Often called "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" and "You know who", was it common knowledge at the Ministry of Magic that Voldemort was the same person as Tom Riddle?

  • 4
    I'm confused about what exactly the question is asking. Voldemort was calling himself Voldemort as early as his time at Hogwarts, both as a way to distance himself from his Muggle ancestry and to forge his own identity. He was also called "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" and "You-Know-Who" because people were afraid to use the name after the fact, not because he was a secret villain that nobody knew the name of (unless I missed something in the books). Commented Aug 31, 2012 at 19:55
  • @AnthonyGrist I think that's the answer.
    – Windle
    Commented Aug 31, 2012 at 20:04
  • 4
    @Anthony Grist: I seem to remember that back in Hogwarts he called himself Voldemort only secretly, in his inner circle of friends.
    – b_jonas
    Commented Sep 1, 2012 at 8:31
  • See also scifi.stackexchange.com/q/26741/4918 Who else knew that Lord Voldemort was Tom Marvolo Riddle? and scifi.stackexchange.com/q/180543/4918 Did Hagrid know that Tom Riddle was Voldemort? The latter argues that Professor Dumbledore specifically kept what he found out about the Dark Lord's past a secret.
    – b_jonas
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 13:34

2 Answers 2


I don't think that Voldemort was ever really a "secret" identity. Voldemort was a name that Tom Riddle was using as early as his time at Hogwarts, though at that time only amongst his closest "friends" (to the extent that he had them).

He pulled Harry’s wand from his pocket and began to trace it through the air, writing three shimmering words:


Then he waved the wand once, and the letters of his name rearranged themselves:


“You see?” he whispered. “It was a name I was already using at Hogwarts, to my most intimate friends only, of course. You think I was going to use my filthy Muggle father’s name forever? I, in whose veins runs the blood of Salazar Slytherin himself, through my mother’s side? I, keep the name of a foul, common Muggle, who abandoned me even before I was born, just because he found out his wife was a witch? No, Harry — I fashioned myself a new name, a name I knew wizards everywhere would one day fear to speak, when I had become the greatest sorcerer in the world!”

Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 17 - The Heir of Slytherin

When Voldemort returned to Hogwarts to ask Dumbledore for the position teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts, he was already using the name Voldemort exclusively and publicly:

“So, Tom… to what do I owe the pleasure?”

Voldemort did not answer at once, but merely sipped his wine.

“They do not call me ‘Tom’ anymore,” he said. “These days, I am known as —”

“I know what you are known as,” said Dumbledore, smiling, pleasantly. “But to me, I’m afraid, you will always be Tom Riddle. It is one of the irritating things about old teachers. I am afraid that they never quite forget their charges’ youthful beginnings.”

Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 20 - Lord Voldemort's Request

I think, if anything, Tom Riddle would be considered the "secret identity", since that was the initial motivation behind the new name. Voldemort, as the Heir of Slytherin and with ambitions to be the most powerful and feared practitioner of the Dark Arts, would have wanted to ignore his Muggle ancestry entirely.

  • 6
    I don't think anyone suggested that Voldemort was a secret identity. The question is, did the average wizarding family know that Voldemort used to be known as Tom Riddle? And I'm sorry, but Dumbledore knowing it is not really evidence either way. :)
    – Martha
    Commented Aug 31, 2012 at 23:17
  • @Martha The question was edited while I was writing my answer, it seems. There was no mention of Tom Riddle's name in the question I read. That said, the question says Ministry of Magic, not average wizarding family, and I think the quotes I provided still answer the updated question. Commented Aug 31, 2012 at 23:28
  • 1
    @AnthonyGrist - sorry, I think that was my edit - I was reacting to your first comment on the question and trying to clarify it. Based on the fact that OP edited later and kept my change, I assume that my clarification was, indeed, based on correct understanding of his intent. +1, especially for the second quote Commented Sep 1, 2012 at 1:09
  • Hagrid was in school with Voldermort and he didn't know he was Tom Riddle. Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 12:11
  • Voldermort was a charming young man, people loved and adored him. He was head boy and a teacher's favorite. Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 12:13

I'm not completely sure, but I believe that at the time of the events of Chamber of Secrets, it was not public knowledge that He Who Must Not Be Named was originally called Tom Riddle.

A relevant quote is in Chamber of Secrets in chapter 18. (Sorry for the long quote, but it does seem relevant.)

‘W-what's that?’ said Mr Weasley in a stunned voice. ‘You Know Who? En-enchant Ginny? But Ginny's not … Ginny hasn't been … has she?’

‘It was this diary,’ said Harry quickly, picking it up and showing it to Dumbledore. ‘Riddle wrote it when he was sixteen.’

Dumbledore […]

‘Brilliant,’ he said softly. ‘Of course, he was probably the most brilliant student Hogwarts has ever seen.’ He turned aruond to the Weasleys, who were looking utterly bewildered.

Very few people know that Lord Voldemort was once called Tom Riddle. I taught him myself, fifty years ago, at Hogwarts. He disappeared after leaving the school … travelled far and wide … sank so deeply into the Dark Arts, consorted with the very worst of our kind, underwent so many dangerous, magical transformations, that when he resurfaced as Lord Voldemort, he was barely recognisable. Hardly anyone connected Lord Voldemort with the clever, handsome boy who was once Head Boy here.’

Dumbledore effectively confirms this story in the Half-Blood Prince chapter 20.

Further evidence is found in Philosopher's Stone chapter 17.

‘Call him Voldemort, Harry. Always use the proper name for things. […]

Dumbledore does not claim there that the proper name was Tom Riddle. So even though Dumbledore knew the Dark Lord's real name, he did not tell this to others, just like how he did not spread the other details he has found out about the Dark Lord's life.

However, I believe that by the time of the events of the Half-Blood Prince, possibly even earlier, people would likely have learnt the Dark Lord's original name from Harry himself. In Goblet of Fire chapter 25 and 26, Harry has Rita Skeeter publish his biography, which would likely tell about this detail. It is possible that Harry mentions the events of the Chamber here.

Also, we know from Philosopher's stone that the Hogwarts students have found out about Harry's story very quickly, so it is very likely that they would also find out about the events in the Chamber of Secrets as well. This is especially true because in that year, every student was concerned with the attacks, so they would surely want to find out about the conclusion, whereas in Philosopher's Stone, most of the buildup part of the story was hidden from them.

  • 2
    find this a better answer (fancy to say an answer), me do...
    – n611x007
    Commented Sep 1, 2012 at 9:32
  • 5
    Good answer, but still doesn't cover whether the Ministry knew about the name connection. Dumbledore says "very few people" that could include any number (or no one) from the Ministry, including the Minsiter of the time...
    – Möoz
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 0:43
  • Although, the Ministry is made-up of "the average wizarding family" members.
    – Möoz
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 0:46

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