There is a passage in The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore which seems to imply that there was a five year gap between the time that (eighteen-year-old) Dumbledore parted ways with Gridelwald and their epic duel:

Neither Dumbledore nor Grindelwald ever seems to have referred to this brief boyhood friendship in later life. However, there can be no doubt that Dumbledore delayed, for some five years of turmoil, fatalities, and disappearances, his attack upon Gellert Grindelwald.

(Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 18)

However, the duel was in 1945, which would make Dumbledore born in 1922, and only four years older than Voldemort. Hardly enough to be his teacher.

Is there any canonical explanation for this?

  • Dumbledore was born in 1881 according to Pottermore. I'm not clear how you came to the year of 1922 in your question? – ThruGog Feb 7 '16 at 4:28
  • The 5 years of delay refer to the 5 years of war. – David Banner Feb 7 '16 at 4:29
  • And the Life and Lies book says he was 18? If so, this must be more dodgy maths I'm afraid! – ThruGog Feb 7 '16 at 4:44
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    FWIW, I think your downvote was a little harsh - for a minute there, you had me going as well ... :P – Au101 Feb 7 '16 at 5:18

I think your confusing the "five years of turmoil, fatalities, and disappearances," with five years since Grindelwald fled Godric's Hollow after the death of Arianna Dumbledore. I think these five years are supposed to be the five years where he was at the peak of his power, five years where there was most pressure on Albus to act. But I don't think Gellert Grindelwald's reign of terror commenced the moment he left Godric's Hollow, I think instead he started taking over around 1939-1940, some decades after Arianna's death.

A bit of canon from Dumbledore:

'He ran, while I was left to bury my sister and learn to live with my guilt, and my terrible grief, the price of my shame.

'Years passed. There were rumours about him. They said he had procured a wand of immense power. I, meanwhile, was offered the post of Minister for Magic, not once, but several times.'


'But while I busied myself with the training of young wizards, Grindelwald was raising an army.'


'I delayed meeting him until, finally, it would have been too shameful to resist any longer. People were dying and he seemed unstoppable, and I had to do what I could.'

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - pp.574-5 - Bloomsbury - Chapter 35, King's Cross

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    Yes, I agree. There were years when Dumbledore didn't need to act (according to the Wiki he was working at Hogwarts and met Tom Riddle in 1938) then there was a five year period when he could/should have taken on Grindelwald but didn't. – ThruGog Feb 7 '16 at 5:04

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