J.K. Rowling's latest entry for Pottermore gives us (among other things) an in-depth glimpse into the backstory of the Dursleys, Harry Potter's horrible aunt and uncle from the Harry Potter series.
Released on Tuesday (the birthday of Harry's cousin Dudley Dursley), the new writing reveals Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia's romantic history dating back to their courtship - which, according to Rowling, is as you might expect. Vernon took Petunia on "a series of dull dates, during which he talked mainly about himself and his predictable ideas on the world." Nevertheless, "Petunia was dreaming of the moment when he would place a ring on her finger."
Petunia and Vernon collectively shunned her sister and brother-in-law (Harry's parents), with Petunia refusing to let Lily be a bridesmaid in her wedding and Vernon referring to James as "some kind of amateur magician."
Rowling also addressed fans of the books who have criticized Aunt Petunia's final goodbye to Harry. "I wanted to suggest, in the final book, that something decent (a long-forgotten but dimly burning love of her sister; the realisation that she might never see Lily's eyes again) almost struggled out of Aunt Petunia when she said goodbye to Harry for the last time, but that she is not able to admit to it, or show those long-buried feelings," Rowling writes. "Although some readers wanted more from Aunt Petunia during this farewell, I still think that I have her behave in a way that is most consistent with her thoughts and feelings throughout the previous seven books."
Here are some of the other things Rowling revealed about Harry's guardians:
-The origin of their names: Vernon and Petunia Dursley " never went through a number of trial names, as so many other characters did," Rowling writes. "'Vernon' is simply a name I never much cared for. 'Petunia' is the name that I always gave unpleasant female characters in games of make believe I played with my sister, Di, when we were very young." As far as the surname, Rowling says she selected Dursley, the name of a town in Gloucestershire, because she liked the sound of it. "I have never visited Dursley, and I am sure it is full of charming people," she notes.
-Why they took Harry in: After reading Dumbledore's letter, which described Lily's bravery in the face of death, Petunia "felt she had no choice but to take Harry in, and raise him alongside her own cherished son, Dudley. She did it grudgingly, and spent the rest of Harry's childhood punishing him for her own choice."
-Why Vernon hates Harry so much: "Uncle Vernon's dislike of Harry stems in part, like Severus Snape's, from Harry's close resemblance to the father they both so disliked," Rowling writes.
Read the full backstory, as well as additional content, here.