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This letter was written by Lily J. Potter to close family friend Sirius Black in 1981, shortly after her son Harry's first birthday.[1]

Contents of the Letter

The first page

Dear Padfoot,
Thank you, thank you, for Harry's birthday present! It was his favourite by far. One year old and already zooming along on a toy broomstick, he looked so pleased with himself, I'm enclosing a picture so you can see. You know it only rises about two feet off the ground, but he nearly killed the cat and he smashed a horrible vase Petunia sent me for Christmas (no complaints there). Of course, James thought it was funny, says he's going to be a great Quidditch player, but we've had to pack away all the ornaments and make sure we don't take our eyes off him when he gets going.
We had a very quiet birthday tea, just us and old Bathilda, who has always been sweet to us, and who dotes on Harry. We were so sorry you couldn't come, but the Order's got to come first, and Harry's not old enough to know it's his birthday anyway! James is getting a bit frustrated shut up here, he tries not to show it but I can tell -- also, Dumbledore's still got his Invisibility Cloak, so no chance of little excursions. If you could visit, it would cheer him up so much. Wormy was here last weekend, I thought he seemed down, but that was probably the news about the McKinnons; I cried all evening when I heard.
Bathilda drops in most days, she's a fascinating old thing with the most amazing stories about Dumbledore, I'm not sure he'd be pleased if he knew! I don't know how much to believe, actually, because it seems incredible that Dumbledore ------[1]

The second page

------could ever have been friends with Gellert Grindelwald. I think her mind's going, personally!
Lots of love,
Lily Evans sig.jpeg[1]


Harry reading the letter

The letter was found in Sirius's bedroom by Harry Potter in 1997, while he, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger were staying at 12 Grimmauld Place after escaping from two Death Eaters in a cafe on Tottenham Court Road. The second page of the letter was missing, leaving the last portion of the letter to be cut off. There was also a picture of Harry riding on a toy broomstick found with the letter, although the picture had been torn in half with one part missing, with only James and Harry in it.[1]

Harry searched the room for the last part of the letter, but was unable to find it. He kept the letter and photograph in his mokeskin pouch over the next several months while he, Ron, and Hermione continued on their mission to destroy Lord Voldemort's Horcruxes. The end of the letter was discovered in a memory of Severus Snape's that was extracted by Harry just before Snape's death during the Battle of Hogwarts on 2 May, 1998. Snape had taken the second page of the letter, which contained Lily's signature and love, and the other half of the picture, which contained Lily, for himself.[1]

Behind the scenes

Lɪʟʏ Pᴏᴛᴛᴇʀ
Thursday, ⊗/7/17
Dear Sirius,
Thank you for Harry's birthday present. You'd think he'd been born on a broom. James says he's got the look of a Seeker, but then James would. We had a very quiet birthday tea, just us and old Bathilda who dotes on Harry. Wormy dropped by late in the day, but seemed down and didn't stay long.
James is frustrated being shut up here, but Dumbledore's still got his Invisibility Cloak, so he doesn't have much choice. By the way, Bathilda tells the most amazing stories about our old headmaster. I don't know how much to believe. Can it really be true that Dumbledore ------
  • It's strange that the letter is found in 12 Grimmauld Place: Sirius couldn't possibly have received it there, since he ran away from home before the letter was even written, and it's unlikely that he kept it on his person during his imprisonment at Azkaban. But there are two possible explanations.
    • Remus Lupin obtained the letter after Sirius was arrested and returned it to him after his escape.
    • After Sirius was arrested, his personal belongings, including the letter, were turned over to his mother Walburga Black, who was still alive at the time and living in 12 Grimmauld place, since she was his nearest next-of-kind.


Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 10 (Kreacher's Tale)