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Dumbledore's familiar, Fawkes, is a very powerful magical creature. As we know, a phoenix can have an incredibly long life - we don't know if Dumbledore raised him from a new chick. It's possible that Fawkes could have been alive, say, for hundreds of years prior to coming to Dumbledore.

Why would Dumbledore call Fawkes by a Muggle name? Why would Dumbledore know who Guy Fawkes is?

I'm not looking for Oh, Dumbledore is super smart or a like answer. Is there anything in canon that supports Dumbledore's use of the name "Fawkes"?

I still hate the HP Wiki ;)

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    Who did Fawkes previously belong to and will he play a vital role in the next book? JK Rowling: I am not going to answer about the role in the next books, which probably gives you a big clue, and he has never been owned by anyone but Dumbledore. You will notice that when Harry goes back in the Pensieve in this book, Fawkes is never there, and ­­ no, I am sorry, not in this book, I take that back. When Harry has previously seen the study with a different headmaster he saw it with Dippet and Fawkes was not there then. Fawkes is Dumbledore's possession, not a Hogwarts possession. – Valorum Mar 2 at 1:09
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    Hmm. I've found explicit confirmation from Rowling that the name Fawkes (the Phoenix) relates to Guy Fawkes but I can't find any in-universe reference that Guy Fawkes was known to Dumbledore, although of course any British schoolchild (e.g. most Muggle-borns and any wizard-borns who went to a Muggle primary school) would know who Fawkes was. – Valorum Mar 2 at 8:17
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    I guess it's not enough for an answer, but in Goblet of Fire Dumbledore admitted to read Muggle newspapers. This is one source of his knowledge about Muggle world. – Demosthenes Mar 2 at 12:03
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    JK Rowling naming the phoenix after Guy Fawkes does not equal Dumbledore naming him after Guy Fawkes. It may be just the author's fun reference for her readers and Dumbledore himself is not aware of the name having any symbolic meaning. – Shana Tar Mar 30 at 19:27
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    @Slytherincess: I agree with ShanaTar. There are a lot of examples in fiction of names being out-of-universe references about people that don't exist in-universe (ex: One Piece has a character nicknamed Joker who is a psychopath that spends his time laughing,...). This does not mean the question is not interesting (though it should be written more as "Is there a connection with Guy Fawkes?" instead of "Does the connection make sense?"). – Taladris Apr 3 at 0:54
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I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it's most likely that Dumbledore named Fawkes after Guy Fawkes, a religious terrorist whose 'guy' is annually burned on bonfires up and down the UK.

So, what do we know about Fawkes (the phoenix) and what do we know about Dumbledore?

  • We know for a fact that Rowling named Fawkes after Guy Fawkes.

Q. What is Bonfire Night?
J.K. Rowling responds: Good question! We celebrate November 5th in Britain every year. There was a plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament. The ringleader of the plot was called Guy Fawkes (spot any Harry Potter connection?!), and we burn him in effigy and set off fireworks to celebrate not losing our government.

Transcript of J.K. Rowling's live interview on Scholastic.com, 16 October 2000

  • We know that Fawkes has only had one careful owner, ergo Dumbledore likely named him.

Q. Who did Fawkes previously belong to and will he play a vital role in the next book? JK Rowling: I am not going to answer about the role in the next books, which probably gives you a big clue, and he has never been owned by anyone but Dumbledore. You will notice that when Harry goes back in the Pensieve in this book, Fawkes is never there, and ­­ no, I am sorry, not in this book, I take that back. When Harry has previously seen the study with a different headmaster he saw it with Dippet and Fawkes was not there then. Fawkes is Dumbledore's possession, not a Hogwarts possession

Cub Reporters Full Interview with J.K. Rowling Jul 18, 2005

His name was Frank Bryce, he lived in the village where Voldemort’s father grew up, and he has not been seen since last August. You see, I read the Muggle newspapers, unlike most of my Ministry friends.’

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

  • We also know that Dumbledore is sufficiently well read, in terms of Muggle authors, that he can freely quote the likes of Alexander Pope. Although Pope himself doesn't mention Fawkes, again, it's unlikely that you could read more than a few dozen novels about British society without coming across mentions of the Gunpowder Treason.

This quotation demonstrates that Albus Dumbledore was not only exceptionally well-read in Wizarding terms, but also that he was familiar with the writings of Muggle poet Alexander Pope. — JKR

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

To summarise. Dumbledore reads Muggle literature as well as reading Muggle newspapers avidly, where he would have come across hundreds of mentions of Guy Fawkes. JKR herself named Fawkes after Guy Fawkes. There seems no obvious reason to assume that Dumbledore would have named his flaming bird after a different Fawkes, although there are several that might fit the proverbial bill.

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