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"Harry got slowly out of bed and started looking for socks. He found a pair under his bed and, after pulling a spider off one of them, put them on. Harry was used to spiders, because the cupboard under the stairs was full of them, and that was where he slept."
— Harry's occupation of this cupboard in his childhood[src]

The Cupboard Under the Stairs[3] was Harry Potter's room in the Dursley household until he was given Dudley Dursley's old room, at 4 Privet Drive in Little Whinging, Surrey. The cupboard was described as small and dusty, with lots of spiders.[1]


Vernon Dursley: "Er — yes, Harry — about this cupboard. Your aunt and I have been thinking ... you’re really getting a bit big for it ... we think it might be nice if you moved into Dudley’s second bedroom."
Harry Potter: "Why?"
Vernon Dursley: "Don’t ask questions! Take this stuff upstairs, now."
— Harry being moved out of the cupboard[src]

When Harry's mother and father were killed in 1981, Harry was brought to his maternal aunt, Petunia Dursley.[4][1] She and her husband Vernon reluctantly took him in, but treated him poorly,[1] mostly because his parents had been magical and they feared that Harry would also turn out to be a "freak".[5] Instead of being given a real bedroom, Harry was kept in the cupboard under the stairs.[1]

In addition to sleeping in the cupboard and keeping his possessions, it also served as a place for the Dursleys to punish Harry every time he accidentally unleashed some magic. On one occasion, Aunt Petunia gave Harry an awful haircut, but his hair grew back quickly the next day, resulting in Harry getting a week in his cupboard.[1] After an incident involving levitation on to the school roof, Harry was locked in his cupboard for a longer period.[1] Uncle Vernon threatened Harry that he would be in the cupboard from June until Christmas,[1] but after the escape of the boa constrictor on Dudley's 11th birthday, Harry got a lengthy punishment in the cupboard until the summer holidays.[2]


Harry in his small cupboard

The Dursleys' fears about Harry being magical turned out to be correct, as Harry received an invitation to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in 1991. The first letter was addressed: Mr H Potter The Cupboard under the stairs. This prompted the Dursleys to allow Harry to move into what had previously been Dudley's second bedroom.[2] Despite the Dursleys' numerous attempts to prevent Harry from accepting the offer, he soon went to Hogwarts.[5] From 1992 onwards, Harry slept in Dudley's second bedroom and the cupboard was used by the Dursleys to store Harry's magical possessions while he was staying with them during the summer holidays,[6][7] until the Dursleys learned of Sirius Black's existence,[8] and no longer made Harry hide his things there.[9]

In 1997, as Harry left 4 Privet Drive for the last time, he took a look inside the cupboard, which was now being used to store stacked shoes and umbrellas.[10]


Behind the scenes[]

  • In Casual Vacancy, the first novel Rowling wrote after Deathly Hallows, social worker Kay Bawden mentions a case she worked on when she was still living in London, 'a child who had been locked in a cupboard for five days by his psychotic stepfather'.

Notes and references[]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 2 (The Vanishing Glass)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 3 (The Letters from No One)
  3. Pottermore
  4. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 1 (The Boy Who Lived)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 4 (The Keeper of the Keys)
  6. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 1 (The Worst Birthday)
  7. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 1 (Owl Post)
  8. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 22 (Owl Post Again)
  9. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 2 (The Scar)
  10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 4 (The Seven Potters)