Prof Dumbledore

14th September 2001 at 01:00
The head of Harry Potter's school knows how to conjure up a bit of magic and keep the inspectorate off the premises

I suppose he's a magician?

Spot on. Dumbledore is the twinkly-eyed Gandalf figure in JK Rowling's phenomenally-lucrative cauldron-boiler, Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone and three other Potter books. Moreover, he's the only person who frightens Lord Voldemort. Educated at Hogwarts and trained` as an alchemist, Dumbledore was originally in Griffindore and is now Head Mugwump.

You've lost me already.

Griffindore is one of the four houses of Hogwarts, named after the school's founders, one of whom was Slytherin, an ancestor of Lord Voldemort.

Why do all the best fictional teachers work at toffee-nosed private schools?

Actually, it could be argued that Hogwarts is state-funded given that it is financed by the Ministry of Magic. What JK Rowling has done is reinvent the public-school yarn, with its dorm-raids and interhouse rivalries, for the post-Tolkien, pro-aromatherapy generation.

Angela Brazil with Broomsticks in fact. Can anyone tell me why everyone is reading about a bunch of privileged kids who spend all day quiditching each other?

Professor Dumbledore is actually very New Labour. He's given a place to Hermione Grainger even though her parents are Muggles.

Is that a term of abuse?

No, it means she's not descended from magicians. You don't have to be wearing the old school wand to get in to Hogwarts these days.

I still say it's all middle-class escapism.

Well, Dumbledore does have his conflicts with central government. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azakaban, he refuses to let the Ministry of Magic send in the Dementers.

Are they school inspectors?

No. Sinister creatures who feed on the misery of others.

School inspectors then. Has he ever done anything useful?

Well, it's generally said that as long as Dumbledore's at Hogwarts, Lord Voldemort won't dare go near the place.

Anything really useful?

Um, well as an alchemist he discovered new uses for unicorn hair.

Oh great, so he sits around inventing aphrodisiacs.

No, he's found you can use it in wands. And he's very loyal to his staff, including poor Professor Trelawney, who teaches divination but can't even see when her next pay rise is coming.

Nothing life-enhancing?

He did discover that the Philosopher's Stone extends human longevity. I suppose that's fairly life-enhancing.

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