Dudley Dursley, the obese and spoilt cousin of Harry Potter, turned 35 on June 23. In honor of this event, author JK Rowling presented her fans with a background story of Dudley’s parents, Vernon and Petunia, who forced Harry to live in a cupboard under the stairs of their house after his parents were killed by Voldemort.
According to TIME, Rowling includes the origin of the first and last names of Vernon and Petunia, and the relationship they shared with Harry’s parents, James and Lily (who was also Petunia’s sister).
The Dursleys, who lived at 4 Privet Drive in Little Whinging, Surrey, tormented Harry by treating him with contempt and disregard. He was denied any affection from his foster family.
— Pottermore (@pottermore) June 23, 2015
Rowling reveals on the Pottermore website that Harry’s fate was pretty much set in stone even before he was born. When Petunia and Vernon got engaged, Petunia was wary what her fiancé would think of Lily, who was in her final year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry at the time. When the two couples met each other for the first time, “Vernon tried to patronise James, asking what car he drove.” To this, James “described his racing broom.”
The meeting came to an abrupt end when the Dursleys stormed out of the restaurant after Vernon felt he was being made fun of when James tried to explain Gringotts Wizarding Bank, the only bank for wizards.
Furthermore, “Petunia did not want Lily as a bridesmaid, because she was tired of being overshadowed,” Rowling writes. She and Vernon didn’t attend her sister’s and James’ wedding. The two couples spoke for the last time when Harry’s birth was announced.
Harry’s resemblance to James was the reason for Vernon’s mistreatment, “like Severus Snape’s,” of Harry.
The Telegraph reported that Rowling had thought of vindicating Petunia in the final book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” The author says that Petunia – whose hostility towards her nephew spawned from her jealousy of the magical talent that her “freak” sister possessed, coupled with the fact that she was denied admission into Hogwarts – had to stay true to her character; and so didn’t she say anything to Harry during their final goodbye.
Regarding the names, Rowling wrote, “Vernon’ is simply a name I never much cared for.”
“Petunia,” on the other hand, was a name she “gave unpleasant characters in games of make believe.”
Rowling borrowed the family name from the Gloucestershire town of Dursley, writing that, “I have never visited Dursley, and I am sure it is full of charming people.”
Users will have to go to the Cupboard under the Stairs on the Pottermore website to read the latest updates.
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