Wizards Unite: Character Profiles
The place where you can learn the good, the bad and the ugly about the magical world’s most prominent figures.
Today’s profile: Albus Dumbledore
Dumbledore’s Early Life
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore was born in 1881 in Mould-on-the-Wold, a wizarding village. He had a sister, Ariana, and a brother, Aberforth.
Dumbledore’s early life was marked by tragedy.
When he was still a young boy, a group of Muggle boys saw his sister Ariana performing magic. They were frightened by what they saw and brutally attacked her.
Ariana was left mentally and emotionally scarred by this attack. Her magical powers were left severely altered and would manifest themselves on rare occasions, usually in random or destructive ways. Although it was never confirmed, these descriptions might indicate the attack turned Ariana into an Obscurial.
Albus’ father, Percival Dumbledore, was so affected by the attack that he set out to find those boys himself. He soon located them and attacked them with as much hatred as they had his daughter. For this, Percival was sentenced to Azkaban, where he later died. He chose to serve his sentences instead of explaining what had happened for fear that Ariana would be taken away. This fear also aligns with the Obscurus theory.
From that point on, Dumbledore’s father was seen as a sadistic Muggle-hater. Soon after, Kendra Dumbledore, Albus’ mother, decided to move her family to a new village. Godric’s Hollow.
Dumbledore’s life at Hogwarts
Dumbledore began attending Hogwarts in the autumn of 1892 and was Sorted into Gryffindor.
During his first year he was met with much whispering about his father’s crime. Many mistakenly believed that, like father like son, Albus too hated Muggles. However, his power and skills were such that, by the end of that first year, he would only be seen as the most brilliant student in the school’s long history.
Albus became a prefect during his fifth year and Head Boy in his seventh year.
During his school years, Dumbledore won the Barnabus Finkley Prize for Exceptional Spell-Casting, became the British Youth Representative to the Wizengamot, and received the Gold Medal for Ground-Breaking Contribution to the International Alchemical Conference in Cairo.
The Return home
After graduating from Hogwarts in June 1899, Dumbledore planned to take the traditional “Grand Tour” of the world. However, on the eve of the departure, his mother was killed by an outburst of Ariana’s uncontrollable magic.
This left Albus as the head of his own broken family and now in charge of his younger siblings. Albus returned to Godric’s Hollow feeling trapped and wasted. Despite that, he refused to let Aberforth quit school to take care of Ariana.
“So that, when my mother died, and I was left the responsibility of a damaged sister and a wayward brother, I returned to my village in anger and bitterness. Trapped and wasted, I thought! And then, of course, he came.”
Things took a turn for Dumbledore when he met Gellert Grindelwald. Following his expulsion from Durmstrang, Grindelwald had just moved to Godric’s Hollow, where his great-aunt Bathilda Bagshot took him in.
Dumbledore and Grindelwald
Grindelwald was every bit as talented and brilliant as Albus was, which in itself was a rarity for them.
Both incredibly powerful and highly idealistic, they quickly became very close friends. There were rumours of their relationship being deeper than a friendship, but neither of them ever confirmed or denied those claims.
Dumbledore was filled with resentment over what had happened to his sister, and subsequently his parents. He felt trapped by his siblings, his potential wasted.
He quickly became fascinated by Grindelwald’s ideas of wizarding domination, obviously considering Grindelwald an unexpected new chance to show his own brilliance and come out of the local misery. They both made a Blood pact swearing to never fight each other.
In the words of Albus Dumbledore himself:
“Grindelwald. You cannot imagine how his ideas caught me, Harry, inflamed me. Muggles forced into subservience. We wizards triumphant. Grindelwald and I, the glorious young leaders of the revolution. Oh, I had a few scruples. I assuaged my conscience with empty words. It would all be for the greater good, and any harm done would be repaid a hundredfold in benefits for wizards. Did I know, in my heart of hearts, what Gellert Grindelwald was? I think I did, but I closed my eyes.”
Together, they endeavoured to find the Deathly Hallows and lead a Wizarding revolution to end the International Statute of Secrecy. They would then create a benevolent global hierarchical order led by wise and powerful witches and wizards that dominated Muggles.
Albus became so obsessed with his relationship with Grindelwald and their plans of domination that he began to neglect his family.
Tragedy strikes again
One day, Albus’s brother Aberforth, disgusted with Albus for his plans and concerned for Ariana, angrily confronted both wizards. The altercation soon turned into a three-way duel.
Ariana, worried for her brothers, tried to intervene in the fight. However, in the ensuing chaos, a stray curse hit her, and died as a result. No one knew whose curse it was that killed her, but Grindelwald fled immediately, as he already had a bad record back home. He left a devastated Albus behind.
Dumbledore’s career at Hogwarts
“I had proven, as a very young man, that power was my weakness and temptation. I was safer at Hogwarts.”
Dumbledore joined Hogwarts as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor, and later taught Transfiguration. During his years as a teacher he taught witches and wizards that would go on to be just as renowned. Newt Scamander was one of those students.
Dumbledore’s role at Hogwarts also included recruiting new students for the school. Most prominent among them was Tom Riddle, who would come to be known as Lord Voldemort. Unlike with his other professors, Tom Riddle’s natural charisma and cunning did not manage to charm Dumbledore. He was suspicious of the boy’s “obvious instincts for cruelty, secrecy and domination” As Dumbledore was not so easily taken in by his charming façade, Riddle came to despise and fear him.
A Most Legendary Duel
However, as Dumbledore was busy educating young wizards and witches, Gellert Grindelwald was still at large in Europe, building up an army. By then he had already found one of the Deathly Hallows, the Elder Wand, which he used to terrorise the continent.
In 1945, Dumbledore finally managed to break the Blood pact that prevented him from hurting Grindelwald. Despite his feelings for the dark wizard, he could no longer turn a blind eye to what he was doing. He decided to track him down and finally face him.
Upon finding Grindelwald, Dumbledore duelled one of the most powerful dark wizards of all time in what later became known as the most legendary duel ever fought between wizards. Despite Grindelwald’s mastery of the Elder Wand, Dumbledore came out of the duel victorious.
The whole wizarding world celebrated Dumbledore as the hero who finally defeated what they regarded as the most powerful Dark Wizard of all time. For this feat, the Ministry awarded him the Order of Merlin (First Class).
The First Wizarding War
After defeating Grindelwald, Dumbledore returned to Hogwarts. Through the years, he received offers to become Minister for Magic several times. Remembering that his want for power was his greatest weakness, he rejected each one. Eventually, he became Headmaster at Hogwarts.
When Lord Voldemort started his first rise to power in 1970, Dumbledore founded the Order of the Phoenix. This was a secret organisation of witches and wizards willing to risk their lives to fight Voldemort and his Death Eaters. As the only wizard Voldemort was ever truly afraid of, Dumbledore was the perfect leader of the organisation.
Shortly before the Potters’ deaths, Dumbledore discovered that James’s Cloak of Invisibility was, in fact, one of the Deathly Hallows. Although Dumbledore had long given up his desire to unite the Hallows and become Master of Death, he could not resist the urge to borrow the Cloak to study it.
The Second Wizarding War
Dumbledore feared that Voldemort hadn’t truly died that night at Godric’s Hollow. That some part of him was still out there. Of course, he was right.
One of Voldemort’s Death Eaters infiltrated Hogwarts and managed to capture Harry Potter through a Portkey disguised as the Tri-Wizard Tournament Cup. Through a series of Dark Spells Voldemort managed to create a new body for himself and regained his full strength.
The magical community largely refused to believe the Dark Lord had returned, but after a battle at the Ministry of Magic they could no longer deny the facts. The Wizarding World was at war once more.
The Deathly Hallows
Once Dumbledore found out Voldemort had created Horcruxes which would prevent him from ever truly dying, he endeavoured to find them and destroy them. Dumbledore tracked one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes to the house of the Gaunts. There, he found the remains of a shack hidden behind weeds and bush.
Voldemort had placed many powerful enchantments around the former home of his ancestors; however, Dumbledore proved skilful enough to pass through them unharmed. When he found the Horcrux, a ring formerly owned by Marvolo Gaunt, he saw that the stone in the ring was one of the Deathly Hallows, the Resurrection Stone.
Finally, Dumbledore had found all three of the Deathly Hallows: The Elder Wand, which he had taken from Grindelwald; Death’s Cloak, which he had given to Harry Potter; and now the Resurrection Stone.
This stone, according to legend, had the power to revive the dead. His desire to see his family overrode his common sense for just a moment and he placed the ring on his finger, forgetting the curse Voldemort had put upon it.
The curse quickly spread, and were it not for his own prodigious talents, he would have died within moments. Dumbledore proceeded to destroy the ring, and with it, a piece of Voldemort’s soul, bringing Voldemort that much closer to defeat.
With the help of Severus Snape, Dumbledore managed to slow down the curse. But they found no way to break it. The curse was still killing him.
The end of the road
Knowing death was closing in, he began to prepare Harry Potter for the task ahead: Killing Voldemort. He collected memories and objects, left clues, and made sure that, when the time came, Severus Snape would help end the war.
On one of his trips to destroy a Horcrux, Dumbledore took Harry Potter along with him. When Dumbledore returned to Hogwarts, he discovered Death Eaters inside. They had somehow managed to infiltrate the school.
Upon arriving at the school, Dumbledore performed a Full Body-Bind Curse on Harry Potter, who was hiding under his Invisibility Cloak, to protect him from the Death Eaters he knew were coming for him.
Dumbledore found himself alone, weakened from destroying the Horcrux and suffering from a curse that was slowly killing him. During the Battle of the Astronomy Tower, Dumbledore secretly pleaded with Severus Snape, a secret spy for the Order of the Phoenix, to kill him. He knew Draco Malfoy couldn’t do it, and his inability to do so would end in the boy’s death at the hands of Voldemort.
“After all, to the well-organised mind, death is but the next great adventure.”
Put in an impossible situation, Snape honoured Dumbledore’s last wish and cast the Killing Curse, killing the Headmaster and blasting his body off the tower to the ground below.
A Last Goodbye
Dumbledore’s funeral took place sometime in early July. Hogwarts students and staff, Ministry of Magic officials, centaurs, members of the Order of the Phoenix, Hogsmeade residents (including Dumbledore’s brother Aberforth) and many others were in attendance.
His eulogy was simple, but moving.
“Albus Dumbledore was never proud or vain; he could find something to value in anyone, however apparently insignificant or wretched, and I believe that his early losses endowed him with great humanity and sympathy. I shall miss his friendship more than I can say, but my loss is as nothing compared to the wizarding world’s. That he was the most inspiring and the best loved of all Hogwarts headmasters cannot be in question.”