I am interested in the origins of the name Gellert (of Gellert Grindelwald)? Has J.K. Rowling said anything about this? Is there a connection to the surname of the German writer Christian Fürchtegott Gellert (who wrote just before the Sturm und Drang period, which is connected obviously to Durmstrang, where Gellert Grindelwald was educated).


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As far as I know, J.K. Rowling never has addressed the source of Gellert Grindelwald's first name. Some speculation about the name exists online, but I have found nothing definite. Even aside from Christian Fürchtegott Gellert, there have been a number of famous Europeans with the last name Gellert or Gelert, including an artist, a gymnast, and a politician. There is also a Swedish writer named Gellert Tamas, a bishop known as "Saint Gellert" from Hungary, and a "Saint Gelert" who lived in Wales. Budapest, Hungary also has a hill named "Gellert Hill." The name has different meanings in different languages: in German, "Gellert" probably derives from the word for a town crier, while in Hungarian, it is a translation of the German name "Gerard," which means "spear strength." (Sadly, I could not find a meaning for "Gelert" in Welsh, although it seems to be the Anglicized form of "Celer" or "Kellarth.")

Probably the most intriguing theory connects Gellert Grindelwald's first name to the legend of Hound Gelert from Wales. A Welsh prince called Llewelyn the Great supposedly left Gelert, a dog given to him by the king of England, to guard his baby while he went hunting. Llewelyn returned to find the bed empty, the baby missing, and the bedclothes soaked with blood. He thought that Gelert attacked the baby, so he killed Gelert. Then, looking for the baby, he found it safe, with a huge wolf lying dead nearby. Gelert had saved the baby's life, and had been rewarded with death. In the Welsh story, as in Dumbledore's life, there was a violent conflict with a dangerous creature/person, a perceived betrayal, and an innocent, much-loved creature/person that died by accident.

One of the biggest problems with this theory is that Gellert Grindelwald has a German last name, making a Welsh origin of "Gellert" less likely. But it is also possible that Rowling could have been interested in the Welsh story and simply taken advantage of the name's international nature by giving it to Grindelwald.

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    Swedish writer named Gellert Tamas? If he's Swedish, I'm Native American. (His name is screamingly Hungarian, and it turns out he is of Hungarian descent.)
    – Martha
    Mar 20, 2015 at 1:25
  • I had always assumed that Grindelwald was Hungarian without ever bothering to look it up. Gellert just sounds so very obviously Hungarian, and there are plenty of German surnames floating around in Hungary—especially when you consider that Grindelwald was born around 1882 (if his Wikia page is to be believed), which was during the Austro-Hungarian Empire. I can definitely confirm @Martha’s point that Gellert Tamas is a very un-Swedish name. Apr 19, 2015 at 9:46
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    I never said that Gellert Tamas's name is Swedish, only that he himself is. He does come from a Hungarian background, but he is a Swedish citizen who has written for the Sweden's leading newspaper and whose one published book is set in Sweden. To call him a Hungarian writer would be inaccurate, no matter what his name is.
    – E. J.
    Apr 21, 2015 at 2:54

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