- "I stole the diadem. I sought to make myself cleverer, more important than my mother. I ran away with it. My mother, they say, never admitted that the diadem was gone, but pretended that she had it still. She concealed her loss, my dreadful betrayal, even from the other founders of Hogwarts."
- —Helena confiding in Harry Potter[src]
Helena Ravenclaw (c. late 10th century – early 11th century) also known as the Grey Lady, was a witch and Rowena Ravenclaw's daughter. She attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and was Sorted into Ravenclaw house.
At some point after starting her education, Helena stole her mother's diadem and ran away to Albania. Her mother became fatally ill and hoping to see her daughter one last time, sent the Bloody Baron, a man who harboured an unrequited love for Helena, to find her. In a fit of rage, the Baron murdered her when she refused to return with him, before he committed suicide out of regret for what he had done.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Physical appearance
- 3 Personality and traits
- 4 Etymology
- 5 Behind the scenes
- 6 Gallery
- 7 Appearances
- 8 Notes and references
- "When I lived, I was Helena Ravenclaw."
- —Helena Ravenclaw relays some of her past[src]
At the age of eleven, Helena became part of one of the first generations of students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in Scotland, which, at that time, was still being run by its original Founders. She was Sorted into Ravenclaw House and was educated in the magical arts by her mother during her time there.
Around this time, Helena met the Baron of Slytherin House. He fell in love with her, though she always rejected his advances. She never found true love, as she never found anyone that lived up to her high standards.
- "I stole the diadem. I sought to make myself cleverer, more important than my mother. I ran away with it. My mother, they say, never admitted that the diadem was gone, but pretended that she had it still. She concealed her loss, my dreadful betrayal, even from the other founders of Hogwarts. Then my mother fell ill — fatally ill. In spite of my perfidy, she was desperate to see me one more time. She sent a man who had long loved me, though I spurned his advances, to find me. She knew that he would not rest until he had done so."
- —Helena recalls her theft of her mother's diadem[src]
Envious of her mother's cleverness and importance, Helena, still during her school years, stole her diadem from jealousy and ran away, leaving Scotland forever and believing the item could help her become wise enough to surpass her mother. Ashamed of her daughter's betrayal, Rowena never admitted her daughter's treachery, hiding the fact that the diadem was no longer in her possession.
Having fallen fatally ill and on her deathbed, Rowena desperately asked the Baron, who was deeply in love with Helena, to find her daughter and bring her back to her so that she could see her one last time. Helena tried to hide from him, but the Baron managed to track her down to a forest in Albania. When she heard the Baron blundering through the forest toward her, she hid the diadem inside a hollow tree.
Helena refused to come with the Baron and rejected his affections again. Furious at her refusal and envious of her freedom, he stabbed her in a fit of rage with a knife. After seeing what he had done, remorseful of his action, he stabbed himself to death.
Helena, now known as the "Grey Lady", returned from the dead as a ghost along with the Baron. They both returned to Hogwarts Castle, where they became the house ghosts of their former Houses, Ravenclaw and Slytherin. The Baron has been remorseful of his actions ever since, and carries heavy chains as a sign of penance. Nobody else seems to know why both of them died nor why the Baron is covered in blood, not even the other Hogwarts ghosts.
According to Ravenclaw Prefect Robert Hilliard, while the most of the school sees the Grey Lady as a timid ghost, she maintains a good relationship with members of her own House and is particularly useful if they were lost, or had mislaid something.
- Harry Potter: "You've already told someone this story, haven't you? Another student?"
- Helena: "I had... no idea... He was... flattering. He seemed to... understand... to sympathise...."
- — How Tom Riddle managed to wheedle the location of the Lost Diadem[src]
During the last few years of Tom Riddle's education at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he became interested in the subject of Horcruxes. Planning to create some in an effort to become immortal, Riddle favoured objects worthy of the honour. He had apparently heard of Ravenclaw's diadem and questioned the Grey Lady about it. Unaware of Riddle's true intentions, the Grey Lady found him flattering and understanding, revealing the secret about the magical item.
When searching for information on Olivia Green, a previous student in Ravenclaw, Jacob's sibling sought her out, accompanied by several Ravenclaws (Tulip Karasu, Andre Egwu, and Talbott Winger). Tulip mentioned she once wept when Tulip talked about playing a trick on her own mother.
1991–1992 school year
- "They passed the ghost of a tall witch gliding in the opposite direction, but saw no one else."
On 1 September, 1991, the Grey Lady attended the Start-of-Term Feast. She arrived accompanied by the ghost of the Cavalier and glided in through the ceiling near the Slytherin table. She stayed by the Ravenclaws during the Sorting ceremony and watched as the new students were placed in their respective houses.
On 4 June, 1992, the Grey Lady seemed to have attended an advanced-students' Transfiguration class, and sat taking notes on one of the desks after the class was dismissed while Professor McGonagall wrote some notes of her own on her desk.
1992–1993 school year
- "It was an incredible sight. The dungeon was full of hundreds of pearly-white, translucent people, mostly drifting around a crowded dance floor, waltzing to the dreadful, quavering sound of thirty musical saws, played by an orchestra on a raised, black-draped platform. A chandelier overhead blazed midnight-blue with a thousand more black candles. Their breath rose in a mist before them; it was like stepping into a freezer."
- —The Deathday Party of Sir Nicolas that Helena attended[src]
The Grey Lady attended Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington's five-hundredth Deathday Party. A party that featured numerous guests such as, the Headless Hunt and Moaning Myrtle. Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley were in attendance as well, the only living guests. The Grey Lady was seen talking to another ghost near a table of mouldy food. Other house ghosts were there as well. The Fat Friar was seen talking to a man talking to a knight with an arrow sticking out of his forehead and the Bloody Baron, whom the other guests steered clear of.
On the evening of 14 February, the Grey Lady sat in the common room of Gryffindor Tower at a table reading a book. She was dismissed by Harry, who was seated near her while investigating Tom Riddle's diary. The Grey Lady presumably found another part of the castle in which to read her book. It can be assumed that she attended the End-of Term Feast, during which the students and staff welcomed Hagrid back from his short stint in Azkaban.
1995–1996 school year
By 1995, there was a tetraptych depicting Helena Ravenclaw hung in the hallway outside the Hogwarts Library. The Grey Lady could be usually seen strolling along this corridor this school year. It is unknown if Helena helped the staff and students in their attempts to make Dolores Umbridge's position as the Defence Against the Dark Arts professor and later Hogwarts High Inquisitor increasingly difficult. It is also unknown if she believed Harry Potter's claims of Lord Voldemort's return.
1996–1997 school year
- "An extraordinary assortment of people had already settled into half of the chairs: shabby and smart, old and young.... The castle ghosts were there too, barely visible in the bright sunlight, discernible only when they moved, shimmering insubstantially in the gleaming air."
- —Description of Albus Dumbledore's funeral[src]
On 1 March, 1997, after Ronald Weasley was in the Hospital Wing after drinking poisoned mead, Harry Potter, Rubeus Hagrid and Hermione Granger passed by the Grey Lady, who "drifted serenely past" while talking about the Board of Governors and the closure of the school given the recent attacks on Katie Bell and Ronald Weasley.
Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts, was killed at the hands of Severus Snape in the former's plan on 30 June, 1997. The Hogwarts ghosts were known attendees of his funeral in early July; this likely included Helena Ravenclaw.
1997–1998 school year
- Helena: "You are hardly the first student to covet the diadem. Generations of students have badgered me —"
- Harry Potter: "This isn't about trying to get better marks! It's about Voldemort — defeating Voldemort — or aren't you interested in that?"
- — Harry asks for help concerning one of Lord Voldemort's Horcruxes[src]
On 1 August, 1997 the Ministry of Magic was taken over by Lord Voldemort's Death Eaters. By 1 September, 1997, Severus Snape was made Headmaster of Hogwarts while his fellow Death Eaters, Alecto Carrow and Amycus Carrow became the Muggle Studies and Defence Against the Dark Arts teachers respectively. The Carrows were put in charge of all discipline and punishments, which were violent. It is likely that the Grey Lady, as did the Heads of House, tried to protect the pupils from Alecto and Amycus.
On 2 May, 1998, the Battle of Hogwarts ensued after Lord Voldemort learned Harry Potter was in the premises. The ghosts, including the Grey Lady, attended a gathering in the Great Hall, in which Professor McGonagall gave instructions on evacuation of underage students and Kingsley Shacklebolt organised the participants for battle.
Harry Potter, needing information on the whereabouts of Rowena Ravenclaw's Diadem, asked Nick who the ghost of Ravenclaw Tower was. Although he was initially slightly hurt that Harry needed another ghost rather than him, he pointed her out to him. She was initially reluctant to convey any information on the diadem's whereabouts, thinking that Harry sought the diadem in a desperate (and vain) attempt to sharpen his wits and thus increase his chances of defeating Lord Voldemort. However, letting it slip that she was Ravenclaw's daughter and learning that the diadem could be effectively used in Voldemort's destruction, she conveyed to Harry all necessary information for him to be able to figure out where Voldemort had hidden the diadem, therefore destroying nearly all the Horcruxes.
After the death of Lord Voldemort and the end of the entire Second Wizarding War, the Grey Lady might have joined the party alongside other ghosts to celebrate Voldemort's demise. As for Harry himself, he is presumed to keep the Grey Lady's true identity as a secret.
- "Harry supposed that she was beautiful, with her waist-length hair and floor-length cloak, but she also looked haughty and proud."
- —Description of Helena's physical apperance[src]
Helena was a tall witch with waist-length hair. Harry Potter "supposed that she was beautiful," but had trouble seeing through her proud and haughty appearance. She carried herself in a serene manner. Helena wore a floor-length cloak.
Personality and traits
A highly intellectual young lady, Helena was a scholarly, literary, and cultured woman. Close to one-thousand years after her death, she still maintained her curiosity, enjoying attending Transfiguration classes and reading.
Helena had high standards and never succeeded in love due to this. Despite her evasive attitude, she had a thirst for importance and notability, therefore being very envious of her mother. Despite this, Helena was evasive, as she didn't appear to like telling others about her past, not even that she was Rowena Ravenclaw's daughter. She was remorseful of what she had done, but also extremely angry at the defilement of the artefact and her mother's legacy, referring to the corrupted diadem as an abomination.
Helena was serene yet somewhat taciturn. She had a preference to secluded places: she hid in a forest when she ran away from her mother, hung around in deserted classrooms, and chose a deserted Gryffindor Tower as a reading spot. Though she claimed that generations of students had accosted her for the whereabouts of her mother's diadem and that she had dismissed them all, Helena was unable to resist the charming Tom Riddle and told him where it was, perhaps indicating a weakness or a desire to be loved. This led to the diadem being turned into a Horcrux, allowing Riddle to return and wreak havoc on the wizarding world.
- "Helena" is a Latinate form of Helen, derived from Greek ‘ελενη (eleni) which means "torch" or "corposant" (source of light). Eleni was the name of a saint in the Greek Orthodox Church, and as such there are many girls and women in Greece with that name.
- Many Grey Lady ghosts are known in various locations throughout England and Wales.
Behind the scenes
- Nina Young was the actress who portrayed The Grey Lady in the film adaptations of Philosopher's Stone and Chamber of Secrets. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 she is portrayed by actress Kelly Macdonald. Kate Winslet was reportedly offered the role, but her agent turned it down.
- Kelly Macdonald and Shirley Henderson, who played another Hogwarts ghost from Ravenclaw, Myrtle Warren, played sisters in the film Intermission.
- Unlike other ghosts in the films, Helena is able to turn into a wispy ball of light. Also, while other ghosts are portrayed as blue or white, she is grey instead and shadows could be cast on her. She is also one of the few ghosts seen walking on the ground rather that simply flying.
- The Grey Lady makes a notable appearance in the deleted scenes portion of the Chamber of Secrets DVD (when Harry is finding the secret of Tom Riddle's Diary, he asks her to leave, wanting privacy). It seems rather strange that the Ravenclaw ghost is allowed in Gryffindor Tower. However, being a ghost, she could go everywhere.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 and LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7, Helena has a friendship with Luna Lovegood which is not mentioned in the books.
- In the last film, unlike the book, she remarks to Harry when asking about the Diadem that both he and Tom Riddle are strangely similar in some aspects of their personality.
- While working on the earliest drafts for the books, J. K. Rowling had originally named her the "Whispering Lady".
- There are a number of Grey Lady ghost stories of Great Britain, and it is thought that they might have been an inspiration for this character.
- The Grey Lady is the only house ghost whose nickname is not alliterative. This is perhaps a little ironic, as most Ravenclaws have alliterative names.
- Helena was the only house ghost whose name, even nickname, was not revealed in the first book, though she appears in it.
- In the last film, when Harry addresses her as the Grey Lady, she mentions that she doesn't listen to that name, perhaps indicating she doesn't like it. In the books and Pottermore, both Nicholas de Mimsy Porpington and Robert Hillard introduced her to others as the Grey Lady, though not in her presence.
- J. K. Rowling has stated that The Grey Lady appeared very briefly in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. It is believed this passage refers to her: "Harry and Ron passed the ghost of a tall witch gliding in the opposite direction, but saw no one else". No other unexplained mention of a ghost is found in the book, so it can be presumed this is the Grey Lady. Likewise, in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, a reference of a "ghost of a long-haired woman [who] drifted serenely past" fits almost perfectly with the description of the Grey Lady in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
- A ghost woman with long brown hair passes through the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom during Quirinus Quirrell's Knockback Jinx lesson in the PC version of the first video game, which is possibly the Grey Lady.
- In the PC version game of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the Grey Lady appears in the Clock Tower.
- In the Harry Potter books, Helena has black hair but in the films, she has more of a dark brown.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First appearance) (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film) (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game) (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film) (Appears as a ghost or a spirit) (Deleted scene)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (video game) (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game) (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Appears as a ghost or a spirit) (First identified as Helena Ravenclaw)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (video game) (Mentioned only)
- Pottermore (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Wizarding World (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter Film Wizardry (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter: Wizards Unite (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter: Magic Awakened (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
Notes and references
- Given Hogwarts was founded in around 993 A.D. and that Helena attended it within Rowena Ravenclaw's lifetime, she must have been eleven by or after the school's founding. So, the earliest date she could have possibly been born is 982.
- According to Pottermore - Secret Lives of the Hogwarts Ghosts: direct quote: "A few years into her magical education, she betrayed her mother by stealing the diadem – believing it could make her powerful – and running away from Hogwarts. The betrayal embarrassed Rowena, who told no one that the diadem was missing. On her death bed, however, she did send a young man to find Helena, so she could see her daughter for one last time." Few implies at least three years and confirms Helena was still at school
- Helena's mother, Rowena Ravenclaw, was a witch. Therefore, Helena could not have been anything less than a half-blood.
- "World Exclusive Interview with J K Rowling," South West News Service, 8 July 2000 - "Hogwarts just serves Britain and Ireland."
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 31 (The Battle of Hogwarts)
- "If a teacher is head of a house, can we assume that they were sorted into those houses when they were students at Hogwarts? Is that also true for the house ghosts? So was Snape a Slytherin?" on J. K. Rowling's official site, available via Internet Archive
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 7 (The Sorting Hat)
- This information was told by J.K. Rowling to Nina Young, who plays the Grey Lady in the first film. Nina Young later relayed this information to a fan in response to a fan letter (see the letter here)
- According to Pottermore - Secret Lives of the Hogwarts Ghosts: direct quote: "A few years into her magical education, she betrayed her mother by stealing the diadem – believing it could make her powerful – and running away from Hogwarts. The betrayal embarrassed Rowena, who told no one that the diadem was missing. On her death bed, however, she did send a young man to find Helena, so she could see her daughter for one last time." Few implies at least three years and confirms Helena was still at school.
- Pottermore introduction for Ravenclaws (transcription available here)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 23 (Horcruxes)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film) - Chapter 13 (Nick and Other Residents)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game) - GBC version
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film) - Chapter 15 (New Seeker)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 12 (The Mirror of Erised)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film) - Chapter 26 (Up to Something)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film) - Deleted Scenes
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 19 (Elf Tails)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 27 (The Lightning-Struck Tower)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 30 (The White Tomb)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 8 (The Wedding)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 12 (Magic is Might)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 29 (The Lost Diadem)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 30 (The Sacking of Severus Snape)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 33 (The Prince's Tale)
- "Kelly Macdonald to play Helena Ravenclaw in Deathly Hallows - Part 2" on Mugglenet
- Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Hogwarts Ghosts" at Wizarding World