Dumbledore is a pre-eminent magician, magical "scientist", and holds tons of other posts (Chief Warlock of Wizengamot, Supreme Mugwamp, Headmaster of Hogwarts, Leader of the Order of the Phoenix, Best Dogcatcher of Hogsmead).

So why in the world would he devote a not-inconsiderable time to annotating a children's book? (Tales of Beadle the Bard)?

If it was ONLY about the Tale of Three Brothers, we could blame it on fascination with the Hallows.

But he annotated ALL the stories, so it clearly wasn't about the Hallows.

Canon based answers only, please

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    Pure speculation: maybe he annotated everything he read?So when he read the book (because of the hallows), he read (and annotated) all of it. Out of canon: The annotations by Dumbledore were just a way to tether the book more closely to the Harry Potter narrative.
    – Lars Ebert
    Dec 18, 2014 at 8:17
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    He was, above all, a scholar. A nerd. As a fellow nerd, I will freely admit to spending far more time on things that catch my attention than the "more important" things I "should be doing".
    – BoBTFish
    Dec 18, 2014 at 8:30
  • He annotated within a flick of second using wand.. No time wasting at all! Dec 18, 2014 at 8:37
  • I'm sure magic could speed up the writing part, but he still has the read the whole thing, probably several times, and think about it a lot, maybe do some background research... Note how long all the students have to spend on their homework. We have seen self-writing quills though: Rita Skeeter used one, that had the "intelligence" to adapt reality to her writing style.
    – BoBTFish
    Dec 18, 2014 at 8:42
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    Order ch. 37: “‘By all means continue destroying my possessions,’ said Dumbledore serenely. ‘I daresay I have too many.’” Not enough context to make an answer here though.
    – b_jonas
    Dec 18, 2014 at 20:56

2 Answers 2


Annotating a children's book is completely in character for Dumbledore. We see throughout the HP books that Dumbledore is whimsical, humorous, and does not take himself or anything else too seriously. Yes, he could spend his evenings on bureaucratic committee work, but if he prefers to work on a children's book, who is going to stop him?

One of the posts listed in the question is an example: "Best Dogcatcher of Hogsmeade". This doesn't sound like a position of vast power and responsibility, more like something Dumbledore achieved for the fun of it.

For a comparable real-life case: Stephen Hawking is a very eminent scientist, he is on plenty of boards and committees, and has a great deal of research to do. He has also found time to write (not just annotate) books for the general public, including four which he has co-written for children.

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    Re. Stephen Hawking – as an academic in a British university he probably has demonstrate the "impact" of his research as it is understood under the Research Excellence Framework (ref.ac.uk) in order to continue in his post. I can only hope that Dumbledore wasn't obliged to jump through any similarly pointless and time-consuming hoops during his wizarding career.
    – Cugel
    Dec 18, 2014 at 9:56
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    Uh... the dog-catcher was sarcastic. Dec 18, 2014 at 14:15
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    Also, an analogy to my question would have been Stephen Hawking annotating Mother Goose, or Brothers Grimm, instead of writing Physics books. Dec 18, 2014 at 14:17
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    Fair enough, it's been a while since I read the books and didn't realise that last one was a joke. But it's plausible that Dumbledore would be happy to be named Best Dogcatcher of Hogsmeade, which is sort of the point I was trying to make. Dec 18, 2014 at 14:52
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    Also, The Tales of Beadle the Bard is related to Dumbledore's professional expertise in magic -- vastly simplified to be sure, but so are the versions of physics which appear in children's books by Hawking. Dec 18, 2014 at 15:28

During his joint search with Grindelwald for the Deathly Hallows, "The tales of Beedle the Bard" was probably the best source of information regarding that topic. Notice how he signs the A in his name with a symbol of the Deathly Hallows?

Also, when Dumbledore bequeathed the book to Hermione, it was likely he wanted to give her hints as to the purpose of the Hallows, so she could direct Harry in the right direction.

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