Data, sources, and information were written and conducted by Gray Williams and Cranium Granger.
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore was perhaps one of the most enigmatic and also one of the greatest wizards to have ever lived, even giving Merlin himself a run for his Galleons. Today, those of us at the Quibbler wish to give you, our dear readers, an extensive and informative compilation of who he was, what he did, and why. Some people may be glad to see this great man gone, but everyone at the Quibbler felt the same loss when this extraordinary man passed. And we hope that you, too, will recognize his greatness at the end of this article.
It’s safe to say that Albus Dumbledore’s younger years were filled with tragedy. He was born in the summer of 1881 to Percival and Kendra Dumbledore, in Mould-on-the-Wold, England. His full name was Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore—quite a hefty name, eh? Not much is known about his youthful days, but he was soon followed into the family by a brother, Aberforth, and a sister, Ariana.
Everything changed and took a turn for the worse when one day Ariana was seen using her magic by a small group of Muggle boys. They attacked her, being frightened by what they saw her capable of. She would never be the same again; Ariana Dumbledore was left mentally scarred, and her magical abilities suffered. They became erratic and uncontrollable, and accidents often resulted. Percival Dumbledore was understandably heartbroken and angry, and decided to pursue justice by showing those Muggle boys precisely how he felt. He attacked them, and was sentenced to Azkaban for refusing to explain why. Had he not chosen to be imprisoned, his daughter would have been taken away; he sacrificed himself for her, which is a heroic move in itself. According to the records, Percival died while in prison. Kendra moved her remaining family to Godric’s Hollow, a primarily wizarding neighborhood, to escape the eye of the public in their original setting.
Albus was able to escape this tragedy for just a moment of his lifetime. Seven years after being sorted into Gryffindor, he finished his education as the most brilliant student Hogwarts had ever seen. But just after he graduated, disaster struck once more. One of Ariana’s accidents resulted in the death of their mother, leaving Albus to take care of his brother and sister. He felt trapped in his situation, but was hit by a stroke of luck in the form of Gellert Grindelwald. Grindelwald was just as clever and talented as Dumbledore himself, and the two became fast friends. It is known now that Dumbledore had romantic feelings for his friend, but it is unknown whether or not these feelings were returned. More information on this relationship is revealed in the “Dark Age” section.
It was particularly obvious for most professors that Albus was indeed a “star student.” Capable and competent in almost all his subjects, he was every teacher’s living dream. Considering Albus’ brilliance, Gryffindor was a seemingly odd choice for him to be Sorted into, and we’re still not fully aware of the reasons behind the Hat’s choosing. Throughout much of Albus’ first year, there were whisperings and rumours about his father. Albus was feared by some and praised by others as they believed he was a Muggle hater. We’re not sure if this prejudice was apparent in the young boy, although if it was, it certainly dissipated after Grindelwald’s reign. Befriending Elphias Doge on his first day, Albus became a prominent and respected figure with both faculty and alumni. He was promoted to Prefect in his fifth year, and eventually Head Boy in his seventh. Considered by most to be the most capable wizard ever to attend Hogwarts, he won many awards, including the Barnabus Finkley Prize for Exceptional Spell-Casting. He was believed to have passed his N.E.W.T.’s with Outstandings in all his subjects, including Arithmancy, Ancient Runes, Transfiguration and Potions. However, his poorest subject was possibly Divination, which he failed in his O.W.L’s. Perhaps he didn’t care much for it.
When Kendra Dumbledore died due to a freak accident with his sister, Albus was just on the brink of a worldwide exploration with his close but rather dim classmate, Elphias Doge. The conflicting emotions bubbling within him had an intense and potent sting. This was further sharpened by the emotional vertigo of losing his mother, the churning, resentful anger of his forced-upon responsibility, and the bi-polar pendulum that swung constantly between sadness, anger, and guilt.
In a show of his truest self, Dumbledore would conscientiously accept his responsibilities, although his pride would eventually undo even these best of intentions. He traveled back to Godric’s Hollow. Albus, being a young man believed by himself and others to have immense potential and skill, was extremely bitter at his “imprisonment” at the family home. An ambitious boy full of pride, his skill and talent seemed wasted at home with his siblings. A doorway opened for him however, in the form of Gellert Grindelwald. This notorious Dark Wizard was visiting his aunt, Bathilda Bagshot, who was a close family friend. On equal grounds, Grindelwald introduced Albus to the world of the Deathly Hallows, a series of magical objects said to make one a master of death.
Traveling down a twisting and dark path, Dumbledore quickly became fascinated by Grindelwald’s ideas of wizarding domination, obviously considering Grindelwald an unexpected new chance to show his own brilliance and find reprieve from his own misery. His newfound friend and their plans became too much for the remnants of his broken family. His brother Aberforth confronted him and Grindelwald, scolding him for the neglect of his sister. Grindelwald, outraged, struck him with a Cruciatus Curse. This resulted in a scuffle and soon a full-on three way and particularly vicious duel. This duel, however, sadly resulted in the untimely death of Ariana Dumbledore. It was this moment that marked a key and influential point in Albus’ life. Though it is unknown who cast the spell that killed Ariana, Albus ultimately blamed himself. Grindelwald fled, leaving the distraught brothers—Aberforth especially—to deal with the damage inflicted on the family.
Their relationship was strained and weak. Aberforth actually punched his brother, breaking his nose at their sister’s funeral. Yet he would never know the immense feeling of guilt that Albus would hide for the rest of his life. Dumbledore’s ambition as a student was a healthy avenue to pursue his dreams of glory and recognition, but when he became Ariana’s caretaker, he felt wasted. Grindelwald gave him new ideas about power. It would not only give him the glory he wanted, but perhaps the control of those that attacked Ariana helped to justify these actions. When Ariana died, he finally saw that he was wrong and that power blinded him from making the right choices.
It was quite clear to many that Albus harbored feelings for his friend, Gellert Grindelwald. However, it is unclear to what extent. Infatuation, or perhaps love? Perhaps this emotion could have arisen due to Albus meeting someone as brilliant as he was. Love is both a strength and a weakness since he was clearly love-stricken by Grindelwald to the point of intentionally misinterpreting Gellert’s malevolent plan to enslave muggles and lead the wizarding world, by force, if necessary. Even after Grindelwald’s departure, this less capable Dark Lord would continue to exploit Dumbledore and his shame to wreak havoc across the wizarding world for the next forty or so years. That it took Dumbledore so long to challenge Grindelwald in the duel of 1945 might have had more to do with Albus fearing to face his demons—not necessarily of the love he had for Grindelwald, but that he let it blind him.
From the moment Dumbledore set foot in Hogwarts, it was clear that path he had in front of him would lead to great things. Indeed, his career was quite impressive, and if you called him the Merlin of his age, you wouldn’t be too far off at all. He was most famous for bringing about the downfall of Gellert Grindelwald, his work with the esteemed alchemist Nicholas Flamel, his discovery of the twelve uses of dragon blood, and of course being one of the greatest Headmasters that Hogwarts has ever seen! He had numerous titles and awards. If we went through them all at the outset, it would just be a droning, continuous list. That said, we’ve taken the time to go through Dumbledore’s career and achievements chronologically.
Dumbledore had the makings of a great wizard from the very start. In his school days, as we previously mentioned, he was given the roles of Prefect and Head Boy for Gryffindor House. He began his more prestigious career of awards and fame by becoming acquainted with many famous faces such as Nicholas Flamel and Bathilda Bagshot, as well as Griselda Marchbanks. Not only this, but in addition to his two school ranks, over the course of his schooling Dumbledore won the Barnabus Finkley Prize for Exceptional Spell-Casting, earned the position of British Youth Representative to the Wizengamot, and won the gold medal for Ground-Breaking Contribution to the International Alchemical Conference in Cairo. Though he may not have been a “chosen one,” Albus Dumbledore shone exceptionally brightly in school.
After graduating, Dumbledore’s future took a turn for the worse. After his mother died, he was left in charge of his fractured family. Being the responsible young man he was, Dumbledore sadly decided to abandon his plans so that he could take care of his brother and sister. After the infamous three-way duel that killed his sister, Dumbledore returned to Hogwarts as a professor; he taught Transfiguration. He also recruited new students for the school. Among the children Professor Dumbledore brought to Hogwarts was the infamous Tom Riddle, who would grow into the cruel and powerful Lord Voldemort.
In 1926, Dumbledore became a writer for the magazine Transfiguration Today; it is unknown how long he kept his position as a columnist, but we imagine he had dropped it by 1945, when he tracked down and challenged his former friend Gellert Grindelwald. As thanks for defeating Grindelwald, Dumbledore became extremely well-known, and received the Order of Merlin, First Class award. Around March 1965, Professor Dumbledore became the Headmaster of Hogwarts. During his time as Headmaster, he was offered the position of Minister for Magic several times. Content with staying at the school, he declined every offer, happy instead to nourish his students by doing things such as hosting Albus Dumbledore Homework Help every Friday in classroom E-13. However, despite turning down the chance to be Minister, over the course of his Hogwarts career he arose to many other various positions and titles, including Grand Sorcerer (which was not a position, merely an illustrious title)!
Alas, thirty years later, in 1995, the Ministry of Magic started a smear campaign against Dumbledore because they couldn’t believe it when Dumbledore told them that Lord Voldemort had returned. His grand positions were stripped from him, although it is possible that he retained his title of Grand Sorcerer (but the Ministry, no doubt, forbid it from being printed next to his name even if it was not removed). At this point in Dumbledore’s life, he was “on the run,” having been sacked, if you will, from his job as Headmaster by order of the likes of Cornelius Fudge and Dolores Umbridge. The price of being caught? Well, looking at it realistically, not Azkaban; merely having to escape his captors again.
In June 1996, Dumbledore was reinstated to all his positions because the Ministry could no longer deny that he was telling the truth about Lord Voldemort’s return. But with the Dark Lord once more on the loose, the stress level of his duties increased more than just a tad. He had to protect wizards, witches, and Muggles alike. To take steps towards the fall of Voldemort, he tried to hunt down the Dark Lord’s horcruxes and destroy them (this task later fell to Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger). He fought tirelessly to defend the school and the students he loved so much, up until the day he died: June 30, 1997, at the Battle of the Astronomy Tower.
It is not surprising that a man of such talents has quite a few feats under his belt, not to mention his longevity providing a massive space of time to accomplish said tasks. Perhaps Albus Dumbledore’s greatest accomplishment was the defeat of the infamous Dark Wizard, Gellert Grindelwald. Interestingly, we have discovered from our sources that this was the exact moment Albus came into possession of the Deathly Hallow, the Elder Wand. Albus and Gellert were men of seemingly equal talent, skill, and ability. Yet, even though Grindelwald had the extremely powerful Elder Wand, he still seemingly lost. It is indeed quite possible that Albus may have used some conniving form of magic lost to time that took his opponent extremely off guard. Or it may have simply been that Albus’ talent at that moment had surpassed Grindelwald’s, even with such a wand.
Such a talented man obviously worked with many talented people. Dumbledore was also globally known for his work alongside the esteemed French alchemist, Nicolas Flamel. Flamel is credited with the first and only individual to have successfully created the Philosopher’s Stone. This alchemical gem had the ability to turn base metals such as lead into gold, and was able to produce the Elixir of Life, a potion granting longevity of life. However, we do not believe that Albus had any hand in creating or working with the Stone. After the first reappearance of Lord Voldemort during the Second Wizarding War, who used a puppet to seek out the stone, Dumbledore and Flamel “destroyed” the stone (this we are not so sure of).
Along the alchemical spectrum (more towards potions however), Albus Dumbledore is credited with the discovery of all twelve uses of dragon’s blood, including use as an anaesthetic, a painkiller, a cleaning agent, a disinfecting agent, and even a key component in certain poisons. Of course, there are likely other uses that we have not yet discovered. Ivor Dillonsby, a possible competitor, had already claimed he had discovered at least 8 of its uses beforehand, and that Dumbledore plagiarised his work. We can conclude that this is false however, not to mention Dillonsby had a slight disdain for anything to do with Dumbledore, making particularly unfriendly comments to the Dumbledores’ family friend Bathilda Bagshot.
Dumbledore also dabbled quite extensively into Charms. Submitting many scholar papers on the subject, Dumbledore was the first person to reset the parameters behind the Patronus Charm, allowing it to be used for a method of communication. Dumbledore also had many feats in politics, eventually earning himself the award of the Order of Merlin, First Class for Grand Sorcery for his defense of the wizarding world from Grindelwald. Additionally, Dumbledore was involved as both Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and the Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards.
Considered by many to be the most powerful wizard of his time, Dumbledore’s magical abilities were undoubtedly far more than top notch. It is obvious that the man was a formidable opponent to anyone in a duel, especially when looking at the clashes of his past where wands were whipped out and spells ferociously flung back and forth. He partook in many wizarding duels, three of which stand out astonishingly.
Two of these duels have already been mentioned. However, we thought you might like some more information on his remarkable duel with Grindelwald. The struggle culminated in Dumbledore bringing Grindelwald to his knees, leading to Grindelwald’s imprisonment in Nurmengard prison until his death in 1998. Eyewitnesses called it the “greatest wizard duel ever fought,” which is impressive considering some of the other famous duels in wizarding history. Even more impressive is the fact that despite Grindelwald’s possession of the most powerful wand in existence, Dumbledore still managed to defeat him.
Yet another of Dumbledore’s more violent encounters was at the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, where not only was he able to effortlessly subdue several Death Eaters at once, but he took on Lord Voldemort himself in the atrium of the Ministry of Magic. Dumbledore overpowered the Dark Lord quickly by trapping him in a dome of water and forcing him to flee.
And all of this isn’t even mentioning Dumbledore’s more minor skirmishes! He was talented in many areas and considered a genius by many due to his great intellect. Dumbledore was known to have invented spells and magical objects such as the Deluminator, and he could perform most all magic both verbally and nonverbally. In 1992, he changed the color of the banners in the Great Hall with just a clap of his hands; a couple years later he conjured hundreds of sleeping bags for his students without uttering a single noise. He was a skilled Occlumens as well as Legilimens, could become invisible without the use of an Invisibility Cloak, and was otherwise proficient in nearly all branches of magic. He also shared a linguistic side to knowledge, being able to speak Mermish, Gobbledegook (native language of goblins) and being able to at least distinguish Parseltongue. Really though, wouldn’t it be lovely to be as magically skilled as Dumbledore? As Severus Snape once said, “Dumbledore [was] a great wizard. Only a fool would question it.”
Albus Dumbledore is perhaps one of the most enigmatic individuals we have ever researched. Most people who know a thing or two about him would categorize him as somewhat benevolent but ultimately wise. However, we believe that this statement merely scratches the surface of this man. Dumbledore almost always gave off an aura of serenity and composure. It is believed that he would almost never raise his voice, and seemed incredibly calm and collected. Justly so, it would not be presumptuous to believe that Albus Dumbledore was indeed a particularly detached individual.
From our many sources, we can safely conclude that this legend of a man was both cunning and unscrupulous. Throughout our research of the two wizarding wars, Dumbledore was often the master puppeteer, bending and pulling most of the strings. However, we cannot be sure if this was for his sake or the sake of others. Sourced through many esteemed writers, it is fair to point out that Albus was indeed a very selfish individual—throughout his youth most definitely, but it is unsure if this assessment holds up in his latter years. Dumbledore had a haunting past, one that would cause his demeanor to change most dramatically, one that would strip him of his hunger for power.
Despite his many negative qualities, there is a reason Dumbledore was beloved by many. Throughout his later life, he was considered beyond eccentric, almost to the point of being effeminate. He used whimsicality and often used humour to lighten a conversation. It was believed some of his interests included knitting patterns, sherbet lemon, and raspberry jam.
Albus Dumbledore’s appearance reflects the image you would expect from any kindly old wizard. He was tall and thin, his fingers were long and slender, and he had long silver hair—auburn in his younger years—and a matching beard that he could easily tuck into his belt. His eyes were a sparkling electric blue, and in front of them, perched on a crooked nose, was a pair of half-moon spectacles. In fact, his nose was so crooked that Harry Potter himself speculated that it had been broken at least twice. Indeed, he was not far off; remember that Dumbledore’s nose had been broken at least once by his brother Aberforth at their sister’s funeral.
Albus could be described as a kind, whimsical wizard at first glance; with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his lips, it would be hard not to think of him that way. His silver beard gave off the impression of elderly wisdom, and indeed, that appearance would not deceive you! However, something that would be concealed by his robes—which ranged from plum to crimson in color—was the scar he claimed to have on his left knee that was a perfect map of the London Underground. Speaking of scars, the year he died Dumbledore sustained one that was particularly nasty due to a curse. His hand, after touching a cursed ring that belonged to Marvolo Gaunt, became withered and black. It was utterly useless, and if we’re being honest, we’d prefer not to look at it!
In death, Dumbledore was restored to a healthy appearance; and that kindly old face is the face we will remember him by for ages to come.