Madam Irma Pince was a highly unpleasant witch and the librarian at the Library of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. As all Hogwarts staff are highly skilled and professional, Madam Pince was no exception as she was highly possessive and protective of the Hogwarts Library's valuable books. She was a severe and strict woman, who was described as thin, irritable and looked like an underfed vulture. After the death of Albus Dumbledore, she attended his funeral and wore a long black veil as a mark of respect. Madam Pince may have also participated in the Battle of Hogwarts, unless she was busy protecting her precious books.
Irma Pince was born sometime before 1970 and presumably purchased her wand prior to attending school. She likely attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and proceeded with her studies into the magic arts until at least her sixth year, since she could perform intricate non-verbal magic and place powerful jinxes and hexes on objects.
Career at Hogwarts
At some point, Pince took up the position of Librarian at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, being granted the title of "madam". She was greatly disliked by the students for being very strict and unhelpful in finding books for them. An example of her strictness was the fact that she would not allow food in the library, for fear that the books would be damaged, and also disallowed talking, laughing, whispering, sneezing, scurrying, or any other behaviour that might seem at all suspicious in any way. She was also known to jinx books for their protection.
At some point, the Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, visited the library with the goal of publishing Quidditch Through the Ages for Muggles to raise money. However, Madam Pince was extremely reluctant to let the book leave the confines of the library, aswell as the wizarding world, and Dumbledore had to pries each of her fingers from the spine to take it. Once he had taken the book, she wrote a warning, threatening the readers that the consequences of mistreating the book would be as horrible as it was in her power to make them.
Madam Pince was still librarian by the time Harry Potter had arrived at the school. Around this time, she may have started a relationship with the caretaker, Argus Filch. As Harry, along with his friends Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger, searched the library for a book on Nicolas Flamel, Pince got in their way countless times. The first time, she saw Harry edging towards the Restricted Section of the Library and asked him what he was looking for. When he answered "nothing" for fear of her suspicion, she sent him out.
Later on, Hermione Granger arrived at the library with a note written by the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher allowing her to attain Moste Potente Potions from the Restricted Section. She gave it to Madam Pince, albeit reluctantly, wanting to keep Lockhart's autograph, and Pince did a very long observation of the note, checking for forgery. She then went into the Restricted Section and handed over the book, which she was suspicious of.
In 1996, Madam Pince was seen prowling around the library, breathing down the necks of those touching her precious books. Later on, Dolores Umbridge, the Hogwarts High Inquisitor and Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, became headmistress and Pince continued to work at the school.
During the Easter Term, she was seen stamping out a couple of books for a frantic-looking Hannah Abbott, who was presumably revising for her O.W.L.s. That day, she found Ginny Weasley and Harry Potter with chocolate in the library, and used her wand to bewitch their belongings to chase them out.
Madam Pince remained at the library for the next school year, prowling around the bookshelves and protecting her books and tomes. At eight o'clock in the evening one day, Pince closed the library and told all of the students in there to return the books back to their correct homes and to leave. When she told Harry Potter and Hermione Granger to leave, she noticed Harry's highly graffitied copy of Advanced Potion-Making. Enraged, she screamed about how the book was "despoiled" and "befouled", and looked as if she may have had a seizure.
After the death of Albus Dumbledore, Madam Pince was seen prior to the funeral in the Entrance Hall, standing by Argus Filch and wearing a thick black veil that fell to her knees. It is likely she attended the funeral.
- "Madam Pince, the librarian, was a thin, irritable woman who looked like an underfed vulture."
- —A brief description of the strict librarian.[src]
Madam Pince was frequently described as looking like an under-fed vulture. Her skin was parchment-like, her cheeks were sunken, her face was shriveled and she had an unflattering hooked-nose. She was also very thin, very old and irritable-looking.
Skills and Abilities
Librarian Skills: As a librarian, Madam Pince was able to easily locate various pieces of information for students, as Harry Potter was sure that she would be able to find Nicolas Flamel in a second, but thought it might be too suspicious to ask her about it. Jinxing and Hexing: Madam Pince was skilled with jinxing and hexing books with nasty spells to make sure that they were returned in time. She also jinxed Harry Potter's belongings to chase him and Ginny Weasley out of the library. Non-verbal Magic: Madam Pince was also adept in casting intricate non-verbal magic with her wand. One example was when she saw Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley with chocolate in the library. She jinxed their possessions to chase them out.
The last name Pince seems to be in reference to the French word, which means "to pinch." The style of folding eyeglass, pince-nez, literally means "to pinch the nose." Irma could be a play on firma, which can mean both solid and frail. This makes her name mean something along the lines of "a frail woman with a pinched nose", or one who has a "firm pinch." Irma could also mean "the strong" or "she who is protected by Irm" (Irm is a Germanic god).
Behind the scenes
- Madam Pince was portrayed by Sally Mortemore in the movie adaptation of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets where she appears briefly sat next to Severus Snape at the staff table, and can be seen in the background of several other scenes.
- Madam Pince's role in the second film amounted to several appearances with no speaking parts. However it seems a speaking part was filmed and subsequently cut from the shown film, however on the Chamber of Secrets DVD two disc set, Madam Pince's speaking scene is on the DVD.
- Irma Pince has been rumoured to be Eileen Prince in hiding, due to the fact that the letters in Pince's name can be rearranged to spell "I am Prince," but this has not been confirmed.
- In the video game adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Madam Pince is seen awarding house points. She never does so in the books.
- In the video game adaptation of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Madam Pince appears to have red hair, rather than black.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game) (GBC and GBA versions 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) (GBC version only. Mentioned in P.C. version)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game) (Mentioned only) (Only appears in GBA version)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Hogwarts Library's Copy of Quidditch Through the Ages