Witchcraft & Wizardry
Though the final Harry Potter book was published more than seven years ago, J.K. Rowling has kept fans happy with a string of short stories that elaborate on the magical world she created. Previous installments have tackled the history of Quidditch and revealed the fates of Ron, Harry, and Hermione — and today's Halloween-themed story delves into the life of the villainous Dolores Umbridge.
"Dolores Jane Umbridge was the eldest child and only daughter of Orford Umbridge, a wizard, and Ellen Cracknell, a Muggle, who also had a Squib son," writes Rowling. "Dolores' parents were unhappily married, and Dolores secretly despised both of them."
As she grew older and harder, and rose higher within the Ministry, 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). As the Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge became increasingly anxious and paranoid that Albus Dumbledore had ambitions to supersede him, Dolores managed to claw her way to the very heart of power, by stoking both Fudge's vanity and his fears, and presenting herself as one of the few he could trust.
Dolores's appointment as Inquisitor at Hogwarts gave full scope, for the first time in her life, for her prejudices and her cruelty. She had not enjoyed her time at school, where she had been overlooked for all positions of responsibility, and she relished the chance to return and wield power over those who had not (as she saw it) given her her due. [Today.com]
In a post-script, Rowling reveals that she drew partial inspiration for Dolores Umbridge from an actual teacher she once studied under, whom she "disliked intensely on sight."