Tom Riddle's Diary in Moaning Myrtle's Bathroom
"The diary. My diary. Little Ginny's been writing in it for months and months, telling me all her pitiful worries and woes — how her brothers tease her, how she had to come to school with secondhand robes and books, how — how she didn't think famous, good, great Harry Potter would ever like her… It's very boring, having to listen to the silly little troubles of an eleven-year-old girl. But I was patient. I wrote back. I was sympathetic, I was kind. Ginny simply loved me. "No one's ever understood me like you, Tom… I'm so glad I've got this diary to confide in… It's like having a friend I can carry around in my pocket…" […] So Ginny poured out her soul to me, and her soul happened to be exactly what I wanted… I grew stronger and stronger on a diet of her deepest fears, her darkest secrets."
Tom Riddle to Harry Potter, referring to Ginny Weasley[src]

T. M. Riddle's Diary[6] was a blank diary which Tom Riddle transformed into a Horcrux. This event took place in 1943, during Riddle's sixth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and it was the first Horcrux he ever made. Before Lord Voldemort's first defeat in 1981, the diary was passed to Death Eater, Lucius Malfoy, who kept the diary, in secret, before he slipped it into Ginny Weasley's cauldron of school supplies at Flourish and Blotts in 1992. The diary used its magical influence to possess and force Ginny to re-open the Chamber of Secrets, but it was destroyed by Harry Potter in 1993 with a Basilisk's Fang.


Creation of the diary as a Horcrux

"The diary was proof that he was the Heir of Slytherin; I am sure that Voldemort considered it of stupendous importance."
Albus Dumbledore on the diary's importance to Voldemort.[src]

The inside cover and front page of the diary, showing the faint inscription "T.M. Riddle"

When Tom Marvolo Riddle was in his fifth year at Hogwarts, he achieved his goal of locating Salazar Slytherin's Chamber of Secrets and used his ability to speak Parseltongue to open it. He further used this language ability to order the Chamber's Basilisk to terrorise the school and hunt down the Muggle-born students. Eventually one, a Ravenclaw girl named Myrtle Warren, was killed. Riddle would later use this murder to infuse the journal with a piece of his soul, and transformed it into his first Horcrux.

After Myrtle's death, Albus Dumbledore, then Professor of Transfiguration, began suspecting Riddle. Knowing it was no longer safe to open the Chamber, and that the school might be shut down if the perpetrator was not caught, Riddle framed Rubeus Hagrid and his pet Aragog for the crimes, and earned himself an award for Special Services to the school. He imbued the diary with other powers, so that the Chamber could be opened again in the future.

In the following years, Riddle also questioned Potions Master, Horace Slughorn about the properties of a Horcrux and how one might create multiple ones. Influenced by Riddle's charisma and believing his own wisdom was being admired, Slughorn told Riddle what little he knew on the subject. Based from Slughorn's information, Riddle became positive on the possibility of creating more than one Horcrux, and became confident of using the diary as a weapon instead of the intended safeguard.

Re-opening of the Chamber of Secrets

"I was patient. I wrote back. I was sympathetic, I was kind. Ginny simply loved me... No one's ever understood me like you, Tom... I'm so glad I've got this diary to confide in... It's like a friend I can carry around in my pocket... If I say it myself, Harry, I’ve always been able to charm the people I needed."
Tom Riddle to Harry Potter on his manipulation of Ginny Weasley through the diary[src]

Ginny Weasley writing in the diary furtively

Some time during the First Wizarding War, Lord Voldemort entrusted the diary to Death Eater, Lucius Malfoy. The plan was to use the diary to reopen the Chamber, but Voldemort fell before that plan came to fruition. However, Malfoy still possessed the diary and, in 1992, he planted it on Ginny Weasley, hoping to kill three birds with one stone by sabotaging Ginny's Father, purge the school of Muggle-borns, and eliminate an incriminating Dark artefact. When the Weasleys and Harry left to King's Cross Station, Ginny accidentally left the diary behind at the Burrow. Just before they got to the motorway, she remembered the diary and demanded to be allowed to go back and get it. She soon learned how to use the diary to communicate with Tom Riddle, though she was unaware that he was Lord Voldemort, or if he was even real. Ginny wrote all of her deepest feelings and secrets in the diary, including her feelings of infatuation toward Harry Potter.

Her emotional vulnerability allowed the fragment of Voldemort's soul within the diary to gain partial control of her mind and force her to re-open the Chamber of Secrets. Ginny was forced not only to paint terrifying threats in the school corridors, but also to release the Basilisk within the Chamber and strangle the school roosters to protect the Basilisk, all the while in a sort of trance, and never knew what she had been doing. The Basilisk attacked several members of the Hogwarts community, including Mrs Norris, Colin Creevey, Justin Finch-Fletchley, Nearly-Headless Nick, Hermione Granger, and Penelope Clearwater. These individuals were not murdered by the basilisk, but Petrified, due to them never seeing the Basilisk directly through a series of fortunate events, ranging from seeing a reflection to seeing it through a camera to the viewer being dead already.

When the attacks began, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger began to investigate the matter. They initially suspected Draco Malfoy, who was openly prejudiced against Muggle-borns, but after using Polyjuice Potion to spy on him, they discovered that he knew as little about the attacks as they did. Hermione eventually deduced that the monster had to be a Basilisk, due to Harry's ability to hear it and the nature of the attacks, but she was Petrified before she could inform Harry or Ron, though she managed to leave them a relatively straightforward clue.

Harry heard strange voices in the walls of Hogwarts, which exhorted the urge to kill. Harry followed the voices through the Hogwarts corridors until he came upon the second floor girls' lavatory. It was here that he discovered the water-logged diary, which Ginny had discarded when she suspected that it was she who had Petrified the Muggle-borns, and that she finally realised that the diary was the cause. Soon enough, Harry was communicating with Tom Riddle, who showed him a memory within the diary, in which Riddle confronted Rubeus Hagrid about the keeping of a dangerous pet. This implied to Harry that Hagrid had opened the Chamber of Secrets, but Riddle was merely using Hagrid's pet Acromantula, Aragog, as a scapegoat so Hogwarts would not be closed down.

Later, Ginny, having seen the diary amongst Harry's books, stole the diary from among Harry's room, feared that Riddle would tell Harry about her feelings toward him, and shortly thereafter, went missing. She was forced to paint a threat against her life on the walls of a hallway and sealed herself inside the Chamber. Hogwarts was again under threat of being closed down.


Albus Dumbledore: "When Voldemort discovered that the diary had been mutilated and robbed of all its power, I am told that his anger was terrible to behold."
Harry Potter: "But I thought he meant Lucius Malfoy to smuggle it into Hogwarts?"
Albus Dumbledore: " [...] I understand that Voldemort had told him the diary would cause the Chamber of Secrets to reopen, because it was cleverly enchanted. Had Lucius known he held a portion of his master's soul in his hands he would undoubtedly have treated it with more reverence — but instead he went ahead and carried out the plan for his own ends: by planting the diary upon Arthur Weasley's daughter, he hoped to discredit Arthur, have me thrown out of Hogwarts and get rid of a highly incriminating object in one stroke."
Albus Dumbledore talking to Harry Potter about the diary Horcrux[src]

Harry destroying the diary with a Basilisk Fang in the Chamber of Secrets

The destroyed inside of the diary after Harry stabbed it with the Basilisk Fang

Harry returned to the girls' lavatory and successfully discovered and opened the Chamber of Secrets. He, Ron, and Professor Gilderoy Lockhart made their way into the Chamber. Lockhart, who had no plans to actually fight the Basilisk, attacked the students with Ron's own broken wand, which backfired on him, and Wiped his memory. Harry continued into the Chamber, where he discovered an unconscious Ginny next to Tom Riddle, who was gaining strength and form. Concealing his true nature as a Horcrux, Riddle claimed to be a memory of his younger self, and revealed the truth of his identity and plans to Harry and unleashed the Basilisk. Harry defeated the Basilisk with the assistance of Dumbledore's phoenix, Fawkes and Godric Gryffindor's Sword which appeared from the Sorting Hat. Harry then took one of the Basilisk's fangs and stabbed the diary with it. This successfully destroyed the Horcrux, as basilisk venom was one of the few substances with that ability. When he later explained about the diary's true nature to Dumbledore, the latter was privately concerned, as no mere memory could just possess a girl and eventually take physical form, and he suspected the diary was a Horcrux.

Lord Voldemort was unaware that this Horcrux had been destroyed, until he forced the truth out of Lucius Malfoy (who did not know the diary was a Horcrux) shortly after his return to power in June of 1995, due to the portion of the soul being separated from his body for such a long time. Despite the known risks of using the diary as a weapon instead of a safeguard, Voldemort was nevertheless furious to learn of its destruction due to Lucius implementing the plan without Voldemort's say-so, in order to dispose of the diary for his own benefit, in attempting to destroy the Weasley family and Dumbledore's reputation, as well as getting rid of an incriminating Dark Arts artefact (the Ministry was conducting a search at the time); this was one of the many reasons that he lost trust in the Malfoy family and why Lucius was punished and demoted.

Although Voldemort was unaware of the diary's destruction until Malfoy reported it to him, he attributed this to his non-corporeal status at the time of its loss; as a result, he took no additional precautions to safeguard the remaining Horcruxes, and assumed that they were safe and undamaged until the break-in to Gringotts confirmed that someone else was hunting them.


Harry Potter writing in the diary

"While the magical container is still intact, the bit of soul inside it can flit in and out of someone if they get too close to the object. I don’t mean holding it for too long…I mean close emotionally. Ginny poured her heart out into that diary, she made herself incredibly vulnerable. You’re in trouble if you get too fond of or dependent on the Horcrux."
Hermione Granger on a Horcrux's ability to influence a person[src]

As a Horcrux, the diary allowed a writer to communicate with the memory of the sixteen-year-old Tom Riddle, merely through writing on the journal's blank pages. The diary could transport the reader into a realm of memories, much like the Pensieve. The diary was also able to siphon the life force from a reader and transfer it to Riddle's stored memory. This act was an endeavour to create a physical body for the sixteen-year-old Soul of Tom Riddle. The closer a writer became to the memory of Tom Riddle emotionally, the more power the diary would acquire over him or her. As this diary contained Riddle's soul, it also housed his magical powers, including his ability to speak Parseltongue, even by possessing the writer to speak it, which was instrumental in reopening the Chamber of Secrets.

It was unclear whether other Horcruxes include any of these same abilities; however, Salazar Slytherin's Locket had a negative physical and emotional effect on those who wore it, and Cadmus Peverell's Ring fatally Cursed Albus Dumbledore. Also, it was unknown if Riddle had placed powerful enchantments to protect the diary from being destroyed by conventional means, as he did with all of his other Horcruxes, but it was highly likely that this was indeed the case. Ginny Weasley tried to flush it down the toilet, but it came back perfect as new. When Harry's ink bottles shattered and drenched all of his other textbooks, the diary alone remained dry and unmarked.

Behind the scenes

Dumbledore holding the first Horcrux to be destroyed, the diary

  • The diary was originally purchased from a Muggle Shop on Vauxhall Road in London.
  • Considering Draco Malfoy's reaction to finding the diary with Harry, Lucius apparently never showed the diary to his son.
  • That Horcrux revealed to Harry Potter that Lord Voldemort was once Tom Riddle.
  • In an interview with J. K. Rowling, she stated that: "My sister used to commit her innermost thoughts to her diary. Her great fear was that someone would read it. That's how the idea came to me of a diary that is itself against you. You would be confiding everything to pages that aren't inanimate."
  • J. K. Rowling has also stated: "Now, the diary to me is a very scary object, a really, really frightening object. This manipulative little book, the temptation particularly for a young girl to pour out her heart to a diary, which is never something I was prone to, but my sister was. The power of something that answers you back, and at the time that I wrote that I'd never been in an Internet chat room. But I've since thought "Well it's very similar." Just typing your deepest thoughts into the ether and getting answers back, and you don't know who is answering you. And so that was always a very scary image to me, in the book, and I thought it worked very well in the film. You could understand when he started writing to see these things coming back to him, and the power of that, that secret friend in your pocket."
  • In the Second Book and Video Game Adaptation of it, Harry stuffed the diary in his sock. In the Film Adaptation, Harry put the sock in the diary.
  • In the book and film versions of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry destroyed the diary with the Basilisk's Fang. In the Game Boy Color version of the game, Harry stabbed it with Godric Gryffindor's Sword. In the PC and PS2 version of the game, the Basilisk landed on the diary.
  • In the book, Harry Potter only destroyed the diary with the Basilisk fang after he was healed by Fawkes. In the film adaptation, Harry destroyed the diary with the fang before he was healed. In addition, the book only mentioned that Riddle's memory writhed and then faded away after the diary was destroyed, while in the film, it was shown that Riddle's memory's chest cavity ripped open with light, then destroyed his eyes and caused damage to his face, before eventually caused gaping holes throughout his body upon exploding. Lastly, Harry Potter only stabbed the diary once in the book, while in the film, he stabbed the diary three times, two being in two different sections of the book, and the last from the outside.
  • According to Dumbledore, Voldemort tended to use extremely valuable trophies or sentimentally important artefacts to create his Horcruxes, and that the reason for this diary was chosen was due to it proving him to be the Heir of Slytherin. Otherwise, the fact that the diary was a common artefact made it very ironic to be considered valuable in Voldemort's eyes, especially when it was manufactured by his hated enemies: Muggles.
  • The diary was the only of Voldemort's artificial Horcruxes that he acquired legally.
  • This diary was used as a weapon, to unleash the Basilisk once again in Hogwarts, rather than keeping the portion of the soul safe, which was what Horcruxes were meant for. It shared this attribute with a fellow Horcrux of Voldemort, Nagini, who was sent on missions from time to time.
  • In LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4, a Year 2 level had the same name as the book.
  • The Noble Collection released a replica of the diary.[7]
  • The diary was Bonnie Wright's favourite prop from the films.[8]
  • At the end of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film) the diary had a small hole on the front of it and a dent coming out of the  back from the Basilisk fang, but in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film), when Dumbledore showed it to Harry again, it was shown to have a much larger and completely different-sized hole, which created a potential consistency error. The first of two possibilities was that the venom ate away at the diary over time, and caused the hole to widen. The second was that the filmmakers knowingly or unknowingly made a mistake.
  • In the original script for the film of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Ginny stated that she hid the diary in the Room of Hidden Things, which she learned about from Fred and George Weasley, and said that she wished that she had just left it there. Even if this line had been included in the final film, however, it cannot be considered canon, as in the books Fred and George Weasley only knew of the room as a Broom-cupboard they once hid in and were never aware that it could be used at any time until the revelation of the room and Dumbledore's Army's use of it in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.[9]
  • In LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4, Ginny Weasley played with the book and ignored Harry by hitting him in the ribs.
  • Interestingly, the book could be compared to Snape's Potions Book. Both were used by their respective owners as an outlet to use Dark Magic: Tom Riddle used his diary to create his first Horcrux, while Snape used his textbook to create original magic. Both books were used by other people without the knowledge of the owner's true identity until later. This further highlighted the personal similarities between Riddle and Snape. Whether this was intentional on Rowling's part or merely a coincidence was unknown. It was because of Ginny's experience with the diary that made her resent Harry's choice of following Snape's textbook instructions.



Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 13 (The Very Secret Diary)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Chapter 17, The Heir of Slytherin)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 23 (Horcruxes)
  4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Chapter 18, Dobby's Reward)
  5. The majority of Dumbledore's items were left to Hogwarts. However, due to the circumstances regarding the diary, it may not have been, especially if the teachers regarded it as worthless, not aware that it was a Horcrux..
  6. Pottermore
  7. The Noble Collection - Tom Riddle Diary
  9. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Script, available via Web Archive
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