As a special Halloween treat, Rowling’s site www.Pottermore.com published a 1,700-word explainer about Dolores Umbridge, the witch who torments Harry Potter and makes him cut the words “I must not tell lies” repeatedly into his skin.
The author reveals Umbridge is based on a former teacher of hers, describing her as a person she “disliked intensely on sight”.
Apparently the two “took against each other” instantly, with Rowling expressing a hatred of the woman’s “pronounced taste for twee accessories”, including a little plastic, pale lemon bow slide, which the author thought was more appropriate “to a girl of three”.
Harry Potter fans will remember Umbridge for her many infamous deeds. These include sacking people who offended her own beliefs, such as the loveable Hagrid, and orchestrating a Dementor attack on Harry and his cousin.
Rowling writes: “A love of all things saccharine often seems present where there is a lack of real warmth or charity.”
She adds: “Her desire to control, to punish and to 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.”
The author also reveals personal details about Umbridge, most notably that she is a “half-blood”, the daughter of a wizard and a non-magical person, a status frowned upon by some elitist families in the wizarding world.
In addition to the latest essay, Rowling has added a wide range of background material to the Pottermore website to mark the anniversary of the Order of the Phoenix.