Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

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


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."


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."


JK Rowling.jpg

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


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


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


Images from first ever illustrated Harry Potter book released


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


Literature's most powerful and poignant letters



Bake Off’s Jane and Candice debut hair makeovers ahead of road trip

So Jane and Candice look nothing like this anymore…

by Kayleigh Dray
28 Oct 2016

Heathers fans, the TV reboot has finally unveiled its new cast

So… who’s playing Heather?

by Kayleigh Dray
28 Oct 2016

The easy bake that makes you look like an expert

Low on effort, high on style

by Amy Swales
27 Oct 2016

This badass Bake Off star has shaved off all her hair

And she looks phenomenal

by Kayleigh Dray
27 Oct 2016

This incredible ‘hangover bar’ is what mornings after were made for

Massages, smoothies and trash TV.

by Moya Crockett
27 Oct 2016

Revealed: the most profitable second languages that we need to learn

Time to go back to school...

by Kayleigh Dray
27 Oct 2016

The two little words you should never use when asking for a raise

Don’t blow it.

by Moya Crockett
27 Oct 2016

The one word you should never say to your partner

It can ruin your relationship, experts have revealed

by Kayleigh Dray
26 Oct 2016

Five orgasm myths busted and how to have better sex

Finding the fireworks

by The Stylist web team
26 Oct 2016

Ryanair are having a £2 seat sale to over 170 holiday destinations

But there’s a catch…

by Kayleigh Dray
26 Oct 2016