Why did Quirrell stutter?

Was it an act?

His natural way?

Was it due to effects of carrying around Voldemort in the back of his head, under the turban?

  • 1
    This is strange -- you have an answer that is essentially Word of God (in other words, from the author's own mouth). The material on Pottermore is created and/or sanctioned by JRK herself. You have someone citing that material and providing an answer that is as close to canon as you can get. But instead you take an answer that is based on guess work or interpretation. While the answer you picked provides quotes, it's still guess work as opposed to one that provides something that's as close to "JKR said" as one can get without quoting an actual interview.
    – Tango
    Commented Apr 27, 2012 at 15:30
  • 1
    @TangoOversway - sorry, the JKR quote in the other answer is too ambiguous. It can easily be interpreted to apply ONLY to the time of the novels, not before them. "are" being the keyword.
    – Silver Fox
    Commented Apr 30, 2012 at 23:25
  • If the timing makes a difference, then that is depending on a supposition or assumption that is even bigger and less supported than the assumption in the answer. Assuming that he may have stuttered at one time and not at another is quite a leap, as opposed to it being a lifelong condition. I used to teach special ed, and worked with many students with disabilities, so I'm not just supposing here. Considering that the issue is addressed as what happened in his childhood, assuming he may have stopped it later, then started it again, is a major assumption and leap.
    – Tango
    Commented May 1, 2012 at 1:48
  • See also a rematch at scifi.stackexchange.com/q/71114/4918
    – b_jonas
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 10:44

4 Answers 4


I agree with System Down who claims it was an act. Let's see some quotes.

In PS chapter 17, when Harry finally meets Quirrel in the stone's hiding place.

It was Quirrel.

‘You!’ gasped Harry.

Quirrel smiled. His face wasn't twitching at all.

‘Me,’ he said calmly. ‘I wondered whether I'd be meeting you here, Potter.’

‘But I thought – Snape –’

‘Severus?’ Quirrel laughed and it wasn't his usual quivering treble, either, but cold and sharp. ‘Yes, Severus does seem that type, doesn't he? So useful to have him swooping around like an overgrown bat. Next to him, who would suspect p-p-poor st-stuttering P-Professor Quirrel?’

It's clear that Quirrel has been using stuttering as an act to divert attention from himself, and is giving it up at this point.

I must respectfully disagree with Purefreet who claims Quirrel wasn't stuttering here because Voldemort was in control of him at this point, because he is speaking for himself. Quirrel has a spoken aloud conversation with Voldemort, saying things like ‘Help me, Master!’ and ‘Master, you are not strong enough!’, with Voldemort also replying aloud.

We also learn when Quirrel had started the act. In PS chapter 5, Hagrid says:

‘[…] Even Professor Quirrel was tremblin' ter meet yeh – mind you, he's usually tremblin'.’

‘Is he always that nervous?’

‘Oh, yeah. Poor bloke. Brilliant mind. He was fine while he was studyin' outta books but then he took a year off ter get some frist-hand experience … They say he met vampires in the Black Forest and there was a nasty bit o' trouble with a hag – never been the same since. […]’

Then later, in chapter 17, Quirrel says

‘I met him [Voldemort] when I travelled around the world. A foolish young man I was then, full of riddiculous ideas about good and evil. Lord Voldemort showed me how wrong I was. There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it … Since then, I have served him faithfully, […] When I failed to steal the Stone from Gringotts, he was most displeased. He punished me … decided he would have to keep a closer watch on me …’

The year off and travelling around the world clearly refers to the same trip. Quirrel meets Voldemort and starts serving him immediately. He takes up the act of trembling and stuttering. He tells the lie that he's met vampires to explain the change: in PS chapter 8 we learn that

[Quirrel's] classroom smelled strongly of garlic, which everyone said to ward off a vampire he'd met in Romania and was afraid would be coming back to get him one of these days. […] for another, they had noticed that a funny smell hung around the turban, and the Weasley twins insisted that it was stuffed full of garlic as well, so that Quirrel was protected wherever he went.

Quirrel has never actually met vampires. He wasn't serving Voldemort just out of fear, and Voldemort occasionally punishing him wasn't enough reason for him to genuinely tremble of fear all of the time.

  • 2
    I'm sorry, but I disagree. There's nothing that really indicates the stuttering is an act, and the fact that JKR has stated directly that the stammer is an expression of his nerves is pretty definitive. Just because he wasn't stuttering in that scene does not make it clear that every stutter was an act. It simply means that all that suffering, deception, and worrying about getting caught was finally going to result in Voldemort rewarding him for his service. He didn't stop stuttering because he dropped the act. He stopped because he was no longer worried.
    – Beofett
    Commented Apr 27, 2012 at 15:33

According to Pottermore, Quirrell was an intelligent, but fragile boy as a student, who was likely teased for his timidity and nervousness during his school life.

His nerves, expressed most obviously in his stammer, are so pronounced that it is rumoured his turban is stuffed full of garlic to ward off vampires. J.K. Rowling - Pottermore

It was not an act.

It was Quirrell's natural speech pattern.

It was not due to Voldemort's possession of Quirrell; however, I would wager having Voldemort's face growing out of the back of his head did nothing to help Quirrell stop stammering, but rather served to exacerbate Quirrell's speech impediment.

  • 8
    I'm sorry, but I understand this Pottermore quote to be applicable to the present (first year) Quirrell, not necessarily to his entire life. Could be wrong.
    – Silver Fox
    Commented May 1, 2012 at 5:00
  • You don't need to apologize or explain your choice -- we all interpret canon a little differently and that's our right. :) Commented May 1, 2012 at 14:21
  • 2
    It's more about parsing the English than interpreting the canon in this case :)
    – Silver Fox
    Commented May 1, 2012 at 22:27
  • 1
    More to the point, I just wanted to reaffirm you have no reason to apologize -- I do appreciate your taking the time to explain, though. Thanks :) Commented May 2, 2012 at 7:41

It was an act. He wanted to look harmless to divert attention away from him (and from Voldemort). When Harry meets finally uncovers him as the true villain of the story, his stutter is gone and is a more assertive character.


It was due to the intense strain and torment of having Voldemort glued to the back of his head; however, once Voldemort was in control and he spoke for Quirrell there was no more stuttering. SO I guess some of Quirrell's stuttering may have been an act, but the only time we see him speak clearly is when Voldemort is in control.

  • He stuttered before he had Voldemort in his head. He was stuttering in the Leaky Cauldron, but V didn't move in until after that. The quotes are both in b_jonas's answer.
    – Kevin
    Commented Aug 25, 2012 at 0:02
  • Yes, but I think some of the stuttering is from the stress of voldemort.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Aug 25, 2012 at 9:53

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