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"There's a story in my family that a phoenix will come to any Dumbledore who is in desperate need."
— Albus Dumbledore[src]

Dumbledore was the surname of an English wizarding family, famous for the achievements or notoriety of various members, particularly Albus Dumbledore.[4] The family had both magical and Muggle heritage.[5]


The Dumbledores originally lived in Mould-on-the-Wold, but moved to Godric's Hollow after Percival Dumbledore was sent to Azkaban for attacking Muggles; he did not inform the authorities that his actions were in retaliation for the Muggles' traumatising attack on his daughter, Ariana.[6] The Dumbledores were the subject of much gossip, since Ariana was rarely seen, and a fist fight broke out at her funeral between her older brothers.[7] The family was forced to hide Ariana as the traumatising attack had caused her to become an Obscurial, unable to control her suppressed powers.[2]

However, Albus Dumbledore soon became famous for his many accomplishments, including discovering the twelve uses of dragon's blood, defeating the Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald, and eventually becoming Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,[4] and leading the Order of the Phoenix.[8] In 1899, a duel between the Dumbledore brothers and Grindelwald resulted in Ariana's death.

In around 1901, Aberforth had a son, Aurelius Dumbledore with a girl that he fell in love with in Godric's Hollow. However, the girl was "sent away," presumably by her parents, either before or after Aurelius's birth, although Albus was aware of rumours that there was a child. Due to the strained relationship between the Dumbledore brothers, Aberforth neither confided in nor sought Albus' help.[2] Aurelius was eventually sent away to America with an aunt, where he was adopted by Mary Lou Barebone and given a new name, Credence Barebone.[2]

In 1927, Gellert Grindelwald told Aurelius at Nurmengard Castle that he was in fact a member of the Dumbledore family, and that his real name was in fact "Aurelius Dumbledore" and that he was Albus's brother.[1] He also told Aurelius that the phoenix would come to any Dumbledore in need.[1] Albus Dumbledore himself owned a pet phoenix, called Fawkes.[9]

In 1932, Aurelius attacked Albus and accused him of abandoning him, revealing to Albus that he was supposedly a member of the Dumbledore family. During a duel between the two, Aurelius's phoenix spread ashes on his body and Albus realised that Aurelius really was a Dumbledore and that he was actually Aberforth's long-lost son. However, by this point, Aurelius was dying due to his nature as an Obscurial slowly poisoning him, something that Albus sadly recognised from his experiences with Ariana. After foiling Grindelwald's plans at the walk of the Qilin, Aurelius, in poor health, accepted his father's offer to come home with him.[2]

Phoenix legend[]

"They say my great-great-grandfather had one, but that it took flight when he died, never to return."
Albus Dumbledore description Mr Dumbledore's story about him and his phoenix[src]

The Dumbledore family had a story that a phoenix would randomly appear to them if they were 'desperate need' of help. It is unknown how old this story was or how it originated, though it is likely it was a very ancient story as Gellert Grindelwald described it as a legend. The oldest known member to gain possession of a phoenix was Albus Dumbledore's great-great-grandfather and once he passed, the phoenix took flight and never returned.[10]

In 1899, Ariana Dumbledore had formed her Obscurus and she started dying, causing a phoenix to appear by her side in her dire need.[11]

Credence Gellert Nurmengard

Gellert Grindelwald presenting Aurelius's full-grown phoenix to him

In 1927, Aurelius Dumbledore came across a bird that he later learned was a phoenix. When he was stressed, angry and in pain, the phoenix would go to him.[12] In 1932, Aurelius was dying due to his Obscurial nature, which was why the phoenix had appeared to him, which Albus observed and understood.[2]

Fawkes and Dumbledore in the Headmaster's Office COSF

Albus and Fawkes, his phoenix

Dumbledore and Fawkes met sometime before 1938,[13] and Fawkes lived with and faithfully served the famed wizard for at least 59 years.[14] As part of his efforts to help Harry in his quest to defeat and kill the Dark wizard Voldemort and his followers, Dumbledore called Fawkes into battle whenever needed. Throughout the years, there were several instances where Fawkes was extremely helpful.

Known members[]

Dumbledore family tree[]

two generations

(d. 1890)

(c. 18511899)
(fl. late 1800s)


(b. 1883/1884)

(fl. 1901)
Aurelius Dumbledore's

( -1927)


(b. c. 1900)


Dumbledore is an old English word for "bumblebee". J. K. Rowling stated she imagined Albus Dumbledore flitting about Hogwarts Castle humming to himself, as a 'bee' would do.

Behind the scenes[]

Dumbledore Family crest

Black and white version of the Dumbledore family crest

  • Honoria was Albus Dumbledore's unmarried aunt. Her exact relationship to the family is unknown.
  • Jany Temime has claimed that the Dumbledores are Scottish.[20]
  • The description of Kendra is that she looked Native American, which might mean the Dumbledores were of Native American heritage.
  • The real-world Dumbledore family name can be traced back to Gloucestershire, England around the early 13th century.[21]
  • In 2005, Rowling stated in an interview that questions regarding Dumbledore's family "would be a profitable line of inquiry, more profitable than sweet wrappers," a reference to wild fan theories regarding the sweet wrappers given to Neville Longbottom by his mother, Alice Longbottom. When asked, however, if that should be talked about a bit more, she shut down any further mysteries, guarding the important revelations regarding the family that would be revealed in the final title of the series.[22]
  • Albus Dumbledore states in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald that the Dumbledore family have an bloodline inherited affinity with great magical birds, which include thunderbirds and phoenixes. Albus knew of the events surrounding the thunderbird Frank, who Newt was with in the first Fantastic Beasts film, despite being on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Also, Albus stated that his great-great-grandfather had a phoenix who left when his great-great-grandfather died, and never returned, which also happened to Fawkes when Albus died in June 1997. Meaning, once a Dumbledore dies, the phoenix leaves forever. In Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, Albus Dumbledore further states that the reason why Aurelius has a phoenix is because he was dying from his Obscurial nature poisoning him to death, and that he knows this because he saw the same thing when Ariana was dying from her Obscurial nature poisoning her to death.
  • In Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, we learn a few lovely and intricate things about this family.[23]


Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original Screenplay, Scene 120
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore
  3. Pottermore - Introduction for Gryffindors (transcription available here)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 6 (The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters)
  5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 8 (The Wedding)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 28 (The Missing Mirror)
  7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 18 (The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore)
  8. 8.0 8.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 4 (Number Twelve Grimmauld Place)
  9. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 12 (The Polyjuice Potion)
  10. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original Screenplay, Scene 28
  11. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore - The Complete Screenplay - Albus tells Newton Scamander: "Phoenix ash, the bird comes to him because he's dying, Newt. I know the signs...you see, my sister was an Obscurial".
  12. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original Screenplay, Scene 120
  13. Dumbledore says that Ollivander wrote to him when Harry's wand was purchased; if Dumbledore did not have Fawkes before 1938, he would not know about the two feathers being in the wands, so Fawkes and Dumbledore must have met and bonded before 1938.
  14. There are 59 years between 1938, by which point Fawkes was already with Dumbledore, and 1997, in which Dumbledore died, so they were together for at least 58 years.
  15. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original Screenplay
  16. The Tales of Beedle the Bard
  17. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 4 (The Keeper of the Keys)
  18. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 24 (Rita Skeeter's Scoop)
  19. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 9 (The Woes of Mrs Weasley)
  20. Chicago Scifi - "You're Aberforth"
  21. "Dumbledore Family Crest and Name History" at houseofnames.com
  22. Spartz, Anelli, Melissa an Emerson (16 July, 2005). The Leaky Cauldron and Mugglenet interview Joanne Kathleen Rowling: Part Three. Accio Quote. Retrieved on 11 June 2024.
  23. The Empire Film Podcast, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald Spoiler Special (ft. David Yates and David Heyman)