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Vernon Dursley was a character in the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling.

Vernon was the Muggle uncle-in-law of Harry Potter and was Harry's guardian when he was growing up. Vernon was the husband of Petunia Dursley and they had one child, Dudley Dursley.

Biography

Early life

Vernon Dursley had a sister, Marjorie Dursley[1] and attended Smeltings Academy.[2] He later married Petunia Dursley, whose sister, Lily Potter was a witch.[3]

Vernon and Petunia purchased 4 Privet Drive and their child, Dudley Dursley was born in June 1980. Petunia's nephew, Harry Potter was born in July, but Petunia and Vernon wanted a normal life free of witches and wizards and hated the idea of Dudley growing up with a cousin who was a wizard.[2]

Guardianship of Harry Potter

Finding Harry

Vernon, Petunia and Dudley

In November of 1981, Vernon was very content in a very normal life but he worried that the neighbours would find out they knew the Potter family. That day he went to work, he noticed a cat reading a map and then the sign of the road name but he shook it off. However he continued to notice strange things that day including people wearing cloaks which shocked him.[3]

Throughout the day at work, he had not noticed that there were many owls flying around outside the office window and instead spent the day shouting at people but when he went to the bakery for lunch, he overheard people in cloaks mentioning the Potter family and naming Harry Potter. That was when he became worried and thought about phoning Petunia but then thought that he perhaps he was wrong and that Harry was not actually the name of Petunia's nephew.[3]

He worried about it at work and then when he departed at five, he bumped into an elderly man in a violet cloak. He apologised but the man was not annoyed with him and told him that even the muggle world should be happy that Voldemort was defeated, and then hugged him and walked away. Vernon was shocked at the nonsense he heard and wondered a muggle was.[3]

He debated whether he should say anything to Petunia when he was at home but he knew she would not be happy to even hear Lily's name. Vernon mentioned her anyway, and Petunia took it the way Vernon thought she would. She agreed that these strange things may be connected to the wizarding world and to Lily, and told him that the name of her nephew was Harry but then she stopped worrying.[3]

Vernon continued to worry even when Petunia went to sleep but then thought that even if James and Lily were part of whatever happened in the wizarding world, they would not be their problem and went to sleep. But when he woke up the next morning, Petunia would have found Harry on their doorstep and a letter explaining that James and Lily were killed and that he and Petunia were now the granted the guardianship of Harry.[3]

Raising Harry

When raising Harry, the whole of the Dursley family were unkind to him. Vernon and Petunia let Dudley bully him and they made Harry stay in the Cupboard under the Stairs even though they had a second bedroom. Vernon hated spending money to buy Harry things and would tell him often that he needed a haircut. They kept the truth from Harry about the wizarding world and how James and Lily were killed, instead telling him they were killed in a car crash.[2] He had hoped to to keep Harry feeling downtrodden, thinking it would stop any magic developing.[4]

In their effort to stamp away any nonsense of magic, they punished Harry when anything strange happened even though Harry had no understanding of how these things happened. When Vernon found out through a letter off the Headteacher that Harry had managed to jump up to the roof of St. Grogory's Primary School, he punished Harry by locking him in the cupboard. Harry shouted through the door that he had no idea what happened because he only wanted to jump behind the bins but Vernon paid no attention.[2]

Problems with Harry

In June 1991 on Dudley's eleventh birthday, Vernon woke up and went to the kitchen where he told Harry that he needed a new haircut. Vernon and Petunia had brought Dudley many presents, but Dudley noticed he had two less than last year. They then promised to buy him two extra presents when they went out. Vernon was proud that Dudley understood the value of things.[2]

When Harry's child-minder phoned and said she could not look after him, Vernon and Petunia tried to think of other people to send him to (Vernon said Marge would not want to) but eventually decided Harry would need to stay with them on Dudley's special birthday treat, upsetting Dudley to point of throwing a fake tantrum, but Petunia calmed him down.[2]

He they told Harry went they left the house that he would be put in the cupboard if he tried any "funny business", meaning magic. On the way to the zoo, Vernon talked about one of the many things he loved to hate (motorcycles) and Harry then thought of a dream from the previous night about a flying motorcycle which made Vernon suddenly stop the car and shout that motorcycles do not fly.[2]

Vernon brought Dudley and Piers Polkiss chocolate ice-creams and though the Dursley family hoped the ice-cream woman would not notice Harry, she asked Harry what he wanted and Vernon had to buy him a lemon-pop. Vernon brought Dudley another knickerbocker glory when he was unhappy with the lack of ice-cream, and let Harry eat the other one. Later, Vernon tried to make a Boa constrictor at the zoo wake up for Dudley but even though he tried twice by rapping on the window, it would not wake and they left.[2]

Harry then looked at the snake, and about a minute later, Piers shouted for Vernon and Dudley to look at the snake again because Harry managed to wake it up. Vernon then watched in anger when Harry made the glass pane fade away. When Piers later told Vernon that Harry was talking to the snake, Vernon waited until Piers went home to shout at Harry, and then threw him in the cupboard and told him he would not be allowed a proper dinner.[2]

Summer of 1991

Dudley was accepted into Smeltings Academy, Vernon's old school and was very proud when Dudley wore the school uniform. The next day when he was reading the newspaper, he asked Dudley to pick up the mail for him. Dudley ordered Harry to instead, and Harry replied that Dudley should. Vernon then told Dudley to hit Harry with the new Smeltings stick instead.[5]

Harry took a while to bring the post which made Vernon shout at him, and Harry tried to hide a letter that was actually addressed to him for once. Dudley noticed and told Vernon who took the letter from Harry, but he told him that was not addressed to them. Vernon told Harry that no one would write to him but when he looked at the letter, he was shocked and ordered Petunia to look.[5]

He and Petunia stared at the letter for a minute and kept it out of reach from Dudley, who tapped Vernon on the head with the sharp stick. Vernon told both Dudley and Harry to leave the room, but both of them demanded to see the letter. Vernon then threw them in the hall and shut the kitchen door but they both stayed there and eavesdropped at the door.[5]

Vernon and Petunia were horrified to learn that whoever sent the letter knew where Harry slept. Vernon agreed that the magic world were probably spying on them. Vernon decided the best thing to do was pretend they never saw the letter. Vernon told her he was not having "one of them" in the house, meaning a wizard. He then spoke to Harry later and told him he destroyed the letter, and that it was wrongly addressed to him.[5]

Harry told him it was not wrong, but Vernon told him to stop it. He then suddenly smiled at Harry and told him that he was being allowed to move out of the cupboard and that he's allowed to have Dudley's second bedroom though he would not explain why.[5]

The next day, another letter for Harry arrived with the new room name. Dudley and Harry fought Vernon for the letter, and Vernon won and ripped it up. Vernon then slept by the front door thinking Harry would wake up early and he screamed at Harry for half an hour when he tried to. Then another few letters arrived and Petunia told Vernon when he nailed the mail slot shut his she thought it would never work, but Vernon told her these people sending the letters won't think normal. Petunia was proved right when twelve letters were placed through the side of the door and window instead, and Vernon nailed the edges of the door shut.[5]

The next day, Petunia went to accept the delivery of two dozen eggs through the window and found twenty four letters placed in them. She then shredded the letters while Vernon phoned the dairy and screamed at them. When around thirty letters arrived through the fireplace on Sunday even though Vernon thought post would not be delivered that day, he made everyone run out the room. Vernon then ordered the family to join him in leaving Privet Drive. The next day, he drove to the forest, a plowed field, a bridge and a parking garage which made Dudley ask Petunia whether Vernon had lost the plot. He then took them to the Hut-on-the-Rock.[5]

The Dursley family meeting Hagrid

Vernon was woken up by Rubeus Hagrid knocking down the door. He run into the room with a gun while Hagrid found Harry and told him he looked like James but with Lily's eyes. Vernon then told him to leave at once, but Hagrid told him to shut up, reached for the gun and broke it, throwing it at the corner of the wall. Hagrid became very angry with Vernon and Petunia when he found out they told Harry nothing about magic. Vernon tried to warn Hagrid not to tell Harry anything, but he told him anyway.[6]

Vernon told Hagrid and Harry he thought the story Hagrid told was rubbish, he was happy James and Lily died because they were weird and he thought they had it coming, before telling Hagrid he thought Dumbledore was a lunatic, which made him very angry. Hagrid then used the umbrella he brought with him to try and turn Dudley into a pig, and achieved a pig's tail. The event frightened the Dursley family who run into the next room, leaving Harry with Hagrid.[6]

Harry thought of how the Dursley family would have taken every piece of money from the Potter family vault in Diagon Alley if they knew how knew how rich they really were, because they were unhappy with paying for things for Harry out of their own pocket.[7]

Vernon would just now have to see Harry every summer holiday. Heading towards Harry's first year attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Vernon and Petunia acted scared and angry at Harry, and would not say a word to him. On the final day of August, Harry announced he was in the room while the family watched TV and told them he needed to be at King's Cross the next day.[8]

Vernon made a noise which Harry knew meant Vernon would drop him off, but when he was leaving the room, Vernon laughed about how funny it was the wizarding world took the train and not flying carpets. Harry then told them the only thing he knew was he needed to be at Platform Nine and Three-Quarters the next day at eleven. Vernon and Petunia then laughed, telling Harry there was no platform of the name at King's Cross. Harry told him the name was on the ticket, but Vernon said the magic world was "howling mad". He agreed to take Harry, but only because he was taking Dudley get the pig's tail taken off by the doctor.[8]

The next day, Vernon left Harry at Platform Ten with a smile pointing out the platform Harry needs should be in the middle of nine and ten, but "they don't seem to have built it yet". Harry then watched them drive away, laughing at him out the window.[8]

Summer of 1992

In June, he picked Harry up at Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. Mrs Weasley asked him whether he was Harry's family, and he rudely said he was in a "manner of speaking". He picked up Harry's trunk and told him to hurry up. Hermione Granger was shocked he could be that rude.[9] The second they got home, Vernon locked Harry's spellbooks, wand, robes, cauldron and broomstick in the Cupboard under the Stairs.[10]

During the summer, Vernon banned Harry from using and speaking of magic, threatening to kick him out the house if he done so. He shouted at Harry once for simply using the word, even though it was in another context. He padlocked Hedwig in her cage to keep Harry from communicating to the wizarding world. But Hedwig kept hooting in boredom because he would not let her out of her cage, and Vernon began to get angry.[10]

Vernon had a very important business dinner during the summer, in order to sell drills to a potential buyer. He had a plan for how the family should behave that evening, that involved Harry staying in the second bedroom and pretending he does not exist.[10] The evening was ruined when Dobby intentionally got Harry into trouble to stop him from going back to Hogwarts School that year. He dropped a cake across the room of Vernon's dinner, shocking their guests. Any hope of securing their investment anyway was lost when a barn owl swooped into the kitchen to deliver a letter to Harry causing their guests to leave in anger.[11]

Having found out from the letter that Harry could not use magic at home, Vernon punished Harry by locking him in the bedroom and putting bars on the window the very next day.[11] A few days later, Vernon was woken up by Hedwig screeching at night, and it upset him enough to get up and go to Harry's room. However, he opened the door to find Harry getting into the Weasley family's flying Ford Anglia and escaping. He grabbed Harry by the ankles but Fred, George and Ron tugged Harry towards them and Vernon lost hold of him. He watched Harry driving away through the window, looking dumbfounded.[12]

Summer of 1993

Vernon locked Harry's spellbooks, wand, robes, cauldron, broomstick in the Cupboard under the Stairs again and he couldn't speak to any neighbours. They started letting Hedwig out at night so she wouldn't hoot. Vernon soon got a new company car and took Petunia and Dudley to see it in their front garden, and spoke very loudly so their neighbours could hear. [4]

About a week into the school holidays, Ron phoned Privet Drive and Vernon picked it up. Being a wizard, Ron had never used a phone and proceeded to think he had to shout at Vernon so he could hear. He asked for Harry, saying he was a friend at school. Vernon was very angry and shouted back at Ron, saying he doesn't know a Harry Potter or about their school. He asked Ron never to phone again, and he shouted at Harry for thinking he could give their number out to people.[4]

Appearance

Vernon was large and beefy and hardly had a neck.[2][10] He had small, sharp eyes.[10]

Trivia

Notes and sources

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