If you're a Harry Potter fan, how can you not love Dumbledore? Wise, kind, and immeasurably powerful, Dumbledore is the loveable Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and the bright shining center of the Harry Potter universe.
For the purposes of mythic storytelling, he's the magical mentor who helps our hero Harry fulfill his destiny.
In this archetypal role, he's not much different than Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars or Gandalf from Lord of the Rings. He always seems to know more about Harry and surrounding events than he’s willing to say.
Like all the ancient tales, he also serves as a guide to the world of the unknown and gives our hero magical relics to help him along his way. However, what makes Dumbledore truly special is not just his traditional mythic role, but also the detail of his background story.
This comprehensive world-building is part of what makes J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series so special. Some would describe her efforts as similar to Dickens, in that every thread is significant, every character is important, and it all makes sense in the end.
This is no small feat— there are dozens of characters who have important roles to play in the tale.
However, Dumbledore is more than just the guide to Harry Potter’s future— he’s also the key to this magical world’s past. He’s a link to a significant history that is hidden and is still unfolding.
As the blanks get filled in, we start to see the Potterverse as a whole a lot more clearly.
With that said, here are the 20 Crazy Revelations About Dumbledore That Even Potterheads Don't Know.
20 He Was In Love With Gellert Grindelwald
In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, we finally get some of the backstory on Dumbledore’s early days, including the revelation that in his youth he was in love with a man— Gellert Grindelwald.
Though in modern times this isn’t considered “a big deal,” it is still pretty unusual in modern fantasy storytelling to have a major character come out of the closet.
Unfortunately, his crush went unrequited. Worse, Dumbledore ended up at odds with Grindelwald that resulted in a magical duel in which his sister got caught in the crossfire and passed away.
This tragedy haunted Dumbledore for the rest of his life, and he never fully recovered.
Though Dumbledore never knew it, Grindelwald perished at the hands of Voldemort because he refused to give up the location of the Elder Wand out of respect for Dumbledore.
19 His Father Was Sentenced To Azkaban
Like many good guys, Dumbledore has a tragic past that is intrinsically connected with his immediate family. When his sister Ariana Dumbledore was young, some local muggles witnessed her practicing magic and were fearful of her, just as many ordinary muggles were superstitious about sorcery throughout history.
They attacked her, which traumatized her to the point that her control of magic became sporadic and unpredictable.
Percival Dumbledore, Albus' father, was enraged by the incident and carried out a revenge attack on the boys in retaliation.
Attacking muggles with magic is not only ethically forbidden in the wizarding world, but it’s also illegal.
Percival was sent to Azkaban for violating this ethic, where he later passed away.
18 He Taught Minerva McGonagall To Be An Animagus
Similar to Dumbledore and his highly regarded academic career, before she was a professor, Minerva McGonagall was one of the most promising students of her time as a student at Hogwarts.
Recognized as the most outstanding student of her year, she also had a natural talent for transfiguration, just like Dumbledore.
It was Dumbledore who served as her Transfiguration professor, and under his guidance, she learned the skills necessary to become a full-fledged Animagus.
This involves a witch or wizard completely transforming themselves into another animal. McGonagall’s Animagus form was that of an orange tabby cat.
McGonagall also won the Transfiguration Today Most Promising Newcomer Award, and similar to Dumbledore, became Prefect and Head Girl.
17 His Patronus Is The Phoenix
With Charms being one of his greatest skills, Dumbledore was masterful at casting the Patronus charm. The Patronus charm conjures forth a protective guardian that can defend against dark forces, including powerful Dementors. They are also known as spirit guardians.
The Patronus takes the form of an animal that the wielder has a special connection to. For Albus Dumbledore, it is that of the Phoenix, most likely because of the love he has for his pet Phoenix, Fawkes.
Fawkes served Dumbledore for at least 59 years.
Most wizards have more traditional connections to animals, and if they had a house pet like a dog or a cat, then their Patronus would most likely to take this form.
Not everyone has a connection to the mysterious and magical Phoenix, so Dumbledore’s Patronus was special.
16 He Invented The Deluminator
The Deluminator was a custom creation of Albus Dumbledore that he used to “steal” and capture light.
For instance, it could be used to “steal” the light from streetlights and temporarily put them out. Dumbledore can first be seen using the Deluminator to rescue Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Similar in appearance to a common cigarette lighter, the Deluminator “sucks” the light out of the source it is stealing from, appearing like a ball of energy flying into and entering the device.
The Deluminator can also be used to release the light it steals, acting as an emergency light source if one needs it.
After Dumbledore’s demise, he leaves the Deluminator to Ron Weasley, who uses it to practical effect in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
15 One Of His Great Talents Was Reading and Extracting Thoughts
Dumbledore possessed a great many magical charms and artifacts, one of which was the Pensieve, which he used to observe extracted thoughts.
As seen and described in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, a Pensieve is a basin in which one can place extracted thoughts and observe and interpret them. Dumbledore was a master at both extracting thoughts with his wand and also observing/interpreting them in the Pensieve.
Separate from a magical object such as a Pensieve, Dumbledore was also skilled at Legilimency, which is the magical art of reading another’s mind.
Because the mind has many layers, it is not a simple task. It not only involves penetrating the mind but also correctly interpreting the layers of observation and meaning found within.
14 He later regretted his feelings for Grindelwald
Gellart Grindelwald was a notorious Dark Wizard of his day and was educated at the Durmstrang Institute, which is the wizarding school housed in Scandinavia.
In his youth, he became friends with Albus Dumbledore and plotted with him to overthrow the existing society and create a new global order overseen by superior witches and wizards.
Though Dumbledore later abandoned his grandiose vision for this plan, Grindewald remained a true believer.
Dumbledore and Grindewald’s close relationship fell apart after the three-way duel between them and his brother Albeforth Dumbledore resulted in the demise of their sister, Ariana Dumbledore.
As described in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Grindelwald evolved into a dangerous criminal. Dumbledore felt obligated to duel with him later in life, a contest in which he won.
It resulted in Grindelwald’s imprisonment in his own fortress.
13 His Boggart Was His Sister’s Body
As Potter fans know, a Boggart is an unusual entity that takes the form of its observer's worst fear. For example, Ron Weasley's biggest phobia was of spiders, so his Boggart appeared as a giant spider.
The remedy for countering a Boggart is the Riddikulas spell, which transforms a figure of fear into the subject of humor— for example, putting rolling skates on the spider and watching it fall.
There was very little that scared Dumbledore, but he still retained heartbreak for his late sister, for whose passing he still felt a degree of guilt. His Boggart would appear as her deceased body.
According to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, this was not uncommon. Molly Weasley’s boggart appeared as the members of her family she was afraid of losing.
12 The Hogwarts Community Thought He Hated Muggles
By the time he had enrolled at Hogwarts, the Dumbledore family reputation had already preceded him. It's not every day that a wizard is accused of attacking Muggles with magic, and being sentenced to life at Azkaban was a big deal.
This larger-than-life family reputation is something that Dumbledore and Harry Potter actually had in common, and probably was one of the factors that played into Dumbeldore’s empathy for the young boy.
While it’s true that for a time Dumbledore felt wizards were superior to Muggles, that sentiment vanished as he grew older.
11 He Started Off As A Transfiguration Professor
Though we meet Albus Dumbledore in the books late in his life as the full-fledged Headmaster Wizard, like everyone else, he had to start somewhere.
As for his professional career at Hogwarts, he actually started off as a Transfiguration professor. Transfiguration, as fans know, is the magical art of transforming living or inanimate objects into another form.
Transfiguration, according to J.K. Rowling, is regarded as one of the most scientific of the magical arts, as it requires exacting precision and knowledge of magical equations to get it right.
There are a complex set of ethical rules around Transfiguration, and it takes years to become adept at it.
Dumbledore, being the gifted mind that he was, was perfectly suited to the discipline— so much so that he eventually became a professor in the subject.
10 He Was The Chief Warlock Of The Wizengamot
The Wizengamot is the highest court of wizarding law, and also serves as its parliament. Its proceedings are very serious, with trials held in a deep dungeon level in the Ministry of Magic.
Albus Dumbledore served as the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot until he was ousted from his position for his insistence that Voldemort had returned and proved an imminent danger.
This was only for a short time, however, as facts became later became clear that Voldemort had indeed come back and proved to be a threat.
According to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the Latin motto of the court is ignorantia juris neminem excusat, which approximately translates as “ignorance of the law excuses no one."
9 He Understood Parseltongue But Couldn't Speak It
Parseltongue is the ancient language of serpents, but being able to speak it is both rare and mostly hereditary, though there are a few notable exceptions, like Harry Potter.
However, with dedicated study, it is possible for other wizards and witches to learn to understand Parseltongue, and maybe even recite a few incantations in the language, as Ron Weasley did in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
In a live chat interview with J.K. Rowling by fans before the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, one fan asks her how Albus Dumbledore understood Parseltongue, to which she responded, "Dumbledore understood Mermish, Gobbledegook, and Parseltongue. The man was brilliant."
This all lines up with Dumbeldore’s reputation as being a gifted student and intellectual.
8 The Centaurs Respected And Trusted Him
After Albus Dumbledore passed, a great many from the wizarding world attended his funeral, including Firenze, one of the mysterious and reclusive Centaurs, who respected him.
Dumbledore was adept at communicating with many magical creatures, and the Centaurs were no exception.
The Centaurs are highly tribal in nature and have a culture that greatly values honor.
The Centaurs lived in the Forbidden Forest surrounding Hogwarts, first seen in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Firenze rescued Harry from the Forbidden Forest and later served as a professor of divination at Hogwarts, a highly unusual life-path for any Centaur.
In fact, many Centaurs believed any human office was beneath him and he became estranged from his colony. Dumbledore allowed him to stay.
Later, after the Battle of Hogwarts, the colony of Centaurs softened their attitude toward humans and accepted Firenze’s choices.
7 He Was Adept At Using Magic Without Wands
Wands are seen as instrumental in spell-casting because they function as a tool to channel and focus complex magic. However, it still possible to cast spells and use magic without a wand.
Practicing magic without a wand takes tremendous skill and concentration, though. Some creatures, like goblins or elves, can do it effortlessly, but for others, it takes years to develop the skill.
Other magical cultures that are indigenous peoples or from the continent of Africa were also known to use wandless magic. Also some children under the age of eleven can accidentally use wandless magic while they're learning how to use their power.
Dumbledore uses wandless magic multiple times in the Harry Potter canon, though like nearly every wizard, he primarily casts spells with the use of his wand.
6 He Was Offered The Position Of Minister Of Magic But Refused
The Minister of Magic is one of the most highly prestigious positions in the wizarding world, so it is no surprise that the highly accomplished and well-respected Albus Dumbledore was offered the position several times.
Dumbledore, however, refused the offer. Though he held high aspirations of running the world, or at the very least the wizarding world, when he was a young man, as he grew older, he had more nuanced feelings about the high office.
Perhaps because of his youthful ambitions, Dumbledore had deep misgivings about being trusted with this kind of sweeping power and position.
In fact, outside of being Headmaster at Hogwarts, he refused any position of political authority, no doubt associating quests for power with the very same kinds of situations that led to the demise of his sister, Ariana.
5 He won the Barnabus Finkley Prize for Exceptional Spell Casting
There's not much background information on Barnabus Finkley himself, but the prize for which he is named is only awarded to wizards of the highest spellcasting ability.
Dumbledore won the prize while he was a student at Hogwarts, and he kept the trophy for the prize in the trophy room at Hogwarts Castle.
Interestingly enough, finding the trophy room might be a strange experience for newer students— it actually shifts its location between the third and sixth floors and harbored a number of secret passages to more obscure rooms of the castle.
The trophy room made its first appearance in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, but Dumbledore’s award isn’t mentioned until Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
4 His Favorite “Muggle” Activities Were Chamber Music And Bowling
Though there were some wizards who held muggle inventions and activities as larger inferior pursuits, other wizards (in particular Ron Weasley’s father, Arthur Weasley) were fascinated by the Muggle world, as seen in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
Dumbledore’s earlier prejudices against Muggles faded with time, and he learned to love ten-pin bowling and listening to chamber music, which were pursuits considered a little eccentric in the wizarding world.
These hobbies are revealed by Albus Dumbledore's Famous Witch and Wizarding Card, which are trading cards that are difficult to find Easter eggs in the video game Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Most fans would consider this information as canon, and so far J.K. Rowling has not disputed it.
3 He Claimed He Had a Scar That Looked Like The London Underground
Seemingly unimportant details told at the beginning of a tale sometimes become forgotten. In the very first chapter of the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, McGonagall asks Dumbledore if there is anything they can do to fix the lightning-shaped scar on Harry Potter's forehead.
Dumbledore replies, “Even if I could, I wouldn’t. Scars can come in handy. I have one myself above my left knee that is a perfect map of the London Underground."
This is a bit of a cryptic answer. Was he serious? Is this a joke? If it’s true, how exactly does one get a scar that is a perfect map of the London Underground?
Perhaps Dumbledore’s larger meaning was that the lightning scar would end up playing a significant role in Harry’s life later, and removing it would be a disservice.
2 His Highest Marks Were In Charms And Transfiguration
Dumbledore was largely regarded as the most accomplished student at Hogwarts, if not ever, at least for his generation. Every student's attributes are different, and in Dumbledore's case, his forte rested in Charms and Transfiguration.
According to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Griselda Marchbanks, who was governor of the Wizard Examinations authority, once said that Dumbledore could do “things with a wand she had never seen before.”
His proficiency was so high with Transfiguration that he later taught the subject as a professor at Hogwarts.
Also, many fans might theorize that it was Dumbledore’s knowledge of charms helped him figure out that Voldemort had left behind Horcruxes and their associated counter-charms, starting with Tom Riddle’s Diary.
1 He Was Considered The Best Student To Ever Attend Hogwarts
It wasn't only that Dumbledore was a practical genius in Charms and Transfiguration and his Baranabus Binkley prize for Exceptional Spell-Casting that set him apart.
Aside from his magic, Dumbledore was also gifted intellectually, the kind of person that, if he were a Muggle, might be valedictorian at Yale or Harvard.
J.K. Rowling also indicates a number of other proud accomplishments during his years as a student.
He served as The British Youth Representative to the Wizengamut, which can be described as the high court of the wizarding world. He also undertook the study of Ancient Runes. By his fifth year he had become Prefect, and by his seventh year, he was made Head Boy of Hogwarts.
For any student at Hogwarts, this was an incredibly high bar to set.
Are there any other interesting secrets about Dumbledore that we missed? Let us know in the comments!