Dolores Umbridge's dislike of Muggles, Muggle-born witches and wizards and half-breeds is quite obvious. In Order of the Phoenix she takes a particular dislike to Hagrid due to his giantess mother (and his allegiance to Dumbledore), as well as to the centaur Firenze who takes over as Divination teacher after Professor Trelawney is sacked. And, of course, during Deathly Hallows she is made Head of the Muggle-Born Registration Commission.

In Deathly Hallows, when Hermione (under the effects of Polyjuice potion) comments on the locket she's wearing, Umbridge says this:

"That's - that's pretty, Dolores," she said, pointing at the pendant gleaming in the ruffled folds of Umbridge's blouse.
"What?" snapped Umbridge, glancing down. "Oh yes - an old family heirloom," she said, patting the locket lying on her large bosom. "The S stands for Selwyn... I am related to the Selwyns... Indeed, there are few pure-blood families to whom I am not related. ..."

That seems a rather large and contrived lie to tell just to explain her possession of the locket, considering her blood status had never been questioned by the Ministry. I don't remember it being covered anywhere in the books (which I just recently re-read, so I'd hope I'd remember if it had been!), but I was wondering if there was any other evidence (interviews, etc) to say whether Umbridge was Pure-blood, Half-blood or Muggle-born?


3 Answers 3


Half-blood: wizard father, Muggle mother.

This fact is not discussed in the books or in subsequent interviews. Instead, it was first revealed as part of a short story written for Pottermore, and published on Halloween 2014. Here's the first paragraph:

Dolores Jane Umbridge was the eldest child and only daughter of Orford Umbridge, a wizard, and Ellen Cracknell, a Muggle, who also had a Squib son. Dolores’s parents were unhappily married, and Dolores secretly despised both of them: Orford for his lack of ambition (he had never been promoted, and worked in the Department of Magical Maintenance at the Ministry of Magic), and her mother, Ellen, for her flightiness, untidiness, and Muggle lineage. Both Orford and his daughter blamed Ellen for Dolores’s brother’s lack of magical ability, with the result that when Dolores was fifteen, the family split down the middle, Orford and Dolores remaining together, and Ellen vanishing back into the Muggle world with her son. Dolores never saw her mother or brother again, never spoke of either of them, and henceforth pretended to all she met that she was a pure-blood.
Dolores Umbridge, by J. K. Rowling

She successfully fooled J.K. Rowling Slytherincess into believing she was pure-blood, and this was a story generally accepted (or at least, pretended to believe) by her colleagues at the Ministry:

Nasty things tended to happen to people who asked about Orford, or anything that Dolores did not like talking about, and people who wanted to remain on her good side pretended to believe her version of her ancestry.
Dolores Umbridge, by J. K. Rowling

It also explains the jumpiness in your quote in the question: particularly as she was prosecuting Muggle-borns at the time, it would be most embarrassing to be revealed as a half-blood. She’s almost overly keen to remind everyone that she’s a pure blood.

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    Don't drag me into your bloody new correct answer! My original answer was made in good faith, based on information we had at the time. I don't think that should reflect poorly on me. :) Commented Nov 1, 2014 at 11:01

I actually conclude, based on canon, that Umbridge is indeed a pureblood. However, purebloods run the gamut socially from the Gaunts to the Malfoys. I suspect Umbridge was trying to bolster the general impression of her connections to the oldest pureblood families -- like new money trying desperately to appear as generational wealth. It was as if the basic element was there (Umbridge's purebloodedness), but its quality was somehow lacking or otherwise undesirable.

Pureblood extremism has been written about in countless Harry Potter articles and essays, but here is an example that portrays Umbridge as a pureblood:

Nazi Germany was what historians called a ‘racial state': Very similar to what Dolores Umbridge and other pureblood extremists were trying to build in Deathly Hallows.

Harry Potter and History by Nancy Reagin

There is also multiple opinions on Umbridge's blood status at the HP Wikia (if you accept the Wikia as a source) in a discussion called Talk: Selwyn Family.

While I interpret the canon passage you quote as Umbridge being full of hot air regarding her family tree, the very small possibility that Umbridge was not lying should at least be acknowledged. While I find it unlikely, it's possible Umbridge actually was related to the Selwyns and used that convenient cover story to hide the fact she had essentially stolen the locket from Mundungus Fletcher. I find this unlikely overall, though, because of her insatiable thirst for power, including power by association.

But, yeah, I believe Umbridge is a pureblood.

UPDATE: I should have known it was too easy! I should have known the lady doth protesteth too much! But, yes, I've read the new information on Pottermore (11.6.14) on Umbridge -- she is a half-blood, and not a pure-blood as she has always claimed, so kudos to alexwlchan for his correct answer. I will say that an aspect of the new info on Umbridge I find interesting is that she was indeed in Slytherin House, which demonstrates Slytherin wasn't a total pure-blood haven, BUT also that her ambitious nature was overlooked at Hogwarts and she was not considered there for student positions of power. Did the other Slytherins know she was a half-blood and kind of ostracize her, or did they just not like her because of her overly ingratiating nature and obvious thirst for power? You'd think the latter would be seen as attributes in Slytherin. ANYway, yes, I was wrong -- Umbridge was a half-blood. :)

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    Sorry, Slytherincess...errr... JKR disagrees. Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 17:41
  • @DVK - I haven't read it yet, but am looking forward to it! Remember, with unknown canon, we can only do our best to deduce an answer. :) Commented Nov 1, 2014 at 10:57
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    « I will say that an aspect of the new info on Umbridge I find interesting is that she was indeed in Slytherin House, which demonstrates Slytherin wasn't a total pure-blood haven » — See also: Tom Riddle. ;-) Commented Mar 26, 2016 at 6:56

I don't believe this is explicitly covered in anywhere except your quote. There she may have been lying, but(then again) she may have been telling the truth.

Remember that Umbridge "repossessed" the locket from Mundungus Fletcher in exchange for not shutting down his "pawn shop". Mundungus likely did not know or care whose family the locket was from, much less what the S stood for. Umbridge could have mentioned the Selwyns when they were talking, and Dung (picking up on this) could have appealed to her sense of vanity in an attempt to save his life and business by mentioning that the locket was a family heirloom of the Selwyns. Umbridge gets the locket, Mundungus gets to keep selling trinkets for a couple more years, and Harry, Ron and Hermione have a slightly harder time hunting Horcruxes.

Now, even if Umbridge wasn't lying about the Selwyns, and even if she wasn't lying about being related to almost every other pureblood family, this does not make her a pureblood herself. With the amount of inbreeding among the various pureblood families, it is likely that anyone with a single wizard/witch ancestor within the last 500-1000 years is related to pretty much every pureblood family on Earth. However, the possibility remains that she may not have been lying and that she may not be a Muggle-born witch.

Then again, she could have been lying in that instance, and she could have been lying to all the Death-eaters and other blood-status-obsessed Ministry officials and actually be Muggle-born. Even here, remember that all (or almost all) Muggle-borns have an ancestor somewhere who had magic. So she could, in fact, have been telling the truth to Hermione about her relation to various pureblood families, but technically lying to the Death-eaters regarding her blood status.

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