In one of her interviews, J.K. Rowling once stated:

Q: Have any of the Hogwarts professors had spouses?
JKR: Good question - yes, a few of them, but that information is sort of restricted - you'll find out why...

Now, I can read that in one of two ways, neither of which makes sense to me:

  1. Either it's restricted by JKR from being made known to fans at the time of the interview (2001), due to information being a spoiler for a future book ("you'll find out why" may be read that way)

    However, I can't seem to remember ANY information in post-2001 books (OotP and on) which would shed some light on professors' spouses.

    Question 1: Was there any information in HP5-HP7 (or supplementary books) about professors' spouses (especially one that was interesting/important enough that JKR was afraid to spoil it?)?

  2. Or, it's information restricted in-universe, e.g. for security reasons, and the reasons for restriction will be in a later book ("you'll find out why" meaning "you'll be told the reasons for restriction").

    Question 2: Was there any information in HP5-HP7 (or supplementary books) that showed why information on professors' spouses needed to be restricted in-universe?

  • 6
    Maybe it's because she didn't want to get into the whole issue of Dumbledore's orientation until after she was done.
    – Tango
    Feb 8, 2012 at 1:33
  • 1
    Looking at the extent of Kevin's edits, I don't know if I should hide in shame, or drag him onto English.SE, or both :) Thanks! Feb 8, 2012 at 1:35
  • 1
    @TangoOversway - that was my first (and only) thought, but I really don't see how the spouses part was even remotely relevant. The fact that Dumbledore isn't married is almost clearly obvious from the first 4 books, even if the reason isn't. Feb 8, 2012 at 1:36
  • Hey, whenever you want to hide in shame, we're okay with that. As for the spouses, I suspect that, originally, it was her way of dodging the question at the time and that she had plans for some to emerge in the story at the right time, but that's just a guess.
    – Tango
    Feb 8, 2012 at 1:38
  • 2
    Just here to help. Don't worry, your posts aren't bad. And I am on English.SE :) (though only ~480 rep)
    – Kevin
    Feb 8, 2012 at 2:10

3 Answers 3


This was likely a reference to Professor McGonagall

In Rowling's notes, Professor McGonagall had a backstory involving her delaying her marriage to Elphinstone Urquart until her first love (who she felt unable to marry for political reasons) had been murdered, blaming herself for his death, then finally marrying Elphinstone Urquart only for him to also die three years later.

Unlike some characters (e.g. Hagrid, Dumbledore, Snape), McGonagall's backstory ultimately never made the final cut, but it seems that at the time Rowling thought it would come up.

Rowling eventually published her notes on McGonagall's backstory in a 2011 Pottermore essay.

Upon graduation from Hogwarts, Minerva returned to the manse to enjoy one last summer with her family before setting out for London, where she had been offered a position at the Ministry of Magic (Department of Magical Law Enforcement). These months were to prove some of the most difficult of Minerva’s life, for it was then, aged only eighteen, that she proved herself truly her mother’s daughter, by falling head-over-heels in love with a Muggle boy. It was the first and only time in Minerva McGonagall’s life that she might have been said to lose her head. Dougal McGregor was the handsome, clever and funny son of a local farmer. Though less beautiful than Isobel, Minerva was clever and witty. Dougal and Minerva shared a sense of humour, argued fiercely, and suspected mysterious depths in each other. Before either of them knew it, Dougal was on one knee in a ploughed field, proposing, and Minerva was accepting him.

She went home, intending to tell her parents of her engagement, yet found herself unable to do so. All that night she lay awake, thinking about her future. Dougal did not know what she, Minerva, truly was, any more than her father had known the truth about Isobel before they had married. Minerva had witnessed at close quarters the kind of marriage she might have if she wed Dougal. It would be the end of all her ambitions; it would mean a wand locked away, and children taught to lie, perhaps even to their own father. She did not fool herself that Dougal McGregor would accompany her to London, while she went to work every day at the Ministry. He was looking forward to inheriting his father’s farm.

Early next morning, Minerva slipped from her parents’ house and went to tell Dougal that she had changed her mind, and could not marry him. Mindful of the fact that if she broke the International Statute of Secrecy she would lose the job at the Ministry for which she was giving him up, she could give him no good reason for her change of heart. She left him devastated, and set out for London three days later.


The school greeted Minerva McGonagall’s return with delight. Minerva threw herself into her work, proving herself a strict but inspirational teacher. If she kept letters from Dougal McGregor locked in a box under her bed, this was (she told herself firmly) better than keeping her wand locked there. Nevertheless, it was a shock to learn from the oblivious Isobel (in the middle of a chatty letter of local news) that Dougal had married the daughter of another farmer.

Albus Dumbledore discovered Minerva in tears in her classroom late that evening, and she confessed the whole story to him. Albus Dumbledore offered both comfort and wisdom, and told Minerva some of his own family history, previously unknown to her. The confidences exchanged that night between two intensely private and reserved characters were to form the basis of a lasting mutual esteem and friendship.


Like most of the magical community she suffered personal bereavements during the first period of Voldemort’s power. Among the worst were the loss of her brother, Robert; two of her favourite students, Lily Evans and James Potter; and Dougal McGregor, who was murdered, along with his wife and children, in a random anti-Muggle attack by the Death Eaters. This last news was a terrible blow to Minerva, who asked herself whether she might not have been able to save Dougal’s life had she married him.


Through all her early years at Hogwarts, Minerva McGonagall remained on terms of friendship with her old boss at the Ministry, Elphinstone Urquart. He came to visit her while on holiday to Scotland, and to her great surprise and embarrassment, proposed marriage in Madam Puddifoot’s teashop. Still in love with Dougal McGregor, Minerva turned him down.

Elphinstone, however, had never ceased to love her, nor to propose every now and then, even though she continued to refuse him. The death of Dougal McGregor, however, although traumatic, seemed to free Minerva. Shortly after Voldemort’s first defeat, Elphinstone, now white-haired, proposed again during a summertime stroll around the lake in the Hogwarts grounds. This time Minerva accepted. Elphinstone, now retired, was beside himself with joy, and purchased a small cottage in Hogsmeade for the pair of them, whence Minerva could travel easily to work every day.


The marriage (cut tragically short, though it was destined to be) was a very happy one. Though they had no children of their own, Minerva’s nieces and nephews (children of her brothers Malcolm and Robert) were frequent visitors to their home. This was a period of great fulfillment for Minerva.

The accidental death of Elphinstone from a Venomous Tentacula bite, three years into their marriage, was an enormous sorrow to all who knew the couple. Minerva could not bear to remain alone in their cottage, but packed her things after Elphinstone’s funeral and returned to her sparse stone-floored bedroom in Hogwarts Castle, accessible through a concealed door in the wall of her first-floor study. Always a very brave and private person, she poured all her energies into her work, and few people – excepting perhaps Albus Dumbledore – ever realised how much she suffered.

Pottermore: Professor McGonagall (some of the essay is behind a paywall)


Just a guess, but Lupin was a professor and he gets married later, towards the end of the series. She perhaps was already planning that and thus had it on the top of her mind?

  • Definitely NOT impossible! +1 Feb 8, 2012 at 15:15

Another guess is that Rowling did not wish to tell why Professor Snape was not married. Professor Snape was not married because he loved Lily Potter and nobody else after her death. This, however, wasn't revealed until Deathly Hallows.

  • Or maybe it's about Neville Longbottom, given that he got married and became a professor eventually?
    – b_jonas
    Sep 22, 2013 at 18:20
  • Snape never married because he was in love with Lilly
    – J_rite
    May 14, 2018 at 6:30

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