Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

J.K. Rowling unveils new backstory on how the Dursleys fell out with the Potters

daniel_radcliffe_richard_griffiths_fiona_shaw_harry_melling_harry_potter_and_the_sorcerer's_stone_001.jpg

Always wondered why the Dursley's disliked Harry Potter so much? Enough to keep him in a cupboard under the stairs? Well, J.K. Rowling has finally unveiled the story behind the Potter-Dursley feud. 

On Tuesday, interactive sections of the final book in the series, The Deathly Hallows, were released on the official fan website Pottermore, alongside the origin of Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia's names and details of their relationship with Harry’s parents James and Lily.

Long before the boy wizard was born, when Petunia accepted Vernon Dursley's proposal for her hand in marriage - "very correctly, on one knee in his mother’s sitting room, Petunia accepted at once." - there was one snag that kept the bride-to-be from feeling over the moon: "The fear of what her new fiancé would make of her sister, who was now in her final year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry."

"Vernon was apt to despise even people who wore brown shoes with black suits; what he would make of a young woman who spent most of her time wearing long robes and casting spells, Petunia could hardly bear to think," reads the extract.

A meeting of the muggles and wizards was arranged at a restaurant but things quickly turned sour and "the relationship nose-dived from there". 

"James was amused by Vernon, and made the mistake of showing it," writes Rowling. "Vernon tried to patronise James, asking what car he drove. James described his racing broom."

Vernon then voiced his presumptions that wizards must have to live on unemployment benefit, which caused James explain the wizard's bank Gringotts, and the fortune of solid gold his parents had saved there.

"Vernon could not tell whether he was being made fun of or not, and grew angry. The evening ended with Vernon and Petunia storming out of the restaurant, while Lily burst into tears and James (a little ashamed of himself) promised to make things up with Vernon at the earliest opportunity."

Dursleys

Unfortunately it never happened. Tired of being overshadowed by her sister, Petunia did not ask Lily to be a bridesmaid and Vernon refused to speak to James at their wedding reception, "but described him, within James’ earshot, as ‘some kind of amateur magician’".

The couples grew ever more apart as Petunia found solace with Vernon and their neat square house at number four, Privet Drive. She and Vernon chose not to attend Lily and James’ wedding.

"The very last piece of correspondence she received from Lily and James was the announcement of Harry’s birth, and after one contemptuous look, Petunia threw it in the bin."

Rowling said the names of her villainous muggle characters were inspired by people she wasn't fond of. "'Vernon' is simply a name I never much cared for. 'Petunia' is the name that I always gave unpleasant female characters in games of make believe I played with my sister Di."

Related

JK Rowling.jpg

J.K. Rowling responds to bodyshaming troll in the perfect way

rexfeatures_4627355l.jpg

20 fascinating facts about J.K. Rowling you probably never knew

ThinkstockPhotos-179679906.jpg

Reading through your ears; we pick the best audiobooks to listen to

553f163e-b22d-4911-a615-df2ea75a9248-873x1020.jpeg

Images from first ever illustrated Harry Potter book released

téléchargement-11.jpg

Rare behind-the-scenes photos from iconic films and TV

rexfeatures-953085a.jpg

Literature's most powerful and poignant letters

Comments

More

Inside Nepal’s forced marriage revolt

When love and tradition collide

by Corinne Redfern
23 Feb 2017

Demi Lovato on her mental health documentary: “I’m bipolar and proud”

The singer opened up about her new mental illness documentary to Ellen DeGeneres.

by Moya Crockett
23 Feb 2017

Are you ready for the UK’s national gin festival?

With over 100 gins to try, we imagine it will be quite the tonic…

by Kayleigh Dray
23 Feb 2017

The rising stars of food and drink making waves in 2017

Load up your palettes with purple food and Mexican spirit

by Amy Swales
23 Feb 2017

Stop what you're doing and try these Crème scotch eggs

They’re a chocoholic’s dream come true…

by Kayleigh Dray
23 Feb 2017

Why you’ll be seeing red X’s everywhere on Facebook today

It’s all to raise awareness of modern-day slavery.

by Moya Crockett
23 Feb 2017

Five ways to get on top of your decision anxiety

A hypnotherapist explains.

23 Feb 2017

Secret Life of Five Year Olds: The incredible life lessons we learned

From feminism to single-shaming

by Kayleigh Dray
22 Feb 2017

Are you ready for the ultimate gin and gingerbread masterclass?

Lessons take place in a luxury spa, if that helps to seal the deal…

by Kayleigh Dray
22 Feb 2017

This is officially the best place to live in the UK

And, surprise surprise, it isn’t London…

by Kayleigh Dray
22 Feb 2017