At least some content in this article is derived from information featured in Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery. Spoilers will be present within the article.
- "A warning: If you rip, tear, shred, bend, fold, deface, disfigure, smear, smudge, throw, drop, or in any other manner damage, mistreat, or show lack of respect towards this book, the consequences will be as awful as it is within my power to make them."
- —Pince's note in a library book[src]
Madam Irma Pince (fl. 1971 – 1997) was a witch and librarian at the library of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. She was highly possessive and protective of the school's books and was deemed highly unpleasant by most of the student body.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Physical description
- 3 Personality and traits
- 4 Magical abilities and skills
- 5 Possessions
- 6 Relationships
- 7 Author's notes
- 8 Etymology
- 9 Behind the scenes
- 10 Appearances
- 11 Notes and references
Irma Pince was born a witch sometime in or prior to 1974 and presumably purchased her wand prior to attending school. She likely attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and proceeded with her studies into the magic arts until at least her sixth year, since she could perform intricate non-verbal magic, was able to place powerful and unpleasant jinxes and hexes on objects and could effectively remove a curse from a student by administering the correct counter-curse.
Career at Hogwarts
At some point in or before 1974, Pince took up the position of Librarian at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. She was greatly disliked by the students for being very strict and unhelpful in finding books for them. An example of her strictness was the fact that she would not allow food in the library, for fear that the books would be damaged, and also disallowed talking, laughing, whispering, sneezing, scurrying, or any other behaviour that might seem at all suspicious in any way. She was also known to place odd jinxes and hexes on library books for their protection; for instance, one copy of Theories of Transubstantial Transfiguration, on top of the usual library book spells, was jinxed to hit the reader around the head, should he ever doodle on it. Pince cleaned the dust on the shelves of the library manually, with a feather duster she brandished at students whenever they looked suspicious.
At some point, the Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, visited the library with the goal of publishing Quidditch Through the Ages for Muggles to raise money. However, Madam Pince was extremely reluctant to let the book leave the confines of the library, as well as the wizarding world, and Dumbledore had to pry each of her fingers from the spine to take it. Once he had taken the book, she wrote a warning, threatening the readers that the consequences of mistreating the book would be as horrible as it was in her power to make them.
During this school year, Madam Pince was entrusted by Albus Dumbledore to organise the Valentine's Day Ball. She initially intended the ball to be as simple as possible due to her loneliness, which made the students worried. She was talking to Argus Filch about arrangements for the ball when Jacob's sibling passed by. Knowing that Pince and Filch might have romantic interests in one another, Jacob's sibling told Filch she loved gorgeous settings such as flowers, music and refreshments, and Filch in turn convinced Pince to plan the ball in this way. Pince and Filch later attended and enjoyed the ball together.
Madam Pince was still librarian by the time Harry Potter had arrived at the school. As Harry, along with his friends Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger, searched the library for a book on Nicolas Flamel, Pince was deemed an obstacle, as she could warn Snape of their activities. Once, in December 1991, she saw Harry edging towards the Restricted Section of the Library and asked him what he was looking for. When he answered "nothing" for fear of her suspicion, she sent him out.
- "Madam Pince held the note up to the light, as though determined to detect a forgery, but it passed the test."
- —Madam Pince examining Hermione Granger's note[src]
A while later, Madam Pince overlooked the students at Study Hall and was seen talking to a female student. It is unknown if this was a regular event that she chaperoned, or if it was a one-time event.
Later, Hermione Granger arrived at the library with a note written by the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher allowing her to attain Moste Potente Potions from the Restricted Section. She gave it to Madam Pince, albeit reluctantly, wanting to keep Lockhart's autograph, and Pince did a very long observation of the note, checking for forgery. She then went into the Restricted Section and handed over the book, despite still being very suspicious.
Madam Pince attended the End-of-Term Feast at the end of the school year, in which she sat by the Potions Master, Severus Snape. She celebrated the downfall of Salazar Slytherin's Basilisk and the departure of the less-than-liked Gilderoy Lockhart.
During the next school year, Madam Pince kept her usual routine of prowling around the library, breathing down the necks of those touching the books. Early in 1995, Dolores Umbridge was made High Inquisitor of Hogwarts.
During the Easter holidays, she was seen stamping out a pile of books for a frantic-looking Hannah Abbott, who was presumably revising for her O.W.L.s. That day, she found Ginny Weasley and Harry Potter with chocolate in the library and bewitched their belongings to chase them out, also whacking them over the head for good measure.
- Madam Pince: "The library is now closed. Mind that you return anything you have borrowed to the correct — what have you been doing to that book, you depraved boy?'"
- Harry Potter: "It isn't the library's, it's mine!"
- Madam Pince: "Despoiled! Desecrated! Befouled!"
- Harry Potter: "It's just a book that's been written on!"
- — Madam Pince's horrified reaction upon seeing Severus Snape's copy of Advanced Potion-Making[src]
Madam Pince remained at the library for the next school year, prowling around the bookshelves and protecting her tomes.
At eight o'clock in the evening one day, Pince closed the library and told all of the students in there to return the books back to their shelves and to leave. When she told Harry and Hermione to leave, she noticed the Half-Blood Prince's highly graffitied copy of Advanced Potion-Making. Enraged, she screamed about how the book was "despoiled" and "befouled", and looked as if she may have a seizure.
After the death of Albus Dumbledore, Madam Pince was seen prior to the funeral in the Entrance Hall, standing by Argus Filch and wearing a thick black veil that fell to her knees. It is likely she attended the funeral, as she was one of Dumbledore's colleagues.
The following year, Severus Snape was appointed Headmaster along with fellow Death Eaters Amycus and Alecto Carrow as professors of Dark Arts and Muggle Studies at Hogwarts. The Carrows imposed a reign of terror in Hogwarts as they enforced cruel punishments on students. Madam Pince, like the other members of the staff, protected the students from the Carrows. On 2 May, 1998, Hogwarts was attacked by the Death Eaters and Lord Voldemort's forces and the faculty rose to defend it, Madam Pince most likely included. She survived the battle and continued to work for the school.
Having diligently carried out the duties of her office for more than twenty years following the battle, Madam Pince was still working at Hogwarts during the 2010s. During the 2019–2020 school year, a member from the then recently established Statute of Secrecy Task Force pursuing a career as a Professor eventually joined their faculty. When said staff member later sought to improve their ability to fend off the Dark Forces, Madam Pince would repeatably grant them access to the Restricted Section of the library so they could peruse its shelves for books on the subject. She was later handed a hand-written manuscript by the famous Catullus Spangle by the newcomer, which presumably found its allotted place in the library thereafter, and she would sometimes recommend them certain reading material.
- "They waited, and not a moment later the vulturelike countenance of Madam Pince appeared around the corner, her sunken cheeks, her skin like parchment, and her long hooked nose... "
One of Madam Pince's most striking physical attributes was looking like an underfed vulture. Her skin was parchment-like, her cheeks were sunken, her face was shrivelled and she had an unflattering hooked-nose. She was also very thin and irritable-looking.
Personality and traits
- "WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?"
- —Pince catches students eating in the library[src]
Madam Pince was a short-tempered woman who was overly protective of the Library's books and, as such, quite unpopular among students. She was mainly seen by students as an obstacle to research, but she was professional nonetheless, helping students to check out books and by finding information for them. While she did not appear to be overtly fond of the students, she did not, unlike Argus Filch, appear to outright dislike them either, being strict but by no means demeaning or unpleasant, and only got genuinely angry when they failed to respect the sanctity of the school library by eating there, or by mistreating the books. Her protective nature of books did not just apply to the library's, as she looked deranged when she saw Harry's own textbook covered with self-written notes. Likewise, she would not permit students eating in the library, and chased out anyone who violated this rule.
While stern bordering on the extreme, she was fully capable of appreciating students who did respect the rules, behaved prudently and showed an interest in learning and reading. When she overheard Jacob's sibling confide in his friends while visiting the library that the attack on James and Lily Potter was one of the reasons that Boggarts turned into Lord Voldemort, Madam Pince walked over and explained that she remembered them fondly, and told how they often used to sit on a specific spot in the library and study together, before awarding 20 points for helping to keep the memory of the Potters alive by talking about them. She later informed said student that she had also quite liked Jacob himself when he was a student, as he had always been well-behaved in the library and treated the books with respect.
Magical abilities and skills
- "And whipping out her wand, she caused Harry’s books, bag, and ink bottle to chase him and Ginny from the library, whacking them repeatedly over the head as they ran."
- —Madam Pince jinxing Harry Potter's belongings[src]
- Dark Arts: Madam Pince was skilled with jinxing and hexing books with nasty spells to make sure they were not mistreated, at least not without punishment for doing so. She also jinxed Harry's belongings to chase him and Ginny out of the library.
- Defence Against the Dark Arts: Madam Pince was able to lift the Curse of the Bogies with ease, showing her to have been skilled with the casting of counter-curses. It is also highly likely that, as a member of Hogwarts staff, that she participated and fought in the Battle of Hogwarts on 2 May, 1998, meaning she was likely a reasonably fierce and competent duellist.
- Non-verbal magic: Madam Pince was also adept in casting intricate non-verbal magic with her wand. One example was when she saw Harry and Ginny with chocolate in the library, she jinxed their possessions to chase them out without any mention of a spoken incantation. This implies she was a highly skilled and powerful witch, as casting non-verbal spells is extremely difficult and advanced.
- Charms: Madam Pince could also produce a non-corporeal Patronus, a mark of superior magical ability, given the immense difficulty of casting the charm.
- Study of Ancient Runes: Madam Pince was very well versed and knowledgeable in the study of Runology, being able to understand and translate complex runic scriptures, alphabets and symbols correctly with the help of a highly useful and practical Rune Dictionary.
- Librarian skills: As a librarian, Madam Pince was able to easily locate various pieces of information and books for students, as Harry was sure that she would be able to find information about Nicolas Flamel in a second, but thought it might be too suspicious to ask her about it.
- Loquaciousness: Pince was very loquacious and voluble in her speech. She was also fluent in Latin, showing her to have been multilingual, a very impressive and intellectual talent.
- Wand: Madam Pince's wand was of an unknown length, wood and core material.
- Desk: Madam Pince owned a desk reserved for herself in the Hogwarts Library, where she did her administrative work.
- Rune Dictionary: Madam Pince owned a highly practical and useful rune dictionary, which she used to help her read and understand complex ancient runes.
It was commonly believed by Hogwarts students — including Ginny Weasley — that Madam Pince had a romantic attraction or even relationship with the caretaker of Hogwarts Castle, Argus Filch, probably due to her ill-tempered and severe personality. Indeed, during the 1988–1989 school year, Madam Pince and Mr Filch expressed feelings for each other and attended the Valentine's Day Ball together with the help of Jacob's sibling and their friends.
"I would like to apologise for you and any other librarians present here today and my get-out clause is always if they'd had a pleasant, helpful librarian, half my plots would be gone. 'Cause the answer invariably is in a book, but Hermione has to go and find it. If they'd had a good librarian, that would have been that problem solved. So ... sorry."
"She sprang directly from my childhood fear of scary librarians. The kind who hate kids."
- Irma could be a play on firma, which can mean both solid and frail. This makes her name mean something along the lines of "a frail woman with a pinched nose", or one who has a "firm pinch". Irma could also mean "the strong" or "she who is protected by Irm" (Irm is a Germanic god). Irma is from German irmen for "whole" or "complete". "Firma" also means "signature" in Spanish, which may or may not be a play of words about signed library cards.
- The last name Pince seems to be in reference to the French word, which means "to pinch". The style of folding eyeglass, pince-nez, literally means "to pinch the nose".
Behind the scenes
- Pince is portrayed by British actress Sally Mortemore in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Mortemore would return over a decade later to provide snippets of dialogue for the character in Hogwarts Mystery.
- In the film, she appears briefly; sitting next to Severus Snape during the End-of-Term Feast and can be seen in the background of several other scenes.
- For various reasons, such as that Pince has a hooked nose and dark hair like Severus, that her name is an anagram for "I am Prince", and that she is a rude and somewhat snappy personality like Snape, it is rumoured that Irma Pince is actually Eileen Prince in hiding, though this has not been confirmed.
- In the video game adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Madam Pince is seen awarding house points. She never does so in the books.
- In the video game adaptation of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Madam Pince appears to have red hair, rather than black.
- Despite the fact she appears to be old in the books and videogames, Sally Mortemore was 41 at the time of filming, and no notable effort was made to make her character appear older.
- The Game Boy Color versions of the video games depict Pince as a helpful old woman with very thick glasses.
- Irma Pince can produce a non-corporeal Patronus Charm in LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4, but oddly enough she is unable to cast it in the sequel LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7, despite her character being the same in both games. This was most likely a mistake made by the developers in the latter.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game) (GBC and GBA versions only)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game) (GBC and PS2 versions only)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Quidditch Through the Ages
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- Wizarding World (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter Trading Card Game
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery
- Harry Potter: Magic Awakened
Notes and references
- In Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 3, Madam Pince remembers James and Lily Potter studying in the library, implying she was the librarian or a student when the Marauders attended Hogwarts, the latest being the 1977 - 1978 school year.
- If she was in a relationship with Filch, as was suspected by some students and suggested in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 30 (The White Tomb), then it would be highly unlikely that she was married.
- "World Exclusive Interview with J K Rowling," South West News Service, 8 July 2000 - "Hogwarts just serves Britain and Ireland."
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 12 (The Mirror of Erised)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 15 (The Unbreakable Vow) - "They waited, and a moment later the vulturelike countenance of Madam Pince appeared around the corner, her sunken cheeks, her skin like parchment, and her long hooked nose illuminated unflatteringly by the lamp she was carrying."
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, "VALENTINE'S DAY BALL" Achievement
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 29 (Careers Advice) - "And whipping out her wand, she caused Harry’s books, bag, and ink bottle to chase him and Ginny from the library, whacking them repeatedly over the head as they ran."
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film), Chapter 36 (Welcome Back)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 29 (Careers Advice)
- Quidditch Through the Ages - Foreword
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game) - GBC version
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery
- Quidditch Through the Ages - Page i
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 2, "A SPECIAL CELEBRATION OF HOGWARTS TEACHERS!" Achievement - Madam Pince is seen talking in the courtyard with the student after Jacob's Sibling starts interviewing McGonagall.
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film) - Chapter 13 (Writing on the Wall)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 10 (The Rogue Bludger)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film) - Chapter 15 (The Rogue Bludger)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 24 (Occlumency)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 15 (The Hogwarts High Inquisitor)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 15 (The Unbreakable Vow)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 30 (The White Tomb)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 31 (The Battle of Hogwarts)
- Harry Potter: Wizards Unite (See here)
- Harry Potter: Wizards Unite (See here)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 3, "The Frog Choir" Achievement
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game) - PS2 version
- .@nancy_whiskey @OrkneyLibrary You're so wrong. She sprang directly from my childhood fear of scary librarians. The kind who hate kids. by J.K. Rowling on Twitter