J.K. Rowling Celebrates Halloween by Releasing a Wicked, New 'Harry Potter' Story
By John Boone
Who’s the baddest witch in town?
As fires burn and caldrons bubble for Halloween, J.K. Rowling has released a new story set in the Harry Potter world, a profile of the most despicable, the most deplorable, the pinkest villain to ever stalk the halls of Hogwarts: Dolores Umbridge.
And Rowling is also finally revealing how Dolores came to be.
“Long ago, I took instruction in a certain skill or subject (I am being vague as vague can be, for reasons that are about to become obvious), and in doing so, came into contact with a teacher or instructor whom I disliked intensely on sight,” Rowling told TODAY.com.
“What sticks in my mind is her pronounced taste for twee accessories.”
The new story – called simply, “The Story of Dolores Jane Umbridge” – is available to read on Pottemore.com or in full at TODAY.com. But here’s everything you need to know about our latest trip back into the wizarding world:
She Was Born a Witch Bitch: Excuse our language, but if J.K. Rowling can openly despise her, we can too, right? Rowling says Dolores means sorrow, “Something she undoubtedly inflicts on all around her.” And Umbridge is a play on “to take umbrage,” or offence. As for Jane? “It simply felt rather smug and neat between her other two names.” With that kind of name, how else was she supposed to turn out?
She’s Always Been a Witch Bitch: As a child, Dolores “secretly despised” her parents: her wizard father, Orford (“for his lack of ambition”), and Muggle mother, Ellen Cracknell (“for her flightiness, untidiness, and Muggle lineage”). At the age of 15, she practically ran her own mother out of town and began telling people she was pure-blood. No wonder she ended up in Slytherin.
And She’ll Always Be a Witch Bitch: After Hogwarts, Dolores immediately got hired as a “lowly intern in the Improper Use of Magic Office.” More importantly, Rowling writes, “At seventeen, Dolores was judgemental, prejudiced and sadistic, although her conscientious attitude, her saccharine manner towards her superiors, and the ruthlessness and stealth with which she took credit for other people's work soon gained her advancement.”
She Tried to Sleep Her Way to the Top: Rowling doesn’t get NSFW, but more demurely writes, “In spite of her best efforts to secure the affections of one of her superiors (she never cared particularly which of them it was, but knew that her own status and security would be advanced with a powerful husband), Dolores never succeeded in marrying.” Instead, she preyed on the Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge’s fears of Dumbledore to secure placement in Fudge’s inner circle.
She Doesn’t Even Like Cats: Which may come as a shock to some, considering Dolores’ office is COVERED in kitty memorabilia. But Rowling writes, “As she grew older and harder...Dolores's taste in little girlish accessories grew more and more pronounced; her office became a place of frills and furbelows, and she liked anything decorated with kittens (though found the real thing inconveniently messy).”
Oh, and She’s a Murderer: The profile names just about everyone Dolores hates (which is, basically...everyone: Non-magical humans, non-human creatures, etcetera) and says during her time at the Ministry of Magic, “nasty things tended to happen” to people who got on her bad side.
What kind of nasty things? The piece concludes by saying, “Dolores Umbridge was put on trial for her enthusiastic co-operation with [Voldemort’s] regime, and convicted of the torture, imprisonment and deaths of several people (some of the innocent Muggle-borns she sentenced to Azkaban did not survive their ordeal).”
Dolores Umbridge was a monster. Which makes this piece all the more delicious for a Halloween read. And it’s enough to tide us over until Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Themis released in 2016, right?
Maybe not. So watch this #TBT look back at Harry Potter’s journey: