Dumbledore seems a pretty shrewd guy. Simple question: did Dumbledore know that Lockhart was a fraud and wanted to prove it to the (wizarding) world, or did he genuinely believe Lockhart would make a good DADA teacher?

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    Many witches found Lockhart quite attractive. I hope Dumbledore didn't invite him to Hogwarts for the same reason... ahem. :) Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 9:44
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    I forgot about that!!! :) Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 18:39
  • I believe you are mistaken and neither assumptions are correct. If I recall correctly, it is said that Dumbledore has much trouble to find a teacher in DADA. Thus, if he chose Lockhart, it was only because he had no choice: it was him or no teacher at all. So I think Dumbledore simply wanted a teacher - good or not - without the secret objective to prove that he was a fraud - worst case scenario, Lockhart would simply read his books (which he did) and best case scenario he knew how to teach at least a few useful spells to the students.
    – Ananas
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 12:29
  • @Ananas; the question refers to whether or not Dumbledore knew Lockhart to be a fraud, not about the ethics involved in hiring a fraud knowingly! Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 0:53
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    He was hoping Harry would kill this DADA teacher ;) floccinaucinihilipilificationa.tumblr.com/post/115955228385
    – tonysdg
    Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 5:39

5 Answers 5


Dumbledore knew very well that Lockhart was a fraud. The wizarding world at large might have been fooled by Lockhart's theatrics, but Dumbledore was not fooled in the least. In fact, as Pottermore explains, Dumbledore was one of a very few wizards who suspected what Lockhart was actually doing:

He happened to have known two of the wizards for whose life's work Gilderoy Lockhart had taken credit, and was one of the only people in the world who thought he knew was Lockhart was up to. Dumbledore was convinced that Lockhart needed only to be put back into an ordinary school setting to be revealed as a charlatan and a fraud.

Other members of the wizarding community disliked Lockhart's exhibitionism--in fact, most of the Hogwarts staff, notably McGonagall, did not want Lockhart to teach at Hogwarts for that very reason. But to prove that Lockhart was, in fact, committing illegal actions in order to further his own reputation would be more difficult. The two wizards Dumbledore knew no longer had their memories, and it would simply be Dumbledore's word against Lockhart's. Yet Lockhart had to be stopped. His Memory Charms were criminal, not merely unethical.

Dumbledore needed a DADA teacher. Lockhart would be no worse than Quirrell, and Dumbledore believed that having him teach would expose him as a fraud. Furthermore, Lockhart could not steal other wizards' memories and accomplishments if he was teaching at Hogwarts. Short of having him tried and thrown into Azkaban (which, sadly, was not possible), proving him a fraud was the best way of protecting the wizarding community. Dumbledore's guess turned out to be correct: except for Memory Charms, Lockhart's magical skills were rusty. The Cornish pixie disaster and the failed duel with Snape both showed the Hogwarts students and staff that Lockhart's supposed accomplishments must be false. Eventually his behavior toward Ron and Harry not only proved his cowardice, but wiped his own memory. Dumbledore wanted Lockhart discredited, not injured, but at the very least the problem was solved. Lockhart's days stealing other people's accomplishments were over.

  • I appreciate the answer, don't get me wrong, I'm just unsure what you're answer says that my answer doesn't relating directly to the question? You do raise extra information, but I don't really see much of it as being directly relevant to my question. Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 1:25
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    So Dumbledore sacrificed the education of an entire school, purely to eliminate a threat to the good of the public. "For the greater good" was grindlewald's policy, and he seems to have absorbed it. Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 3:08
  • @NateWatson: that was my point for the other answer as well. Everybody that takes education seriously, should not accept Lochheart as a teacher. Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 4:17
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    @NateWatson/CommuSoft - Dumbledore could've simply called Lockhart out as a fraud. But where does that get him? He had no direct proof, GL would just spin it as DD being a doddering old fool - remember GL was well liked by the media & had heaps of fans - he could use them to discredit him. At the same time, GL was publishing books of "his" exploits which were basically embellished fiction. DD chose the path where GL would prove himself to be inept. And if GL wasn't inept, and Dumbledore's misgivings were unjustified? He was spared the trouble of having spoken up.
    – Robotnik
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 4:58
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    The Pottermore article offers a very clear answer to that question--YES. Dumbledore knew. He just couldn't prove it.
    – E. J.
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 14:47

According to the Harry Potter wiki page on Lockhart, it is most likely Dumbledore had some idea that Lockhart was a fraud. According to the page, which cites Pottermore, Dumbledore actually knew two of the wizards whose memories Lockhart erased. The article then goes on to say that Dumbledore expected that putting Lockhart into a school environment would show Lockhart was a fraud. Furthermore, in that same paragraph, it explains Lockhart was probably somewhat hesitant to return to Hogwarts because:

many of his teachers were still there and might have remembered his foolishness and ineptitude

Hence, even if Dumbledore hadn't known the two aforementioned wizards, he would have been able to ask those staff members.

So Dumbledore probably had a very good idea of what Lockhart was up to.

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    Wouldn't this imply Dumbledore is a terrible head of school. Think about the harm this does in educating young people. In many countries, the government would dismiss such headmaster. Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 0:55
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    Commu - Dumbledore often, indeed always, did things that were seemingly very ambiguous; plots which took a very long view to achieve his goals ... indeed this is one of the main themes of the books, right? This "tricky" behaviour completely and simply fits with everything Dumbledore does. Because Dumbledore (we fortunately ultimately learn!) is awesome, his tricky schemes (seemingly foolish, if not plain bad, evil, at the time) do work out for the best. Merely exposing students to a bad teacher is a MINOR issue compared to Dumbledore's other "schemes" with possibly appalling outcomes.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 4:49
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    @CommuSoft I believe that at this point, Dumbledore was having a hard time filling the DADA post. He probably thought that even Lockhart was better than no one at all. Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 5:16
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    Wow. That's kind of a terrible plan. Was there really no better way for master wizard Dumbledore to prove Lockhart was a fraud? Couldn't he present the two mindwiped wizards as evidence or something?
    – Rogue Jedi
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 2:37
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    @n_soong So Dumbledore is sacrificing his students' education and safety so he doesn't have to "do any dirty work?"
    – Rogue Jedi
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 10:25

I think its fairly safe to say Dumbledore was 100% aware of Lockhart's incompetence, based on what we can find in the book itself.

Dumbledore added. "Why so modest, Gilderoy?"

Professor Dumbledore," Ron said quickly, "there was an accident down in the Chamber of Secrets. Professor Lockhart—"

"Am I a professor?" Said Lockhart in a mild surprise. "Goodness. I expect I was hopeless, was I?"

"He tried to do a memory charm and the wand backfired," Ron explained quietly to Dumbledore.

"Dear me," said Dumbledore, shaking his head, his long silver mustache quivering. "Impaled on your own sword, Gilderoy?"

These quotes imply that Dumbledore not only knew he was a fraud, but knew that Lockhart had been stealing stories from people this whole time.

To fall on ones sword fall on one's sword. Used other than as an idiom: To commit suicide by allowing one's body to drop onto the point of one's sword.

Common phrase meaning, to die, or get in trouble from, your own weapon. In this case Gilderoy by his use of memory charms as weapons.

After the fact JKR added this on Pottermore Confirming that Dumbledore Knew Lockhart was a fraud.

He happened to have known two of the wizards for whose life's work Gilderoy Lockhart had taken credit, and was one of the only people in the world who thought he knew what Lockhart was up to. Dumbledore was convinced that Lockhart needed only to be put back into an ordinary school setting to be revealed as a charlatan and a fraud.

  • I thought this was all common knowledge, Dumbledore knew some of the wizards that Gilderoy stole accomplishments from. Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 14:13
  • @CandiedMango Dumbledore knowing the wizards is from pottermore, this is from the book.
    – Himarm
    Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 14:14
  • The meaning could be taken in two ways but yes I would agree that this is Dumbledore acknowledging Gilderoys memory charm shenanigans. Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 14:16
  • Minor point of language: falling on one's own sword is a conscious act of self-sacrifice; being impaled on one's own sword is nothing of the sort. Dumbledore could perhaps have said "hoist by your own petard", which is an idiom to indicate "having something that you are good at working against you".
    – Hellion
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 19:54

One thing to keep in mind about Dumbledore and his decision to bring in Lockhart to teach is to remember that Dumbledore was becoming desperate to find a DADA teacher. We find out in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince that

Tom Riddle, before becoming Lord Voldemort

applied for the job and put a curse on the job after being turned down. Assuming this was prior to Harry being born, that's nearly 20 years - give or take - of people not lasting more than a year when they take the DADA job.

I believe that Dumbledore knew full well that Lockhart was a joke and a fraud but really had no other choice in hiring him because by that time word would have spread of the DADA curse.

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    Ssss...sspoiler? I guess?
    – Kzqai
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 20:13

Everything that everyone has said here is GREAT, but...

I want to add that the interpretation that Dumbledore personally wanted Lockheart as the DADA teacher is not necessarily correct. We see in the same book (via the removal of Dumbledore as Headmaster, a recurring theme throughout the series) that Dumbledore is beholden to the Board of Governors, and that they have some authority over Hogwarts and the goings-on at the school. Even if he was aware of the situation with Lockheart it's possible that a majority of them were not.

Given that we know Luicius Malfoy was part of the board, it's also possible that they were aware of Lockhearts skills (or lack thereof) and were deliberately attempting to sabotage students (specifically Potter's) training in the DADA role. It is equally likely that he (and he alone) was aware, and he alone manipulated the others into promoting Lockheart for the role, using Lockhears popularity in the Wizarding world (and presumably among the other Governors unaware of Lockhearts true nature).

All I am saying is, it cannot be conclusively proven with the provided information that whatever knowledge Dumbledore may or may not have had came into play regarding the hiring of Lockheart.

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    The Pottermore article states clearly that Dumbledore was the one who put out an effort to have Lockhart hired. He even suggested that teaching Harry would make Lockhart more famous. Lockhart took the bait and accepted the job.
    – E. J.
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 15:10
  • You're talking about his actions though, I was speaking specifically to his motivations. Why was Dumbledore interested in hiring Lockheart? Because he wanted to, or did he put out the effort because the Board of Governors directed him to?
    – Mark
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 16:49
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    The article says that Dumbledore put out the effort specifically to further his goal of discrediting Lockhart, which would suggest the Board of Governors was not involved. Dumbledore had to accept their decisions later in the series--i.e. Umbridge's hiring--but he put out no effort to help them when he disagreed with one of their decisions.
    – E. J.
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 2:23

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