|Also known as||
"Queen of the Quills"
- 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 journalist who specialised in writing poison-pen stories which tended to be based on false information and misreported interviews while she worked for the Daily Prophet, as well authoring a few tell-all biographies. Albus Dumbledore described her writing as "enchantingly nasty" after she wrote an unfavourable article about him. Notable stories Rita covered include the trials of various Death Eaters after the First Wizarding War, the Triwizard Tournament, and, albeit reluctantly, Harry Potter's account of Lord Voldemort's return to power in 1995 for The Quibbler. 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.
Skeeter was born into a half-blood or pure-blood family circa 1951 and presumably purchased her wand at the age of eleven in 1962, the same year she began her magical education, possibly at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. If so, she was a classmate of the Slytherin Bellatrix Black.
Skeeter spent years training to become an Animagus and, at some point, she was finally able to transform into a beetle at will. Skeeter aspired to be a journalist and an author, and used this ability to spy and eavesdrop for her articles.
During her early days as an author, Skeeter wrote a biography on Armando Dippet, entitled Armando Dippet: Master or Moron?. It was presumably an exaggerated history of him to gain controversy and, by extension, popularity and fame. The book was a best-seller. Also sometime in her early career Skeeter provided a quote for the critical acclaim for Quidditch Through the Ages by Kennilworthy Whisp, when she wrote "I've read worse." as a review.
First Wizarding War
As an unregistered Animagus, wherein 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. Her ability to turn into a beetle also reflected how irritating and bothersome she was to other people, particularly Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore, and it also displayed her dishonest characteristics. Rita also 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 Death Eater trials before the Council of Magical Law, of people such as Igor Karkaroff and Ludovic Bagman.
- "Hello, I'm Rita Skeeter! I write for the Daily Prophet. But, of course, you know that, don't you? It's you we don't know. You're the juicy news. What quirks lurk beneath those rosy cheeks? What mysteries do the muscles mask? Does courage lie beneath those curls? In short, what makes a champion tick? Me, myself and I want to know. Not to mention my ravid readers."
- —Rita Skeeter, introducing herself to the champions competing in the Triwizard Tournament sometime in 1994.[src]
In 1994-1995, Rita was given the opportunity to interview the Triwizard Tournament contestants for an article in the Daily Prophet. 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. Eventually, her "interview of the contestants" turned out to be a highly falsified story of Harry himself.
- 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. Scratch that last. 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? At worst, a psychotic death wish?"
- — Rita interviewing Harry Potter[src]
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, to the point that she was particularly cool towards Hermione for a time until Harry assured her that the article was lying and he and Hermione had never dated. At some point after the first task, Albus Dumbledore had banned Rita from entering Hogwarts Castle.
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, but was otherwise mostly true. The article also revealed to the world that Hagrid was actually half-giant, which prompted letters from parents frightened by the idea of having a dangerous giant teaching their children and greatly upset Hagrid, subjecting him to ridicule and fear, although his mood was rallied when Harry, Ron, Hermione and Dumbledore visited him and assured him that they didn't care about his family being the vicious monsters everyone believed them to be. Giants really were vicious and brutal, but Hagrid obviously wasn't, so Professor Dumbledore insisted Hagrid deny any insults and return to work, as Harry and his friends didn't care about Hagrid being related to vicious monsters either, as Hagrid wasn't brutal.
Harry, Ron and Hermione overheard her discussing the possibility of writing an embarrassing story about Ludo Bagman, head of Magical Games and Sports.
When Rita encountered Harry, Ron, and Hermione in Hogsmeade, Hermione insulted her for her libel. Rita, in retaliation, then wrote a nasty story about the "devious Miss Granger" based on false rumours provided by Pansy Parkinson, making her out to be a plain but skilled witch who used love potions to "satisfy her taste for celebrity wizards," including toying with the affections of both Harry and Krum. 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]
Rita's last defaming article stated that Harry was "disturbed and dangerous," and used comments from Draco and his Slytherin cronies as its basis. Ultimately, Hermione discovered the means by which Rita spied on others and forced her to "keep her quill to herself for a full year" by 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 couldn't transform. Hermione threatened to Rita that she would report her to the authorities as an illegal Animagus to the Ministry of Magic, which would have severe legal consequences. Rita was forced to comply, and suffered financial strain as a result. Unfortunately her last article would discredit Harry and serve as the basis for Cornelius Fudge to refuse to believe Harry's story about Voldemort's return that would start the Ministry's smear campaign against Harry and Dumbledore.
- 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 meet 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 and Rita were "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. Because Hermione was able to blackmail Rita with the threat of reporting her unregistered Animagus status to the Ministry, Rita grudgingly complied and wrote the article.
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.
The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore
Rita made a brief appearance at the end of Harry's 1996-1997 school year, where he was infuriated to notice her clutching a notebook at Dumbledore's funeral in June 1997. It was, perhaps, her being present at the funeral that prompted her to write a biography of Albus Dumbledore, as within four weeks Skeeter wrote a 900-page tell-all biography about him, The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore.
The book depicted the former headmaster in an extremely negative light but was mostly based on truth, much to Harry's horror. It was implied that she got some of her information in unethical or illegal ways, as much of the book's content was obtained through an interview Rita conducted with Bathilda Bagshot, a very elderly historian, where Skeeter used Veritaserum to gain information about Dumbledore’s childhood. Skeeter stole photographs from Bagshot as well, and the subsequent novel sensationalised everything, implying that Dumbledore had dabbled in the Dark Arts and contributed to the death of his sister.
It turned out that Rita got at least some of her facts straight for once, but had no idea of the true story, such as claiming that Ariana was a Squib when in reality she suffered from uncontrollable bursts of magic due to a highly traumatic experience when she was around six.
Following Voldemort's death, Skeeter wrote a biography of Harry Potter that was only about one-quarter true, as well as one about Severus Snape titled Snape: Scoundrel or Saint? The latter added to her series of hatchet jobs on former headmasters of Hogwarts, along with The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore and Armando Dippet: Master or Moron?
Skeeter was described as having blonde hair set in elaborate and curls that contrasted oddly with her heavy-jawed face. She wore jewelled spectacles studded with rhinestones, and had thick fingers ending in two-inch nails, painted crimson. Her blonde curls were curiously rigid, suggesting it was styled with the magical equivalent of hairspray. In addition, she had penciled-on eyebrows and three gold teeth, as well as large, masculine hands. Her bright scarlet painted fingernails and toenails were usually likened to claws or talons.
She was known to carry with her a crocodile-skin handbag, inside of which she carried her acid green Quick-Quotes Quill. She usually wore clothes made of green leather and sometimes magenta-coloured robes with maroon furs at the collar and sleeves.
Apparently, unemployment did not serve Rita well, as when she showed up during the year she was blackmailed by Hermione not to write, Rita's nails were chipped, she was missing fake stones in her glasses, and her hair was lank and unkempt. As in her unregistered Animagus beetle form, her antennas were curled to resemble her curls in her hair and she had marking around her antennas resembling her jewelled glasses.
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 was 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, despite the use of such a powerful truth serum being heavily controlled by the Ministry. 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.
Rita seemed to have a somewhat low opinion of the intelligence of her average reader, based on her style of reporting. She once, in an article, referred to Hermione Granger as being "stunningly pretty," only to then describe her an article published just a few months later as "plain but ambitious." She also stated regarding the Daily Prophet that it "exists to sell itself."
Magical abilities and skills
- Animagus: Rita had mastered a complex branch of Transfiguration, becoming an unregistered beetle Animagus, to get information and gossip without being caught.
- Defence against the Dark Arts: She was able to cast many jinxes.
- Patronus: She also had the ability to conjure at least a non-corporeal Patronus.
- Nonverbal Magic: When Rita Skeeter took Harry into the broom cupboard, she lit several candles from her handbag with her wand without saying anything.
- 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 disappearance of Bertha Jorkins as well as 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 μαργαρίτης, 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 or an act of nosiness . 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.
- The character is similar to the "poison pen" biographer Kitty Kelley. Both have a semi-rhyming name with an animal reference, and each is known for writing scandalous unauthorised biographies that largely consist of publishing every available, unsubstantiated rumour about an individual. There is an interesting similitary in phrases used to describe the two authors. Skeeter was called "enchantingly nasty" by Albus Dumbledore in Goblet of Fire, and Kelley was called "encyclopedically vicious", by the New York Times while reviewing her biography of Nancy Reagan.
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 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
- In the Harry Potter and 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 Harry Potter and 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 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix film.
- Rita may have been a classmate of Bellatrix Lestrange, as both witches were born in 1951. But even if they both went to Hogwarts, it cannot be guaranteed they were in the same year because of their unspecified birth months.
- In the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire film when Harry points out that they're in a broom cupboard, Rita points out that he should "feel right at home", referring to the fact that Harry in his earlier life lived in the cupboard under the stairs at the Dursley house, hinting she knew about his childhood.
- As of the end of the Second Wizarding War, Rita is the only known living unregistered Animagus.
- Although Rita has three gold teeth in the books, she does not in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Miranda Richardson and director Mike Newell both felt that they were not right for Rita, with Miranda pointing out that gold teeth would make Rita appear 'unapproachable'.
- During an interview on BBC Radio 4, Rowling admitted that Rita was originally called Bridget and appeared in the first draft of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. She later cut the character from the final draft, wanting Rita to appear in Harry's fourth year, just when his fame starts to oppress him.
- In Harry Potter Limited Edition it is described that in the films, it was conceived by Jany Temime that Rita would always dress for the story that she was reporting on.
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (video game) (Appears on the collectible card)
- 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 1 (Appears in photograph)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (video game) (Mentioned only)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
Notes and references
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Chapter 18 (The Weighing of the Wands)
- ↑ 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.
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 - see this picture.
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Chapter 30 (The Pensieve)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Chapter 37 (The Beginning)
- ↑ 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)
- ↑ LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- ↑ LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- ↑ 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/
- ↑ Desert Island Discs Podcast
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