In Prisoner of Azkaban, when Harry, Hermione, and Ron get on the Hogwarts Express, the only nearly empty compartment they can find is the one in which Remus Lupin is sleeping. They do not recognise him:

“Who d’you reckon he is?” Ron hissed, as they sat down and slid the door shut, taking the seats furthest away from the window.
“Professor R.J. Lupin,” whispered Hermione at once.
“How d’you know that?”
“It’s on his case,” replied Hermione, pointing at the luggage rack over the man’s head, where there was a small, battered case held together with a large quantity of neatly knotted string. The name ‘Professor R.J. Lupin’ was stamped across one corner in peeling letters.

At the time this happens, the school year has not started yet, and Lupin is technically not yet their teacher (although he has of course already accepted the position at the school). Nonetheless, the name stamp on his bag includes the title ‘professor’, and is obviously not a new addition, either: it is old enough that the letters are starting to peel off.

That would imply that Lupin had earned the title of professor somewhere before the summer of 1993 when he started teaching Defence against the Dark Arts in Prisoner of Azkaban.

But where? Is there any information on whether he had at any point in the past been a teacher at Hogwarts? Or at some other school?

His Wikia article says (citing Pottermore) that after the first war, he was forced to take a series of jobs that were far below his abilities and leaving them before his coworkers found out he was a werewolf; but it says nothing about teaching.

Has JKR mentioned this at any point?

  • 12
    Fairly sure JK Rowling has never commented on this, but I’ve seen a popular theory that he did home tutoring, possibly for children with werewolf bites (or similar). Given his teaching skill, it certainly seems like Hogwarts isn’t his first teaching post.
    – alexwlchan
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 14:54
  • @alexwlchan Good point about his teaching skills—he's definitely either a natural talent or he's had some practice. Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 14:55
  • 20
    Perhaps an enchanted brief case to display the current owner's name and title?
    – TGnat
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 16:12
  • I've always wondered if Remus had aspirations of becoming a teacher, and someone close to him may have gotten him a personalized briefcase as a present - possibly a graduation present (it is a traditional graduation present for law students). Sort of an aspirational gift or a show of support. If it was given that long ago, it would explain why the bag and the letters were so worn (even if he had never technically been a professor before). In my head it's from Lily, but that's just because I love their friendship so much - it could easily be from his parents or any of the Marauders.
    – Allie
    Commented Nov 15, 2016 at 21:29

4 Answers 4


J.K. Rowling has written extensively about Remus Lupin on Pottermore (presently named Wizarding World) and describes Lupin's parents' courtship and marriage (Remus is a half-blood, if anyone is interested), Remus's childhood, being bitten by werewolf Fenrir Greyback and becoming a werewolf himself, his years as a student at Hogwarts, his participation as a member of the Order of the Phoenix, his hand-to-mouth existence after the first Voldemort war was over and his complicated relationship with the Wolfsbane potion (he refused to take it because sampling the potion would mean admitting to others he was a werewolf), and Dumbledore's offer of the Defence Against the Dark Arts position at Hogwarts.

J.K. Rowling does not indicate that any of Remus's odd jobs included teaching or tutoring. It appears the Hogwarts DADA position was Lupin's first teaching assignment. Dumbledore assured Remus that all the Wolfsbane potion Remus would need would be available. J.K. Rowling writes that Remus Lupin turned out to be a natural teacher with an affinity for the subject matter, but more so his students and their inner workings. I think she demonstrates this aptly in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (On a personal note, it was Lupin and Prisoner of Azkaban that really hooked me on the series).

  • 2
    In other words, for lack of some obscure interview, we'll probably just have to assume that the name tag was a blimp that she hadn't thought about. I can live with that. :-) Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 17:43
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    @JanusBahsJacquet -- Yeah, so can I :) One might postulate that, out of pride at his new teaching appointment, Remus himself labeled his suitcase "Professor R.J. Lupin". (I do know that the "J" stands for John, but you likely already know that and it really has nothing to do with the question -- I'm just good at pulling out extraneous details :) ) Commented Apr 17, 2015 at 0:15
  • 1
    Since this answers the actual question asked (where Lupin had taught before, if anywhere) to the extent that canon can answer it, I’m going to accept this as the correctest answer. I would like to note, however, that I believe DVK’s in-universe possible answer #1 is most likely the correct interpretation of why Lupin’s name tag included his professor title. (They’re really two separate questions, I see now.) Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 15:37
  • Is all this info on Lupin still available today?
    – Wade
    Commented Jul 28, 2021 at 19:16

Since @Slytherincess' excellent answer basically amounts to: "no canon answer", I'll speculate around canon:

In universe possible answer #1:

The label is magically made to display any text (e.g. it works like a programmable LCD display for Muggles). Therefore, again, the "Professor" wording is quite new, post-Hogwarts-offer... BUT the label itself very well may be as old and worn out and breaking as the case it was on.

Canon support: We are shown items which can change the text written on them in canon - in much more complicated ways, even; e.g. Marauder's map or the Riddle diary.

In universe possible answer #2:

One way you can possibly interpret the wording "The name ‘Professor R.J. Lupin’ was stamped across one corner in peeling letters" is that the "peeling letters" was basically a magic equivalent of post-it note. E.g. Lupin was so poor, he couldn't afford a proper stamping material, and had to make-do with poor quality cheap "Chinese knock-off".

If that were the case (again, pure speculation, no canon support, but no canon disprovement), then the label could have been very recent; and there's no contradiction which necessitates Lupin to have been a Professor before Hogwarts position.

Canon support: cheap poorly made items are shown elsewhere in canon - among possessions of Weasleys and Gaunts.

Out of universe possible answer: You don't need to teach to be called a "Professor". Wikipedia has more details about the title than you can shake a PhD thesis at, but basically, you can be a Professor in academia who does only research and no or little actual teaching. We don't really know too much of higher education in HP universe, but we know it exists. He very well may have been an outstanding DADA researcher with some think tank or "university" or MoM researcher like Unspeakables.

  • @JanusBahsJacquet - yeah, I pretty much agree with that ordering. I'll edit Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 20:49

You can edit writing with magic. remember, when Percy was made head boy, Fred and George changed his badge to read "bighead boy". so a person with magic could change what something says without changing the thing that the words are on. lupin had most likely never taught anywhere before Hogwarts. remember, he is a werewolf, and Dumbledore was the only person who would give him a job.

  • Do you have a source for your last claim?
    – JohnP
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 15:01

The premise of this question seems to be that the "peeling letters" are indicative of passage of time, while there shouldn't have been much passage of time since Lupin became a professor at Hogwarts.

However, when a bunch of words are described as "peeling letters" I don't think it indicates that every single letter was peeling. I think it is a perfectly normal usage to describe a group of words in which some of the letters are peeling, or the words in general are peeling.

Therefore, I would think that the most basic answer to the question is that the luggage was old and had always had "R. J. Lupin" stamped on it. Over the course of time, those letters began peeling. When Lupin became a professor he simply added the word "Professor" in front of his name, and that individual word was not yet peeling. When Harry looks at the luggage and sees that the general state of the stamped name is "peeling" it is perfectly normal for him to cognize it as "stamped across one corner in peeling letters"

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