Albus Dumbledore isn’t the main character in the Harry Potter series, but he may very well be the most fascinating character the story produced. For most of the series, Dumbledore is Harry’s mentor. He’s the sage older wizard who is always filled with advice and skill and reacts to Harry’s various calamities in ways that are often unexpected. It isn’t until after his death that we get to learn a bit more about the man and come to understand his faults in a way that was never clear while he was alive.
Indeed, Dumbledore did a fair bit of messing up in the years before Harry first met him, and his youthful foibles are part of the reason why he’s so committed to taking down Voldemort later in his life.
There’s plenty we still don’t know about the younger version of Dumbledore, although with Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald set to hit theaters this year, some of those mysteries may be clarified. Until then, though, there’s still much that fans of the character may not be aware of about what Dumbledore got up to before we meet him in the books.
Here are 16 Things You Didn't Know Dumbledore Did Before The Books.
16 Chamber Music And Ten-Pin Bowling
Although these Dumbledore facts were likely true of the version of him that we are introduced to in the books, they’re likely loves that pre-date the Dumbledore that Harry knew. These facts are actually drawn from his Famous Wizard Card, and they’re a reminder that Dumbledore was, above all else, a playful man who was equally interested in defeating dark magic and having a good time.
Although chamber music fits in pretty well with everything we know about Dumbledore, it’s interesting to wonder how exactly he could have gotten into bowling.
Do wizards bowl? If they do, is it different from the way muggles bowl?
All of these questions only spawn more questions, but however Dumbledore discovered bowling, it somehow makes sense that bowling would be a hobby of his.
15 Succeeded Armando Dippet As Headmaster Of Hogwarts
Dumbledore was a teacher at Hogwarts for a number of years before he ascended to the position of headmaster, one that he held until his death. Dumbledore succeeded Armando Dippet in that role. Dippet had been the headmaster of Hogwarts since the 1940s and was the headmaster when Tom Riddle opened the Chamber of Secrets.
Although Dippet believed that Hagrid had opened the chamber, he unwittingly ended the attacks after telling Tom Riddle that the school would have to be closed if they didn’t stop. Dippet was an incredibly old man when he was headmaster, having been born in 1637.
Of course, wizards have unnaturally long lives anyway, but Dippet’s extended life outstrips even Dumbledore’s. Dumbledore was born in 1881, and so he was 115 at the time of his passing.
14 Was a Prize-Winning Student
Dumbledore had a pretty illustrious career at Hogwarts. Like many of Harry Potter’s biggest heroes, he was sorted into Gryffindor when he arrived at the school and was quickly showered with a variety of awards and accolades.
He was named a prefect during his fifth year and was made head boy in his seventh.
What’s more, he was named the British Youth Representative to the Wizengamot, and also won the Barnabus Finkley Prize for Exceptional Spellcasting. He also received the gold medal for Groundbreaking Contribution to the International Alchemical Conference in Cairo.
Dumbledore’s list of accolades from his time in school is long, and it’s just one of the reasons he was considered the best student to ever set foot in Hogwarts. He was brilliant, and it seems like he was probably a hard worker as well.
13 Helped Students With Their Homework Every Friday
Dumbledore may have been fighting Voldemort or attempting to keep him from returning to power throughout the Harry Potter series, but that doesn’t mean he neglected his duties as headmaster. In fact, Dumbledore was so involved in the goings-on at Hogwarts that, every Friday, he would meet with students in a classroom and help them with their homework.
Being the incredibly gifted wizard that he was, Dumbledore was equipped to help the students with basically whatever they might need. Although none of the story’s main characters ever took advantage of Dumbledore’s help, we know it was available because of a sign that was posted on the wall of the Gryffindor common room.
Of course, it may have been a little intimidating to get help on your homework from the greatest wizard ever, but it was there for those who wanted it.
12 Hired Trelawney To Protect Her From Death Eaters
Dumbledore wasn’t initially all that taken with Professor Trelawney. The legendary headmaster had a general distaste for Divination, although his mind was fairly quickly changed about Trelawney when she delivered a prophecy about Voldemort’s demise that Snape overheard and relayed to Voldemort.
Although Dumbledore knew that Trelawney was a fraud, at least most of the time, he hired her anyway because he knew that otherwise she would be hunted down by the Death Eaters. In spite of Trelawney’s usual inability to genuinely see the future and Dumbledore’s general disdain for Divination, he was willing to help Trelawney. He knew that her fate would be much worse outside of his protection, and he may have seen that deep down, Trelawney's not as bad as she may initially seem.
11 Wrote for "Transfiguration Today Magazine"
Many Harry Potter fans may know that, before Dumbledore was the headmaster of Hogwarts, he was the school’s Transfiguration teacher. It’s likely that Dumbledore could have taught almost any Hogwarts class, with the possible exception of Divination, but like Minerva McGonagall, his subject of choice was transfiguration.
In fact, Dumbledore was so involved in the world of transfiguration that, in addition to his role as a teacher, he became a regular columnist for Transfiguration Today Magazine, and seemed to be thrilled about his work at that magazine.
In addition to being a rather skilled spellcaster, Dumbledore was also fairly gifted with words.
He was a thoughtful man, so a job as a writer probably suited him well, even if it didn’t take advantage of every one of his magical skills.
10 Helped Newt Write "Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them"
Jude Law’s young Dumbledore is set to sketch in more about the character’s younger years than fans currently have, and will also explore Dumbledore’s relationship with Newt Scamander, the author of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It’s unclear where exactly that story will take Dumbledore, although it will have to eventually end in a duel with Grindelwald, an opponent Dumbledore was reluctant to face for quite a while.
Of course, at some point, Scamander also writes Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them, a book that Dumbledore wrote the foreword to. That book was actually published by Obscurus books, which provides some neat support for the idea that, like Clarence in the Fantastic Beasts movie, Dumbledore’s sister Ariana was also an Obscurus who couldn’t totally control her magical power.
9 Searched For The Cursed Vaults At Hogwarts
The cursed vaults aren’t even mentioned at all in the Harry Potter novels, but they do come up in the video game Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery. In this game, players learn of the legend that there are five cursed vaults hidden around Hogwarts that contain treasures like gold and prophecies.
The origins of these vaults are unknown, but it’s possible that either the founders of Hogwarts or a paranoid headmaster may have hidden them. In the video game, which takes place before Harry arrives at Hogwarts, Dumbledore is said to have left the school in search of information about these artifacts.
Dumbledore was never one to ignore legends about precious artifacts, as we learned all too well after understanding his relationship to the Deathly Hallows.
8 Discovered 12 Different Uses For Dragon's Blood
Although it’s unclear exactly when Dumbledore did this, he’s widely regarded as one of the greatest wizards of all time in part because he discovered 12 separate uses for dragon’s blood. Although Dumbledore clearly displays a certain fondness for magical creatures like Fawkes, his interactions with dragons in the Harry Potter novels are almost completely nonexistent.
Still, Dumbledore’s discovery of other uses for dragon’s blood only reinforces the idea that he was gifted and curious about basically every part of the magical world. Dumbledore’s gifts and natural instincts toward discovery got him in trouble several times, but they’re also what made him one of the greatest wizards of all time. His willingness to try new things got him into trouble and gave him exceptional knowledge.
7 Inspired Grindelwald
For most of his life, Dumbledore was incredibly virtuous. Without him, it’s likely that Voldemort would have reigned over the entire wizarding world for quite a long time. By the end of the Harry Potter series, though, we do learn that Dumbledore wasn’t the saintly man that Harry often took him for.
He’d once conspired with one of the greatest dark wizards of all time.
Dumbledore and Grindelwald worked together, and Dumbledore was instrumental in coining Grindelwald’s infamous slogan, “For the Greater Good.” For a time, Dumbledore believed that Grindelwald’s mission to subjugate muggles under wizards really was for the greater good, and although he eventually turned against Grindelwald, he never entirely rejected that mantra.
In many ways, his treatment of Harry throughout the series suggests that Dumbledore believed Voldemort’s downfall was more important than Harry’s happiness.
6 His Father Was Committed To Azkaban
Dumbledore’s sister had a tragic youth. When she was quite young, she was attacked by three muggle boys, and that attack traumatized her so severely that she was only able to do magic in fitful, dangerous bursts from that point onward. Albus’s father Percival was so upset about the attack on his daughter that he tracked down the muggle boys who had attacked her and hurt them.
Percival was put in Azkaban for his crime, which left his wife to fend for the family on her own.
Although Percival’s rage at the muggles was undoubtedly justified, his decision to attack them may have ultimately doomed his family to a much worse life than they would have had otherwise. Sometimes, revenge isn’t the best way forward, and Dumbledore learned that lesson the hard way.
5 The Most Brilliant Student To Ever Attend Hogwarts
Although Tom Riddle might quibble with this, most consider Albus Dumbledore to be the best student to ever attend Hogwarts. He was certainly an incredibly gifted student, and it didn’t hurt that he was also incredibly kind to his classmates.
The constant adoration that was showered on Albus during his time at school may have led to a somewhat inflated ego, though. This would help to explain why Dumbledore was so drawn to Grindelwald when he returned to Godric’s Hollow after his mother’s death. Dumbledore knew he was one of the best wizards there was, and that knowledge was something that he ultimately had to use to his advantage.
Dumbledore became a great wizard, but not just because he knew lots of spells. He was great because he didn’t let his abilities define who he would be.
4 Aberforth Broke His Nose At Ariana's Funeral
Ariana’s passing was a tragedy that would ripple throughout the rest of Albus Dumbledore’s life. He didn’t know who had cast the curse that ultimately ended her life, and he feared the answer to that question more than almost anything. Dumbledore carried the scar of Ariana’s death not just inside him, but also on his face. That scar came from his brother Aberforth, who broke his nose during Ariana’s funeral.
It doesn’t seem as though Dumbledore fought back against his brother.
He knew he deserved to be punished. Whether it was his wand that cast the curse that killed Ariana or not, it was Dumbledore’s relationship with Grindelwald that had ultimately led to the duel that ended her life. Dumbledore understood his own role in her loss as well as anyone.
3 Had a Muggle-Born mother
Like many of Harry Potter’s most iconic wizards, Dumbledore was a half-blood. His father was a pure-blooded wizard, but his mother was muggle-born. Although Dumbledore’s ultimate dream for the wizarding world was for it to be a place where your bloodline didn’t define you, it’s interesting to consider the ways in which Dumbledore’s half-blood status influenced him.
For one thing, it made him sympathetic toward muggles in a way that many purebloods are not. For another, it united him with Snape, Voldemort, and Harry, three of the series’ most important characters.
Half-bloods aren’t entirely one thing or the other, and so, in this story, they represent the choices that people make and the way those choices come to define them rather than the blood that runs through their veins.
2 He Was A Friend Of Nicolas Flamel
Dumbledore would befriend a number of notorious wizards during his time at Hogwarts, including Nicolas Flamel, the alchemist who would go on to create the sorcerer’s stone. In fact, Dumbledore’s work with Flamel on alchemy was one of the things that he was most well-known for. Although we never see Flamel, Dumbledore consults with the famous alchemist when it becomes apparent that Voldemort is after Flamel’s creation.
Dumbledore’s connection to Flamel was ultimately what helped him foil Voldemort’s plot, although Voldemort did come dangerously close to succeeding. Luckily for Dumbledore, a young child named Harry Potter was there and willing to help him out. Even with Dumbledore’s numerous connections, he ultimately found that Harry and his friends were the best weapons that he had in his war against Voldemort.
1 Won The Order Of Merlin For Beating Grindelwald
We hear fairly often that Dumbledore received an Order of Merlin (first class) for his contributions to the wizarding world. Although that much was clear fairly early on in the series, it remained a mystery to Harry what exactly Dumbledore had earned the honor for. It was clear to everyone that Dumbledore was a legendary wizard, but it isn’t until the end of the series that we learn one of the chief reasons he earned that status.
In fact, he earned his Order of Merlin for defeating Grindelwald in a duel, one that Dumbledore was reluctant to fight despite Grindelwald’s rise to power. Although Grindelwald was an incredibly skilled wizard and was in possession of The Elder Wand, Dumbledore managed to best him anyway and took the wand in the process. The Order of Merlin was an added bonus.
Do you know any more of Dumbledore's pre-Harry Potter secrets? Share them in the comments!