Responses to Life and Lies / Post-Deathly Hallows Era / Pre-Deathly Hallows Era / Pre-Half Blood Prince Era
The very last section of the book is the bibliography, which enumerates the best and most relevant writing about Dumbledore that can be found online. It is reproduced here for the convenience of those reading the paperback version.
Anyone looking for a comprehensive fictional biography of Albus Dumbledore would do well to visit his page on The Harry Potter Lexicon. The page is useful for both fast facts and for insightful analysis (like the etymology of his name, for example).
One of the biggest compliments I’ve ever received is that this book inspired people to write more about Dumbledore!
Lorrie Kim; Khaytman on Dumbledore (7 parts)
Soon after this book was first published, Lorrie wrote an insightful series of chapter-by-chapter responses on her blog.
Lorrie Kim; ‘And my soul, Dumbledore?’: The Snape-Dumbledore Relationship
Lorrie examines how Snape began to identify with Dumbledore in Deathly Hallows upon finding out that, in fact, Dumbledore’s life is much more similar to his own complicated past than to Harry’s unsullied goodness.
Sophia Jenkins; A Double-Edged Sword: How Dumbledore Uses the Sword of Gryffindor to Plot Against Voldemort
Sophia is the one who realized that the fake Sword of Gryffindor was actually a factor in Dumbledore’s plans, a way to uncover Voldemort’s preferred hiding spot. It’s one of the cleverest theories I’ve seen emerge from the fandom in recent years.
Sophia Jenkins; What Was Dumbledore Plotting? – Part 1: The Hallows and the Elder Wand
Sophia challenges my theory that Dumbledore meant Harry to be master of Death, and the corollary that he intended Snape to be the Elder Wand’s master after Dumbledore’s death.
Sophia Jenkins, What Was Dumbledore Plotting? – Part 2: Harry as a Horcrux and the Accident of Snape’s Death
Sophia first debates the feasibility of telling Harry he’s a horcrux earlier in Dumbledore’s plans. Then she dives deep into whether Snape was aware of the Elder Wand, and the attendant target on his back from killing Dumbledore.
Stacey Lannigan; Dumbledore: Killer of the Potters
This essay is the latest to accuse Dumbledore of being responsible for the Potters’ deaths, as discussed in Appendix B.
Josie Kearns; Philosopher’s Stone—Dumbledore’s Perspective
Josie Kearns is one of the foremost essayists of the post-Deathly Hallows era, and her entire website (hp-companion.com) is worth reading through for analysis of the seven books. Much of this book owes her a debt of gratitude, because I tend to agree with her on a lot of what Dumbledore was scheming. However, she tends to credit the characters with knowing, deducing, and orchestrating much more than I do. In her essay on Sorcerer’s Stone, she reaches the same end goal I do for Dumbledore but theorizes that Dumbledore knew Quirrell was possessed from the get-go and set traps accordingly.
Josie Kearns; What Did Dobby Know?
This essay does not pertain to Dumbledore per se, but it does explain what Lucius was up to during Chamber of Secrets, which helps us understand why that tripped Dumbledore up.
Josie Kearns; Needing More Time
Josie’s perspective on the climax of Prisoner of Azkaban is that Dumbledore pretty much knew everything going on the entire time.
Josie Kearns; A Very Bad Year for Albus Dumbledore (and it’s all Snape’s fault)
Probably my favorite HP essay, this lays out why Dumbledore is at a loss during Goblet of Fire. It illustrates how the breakdown in communication between Snape and Dumbledore was instrumental in allowing Crouch Jr. to get away with masquerading as Moody.
Josie Kearns; Harry Potter, Occlumens?
Josie lays out an intriguing theory that Dumbledore set up the Occlumency lessons to fail on purpose.
Josie Kearns; Prophecy
This essay discusses the Ministry’s knowledge of the prophecy, which puts their interactions with Harry and Dumbledore in a fascinating new light.
mirrormere; The Flaw in the Plan
This essay is very similar to what you just read in this book but uses a similar style of deep dive into the books to reach nearly the opposite conclusions I did: namely, that Dumbledore prioritized Snape in his plans as opposed to using Snape dangerously to give Harry an edge.
Iain Walker; 04/16/2019 comment on MuggleNet
Iain is one of the most insightful commenters on MuggleNet’s Disqus threads, and this essay-length comment is a terrific analysis of Dumbledore’s character. It’s one of the only analyses of Dumbledore’s character that I agree with whole-heartedly. Iain points out that Dumbledore is a manipulator, but not a user; a consequentialist who nevertheless emphasizes virtues of choice and love. Iain also notes that Dumbledore uses what he sees as his own flaws to try to better the world, and comes to the same conclusion I did: “He’s extraordinarily flawed, but in a way that makes him extraordinarily human.”
Fiona McTaggart; Albus and Aberforth – A Fraught Relationship
While most analysis of Albus Dumbledore focuses on his relationship to the abandoned boys, this piece dives into his relationship with his younger brother Aberforth. By zeroing in on seemingly throwaway lines, we get a clearer picture of both brothers’ characters and their relationship.
Laurie Beckoff; Dumbledore’s Downfalls and the Shadow of Merlin
A deep dive into the similarities between Dumbledore and Merlin, going beyond their role as “wise mentor with a beard.” Specifically focusing on Merlin as portrayed in The Once and Future King, this points out how both wizards had early knowledge of their impending death, and how both suffered by falling in love with an enemy.
Richa Venkatraman; Dumbledore Never Treats Harry Like He Seems to Be Treating Newt
This essay draws a line from Dumbledore’s failure to confront Grindelwald through to his work against Voldemort. Richa points out this shows growth on Dumbledore’s part: he failed to act against Grindelwald for decades, yet accepted the task of taking down Voldemort right away, and therefore felt responsible for making all the tough choices he did. While this book does not deal with Dumbledore before the 1980s, Richa’s essay is great for putting these events in Dumbledore’s historical context.
Eleanor Harrison-Dengate; Dumbledore and Churchill: War Heroes of 1945
An interesting comparison of Albus Dumbledore to a real-life historical figure who may have served as an inspiration for him: Winston Churchill. This predated the renaissance of Churchill in popular culture, and remains a very good piece of analysis
HufflepuffSam; The Master of Death
One of the most recent pieces of relevant Potter scholarship, this essay examines what the concept of being Master of Death means and how no one ever achieved it in the HP series. Apart from anything else, there is the wonderful observation that the first time all three Hallows are united in one place is in a chapter titled (and all about) “Horcruxes,” presaging the Hallows vs. Horcruxes debate.
Raisin Gal; Dumbledore and the Invisibility Cloak
One of the articles suggesting that Dumbledore was responsible for the death of Lily Potter, as addressed in Appendix B.
Theowyn; The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore
Theowyn talks about Dumbledore manipulating things, much as this book does, but with the least charitable reading of Dumbledore I’ve found. Fans who are skeptical of Dumbledore’s goodness and still have a hard time forgiving him will enjoy this one.
Sarah Putnam Park; Dumbledorian Ethics
In perhaps the most charitable reading of Dumbledore post-Deathly Hallows, Sarah argues that Dumbledore is really the Ultimate Utilitarian. It’s worth reading in conjunction with Theowyn’s to get both ends of the spectrum regarding Dumbledore.
Joyce Odell (a.k.a. Red Hen); The Quirrell Debacle
Red Hen (in her signature snippy tone) offers an alternate reading of Sorcerer’s Stone, one where Quirrell is a victim whom Dumbledore is trying to rescue, and Harry is largely beside the point. Most interesting is a section near the end where Red Hen claims that Dumbledore was worried about Harry being like Tom Riddle and tested him with the Mirror of Erised.
D.W. Hill; Snape and Dumbledore: The Unnecessary Bargain
This piece was among the first to use the new information from Deathly Hallows to talk about the relationship between the Dumbledore and Snape, focusing specifically on Dumbledore’s trust in Snape. My favorite bit is when Hill claims that Dumbledore trusts Snape because he relates to Snape’s remorse over a loved one’s death.
Avogadro; Choice or Chance?
This essay, published very soon after Deathly Hallows, examined the worthwhile question of what ended up as the driving force in the final battle: choice or chance? That debate is a proxy to all that we’ve discussed here: how much of what happened was influenced by Dumbledore’s efforts (choice), and how much of it happened regardless or despite his plans (chance)? Avogadro reaches a similar conclusion to me: it’s both choice and chance working in conjunction that allow Harry to prevail.
Lady Lupin; Spinner’s End #26: Finite Incantatem
It has taken me a decade to puzzle all this out about Dumbledore, yet Lady Lupin arrived there exactly a month after Deathly Hallows was published. Her MuggleNet column, Spinner’s End, correctly predicted more things in the last book than anyone else’s. This, her reaction piece to the last book, has a wonderful section on Albus, going over his motivations and his character in much the same way I did (though with fewer words). She, too, admires Dumbledore for his flaws and remains convinced he cared about Harry above all else.
D.W. Hill; Dumbledore’s Trust in Snape Part 1: Headmaster and Schoolboy
A month before Deathly Hallows was released, D.W. Hill wrote a wonderful trilogy of editorials titled Dumbledore’s Trust in Snape. The publication of Deathly Hallows made much of it moot, but there are some excellent points in there.
D.W. Hill; Dumbledore’s Trust in Snape Part 2: More Than a Potions Master
Hill makes the very intriguing claim that Snape is so nasty to Harry in order to get Harry emotional, allowing Snape to read his mind (on Dumbledore’s orders).
D.W. Hill; Dumbledore’s Trust in Snape Part 3: Riffs and Curiosities
Hill continues in the (rather charitable) vein that Snape is only being nasty for Harry’s own good, and has some great insights into the end of Prisoner of Azkaban in particular.
D.W. Hill; Severus Snape: A Portrait in Subtlety
Hill wrote this essay in defense of Snape several months before Deathly Hallows, and there is an especially interesting section predicting that Snape is Dumbledore’s Plan B for destroying the Horcruxes and so on.
Steve Connolly; Dumbledore’s Master Plan (7 parts)
Steve Connolly essentially did what I attempted to do with this book—find Dumbledore’s hand in all the events of the HP books—in a seven-part editorial (first part in the link). However, he does so several months before Deathly Hallows was published. To that end, the speculation in the first and last part largely proved to be inaccurate but is worth reading to see how intricately Rowling wove her tale. However, in the middle parts, Steve Connolly figures out many of the things I’ve written about, without the hindsight of Deathly Hallows! For example, in Part 6, he writes about how the prophecy is a decoy set up by Dumbledore.
Felicitys_mind; Dumbledore’s Boggart
This essay puts forward the theory that Dumbledore’s boggart is harm coming to the children under his care, which is well-reasoned even if it turned out wrong. More interestingly, this piece brings forth the still valid theory that the potion in the cave that Dumbledore drank made him relive the torture of Amy Benson and Dennis Bishop.
Felicitys_mind; Fantastic Potions and How They Helped Albus Dumbledore in HBP
The first part of this essay builds on Cathy Leisner’s “Stoppered Death Theory,” which isn’t available online. That theory accurately predicted that the curse on the Ringcrux was deadly and that Snape had “stoppered” Dumbledore’s death (harkening back to Snape’s speech in Harry’s first Potions class). The Stoppered Death Theory successfully explained just about everything that went on in Half-Blood Prince. This essay then veers off into the theory that Dumbledore took Felix Felicis the night of his death, and how everything that happened actually helped him achieve his ultimate objectives.
Andrew Cooper; Machiavelli’s Half-Blood Prince
This is my favorite of the many essays written between HBP and DH about Snape being Machiavelli’s Prince—it turned out very wrong but is no less clever for it.
B.J. Texan; Machiavelli’s Half-Blood Prince
This is another essay marking Snape as Machiavelli’s Prince, and claiming he would be the Big Bad of the series. However, there are a few extra gems in here. In particular, the essay correctly theorizes that Snape’s Patronus is a big spoiler, though it guesses that the Patronus is a fox and therefore reveals the motif of The Prince.
Corinne Demyanovich & Michael Hagel; Did Albus Dumbledore Set Up Events So That Harry Potter Would Go After the Philosopher’s Stone?
This is one of the earliest essays I found that really goes in-depth about Dumbledore orchestrating things in Sorcerer’s Stone, and much of it is really spot-on.
Robbie Fischer; He Did It All for Harry
This was part of a series of eulogies for Dumbledore that MuggleNet hosted at The Burrow. Robbie raised the intriguing idea that Dumbledore gave Snape the D.A.D.A. position (which led to his own demise) purely to help Harry become an Auror.
Mudblood428; Harry Says a Few Words
In case there’s been a little too much doom and gloom about Dumbledore, this essay (also part of the series of eulogies) is a good reminder of how much we (and Harry) loved Dumbledore.
DemenTom; The New Ship at the Heart of Harry Potter
If you want a good laugh at how the fandom used to hero-worship Dumbledore, I think this essay is exemplary. Released in the half-year after Half-Blood Prince when we were all still processing our grief, this essay highlights everything from Dumbledore’s politeness to his trust and belief in people.
WhiteAlchemist; Kicking at Dumbledore’s Corpse for Fun
This piece erroneously claims that Dumbledore was lying to Harry in HBP about who knows the contents of the prophecy. But it’s notable as one of the first post-HBP pieces to seriously question Dumbledore’s honesty while the rest of the fandom mourned him.
Daniela Teo; The Two-Way Mirror #22: Love or Hate?
Less than a month after Half-Blood Prince came out, Daniela Teo at the Two-Way Mirror produced this fascinating take on Snape’s relationship with Dumbledore. While missing the crucial fact of Dumbledore being in on the plan, she paints a compelling portrait of a Snape driven by resentment at Dumbledore due to Dumbledore’s favoritism of Harry over Snape. It’s also a welcome contrast to the exultation of Dumbledore taking place during that era.
Sophierom; Dumbledore’s Decisions and the Vulnerability of Authority
Sophie wrote about the theme of hierarchical relationships versus equal ones in Order of the Phoenix. The theme is relevant to the entire series, and significant in this analysis because Dumbledore had no equals aside from Grindelwald.
Maline Fredén; The North Tower #35: Albus Dumbledore—Clueless or Calculating
The North Tower was one of the best regular columns on MuggleNet in its heyday, which is saying something. This essay discusses Dumbledore planning the events in Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets much as I do, but without the benefit of having read the last two books. My favorite part is Maline’s point that both Voldemort and Dumbledore have a weakness for wanting to win in a specific way.
Daniela Teo; The Two-Way Mirror #9: Dumbledore’s Plan
Prepare to be awed as you read this editorial. In MuggleNet’s heyday, the columnists and editorialists would regularly build upon each other’s writing, creating the kind of literary dialogue English professors can only dream of. Daniela built upon the above editorial by Maline and wrote this gem. It suggests that Dumbledore was willing to do some pretty morally questionable things in the service of his grand plan and suggests that Dumbledore actually planned Lily’s sacrifice as part of his plan.
Although the particulars are wrong, keep in mind this was written in 2004. 2004, several years before Deathly Hallows proved her to be right on the money regarding Dumbledore’s character! Aside from the very early predictions that Dumbledore would turn out to be the Big Bad of the series, this was perhaps the first essay to question Dumbledore’s goodness, and almost certainly the first to get it right.
MarinaRusalka; Thoughts on Dumbledore
This was written shortly after Order of the Phoenix, and holds up all these years later as one of the most damning indictments of Dumbledore’s character I’ve ever read. Armed with only the first five books, Rusalka presciently paints a Dumbledore who is a master manipulator obsessed with others’ loyalty to himself.