- Rita: "How about giving me an interview about the Hagrid you know, Harry? The man behind the muscles? Your unlikely friendship and the reasons behind it. Would you call him a father substitute?"
- Hermione Granger: "You horrible woman. You don't care, do you, anything for a story, and anyone will do, won't they?"
- — Rita speaking to Harry Potter and Hermione Granger[src]
Rita Skeeter (b. 1951) was a witch who wrote tell-all biographies and worked as a reporter for the Daily Prophet. Albus Dumbledore described her writing as "enchantingly nasty" after she wrote a not-so-friendly article about him. Notable stories Rita covered include the trials of various Death Eaters after the First Wizarding War, the Triwizard Tournament, and Harry Potter's account of Lord Voldemort's return to power in 1995. She also wrote biographies of Armando Dippet, Albus Dumbledore, Severus Snape, and Harry Potter. Rita's writing tended to be sensationalist, and sometimes outright dishonest. Her ability to acquire information was assisted by her status as an unregistered beetle Animagus.
Career as a Journalist/Author
First Wizarding War
As an unregistered Animagus, to which she took the form of a beetle and was able to slip around undetected and spy on unsuspecting company, she could obtain gossip for her articles, which she later exaggerated and exploited to gain the attention of the masses. Rita wrote primarily for the Daily Prophet, though some of her articles have also appeared in other sources, such as Witch Weekly and The Quibbler. Skeeter worked closely alongside Bozo, her photographer.
Skeeter was a journalist at the time of the First Wizarding War when Lord Voldemort was in power. In 1981, at the fall of Voldemort and end of the War, Skeeter reported on the trials of various different Death Eaters such as Igor Karkaroff. These trials included the trial of the Lestranges and Bartemius Crouch Jr. who were accused of torturing Alice and Frank Longbottom to insanity. Also sometime in her career she also provided a quote for the critical acclaim for Quidditch Through the Ages when she wrote, "I've read worse." as a review.
- Rita: "Your story's legend. Do you think it was the trauma of your past that made you so keen to enter such a dangerous tournament?"
- Harry: "No, I didn't enter."
- Rita: "Of course you didn't. [winks] Everyone loves a rebel, Harry. Speaking of your parents, were they alive, how do you think they'd feel? Proud? Or concerned that your attitude shows, at best, a pathological need for attention? The worst, a psychotic death wish?"
- — Rita interviewing Harry Potter[src]
In 1994-1995, Rita wrote many nasty articles covering the Triwizard Tournament. Several students, including Draco Malfoy and Pansy Parkinson, fed her information, and her Quick-Quotes Quill recorded the words of her subjects in a most sensational way.
Under the guise of interviewing all four champions, she confronted Harry Potter in a broom cupboard where she took his "um"s and "er"s and invented her own quotes. The article painted Harry as a tragic hero who cried himself to sleep over his late parents and who had a romantic relationship with Hermione Granger. The article was mostly taken negatively by Harry's schoolmates, who assumed he was craving attention, although Molly Weasley seemed to take it very seriously.
Rita then interviewed Rubeus Hagrid, asking many questions about Harry that Hagrid refused to answer. Her subsequent article described Hagrid as a ferocious-looking man who used his authority to terrify his students. The article also revealed to the world that Hagrid was actually half-giant, which greatly upset him and subjected him to ridicule and fear.
These activities earned her the wrath of Hermione Granger, a close friend of Harry and Hagrid. After Hermione blasted her for her libel, Rita retaliated by writing an article about "the devious Miss Granger," portraying her as toying with the affections of both Harry and Viktor Krum and using Love Potions. Although Hermione was more disdainful than upset about the article, she started receiving angry mail from people who believed Rita's lies, and even Molly Weasley was upset with her until Harry set her straight.
- "Rita Skeeter isn't going to be writing anything at all for a while. Not unless she wants me to spill the beans on her... I found out how she was listening in on private conversations when she wasn't supposed to be coming into the grounds... Rita Skeeter is an unregistered Animagus. She can turn into a beetle... I've told her she's to keep her quill to herself for a whole year. See if she can't break the habit of writing horrible lies about people."
- —Hermione Granger on her blackmail of Rita[src]
Hermione soon figured out that Rita was an unregistered Animagus, catching her in her beetle form while she was perched on the hospital wing window and trapping her in a jar imbued with an Unbreakable Charm so she can't transform. Hermione then offered Rita an ultimatum — stop writing horrible stories about people for a year, or Hermione would expose Rita's unregistered Animagus status to the Ministry of Magic, with serious legal consequences. Rita was forced to comply, and suffered financial strain as a result.
- Rita: "But of course, Little Miss Perfect wouldn't want that story out there, would she?"
- Hermione: "As a matter of fact, that's exactly what Little Miss Perfect does want."
- Rita: "You want me to report what he says about He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named?"
- Hermione: "Yes, I do. The true story. All the facts. Exactly as Harry reports them. He'll give you all the details, he'll tell you the names of the undiscovered Death Eaters he saw there, he'll tell you what Voldemort looks like now... I want him given the opportunity to tell the truth!"
- — Rita and Hermione Granger in 1996[src]
In 1995, Harry Potter's story that Lord Voldemort had returned was not believed by much of the wizarding world, as the Daily Prophet portrayed him as either a delusional boy or an attention-seeking liar. Hermione Granger wanted to get the truth to the public, and thus instructed Rita to met her and Luna Lovegood in Hogsmeade on 14 February, 1996 in the Three Broomsticks. As it was Rita who laid the foundation for the Prophet's defamation of Harry, with her initial stories about him, Hermione wanted her to be the one to set the record straight. They were joined by Harry after his date with Cho Chang. Harry thought that Hermione was with "the unlikeliest pair of drinking mates he could ever have imagined."
Rita was initially taken aback that Hermione wanted her to interview Harry, and then resentful, since Hermione demanded that she only write exactly what Harry said and not portray him as the rest of the press was. Rita claimed the Prophet would not buy the story, reluctantly admitting that the Ministry of Magic was influencing it. Hermione told her that the interview would be printed in The Quibbler, which Luna's father's edited, and although Rita responded with disdain, she "eyed Hermione shrewdly" for a few moments and then agreed. However, when she learned she was expected to conduct the interview free of charge, she was furious. Hermione reminded her that she could report her unregistered Animagus status to the Ministry, thus Rita grudgingly complied.
The interview was subsequently printed in The Quibbler, and became its best-selling issue of all time. It was banned at Hogwarts by High Inquisitor Dolores Umbridge, which seemed to only increase its popularity. Editor Xenophilius Lovegood sold the article to the Prophet after the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, when Voldemort's return became public, and he and his daughter Luna used the money to travel to Sweden in search for the Crumple-Horned Snorkack.
Rita attended Albus Dumbledore's funeral in June 1997, and, within four weeks, she wrote a book about him, The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore. Much of the book's content was obtained through an interview Rita conducted with Bathilda Bagshot, a very elderly historian whose words Rita very likely sensationalized. Rita seems to have authored a whole series of hatchet jobs on former headmasters of Hogwarts, including Armando Dippet: Master or Moron?
Rita has curly, blonde hair that is strangely stiff, suggesting it is styled with the magical equivalent of hairspray. She has a heavy jaw, penciled-on eyebrows, three gold teeth, and large, masculine hands with claw-like, red-painted fingernails. She wears rhinestone glasses, and carries a crocodile-skin handbag, inside of which she keeps her acid green Quick-Quotes Quill.
Apparently, unemployment did not serve Rita well, as when she showed up during the year she was blackmailed by Hermione not to write, Rita had her nail chipped, missing fake stones in her glasses, and her hair unkempt.
Personality and traits
- Ron: "She'll be after you next, Hermione."
- Hermione: "Let her try! I'll show her! Silly little girl, am I? Oh, I'll get her back for this. First Harry, then Hagrid..."
- Ron: "You don't want to go upsetting Rita Skeeter. I'm serious, Hermione, she'll dig up something on you –"
- Hermione: "My parents don't read the Daily Prophet. She can't scare me into hiding! And Hagrid isn't hiding any more! He should never have let that excuse for a human being upset him!"
- — Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger on Rita Skeeter[src]
Rita is extremely nosy and willing to do anything for a good story — from spying on people in her Animagus form of a beetle to sensationalising or outright inventing stories. She also took advantage of elderly Bathilda Bagshot's possibly fragile state of mind, even giving her Veritaserum, in order to dig up dirt on the late Albus Dumbledore for her extremely critical biography. Rita tended to portray the people she wrote about poorly, presumably because it sold more stories. However, she could also be very vindictive. For example, after Hermione Granger insulted her, Rita printed a completely false story about Hermione using love potions and toying with the hearts of both Harry Potter and Viktor Krum. This resulted in Hermione receiving hate mail, but she eventually got her revenge, blackmailing Rita into refraining from writing for a year. After this time period was up, Rita returned to her writing with as much gusto and as little scruples as before.
Despite her inaccuracies and biased articles, Rita seemed to be a fast writer and researcher, as she managed to finish a nine-hundred-page book in four weeks.
- A piece about the International Confederation of Wizards' Conference, describing Albus Dumbledore as an "obsolete dingbat".
- A piece about Gringotts Curse Breakers in which she referred to Bill Weasley as a "long-haired pillock."
- One about the Quidditch World Cup aftermath.
- One about the mistakes made by the Ministry of Magic concerning the attack on Alastor Moody.
- One about Harry Potter being a Triwizard Champion who supposedly cried himself to sleep over his late parents.
- One about Rubeus Hagrid, portraying him as a ferocious half-giant.
- One about Hermione Granger allegedly dating both Harry Potter and Viktor Krum.
- One about Harry Potter supposedly being dangerous (before the Third Task).
- An interview with Harry Potter in which he described Lord Voldemort's return. This was likely Skeeter's most accurate article, since Hermione Granger arranged it and would have informed the Ministry of Skeeter's status as an unregistered Animagus had she lied.
- Armando Dippet: Master or Moron?
- The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore (1997)
- Biography of Harry Potter with unknown title (1998)
- Snape: Scoundrel or Saint?
- Rita is a short form of the name Margarita, a Latinate form of the name Margaret. The name is derived from the Greek μαργαριτης, margarites, meaning "pearl".
- Skeeter is a slang term for a "mosquito." This could be a reference to her Animagus form, which is an insect, or to her career in tabloid journalism. The word paparazzi is derived from an Italian word for "mosquito.". "Skeet" is also an Anglo-Manx colloquialism for gossip . Skeeter could also be a pun off of how annoying Skeeter's lies tend to be, as people tend to find mosquitos annoying and attempt to swat them away.
Behind the scenes
- Rita Skeeter was portrayed by English actress Miranda Richardson in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and the actress will reprise the role in the film adaptations of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- In the Goblet of Fire film, Rita uses a spiral-bound Muggle legal pad to conduct Harry's "interview." It is established in the literary canon that the wizarding world uses loose parchment and quills.
- At Igor Karkaroff's trial, Rita used a muggle pen instead of a quill.
- The Goblet of Fire film omits all references to Skeeter being an animagus, and Hermione's later blackmailing of her. Subsequently, the character is omitted completely from the Order of the Phoenix film.
- Rita may have been a classmate of Bellatrix Lestrange, as both witches were born in 1951.
- In the Goblet of Fire film when Harry point out that they're in a broom closet, Rita points out that he should "feel right at home", possibly referencing where he slept before his first year at Hogwarts. How she knew this fact is unclear, unless this was a subtle reference to her being an animagus, a fact otherwise omitted from the film.
- At of the end of the Second Wizarding War, Rita is the only known living unregistered Animagus.
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I
Notes and references
- ↑ As Rita was not imprisoned in Azkaban by the Muggle-Born Registration Commission in 1997, it is most likely that she is not a muggle-born witch.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - (Chapter 18, "The Weighing of the Wands")
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Chapter 30, "The Pensieve")
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - (Chapter 37, "The Beginning")
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - (Chapter 25, "The Beetle at Bay")
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - (Chapter 26, "Seen and Unforeseen")
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - (Chapter 38, "The Second War Begins")
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - (Chapter 30, "The White Tomb")
- ↑ 30 July, 2007 chat transcription at Bloomsbury site
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - (Chapter 18, The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore")
- ↑ Behind the Name: Rita
- ↑ Behind the Name: Margaret
- ↑ "Paparazzi" at Wikipedia
- ↑ "Manx loanwords" at Wikipedia
- ↑ http://www.snitchseeker.com/harry-potter-news/miranda-richardson-reprise-rita-skeeter-role-deathly-hallows-70121/