The Birthday of Professor Quirinus Quirrell

Sep 26, 2017

Posted by: Kim McChesney

Birthdays, Character Birthdays, Films, Harry Potter and the Philosophers / Sorcerers Stone, Hart, News, Pottermore

September 26 is the birthday of Harry Potter’s first Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Quirinus Quirrell. To mark this day, let’s take a look at some of the surprising details we noticed upon our celebratory 20th Anniversary re-read of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, as well as some facets of this interesting character that his creator, J.K. Rowling, has delivered since she first gave us book one.

As we know, Quirrell, who’s played in the films by English actor Ian Hart, enters the story after having left his position at Hogwarts as Professor of Muggle Studies and traveled abroad in search of Voldemort. Why was Quirrell chosen to teach Muggle Studies in the first place? What made him qualified for this position? Wouldn’t someone like Arthur Weasley, who had a heart for Muggles and an interest in the Muggle world have been a better choice? Perhaps he intended the appointment as just a stepping stone; a means to explore his true interests in dark magic. Quirrell was only 20 years old at the time he returned to Hogwarts wearing He Who Must Not Be Named on the back of his head. He was just a teenager during that initial assignment and obviously an ambivalent and impressionable one.


Interestingly we’re reminded that Quirinus Quirrell was actually a Ravenclaw, though he certainly behaved as a card-carrying Slytherin during the course of Sorcerer’s Stone. Was Quirrell ever marked as a Death Eater? Fans are aware that most of the Dark Lord’s henchmen were Slytherin. Was this the reason Voldemort employed his host so parasitically as opposed to including Quirrell in his heinous minion?

Some of these answers may lie with the insight into Quirrell’s personality and backstory Rowling gives us on Pottermore:

“I saw Quirrell as a gifted but delicate boy, who would probably have been teased for his timidity and nerves during his school life. Feeling inadequate and wishing to prove himself, he developed an (initially theoretical) interest in the Dark Arts. Like many people who feel themselves to be insignificant, even laughable, Quirrell had a latent desire to make the world sit up and notice him.”


Aside from the obvious comparison of this nervous young wizard to a quivering squirrel, per Rowling, which other character from the Harry Potter canon does this portrayal describe? Who else was gifted, but seemingly “delicate”  as a boy? Who else was chronically bullied at school to the point that he felt laughable? Though they seemed to have walked parallel paths early in life, what are the inherent differences between Quirrell and Severus Snape? Though it’s possible that they both turned towards dark magic as a defense mechanism, Quirrell’s underlying motivation appeared to be fear, while Snape’s had certainly always been love. Perhaps this is the ultimate reason why Snape’s death, though torturous, didn’t result in complete annihilation as was Quirrell’s demise. His grueling reaction to Harry’s touch during their fight for the Sorcerer’s Stone seemed to be the saga’s first physical representation of good versus evil.

It’s likely that Dumbledore hired Quirrell to teach at Hogwarts directly after graduation so the headmaster must have believed he was the best wizard for the job. Was the most powerful wizard of his time fooled by Quirrell or did Dumbledore have his number and place the Mirror of Erised in the Sorcerer’s Stone chamber to give Quirrell the chance to redeem himself? And Rowling has told us that Quirrell had basically become a makeshift Horcrux while Voldemort leeched his life energy. What do you think about that possibility in the scheme of the entire epic? On Professor’s Quirrell’s birthday, we take the opportunity to ponder these questions, and maybe even answer a few. Let us know your thoughts!


The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.