Drill Salesman at Grunnings
Vernon Dursley (fl. 1959-1997) was a Muggle, husband of Petunia Evans, father of Dudley and uncle of Harry Potter. He lived in 4 Privet Drive along with his wife and son for nearly twenty years until they were forced into hiding during the escalation of the Second Wizarding War. After Petunia's sister Lily and brother-in-law, James Potter, were killed by Voldemort, Vernon and Petunia had to take care of Harry. However, they disliked him and treated him badly, while spoiling Dudley.
When Harry was sent a letter from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Vernon got very angry, as he detested anything to do with magic. He was a former student of Smeltings Academy and a director of the Grunnings drill manufacturing company. In 1997, Vernon, Petunia and Dudley left their house in order to be hidden from Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters. After the Second Wizarding War, Vernon had at least two grandchildren through Dudley and his wife. It is possible that he had a better relationship with Harry and that they remained in contact. Through the union of Harry Potter and Ginevra Weasley, Vernon had two great-nephews, James Potter II and Albus Potter, as well as a great-niece, Lily Potter.
Little is known about Vernon's childhood life. He was born into the Muggle Dursley family and attended Smeltings Academy as a secondary school. Vernon had an older sister named Marjorie (Marge to family members and friends) who made a living breeding bulldogs.
Vernon met Petunia Evans at an office job in London where he was junior executive. He later married Petunia and settled with her at 4 Privet Drive in Little Whinging, Surrey in 1977. Before their wedding Vernon had taken Petunia on a series of dull dates during which he talked mainly about himself and his predictable ideas on the world. After some time Vernon proposed marriage to Petunia, very correctly on one knee in his mother's sitting room. His fiancée accepted at once. He wasn't aware of the fact that Petunia's sister Lily was a witch, who was then at her seventh year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Petunia eventually revealed to him that her sister was a witch after they stopped for a snack of battered sausage at a chip shop.
Vernon, along with his wife, always liked to be normal and never tolerated anything that they considered out of the ordinary. He knew that Petunia's sister was a witch, but kept it quiet. They had a baby boy on 23 June, 1980. This boy, Dudley Dursley, was highly spoiled by his parents.
Giving a home to Harry PotterIt was after Voldemort's first downfall and the Potters's murder that Vernon first saw signs of wizards. Albus Dumbledore brought Vernon's nephew Harry to Little Whinging. Although reluctantly, Vernon and Petunia allowed him into their home.
During Harry's early life, Vernon treated him with indifference. He forced Harry to live in the cupboard under the stairs and generally mistreated him while spoiling his own son Dudley. Vernon tried his hardest to stop Harry knowing about the wizarding world. Before 1991 Vernon told Harry his parents died in a car crash. Vernon once told off Harry for dreaming about a flying motorbike and told Harry there was no such thing as magic.
Harry's letter from Hogwarts
When Harry got his first letter from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Vernon tried everything to stop him getting it as more and more came. He went very over-the-top and took his whole family to a Hut on a small rock on the sea. But even this did not work, because it was found by Rubeus Hagrid, who personally gave Harry the letter, despite Vernon's stubborn protests. When Hagrid told Harry about how his parents really died, Vernon cynically responded by telling Harry that whatever happened to Harry's mother and father they probably deserved it, as well as that they were (in Vernon's opinion) freaks anyway and that the world was better off without them (also in Vernon's opinion). Hagrid threatened Vernon with his umbrella in response (pointing it at him like it was an actual sword). That night, Vernon also threw a fit and refused to pay Albus Dumbledore, whom Vernon insulted as a "crackpot old fool", to teach Harry magic. This would be a great mistake to Vernon: a livid Hagrid responded to Vernon's outburst by giving a pig tail to the latter's son.
After this incident, Vernon avoided Harry even more so than usual. Vernon reluctantly took Harry to King's Cross Station to board the Hogwarts Express, albeit because it was on the way to the hospital to remove Dudley's tail before the school year.
From then on Vernon only saw Harry in the summer holidays and even then treated him badly, although he gave Harry Dudley's spare room.
- "NO MORE EFFING OWLS!"
- —Vernon's view on owl post
Dinner party with the Masons, Marge's visit and Dudley's dietAlmost everything seemed to go wrong every time he had guests over when Harry was present. In 1992, he invited Mr and Mrs Mason over for dinner to try and secure a deal with Mr Mason about a stock of drills. He forced Harry to stay in his room and pretend he did not exist. Due to the appearance of Dobby, the deal did not go very well. The Ministry of Magic threatened to expel Harry, thinking he had done the magic himself. Then, in 1993, Vernon's sister Marge visited. When Marge insulted Harry's parents, Harry used magic to blow her up like a balloon. Vernon insisted Harry return her to how she was, but was refused. The Accidental Magic Reversal Squad later fixed her.
In 1994, he, along with Petunia, decided to put Dudley on diet. When it was not going so well, he threatened Dudley that he would cut his pocket money if he did not stop sneaking in sweets, which made Dudley go angry and throw his PlayStation out of a window. When Molly Weasley sent an invitation to the family, Vernon asked his nephew about the letter. After Harry explained, he yelled at him but eventually said that his nephew could go. When the Weasleys came to pick up Harry by the Floo Network, he became frightened, including when Arthur Weasley mentioned that he liked to collect batteries. When the Weasleys were leaving, his son ate a Ton-Tongue Toffee, causing his tongue to swell.
Dudley's attack and contact with the wizarding world
- "Happy are we? You've finally done it. You've driven him loopy"
- —Vernon after the Dementor attack on Harry Potter and Dudley Dursley
In 1995, Vernon learned that Voldemort had returned. Furthermore, Dudley was attacked by Dementors. He locked Harry into his room for several days until leaving with his wife and son, to accept an award for the best kept lawn in England. In fact, it was a trick of Nymphadora Tonks, who had sent the Dursleys an invitation to a fake awards ceremony. Tonks then escorted Harry to 12 Grimmauld Place, along with a group of wizards. It is unknown if Vernon ever discovered this, but it is likely that he was indignant at the ploy.
Hiding from Death Eaters
In the summer of 1997, Petunia, Dudley, and Vernon were placed under the protection of Dedalus Diggle and Hestia Jones, both members of the Order of the Phoenix, as it was believed that once Harry Potter turned seventeen, Voldemort would track down all members of his family and torture information out of them. Vernon, his wife and his son all left together: he did not care what would happen to Harry and it was Dudley, who had grown to respect Harry for saving his soul, who brought up the issue, though Vernon said little to Harry. After their goodbyes, the Dursleys were driven off into the distance, leaving Harry alone on his quest. Petunia and Dudley actually felt a certain amount of fondness towards Harry as they parted in 1997. Vernon was about to shake Harry's hand good-bye. However, because of his dislike of both Harry and magic overall, refrained from doing so at the last second. He left as quickly as possible, hoping to save himself from what he only knew as a very bad and powerful wizard, Lord Voldemort.
After the war, Vernon had some grandchildren by Dudley. It is unknown if he remained in contact with his nephew, if even only on Christmas-card terms, like Dudley did: regardless of whether he did or not, he had two great-nephews and a great-niece by Harry. It is also unknown whether he returned to his home at 4 Privet Drive, or if he stayed where he'd been hiding throughout the Second Wizarding War.
Vernon was described as a big, beefy man with a large purple face. He had thick, dark hair, a bushy black moustache, with hardly any neck and small, blue, mean eyes. Dudley much resembled him apart from his blond hair.
Personality and traits
Vernon was a Muggle and like Petunia, he detested and was afraid of magic and anything unusual or out of the ordinary, which he labelled as "funny business" in 1981. Naturally, he despised Harry, who was very much a symbol of both. In fact, Vernon's disdain for Harry was so great that Vernon even prohibited his nephew from saying words such as "magic" or "wizard" inside the house.
Vernon was a petty-minded bully who had no tolerance for people who were different than himself. He was shown to be unsympathetic to beggars and vagrants. He was very much concerned with status and wealth and tended to judge people based on how big their cars were or their clothes. He enjoyed ordering around his employees at Grunnings, enjoying his status and power as director of his company, sitting above them in a high office on the ninth floor. He advocated the death penalty, claiming that "...hanging's the only way to deal with these people," showing his very harsh view of criminal justice. Vernon liked to look big and impressive, yet was easily intimidated whenever he was put in situations that he was not used to, e.g., dealing with certain individuals, i.e., wizards, e.g., Albus Dumbledore, Arthur Weasley, Alastor Moody, Rubeus Hagrid, etc.
He was also shown to be quite oblivious to small things, particularly when cross, such as in 1992 when he asked Harry if he looked stupid to him when he became annoyed with the boy: he had a bit of fried egg sticking to his moustache. Sometimes when he was angry, Vernon would mumble, barely forming complete sentences.
He was also shown to be quite conservative in his political views, as he read the Daily Mail, a British tabloid famed for its right-wing political stance. He also seemed to have a low opinion of the state of the UK, saying: "No wonder the country's going to the dogs!" upon finding out that there was a Ministry of Magic, a popular Daily Mail editorial stance.
He was a complainer and his favourite subjects included people at work, the council, the bank, motorbikes, as well as most of all: Harry. He showed his disdain to Harry with nasty smiles and he was not afraid of physical confrontations, going as far as wrestling with his son, Dudley, to confiscate Harry's Hogwarts acceptance letter. He frequently became angry and he received brandy from his wife when he was rendered speechless by the "vanishing glass" incident at the zoo.
Vernon married Petunia Evans after having met her at work and likely learned of the wizarding world through her. He was deeply shocked, though, when Petunia confessed the truth however, he told Petunia solemnly that he would never hold it against her that she had a freak for a sister. Then Petunia threw herself upon him in such violent gratitude that he dropped his battered sausage. Together they did everything they could to keep their nephew Harry from learning the truth about his heritage and abilities and bossing him in any sort of ways. They also endlessly pampered and spoiled their only son, Dudley.
Vernon spoiled Dudley in a similar manner to his wife: they appear to buy Dudley anything he wants, often apparently to waylay a tantrum and indulged him with treats and activities, particularly those which Harry was not allowed. However, there is evidence that Vernon and Petunia were indulgent of their son's behaviour and contributed to his obesity before Harry was introduced to the household. They were frequently shown to be oblivious to his bullying and at times, criminal behaviour, Vernon showing pride in his son and interpreting some of these characteristics as manly. Vernon had a similar physique to Dudley, also being very large and when convinced to make Dudley diet by the school nurse, was forced disapprovingly to join in the family's regime, whereas previously he and his immediate family considered Dudley merely to have a healthy appetite. He became very proud of Dudley's resulting sporting achievements when this enforced exercise and diet helped him become a competing boxer, believing Dudley gave the Dementors the "ol' one-two" when they attacked him in 1995. He was, however, oblivious to the fact that Dudley used his new skills to terrorise neighbourhood children.
Vernon saw Harry as nothing more than a waste of space. Throughout his life, he tried to keep Harry as downtrodden as possible, in hopes of squashing the magic out of him. He lived in fear of anyone finding out about Harry's "abnormality". Vernon rarely referred to Harry by name, instead referring to him as "[the] boy" or "You", both to Harry directly and in conversation. Vernon would have a tendency to throw fits whenever Harry (either accidentally or intentionally) used words such as "magic", "wand", "Hogwarts", or "broomstick" in the house. Both guests and neighbours believed Vernon's explanation that Harry attended St. Brutus' Secure Centre for Incurably Criminal Boys, rather than the local comprehensive. Vernon even told Mr Mason and his wife that Harry was "disturbed" when explaining his sudden presence in the house in 1992.
Though Petunia felt some moral obligation to let Harry stay (however grudgingly and bitterly), Vernon felt nothing towards his nephew. He had no trouble throwing him out of the house, despite full knowledge that doing so would put his life in grave danger. Petunia, however, intervened when Dumbledore sent her a Howler, reminding her of the agreement she made when they took in Harry. Additionally, when Harry was forced to go to court for underage magic, Vernon openly admitted that he hoped that Harry would get the death penalty.
James PotterVernon Dursley's first meeting with James Potter went badly. Vernon asked James what car he drove, but James described his racing broom, thus Vernon started patronising him and finally offended James by supposing out loud that wizards had to live on unemployment benefit. Having heard from the wizard that he had a fortune in solid gold, he grew angry and stormed out of restaurant, where they had met with their wives. After that Vernon refused to talk with James, but described him, within James’ earshot, as "some kind of amateur magician".
Behind the scenes
- Vernon Dursley was the first character introduced in the Harry Potter series.
- Vernon is also one of only four characters in the Harry Potter book series whose thoughts have been disclosed by the narrator, the others being Harry Potter, Frank Bryce, as well as the British Prime Minister.
- Vernon is portrayed by the late Richard Griffiths in the film series.
- In an earlier draft of the fifth film, Vernon and Petunia notice the darkness caused by the Dementors and come running out in time to see Harry's patronus: consequently they do not blame him. Also in that draft, Vernon can see the Dementors and stares after them, dumbfounded, finally finding the strength to ask "What the hell are those?".
- In the books, Vernon is described as a "big, beefy man" with black hair and a matching moustache and being in his mid-thirties. In the films, however, he is a middle aged man who has greying hair and moustache. In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, his hair is blonde-grey and in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, it is grey-white.
- J. K. Rowling said the character in the series she most dislikes is probably Uncle Vernon.
- Vernon appeared in five of the eight Harry Potter movies. He did, however, appear in all seven books.
- J. K. Rowling had originally planned for one of Dudley's children to have magic and for Dudley to be at Platform 9 3/4 seeing them off to Hogwarts during the epilogue of Deathly Hallows. However, she later decided against this, saying that no magical genes could survive contact with Uncle Vernon's DNA.
- In the books, Vernon appears to be so afraid of magic that he forbids Harry to say any word related to magic (e.g. "wizard", "Hogwarts" "Hogsmeade", "Hogwarts Express" and the word "magic" itself). When he discusses magic, he usually uses euphemisms like "you-know-what" (magic), "that school" (Hogwarts), "that abnormality" (magic or magical ability), "[Harry]'s lot" (wizards and witches), or simply "it" to refer to magic. In the films, he actually utters the word "magic". Ironically, he's not afraid of the name Voldemort. Vernon also cannot remember the proper name of Dementors, referring to them as "dismembers", "dementy-whatsits" and the like.
- The scene in which the Dursleys leave the house in the seventh book is shortened down to a scene at the beginning of the seventh film where Vernon and Dudley are leaving their house and are hastily packing away their furniture. Petunia is seen waiting in the car already. Vernon has two lines in this scene while Dudley has one and Petunia doesn't speak.
- Vernon appears also in a deleted scene from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, in which Dudley asks Vernon why Harry is not coming with them and Vernon says he does not want to. Vernon also enthusiastically tells Harry "This isn't just goodbye, boy, is it? This is farewell!" something at which Harry nods.
- Richard Griffiths, along with the actor of Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe, was shown on a poster in the movies as an obvious reference to him. The show the poster was for is Equus. The production did star both Griffiths and Radcliffe in real life, but happened later in the real world than in-universe.
- Unlike his magic-hating character, Richard Griffifths was very interested in the idea of a boy attending a school for wizards and throughout the film series was hopeful that he could film a scene where Uncle Vernon is summoned to Hogwarts, however this was firmly vetoed by J.K. Rowling.
Vernon is from a French last name for "alder tree".
Dursley is a town in Gloucestershire, England. J. K. Rowling has commented that she visited the place as a child and hated it, which likely affected her choice of surname for the awful family, remarking "I don't imagine I'm very popular in Dursley". The town is known for it's Victorian history in coal mining. Rowling chose the name because it sounded "dull and forbidding".
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game) (Mentioned 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) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game) (GBA version only) (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 (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
- LEGO Harry Potter: Building the Magical World
- LEGO Harry Potter: Characters of the Magical World
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- Harry Potter LEGO Sets
- Harry Potter Trading Card Game
Notes and references
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Chapter 3 (The Dursleys Departing)
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Pottermore backstory of Vernon Durlsey and Petunia Evans
- ↑ In a deleted scene on Disc Two of the Blu-ray edition of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Petunia tells Harry, "I have lived in this house for twenty years," indicating she settled at 4 Privet Drive with Vernon in 1977, since the scene is set in 1997.
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - Chapter 3 (The Letters from No One)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - Chapter 4 (The Keeper of the Keys)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - Chapter 6 (The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-quarters)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - Chapter 1 (The Worst Birthday)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - Chapter 2 (Dobby's Warning)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Chapter 2 (Aunt Marge's Big Mistake)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Chapter 2 (The Scar)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Chapter 3 (The Invitation)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Chapter 4 (Back to the Burrow)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Chapter 2 (A Peck of Owls)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Chapter 3 (The Advanced Guard)
- ↑ JK Rowling's Official Site: Harry and Dudley: Future Hope?
- ↑ Wikipedia:Dursley
- ↑ 2001 BBC Online Chat