11

From the Slytherin Welcome Message:

We also get respect from our fellow students. Yes, some of that respect might be tinged with fear, because of our Dark reputation, but you know what? It can be fun, having a reputation for walking on the wild side. Chuck out a few hints that you’ve got access to a whole library of curses, and see whether anyone feels like nicking your pencil case.

I was always under the impression that everyone at Hogwarts wrote with ink and quills, so why would they need something to hold pencils?

Does anyone at Hogwarts ever use pencils or pens to write with?

  • 9
    The name "pencil case" is a British colloquialism for a stationary case. In South Africa we call them "space cases". You may find that the answer to your question may be found here scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/162405/… – Magikarp Master Aug 1 '17 at 18:59
  • 8
    You can take my word for it, or you can do ctrl f in all of the books - "pencil" is only mentioned in 4 books, not once is anyone using a pencil to write. on some occasions it's "pencil-case", on some it's Rita Skeeter's pencilled eyebrows, and once it's "pencil-like object", meaning wand. – Gallifreyan Aug 1 '17 at 19:00
  • 11
    It's pretty hard to ctrl f a paperback, but you raise a good point regardless – Magikarp Master Aug 1 '17 at 19:06
  • 3
    @MagikarpMaster have you tried Accio eBook? – Marakai Aug 1 '17 at 19:35
  • I think I’ve heard pencils were pretty popular over at Koldovstoretz. – Paul D. Waite Aug 2 '17 at 7:11
12

Pencils are used in at least one scene of at least one film, where they appear alongside quills as an alternative.

The Trio with either pencils or quills

I believe this scene was in The Goblet of Fire.

This makes sense to me as a simple wooden pencil as seen appears to fit the setting and as in most schools you'd have ink or pencil to choose from, the filmmakers decided so can Hogwarts.

It is never mentioned in the books though, and even Harry's drawing of a Bowtruckle for Professor Grubbly-Plank is made with his quill. (Page 241 OotP)

  • 5
    More traditional? The first pencil that used graphite only appeared in late 16th century. Modern-style pencil (powdered graphite, the Hardmuth kind) at the end of 18th century. In contrast, pens have been used since about 3000 BC. The original reed pens were only replaced by quill pens during the 7th century in Europe - and quill pens were still used at the end of the 18th century. Even metallic pens have been used in antiquity. Pens with a reservoir date to at least the 10th century. True fountain pens (the same kind used today) appeared in 1827, and ball-point in 1888. – Luaan Aug 2 '17 at 7:33
  • 1
    Yes, that scene is from Goblet of Fire. It's where Ron learns that somebody else asked Hermione to the dance. – RichS Aug 2 '17 at 7:58
  • 1
    @Luaan Likewise the Hungarian word "toll" is either a pen (writing instrument) or a bird's feather. – user14111 Aug 2 '17 at 8:01
  • 1
    Thanks all - edited to more accurately make my pencil point (weak pun intended). – ThruGog Aug 2 '17 at 8:01
  • 1
    @Luaan actually that's a common misconception. Pencil ultimately comes (via Old French) from Latin "penicillum" meaning paintbrush (which in turn is the diminutive of "peniculus" "brush", which is the diminutive of "penis" "tail"). In English it originally referred specifically to a small paintbrush used for fine detail work, so it's not hard to see when the first pencils started appearing how the name transferred. Presumably the similarity of the two words pushed the names to converge over the years (this is not unprecedented in linguistics!) – Muzer Aug 2 '17 at 9:03
19

No, or if they have it's never mentioned.

No one is ever mentioned as actually using or having a pencil at Hogwarts in the seven books. However, there are two mentions of students having pencil cases.

“...and Parvati and Lavender, who were practising basic Locomotion Charms, were making their pencil-cases race each other around the edge of the table.”
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 31 (O.W.L.s)

Hermione, Lavender and Parvati all have a pencil case.

“Oh, yes,’ said Hermione in a choked voice, taking her things and turning away quickly to hide the fact that she was wiping her eyes on her pencil case.”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 15 (The Unbreakable Vow)

It's never said, though, what's actually in the pencil case. It's possible that it is indeed used to hold pencils, but it's also possible that it's used to hold other small items, perhaps even the quills Hogwarts students usually write with.

3

Yes, people do use pens, which they attach to quills. If they have pens, they could store them in a pencil case. Why they are still called pencil cases instead of pen cases, or quill-tip cases, might be mere tradition.

Dolores Umbridge has a set of pens on her desk in this scene where she uses her "special" quill to punish Harry Potter.

I can't remember any student using pencils specifically, or anybody else for that matter.

Side note: I think this would come under the purview of the Ministry Department called Misuse of Muggle Artefacts. Perhaps somebody should notify an employee of that department, such as Arthur Weasley, that Ms. Umbridge is misusing pens.

  • 2
    It was already noted by the OP that Hogwarts students regularly use pens, i.e., quills. – user14111 Aug 2 '17 at 0:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.