I've been reading a few other questions and they got me thinking.

So Muggle-born wizards get a visit from someone from Hogwarts, others (wizard-born) get a standard letter.

Dear Mr. Potter,

We are pleased to inform you that you have a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment. Term begins on 1 September. We await your owl by no later than 31 July.

Yours sincerely,

Minerva McGonagall,

Deputy Headmistress

In this question, it seems to imply that if you don't respond to the letter, you might not get to go to Hogwarts. It also (in the comments) suggests that Hagrid was only sent because Harry had not read the letter (somehow they know this).

So the question is simple. If the Dursleys just gave Harry the letter and then laughed at him for being gullible (no need for Hagrid to visit as he read it), would that mean he wouldn't be accepted? (Ideal solution for the Dursleys and a lot easier than running off to an island).

Also related, is there any evidence what happens if you don't reply?

  • 1
    "That situation has always been closely monitored, given ... given past events", Madam Bones (Order of the Phoenix, The Hearing). It seems that Dursleys did not have any choice.
    – Krish
    Commented Oct 1, 2017 at 5:41
  • 1
    I doubt that they would have denied the famous Harry Potter a place at their school because of an admin error... Commented Oct 1, 2017 at 7:56
  • Note also that Mrs Figg was keeping an eye on Harry, and, at least when he was delivered to the Dursleys, Professor McGonagall spied on them too.
    – b_jonas
    Commented Oct 1, 2017 at 12:53
  • Maybe with a slightly different tactic. If they had convinced him to send back a refusal letter, that might have worked. Commented Oct 1, 2017 at 21:09

1 Answer 1


Almost certainly not.

When the Dursleys weren't letting Harry open it, Dumbledore sent Hagrid to get Harry because he wasn't getting his letters.

“Sorry?’ barked Hagrid, turning to stare at the Dursleys, who shrank back into the shadows. ‘It’s them as should be sorry! I knew yeh weren’t gettin’ yer letters but I never thought yeh wouldn’t even know abou’ Hogwarts, fer cryin’ out loud! Did yeh never wonder where yer parents learnt it all?” - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 4 (The Keeper of the Keys)

There's no reason to think he wouldn't have done the same thing if he didn't receive a response from Harry by the date Harry was supposed to send it. The most that the Dursleys might be able to do is stall his attendance at Hogwarts.

Most importantly in this specific case, Harry wasn't considered an ordinary student. He was the Boy who Lived, and Dumbledore would certainly be looking for him to attend Hogwarts. Even if he wasn't suspicious when no reply to the letter came, he'd almost certainly either send someone else or go himself to check to see why Harry didn't show up. It's extremely unlikely that he'd simply do nothing about getting no response from Harry.

Hagrid had been told to follow Harry and make sure Harry gets his letters. It seems likely that if Dumbledore knew Harry read the letter but didn't get a reply, he'd suspect the Dursleys were interfering rather than assuming Harry didn't want to go to Hogwarts. It's likely that Dumbledore would want someone to find out from Harry in person why he hadn't replied, probably still Hagrid since Dumbledore gave him the job of following Harry.

“I’m – er – not supposed ter do magic, strictly speakin’. I was allowed ter do a bit ter follow yeh an’ get yer letters to yeh an’ stuff – one o’ the reasons I was so keen ter take on the job –” - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 4 (The Keeper of the Keys)

It's never said what would happen if a regular student doesn't reply to their Hogwarts letter, but in the case of Harry Potter himself, this would almost certainly not prevent him from going to Hogwarts.

  • Let me add that Professor Dumbledore had some reason to suspect the Dursleys' involvement, because Professor McGonagall has informed him of the disgusting things she saw when watching the Dursleys all day.
    – b_jonas
    Commented Mar 1, 2018 at 12:54

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