban, so a new actor was needed. Initially, the part was offered to Sir Ian McKellen, but he turned it down for two reasons. First, he had already played Gandalf, so it felt a little silly to play such a similar character, but secondly, he refused the Dumbledore role because he would have felt awkward filling Harris’ shoes. Why? Because Harris had previously called McKellen a “dreadful” actor.

Dumbledore FactsGetty Images

33. Tragic Accident

An 18-year-old Dumbledore was preparing for a post-grad trip around the world with his friend Elphias Doge, when tragedy struck. His sister Ariana, who was unable to control her magical abilities since the brutal attack years earlier, accidentally ending their mother, Kendra. With his father in penal institution and his mother gone, the young Dumbledore was left to take care of his family, a role he resented.

Albus Dumbledore FactsHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(2004), Warner Bros. Pictures

34. It's All Relative

SPOILERS FOR FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE OFFENCES OF GELLERT GRINDELWALD AHEAD

The film Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them introduced the terrible beings known as Obscurials, young witches or wizards who suppress their magical powers and develop a parasite called an obscurus. Through the course of the film, it is revealed that a teenaged orphan named Creedence Barebone is, in fact, a remarkably old obscurial (they almost always pass before their tenth birthday). In the sequel, The Offences of Grindelwald, the dark wizard claims that Barebone has secretly been related to Dumbledore the entire time! He says that a child named Aurelius Dumbledore was shipped off to the US as a baby, where he was adopted by the No-Maj Mary Lou Barebone and raised completely unaware of his magical origins.

Albus Dumbledore FactsFantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them(2016), Warner Bros. Pictures

35. Secret Goal

While Dumbledore seems like an obvious choice for a Defence Against the Dark Arts professor, he had a secret reason for wanting to take the job: As a one-time ally of the evil Grindelwald, Dumbledore knew it was only a matter of time before the Dark Wizard rose to power, so he also knew that the young witches and wizards he was teaching would one day need the Defence Against the Dark Arts abilities that he was teaching.

Fanatastic-Beasts-The-Crime-of-Grinweld-1.jpgFantastic Beasts: The Offences of Grindelwald(2018),Heyday Films

36. Signed in Blood

SPOILERS FOR FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE OFFENCES OF GRINDELWALD AHEAD

If Dumbledore was such a powerful wizard, and if he knew the menace that Grindelwald posed, one might wonder why he didn’t try to stop him earlier? Well, when the parted ways as young men, the two of them made a Blood Pact, a magical agreement that they would never fight each other. This meant that Dumbledore was physically incapable of battling Grindelwald, and vice versa. However, during The Ofences of Grindelwald, Newt Scamander’s niffler manages to take Grindelwald’s Blood Pact vial, which allows Dumbledore to destroy it, end the pact, and set the stage for their historic duel.

Albus Dumbledore FactsFantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore(2022),Heyday Films

37. Troubled Youth

It’s not hinted at much in the books, but Grindelwald managed to turn a 17-year-old Dumbledore onto the idea of wizards ruling Muggles for the greater good. After Dumbledore graduated from Hogwarts, he had to go back to his home and look after his sister, Ariana. Going from Hogwarts to be a stay-at-home caretaker did nothing to encourage Dumbledore’s mind—until he met Grindelwald. Their equally gifted minds rejoiced at meeting each other, and Dumbledore was only too receptive to ideas that he later found appalling and evil.

Screenshot-from-2018-11-30-16-38-58.pngFantastic Beasts: The C. of Grindelwald, Heyday Films

38. Family Man

We all think of Dumbledore as an honest character who would never deceive his friends... except that he lies to Harry about what he sees in the Mirror of Erised. Dumbledore tells Harry he sees himself with a new pair of socks. In a 2007 interview, Rowling revealed what Dumbledore really saw was, “his family alive, whole and happy".

Albus Dumbledore FactsHarry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone(2001), Warner Bros. Pictures

39. Liquidation?

Dumbledore may have ended his own sister, Ariana while dueling with his younger brother, Aberforth and his friend at the time, Grindelwald. The three wizards had an argument, which escalated into a full-scale duel and Ariana was liquidated in the crossfire. Her tragic end would have an immense effect on both brothers, and would forever scar their relationship.

Albus Dumbledore FactsHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows(2011), Warner Bros. Pictures

40. Dark Creatures

When confronted with a Boggart, a shape-shifting creature that transforms into someone’s worst fear, Dumbledore would see the body of his passed sister Ariana. Dark Stuff. And you thought Ron Weasley’s fear of spiders was bad…

Albus Dumbledore FactsHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(2004), Warner Bros. Pictures

Sources: 1 2 3 4 5 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12


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