Out-of-universe, which name for the lead villain did Rowling come up with first? Did she always intend to have two names for him? Looking for official sources only.


1 Answer 1


We don't know

We have access to very little of J.K. Rowling's original manuscripts, and what we do have sadly doesn't really tell us much.

Of course, in the published books "Voldemort" appears in book one, and "Riddle" doesn't appear until book two. Barely any of our early manuscripts even contain passages with any of those names.

Only three of the released manuscripts seem to mention Voldemort at all.

  • "Red-eyed" - early 1990s

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    An early draft of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (early 1990s)

  • Lord Voldemort - early 1990s

    enter image description here
    A draft of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 17, hand- written by J.K. Rowling (early 1990s)

  • "Voldemort" - 1995

    enter image description here
    Synopsis of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling (1995)

It's possible that either name came first, but without access to more of Rowling's manuscripts we really can't say. We don't have the amount of available infomation that we have with Tolkien's writings.

  • 2
    For the record: This page of notes has the word "Riddle", but it's clearly being used in the traditional sense, not as a name.
    – ibid
    Feb 9, 2018 at 20:43
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    @DCOPTimDowd - That's a page where JKR brainstorms various ideas for the sorting ceremony before settling on a talking hat. The full sentence is "Question or Riddle". Each idea is marked with an "M" or an "N". (I'm going to guess they mean "maybe" and "no".)
    – ibid
    Feb 9, 2018 at 22:09
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    @dcoptimdowd I call shenanigans. In nearly 40 years, have not seen "(Last) (Initial), (First)" even once in the US. "(Last), (First) (Initial)" is quite common. You're making things up to fit your desired narrative.
    – T.J.L.
    Feb 10, 2018 at 0:54
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    no I mean like, "[early 1990 draft 1 from before PS] first published by the huffington post online in 2012, permalink such-and-such, on pottermore 2014/1/4, permalink this-and-that"
    – n611x007
    Feb 13, 2018 at 12:11
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    @n611x007 - Oh. The third image is from the scrapbook section of JKR's old website. (Privately download and archived as the WaybackMachine doesn't do flash.) The first two are from the current British Library "History of Magic" exhibition. (Images taken from one of the tie-in ebooks.) The third source was found there too, but my copy from JKR's website was better quality. I don't think the three have appeared elsewhere.
    – ibid
    Feb 13, 2018 at 12:18

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