Is there any information in canon (or from JKR) to indicate that Dumbledore knew that three of the Marauders were Animagi?

I can't recall anything, but Harry seems to be firmly convinced that Dumbledore knows "everything that goes on around here," and that assessment seems to be accurate during Harry's years.


In the e-Book (please don't curse me) of POA page 294 "Owl Post Again" Dumbledore says:

"Last night Sirius told me all about how they became Animagi," said Dumbledore, smiling. "An extraordinary achievement - not least, keeping it quiet from me. ..."

So it seems safe to say Dumbledore did not know this until he was told by Sirius

  • 3
    We won’t curse you for using the ebooks. The HP Wiki, on the other hand… ;) anyway, +1 nice find
    – alexwlchan
    Dec 23 '14 at 11:22

No, and Lupin explicitly says Dumbledore didn't know.

"I sometimes felt guilty about betraying Dumbledore's trust, of course ... he had admitted me to Hogwarts when no other headmaster would have done so, and he had no idea I was breaking the rules he had set down for my own and others' safety. He never knew that I had led three fellow students into becoming Animagi illegally. But I always managed to forget my guilty feelings every time we sat down to plan our next month's adventure.

(PoA, Ch.18)
Yes, Dumbledore knows almost everything that goes on, but even he admitted not knowing how James got away with some things:

"You have guessed, I know, why the Cloak was in my possession on the night your parents died. James had showed it to me just a few days previously. It explained much of his undetected wrongdoing at school! I could hardly believe what I was seeing.

(DH, Ch.35)

  • 4
    The first quote shows that Lupin did not think that Dumbledore knew. Does not necessarily imply that Dumbledore did not know - that was merely Lupin's impression. +1 for #2 Jun 19 '12 at 0:04
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    @DVK I agree about the first quote. Although one might be able to argue that Dumbledore most likely didn't know since he didn't say anything about Sirius being an animagii in Prisoner of Azkaban.
    – Dason
    Jun 19 '12 at 0:24

I don't believe that Dumbledore knew that the Marauders were Animagi while they were at Hogwarts, as Remus recounts in his tale to Harry about the Marauders:

‘I sometimes felt guilty about betraying Dumbledore’s trust, of course ... he had admitted me to Hogwarts when no other Headmaster would have done so, and he had no idea I was breaking the rules he had set down for my own and others’ safety. He never knew I had led three fellow students into becoming Animagi illegally.

Prisoner of Azkaban - page 260 - Bloomsbury - chapter 18, Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs

And he follows this up with his internal struggle to let Dumbledore know that Sirius was an Animagus.

‘All this year, I have been battling with myself, wondering whether I should tell Dumbledore that Sirius was an Animagus. But I didn’t do it. Why? Because I was too cowardly. It would have meant admitting that I’d betrayed his trust while I was at school, admitting that I’d led others along with me ... and Dumbledore’s trust has meant everything to me. He let me into Hogwarts as a boy, and he gave me a job, when I have been shunned all my adult life, unable to find paid work because of what I am. And so I convinced myself that Sirius was getting into the school using Dark Arts he learnt from Voldemort, that being an Animagus had nothing to do with it ...’ - Remus Lupin

Prisoner of Azkaban - page 261-262 - Bloomsbury - chapter 18, *Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs

I don't believe Dumbledore knew. If he's omniscient and did know, he kept it on the down low.


It seems really strange that Dumbledore didn't know. After all, fourteen year old Hermione figured out in record time that Rita Skeeter was an animagus.

So why didn't Dumbledore (or McGonagall, an animagus herself) have a clue? They had animagi roaming the school grounds in the company of a werewolf every full moon for years and had no idea? Especially after one student almost lost his life and was saved in suspicious circumstances by James Potter? I'd think Dumbledore would have connected the dots on exactly what was happening in his school.

(And maybe he even had Severus' testimony about a stag protecting him from the werewolf. After all, shapeshifting into an animal to approach Moony would be almost a reflex by then to the Marauders, not to mention the logical and more effective way to go. Sirius did the same when he protected the trio from Moony.)

  • Did James protect Severus in stag form?
    – Adamant
    Aug 9 '16 at 17:11
  • @Adamant too lazy to check but i think we have canon on Sirius protecting the kids in his doggie form. That's the thing to do if you wanna save someone and not die a horrible death yourself. You think he went as human? Didnt they do all that animagi stuff so that they could approach 'Moony' safely and communicate with him?
    – user68762
    Aug 9 '16 at 17:21
  • As I recall, James is described as having "pulled" Snape "back." Seems to indicate more human than stag. Indeed, James was in danger: "... at great risk to his life"
    – Adamant
    Aug 9 '16 at 17:26
  • @Adamant but we know the Maradeurs were at no risk from Moony. So why do things the hard way? Or maybe Prongs used his teeth to pull? Or transformed back at a certain point to pull Severus? Or was James so adraid being found out he risked his own life and Snape's and that's why he didn't transform?
    – user68762
    Aug 9 '16 at 17:32
  • I'd say it was two things (a) he did not want to be found out, (b) a stag probably could not easily fit in the tunnel.
    – Adamant
    Aug 9 '16 at 17:33

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