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Have You Heard About the Dursleys?

by Maryann Pisano on June 24, 2015

The queen has spoken yet again!  J.K. Rowling herself turned to her website, Pottermore, to pen a story about Vernon and Petunia Dursley to celebrate Dudley Dursley’s 35th birthday June 23.

“Harry’s aunt and uncle met at work,” Rowling wrote. “Petunia Evans, forever embittered by the fact that her parents seemed to value her witch sister more than they valued her, left Cokeworth forever to pursue a typing course in London. This led to an office job, where she met the extremely unmagical, opinionated and materialistic Vernon Dursley.”

Lily’s relationship with her sister suffered when Vernon and James Potter couldn’t get along.  This led to the Dursleys to not attend the Potter wedding, and missing Harry’s birth.  After James and Lily’s death, Petunia had no choice but to take Harry in after receiving Dumbledore’s letter.

“She did it grudgingly, and spent the rest of Harry’s childhood punishing him for her own choice,” Rowling wrote. “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.”

As for the inspiration for their names, Rowling wrote: “Vernon and Petunia were so-called from their creation, and never went through a number of trial names, as so many other characters did.”  Vernon was because it was “simply a name [she] never much cared for” and Petunia because “the name that [she] always gave unpleasant female characters in games of make believe.”

“The Dursleys are reactionary, prejudiced, narrow-minded, ignorant and bigoted; most of my least favorite things,” Rowling wrote. “I wanted to suggest, in the final book, that something decent (a long-forgotten but dimly burning love of her sister; the realization 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. 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. Nobody ever seemed to expect any better from Uncle Vernon, so they were not disappointed.”

Source:  Pottermore, UsWeekly 

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