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In Philosopher’s Stone, when Hagrid introduces Quirrell, he says:

“…He was fine while he was studyin’ outta books but then took a year off ter get some first-hand experience…”

If Quirrell took a year off, this means that he was at Hogwarts more than a year ago. Voldemort cursed the DADA post when Dumbledore denied him as a teacher, so that nobody could stay in the position for more than a year.

So who was the DADA teacher in the year that Quirrell was gone?

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    Quirell was a Muggle Studies teacher before he took a year out. accio-quote.org/articles/2007/0730-bloomsbury-chat.html The only professor of DADA mentioned being in the position before Quirell was Galatea Merrythought (HBP, worked with Dipett, Dumbledore and Slughorn), but a Wikia search (I know, hardly conclusive) says he left the position in 1945 (though isn't cited as far as I can see), and Quirell started DADA in 1991 (Harry's first year), so there's quite a gap. – Mac Cooper Dec 26 '14 at 11:50
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    @MacCooper - seems enough for an answer – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 26 '14 at 14:54
  • @DVK, it doesn't actually answer the question though, short of an attempt to prove a negative. There's nearly fifty years between Merrythought and Quirell and I've no clue who was teaching in that gap. – Mac Cooper Dec 26 '14 at 15:27
  • @MacCooper - "JKR didn't provide the information" is an answer. Not necessarily a satisfying one, but still an answer, assuming you show your research – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 26 '14 at 15:32
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J.K. Rowling clarified in an interview that Quirrell did not previously hold the Defense Against the Dark Arts position before Harry's first year:

Incidentally, I know some have asked about Quirrell with regard to this question [about the Defense Against the Dark Arts position being cursed]. He was teaching at Hogwarts for more than a year, but NOT in the post of D.A.D.A. teacher. He was previously Muggle Studies professor.

As for who was in the position before Quirrell, the short answer is that the individual has never been identified. There have only been nine DADA professors identified by name. Six were present during Harry's six years at Hogwarts (Quirrell, Lockhart, Lupin, Crouch, Umbridge, Snape), Alastor Moody accepted the position before being impersonated by Bartemius Crouch Jr., Amycus Carrow (a Death Eater) was installed during the time of The Deathly Hallows, and Galatea Merrythought was the teacher who retired while Tom Riddle was in school.

While J.K. Rowling alluded to a multi-year professor after the events of the story (thanks to the curse being lifted by the defeat of Voldemort), she never gave him or her a name. On the other end of the timeline, Rowling has never discussed, much less named, the professor before Quirrell.

So unless Rowling changes her mind and gives the individual a name, we will never know who the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor was before Quirrell. I suspect that it's not something she has ever considered herself, as the person served before Harry arrived at Hogwarts and she never intended that professor to have a legacy that would impact Harry or the others at Hogwarts.

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The way that I understood what Hagrid said is that Quirrel was studying books on his own. It would seem in the Wizarding world that because there is such a small population of magical folk that everyone knows everyone else and their business, much like what you see in a small town. I do not believe that Quirrel held a position at Hogwarts but studied magical creatures in England, then took a year to travel and discover these creatures on his own.

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I know that Quirrel was NOT the D.A.D.A. teacher before, because it was proven that he was the muggle studies teacher. So perhaps it was still like how Harry experienced Hogwarts, with a new teacher every year. Although many beliefs are probable, Dumbledore said that there was a curse on the position, so it is likely that there was a new professor every semester.

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The individual holding that post in the year just before Harry's 1st ('90-'91) is not named yet. The only recent character, before Harry's time, to hold that post that we know of was Patricia Rakepick in '88-'89.

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    Welcome to SciFi.SE! Can you provide a source for Patricia Rakepick being Hogwarts' DADA teacher in 1988-89? – F1Krazy yesterday
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I think there was no other teacher before Quirrell, as he already had Voldemort with him, and I think Voldemort had control over his curse, which made it possible for Quirrell to stay as the DADA teacher for so long before Harry killed him.

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    Another answer proves this is incorrect plus if he had a year off which means someone else had to have held the position during that time which is what the question is asking about. – TheLethalCarrot Dec 30 '20 at 19:32

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