I want to know if Rita's Skeeter's words here are accurate.

"“Oh, now, I’m glad you mentioned Grindelwald,” says Skeeter with such a tantalizing smile. “I’m afraid those who go dewy-eyed over Dumbledore’s spectacular victory must brace themselves for a bombshell – or perhaps a Dungbomb. Very dirty business indeed. All I’ll say is, don’t be so sure that there really was a spectacular duel of legend. After they’ve read my book, people may be forced to conclude that Grindelwald simply conjured a white handkerchief from the end of his wand and came quietly!”

Considering we don't have enough canon to tell us the accuracy this specific statement, I want an answer considering Rita's words in other contexts to see how much faith JKR tends to put in her words. We know that JKR expected us to read between the lines by Dumbledore's sexual orientation, so is something similar happening here?

  • 1
    How could Grindelwald have gotten the Elder wand if it was unbeatable? It must be beatable otherwise it would never have changed hands.
    – Edlothiad
    Sep 11, 2017 at 9:19
  • 4
    Read the seventh book. EVERY known transfer of power was through murder or post-battle sneakiness. There is no record of non-murder mid-battle transfers.
    – TheAsh
    Sep 11, 2017 at 9:21
  • 1
    I tried reading the first book, I fell asleep after 3 pages. If we approximate there to be around 6000 pages, that would mean it would take me 2000 nights, that's approximately 6 years. Be back soon with confirmation. On a more relevant note, why does murder mean they weren't beaten? Surely beating someone could end in death?
    – Edlothiad
    Sep 11, 2017 at 9:24
  • 5
    @TheAsh See also scifi.stackexchange.com/q/41282/4918 "Did J.K.Rowling always consider Dumbledore gay?" and scifi.stackexchange.com/q/12560/4918 "How was Dumbledore able to defeat Grindelwald, since Grindelwald had the Elder Wand?" In both of those you will find JKR's and the books views directly, and we have enough evidence without considering Rita Skeeter's writings.
    – b_jonas
    Sep 11, 2017 at 9:30
  • 2
    If you want to know the full details of what happened in the Grindelwald duel you'll probably have to wait until the end of Fantastic Beasts... Sep 11, 2017 at 20:54

2 Answers 2


Rita's a snake

In a 2007 wrap-up chat for Bloomsbury, Rowling gave a frank assessment of Ms Skeeter's veracity:

Is [R]ita [S]keeter still reporting[?]

Naturally, what could stop Rita? I imagine she immediately dashed off a biography of Harry after he defeated Voldemort. One quarter truth to three quarters rubbish.

Her story on Hermione drugging Krum, Potter, & al. with love potion was based on accounts from Pansy Parkinson but not otherwise supported by the text (HP&GF).

but not necessarily wrong here...

She has a legitimately true account of Dumbledore somewhere thanks to having drugged the historian and Dumbledore-family friend Bathilda Bagshot with veritaserum (HP&DH). The majority of her known articles deal with real events, retold salaciously.

A big theme of the Potter books, though, is how everyone was dishonest to the children 'for their own good' and adults who looked like saints and heroes are, after all, just human. Where they have become selfless, it's very often because of a need to atone for great earlier mistakes.

Egbert the Egregious seems to have won the wand in an actual duel (Tales of Beedle the Bard) but that's based on medieval lore. The wording HP&DH uses ("the wand came... after... slaughter") actually implies usurpation in the usual way: murder or sneakiness.

Similarly, the only in-universe 'proof' of the great duel is the very unreliable testimony of Dumbledore's school chum and fanboy Elphias Doge. It's possible Riddle helped (playing the role of the atomic bomb in the WWII analogue); it's possible Dumbledore scored a cheap shot (ditto); it's possible he talked a still moony Grindelwald into feeling sorry about the deaths of Dumbledore's family members and all the other wizards being harmed 'for the greater good'; it's even more probable he used some reunion and guilt to provide an opening for a cheap shot, such as remerging Grindelwald from a horcrux. (Thematically, love shouldn't be a weakness, but Grindelwald may have forfeited that through his inhumanity to others.) We won't know until Ms Rowling decides to write on the topic...

or right...

...which will likely happen as part of the screenplays for the 5-movie Fantastic Beasts series. Apologies if it goes without saying to all y'all, but looking this up is the first that I knew that there will be not just one but four sequels to the Fantastic Beasts movie, all wrapped around the developing story of Dumbledore and Grindelwald.

Since it seems that the climax will be the great duel, I have to assume the way it will shake down is a show-stopping action sequence, mixed with heart-wrenching speeches and some twist, likely duplicitous. 'For the greater good'.

TL;DR: It's very likely we're going to see a huge wizard battle c. 2024 but there's going to have been some truth in Rita's words. What the truth is can be guessed at but the intervening four movies will likely rearrange a lot of the details.

  • I like your answer, but I will keep the bounty open for now. You did include a lot of links. Jun 4, 2018 at 7:10
  • @AniketChowdhury Oh, is it better to remove them?
    – lly
    Jun 4, 2018 at 8:19
  • Naah. Let it be. It will just take while to read it. Jun 4, 2018 at 15:45

If she had payed enough attention and at the time was an animagus then we can assume that deep down in that statement there is some truth. She always seems to tell the truth although she does twist it to a point where it is hard to tell, but at the bottom of her articles there is some truth. For example in book 4 when hermione becomes obsessed with her because she is reporting things that didn't seem possible for her to knowbut she was reporting things that actually happened. So if she had the brains to actually spy on Grindelwald and Dumbledore (if she was even reporting at that time) i see no reason why she should completely blatantly lie.

  • What reason do we have for thinking that Rita was either a reporter or an Animagus in the 1940s? She doesn't strike me as being particularly old. Jun 4, 2018 at 9:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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