In honor of Halloween, J.K. Rowling released a backstory for the wicked witch of the Potter series: Dolores Umbridge.
First appearing in “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” the fifth book in the series as a new professor at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Umbridge is known for her cruelty and abusive punishments against the students. A 1,700-word essay released Friday reveals the inspiration behind this memorable villain.
Rowling calls Umbridge “one of the characters for whom I feel purest dislike” in the essay, published on the Pottermore website, and says she is up there with the likes of the series arch-villian Lord Voldemort.
Rowling found inspiration for Umbridge’s character by drawing on her own experiences. While she did not disclose this teacher’s identity, she did say that this person was one “whom I disliked intensely on sight” and who had a “pronounced taste for twee accessories” including frills, bows and undersized handbags, according to Bay News 9.
Another characteristic of Umbridge is her love of kittens, with photos placed all around her office in the books and the film. Rowling admits this was also inspired by her own experiences, by her former office mate whose adoration for these small furry animals was in contrast with “a lack of real warmth or charity.”
“So Dolores, who is one of the characters for whom I feel purest dislike, became an amalgam of traits taken from these, and a variety of sources,” Rowling explains to CNN. “Her desire to control, to punish and inflict pain, all in the name of law and order, are, I think, every bit as reprehensible as Lord Voldemort’s unvarnished espousal of evil.”
CNN reports that there are three movies in the works for the “Potter” series that will follow the adventures of the author Newt Scamander, years before he wrote one of the major textbook feature in the series “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”