I think I saw somewhere on this site a mention that Rowling did not read Tolkien before writing Harry Potter (please correct me if this is wrong).

If so, Dumbledore would not have been modeled on Gandalf.

But was he modeled on any other mythical/historical/fiction figure? Merlin perhaps? Or just a generic "wise old long-wite-bearded wizard" archetype?

Official Rowling or HP book info only, please.

  • 2
    I'll guess you are thinking of this question. One of the challenges to answering this one.. as my answer points out, even without a direct model from Gandalf, JKR acknowledged that she HAD read LOTR as a teen.. It's likely he was quite an influence. Now, how MUCH of an influence is harder to gauge. Regardless, I think that question (and it's answers) will answer this as well. – K-H-W Oct 5 '13 at 3:34
  • @KHW You should probably post that as an answer. It may draw out other facts, but I doubt there's much canon / interview material. I'm guessing more archetype than Tolkien, as the characters are not very similar. Your comment has references to other references and is not pure speculation. I assume the last line of the question is meant to be "Official Rowling or book info only, please." And your answer would fall under that guide in a way welcome as opposed to no answer, IMHO. – Meat Trademark Oct 5 '13 at 3:55
  • @KHW - yes, correct question. But it does not mention Dumbledore at all in any answers (except one that isn't referenced, just some minor parallel about life/death deservance) – APWD Oct 5 '13 at 11:44
  • I was sure that I'd read an interview or something in which JKR mentioned some specific traits of Dumbledore having been taken from a real life person, but I can't recall the details and now that I'm looking for it I can't find it, so I could be wrong. Also, I know this doesn't fit your answer criteria (hence not posting it as one), but I just Googled "dumbledore modeled on" and found this: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T._P._Wiseman It is only described as rumour/speculation, but it doesn't cite any direct confirmation or denial from JKR, so it's feasible she could have viewed him as a model. – RuthP27 Oct 7 '13 at 13:06
  • Important to remember that Gandalf is far from being wholly original either; even if Dumbledore is not explicitly modelled on Gandalf, a common inspiration remains possible. – user8719 Oct 7 '13 at 16:32

Wikipedia says based on The Guardian that The Sword in the Stone's Arthur (Wart) was an influence on Harry, and implies that Merlin was an influence on Dumbledore. From The Guardian:

Rowling has described Wart from TH White's The Sword In The Stone as "Harry's spiritual ancestor"

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