Notes from a Harry Potter Reread: How does Professor Quirrell know about the infamous grudge between Snape and Potter?

articles, harry potter, j.k. rowling, james potter, notes from a harry potter reread, professor quirrell, severus snape, voldemort / Friday, June 16th, 2017

Another unanswered question from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is how Professor Quirrell knows about the Severus Snape and James Potter rivalry. In my recollections I didn’t think it was even really mentioned until the third book: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azakban. Sheesh, was I wrong! And from the least likely person, Professor Quirrell? What the heck? I could see Dumbledore, maybe even Hagrid, but Quirrell.

Backtracking a scene or two from my last “Notes from a Harry Potter Reread” and my outburst, Professor Quirrell is doing his evil villain thang and revealing to Harry that he was the villain and not our dear Byronic hero Severus Snape. In the middle of his revelations, poor little Harry Potter’s head must have exploded by this turn of events, because of this statement:

Harry to Quirrell: “But Snape always seemed to hate me so much.”

“Oh, he does,” said Quirrell casually, “heavens, yes. He was at Hogwarts with your father, didn’t you know? They loathed each other. But he never wanted you dead.” (290).

Then Harry asks Dumbledore: “Yes him—Quirrell said he hates me because he hated my father. Is that true?”

“Well, they did rather detest each other. Not unlike yourself and Mr. Malfoy. And then, your father did something Snape could never forgive.”


“He saved his life.”


“Yes…” said Dumbledore dreamily. “Funny, the way people’s mind work, isn’t it? Professor Snape couldn’t bear being in your father’s debt….I do believe he worked hard to protect you this year because he felt that would make him and you father even. Then he could go back to hating your father’s memory in peace….”

“Harry tried to understand this but it made his head pound, so he stopped” (300).

Woah, just woah. For those Harry Potter fans out there, this plot line comes back around later in the series. It is such large portion of Harry’s complicated relationship with Snape, I’m not so surprised it was briefly mentioned in the first book. However, this foreshadowing was put in throwaway lines.  The question of how does Quirrell know about the rivalry is left unanswered. Dumbledore doesn’t even seem surprised that Quirrell told Harry which makes me think there’s something suspicious a foot. Actually, he ignores the fact Quirrell told Harry all of this information and dives straight into talking about James and Snape’s relationship and the parallel between Harry and Draco’s relationship.Now, why would you do that Dumbledore? Unless, you’re trying to hide something!

Since one of my favorite pastimes is to come up with crazy explanations here are a few of them: 

A. Did Snape tell him?
Snape doesn’t seem like the most cuddly person to warm up to. So I don’t think this could be really a possibility. 
B. Did he go to school with Snape and James Potter?
There is an emphasis on the fact he’s young  or on the younger side so I’m assuming not.
C. Did Lord Voldemort tell him?
How would he know in the first place?
D. Did Dumbledore tell him?
Weirdly this one seems the most likely. Dumbledore establishes with Harry he knows about the rivalry. It could be possible he told him. Dumbledore works in mysterious ways.
Work Cited

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone.  New York:  Scholastic, 1998. Print

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