Tom Riddle
Biographical information

31 December[1], 1926[2]
Wool's Orphanage, London, England[3]


2 May, 1998[4]
Entrance Hall, Hogwarts Castle, Hogsmeade, Banff, Scotland[5]

Blood status




Physical information






Hair colour

(formerly black[3])

Eye colour

(formerly black[3])

Skin colour


Family information
Family members
Magical characteristics

Yew and phoenix feather[10]



"Greatness inspires envy, envy engenders spite, spite spawns lies. Certainly, I have experimented; I have pushed the boundaries of magic further, perhaps, than they have ever been pushed - "

Lord Voldemort (24 June, 1995 - 2 May, 1998[4]), born Tom Marvolo Riddle III[3] (31 December[1], 1926[2] - 31 October, 1981), usually referred to as The Dark Lord or You-Know-Who, was a half-blood wizard[6] and the most evil wizard for centuries[11] whose eventual goal was world domination, beginning with ruling over Europe before travelling to the United States of America[12]. He was an evil dictator[13], a self-hating bully[14], a raging psychopath devoid of sympathy[15] and a power-hungry racist who had no concern for human life[16] .


Early lifeEdit

Tom Marvolo Riddle III was born on 31 December[1], 1926[2] to the pure-blood witch Merope Gaunt and the handsome Muggle Thomas Riddle II, both inhabitants of the village of Little Hangleton[3].

Merope had created a Love Potion and, concealing it in a cool glass of water, offered it to Tom Riddle as he rode his horse alone one hot summer's day[9]. He accepted and immediately became enchanted; the two eloped to the fury of both sets of parents and creating a scandal in the village[9].

Once Merope became impregnated with the infant, she ceased to give Riddle his continual dosage of love potion, foolishly believing that he would grow to love her, or else that he would stay for their baby; she was wrong on both counts[9]. He returned to the Riddle House and spread a rumour that he had been hoodwinked and enchanted, and never bothered to find out what had become of his son[9].

Merope was thus left with nowhere to live, having been disowned by her family for what she had done; she travelled to London, where she sold a priceless heirloom, a necklace belonging to Salazar Slytherin himself, to Caractacus Burke for ten Galleons[3]. He was quite gleeful at the bargain, an extreme discount on his part[3].

On New Years' Eve, a wet, snowy and nasty night, she stumbled up the front steps of Wool's Orphanage; an hour later, her son was born[3]. She demanded that he be named 'Tom' for his father and 'Marvolo' for her father, and that his surname was to be 'Riddle'; the staff of the orphanage thought she had come from a circus due to the oddity of her son's name[3]. She also told them that she hoped he would look like his father, and the staff agreed; one such member of staff, Mrs Cole, agreed with her, claiming that Merope had been rather ugly[3]. Merope died within an hour of making her final request[3].

The young Tom Riddle was an extremely odd baby; he never cried nor caused any troubles[3]. Despite his mother's dying wishes, no family of his ever came for him, and as such he remained at the orphanage for eleven years after, terrorising the other children using his magical abilities, which he kept hidden from the staff[3]. He was delighted that he could exercise control over his supernatural abilities, inflicting pain on those who hurt him or who he disliked; for instance, he hung Billy Stubbs's rabbit from the rafters a day after he got into an argument, and on a school field trip in the summer he lured Amy Benson and Dennis Bishop into a seaside cave and did inappropriate things to them[3].

Hogwarts yearsEdit

Four months prior to Riddle's twelfth birthday, he was visited by Albus Dumbledore, the Transfiguration professor at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and was offered a position at the school[3]. Riddle distrusted Dumbledore, initially accusing him of being a doctor at the asylum but later believing Dumbledore would merely impede his success in learning[3].

Nonetheless, he accepted his train ticket, shopping list and money-bag with feigned gratitude and requested directions to Diagon Alley[3]. It was there that he bought all of his second-hand supplies[3], including a wand made of yew wood with a phoenix feather core[10].

The school year arrived, and with it came Tom Riddle lining up with the other first-years in his second-hand robes[7]. The second the Sorting Hat touched his head he was placed into Slytherin House, and that same evening he learned that the founder of his house could speak to snakes, something that increased his sense of self-importance[7].

He impressed the other Slytherins with displays of Parseltongue in the common-room, a fact that was kept hidden from the staff, who believed him to be a kind, polite, attractive and trustworthy student[7]. The one teacher he did not trust was Dumbledore, with whom he was very guarded and quiet, feeling that he had revealed too much about himself in their first encounter but knowing he could not take back what had been said[7].

From the moment he set foot in Hogwarts, Riddle was obsessed with his heritage, avidly studying his family history[7]. He searched in vain throughout heavy tomes on wizarding families, on the awards in the trophy room and on the list of prefects in the old school records, for some mention of his father, believing him to be a wizard[7].

When he could not find any mention of Tom Riddle II and was forced to accept his father had never been to Hogwarts, Tom dropped his own name and began operating under the alias of 'Lord Voldemort', gathering around him a motley collection of the weak seeking protection, the ambitious seeking shared glory and the thuggish looking for refined forms of cruelty; this group gained a kind of dark glamour around them[7]. They were never linked to any incidents, although their time at the school was marked by a number of nasty incidents, the most serious being Tom Riddle's opening the Chamber of Secrets the same way his ancestor Corvinus Gaunt had, releasing the Basilisk within and murdering a Muggle-born girl named Myrtle, with which he made his first Horcrux[7].

Riddle deathsEdit

After being forced to accept that it was his mother who was a witch and that his father was normal, Tom began searching for his mother's family, with only the name 'Marvolo' to go on[7]. He soon found his family tree and, in his sixth year, tracked down his maternal uncle to a hovel in the north of the country[7]. He interrogated Morfin about his father and then altered his memories and stole his ring and his wand[7]. He then headed across the village to the Riddle House, where he killed his father and grandparents, obliterating the last of the Riddle line, and returned Morfin's wand to him, bewitching him to believe he had committed the atrocities[7].

He returned to the school the following fall and, late one night at a supper party with his potions teacher Professor Slughorn, interrogated the teacher about Horcruxes[7].

Finally, Riddle's seventh year came, and his classmates were all deciding what they wanted to be[17]. A number of teachers suggested to Riddle that he should become Minister for Magic and offered to set up useful contacts, but he refused all offers[17]. He requested of Headmaster Dippet, in secret, that he stay at Hogwarts to teach, but Dippet refused, feeling that Riddle was too young[17].

Riddle graduated from Hogwarts as prefect, Head Boy and winner of the Special Award for Services to the School[17]. To everyone's surprise, he took up a position at Borgin and Burkes, and the staff of his old school soon began to claim that he was wasting his talents[17]. He was soon, however, given jobs that no other person would have been entrusted with: persuading people to sell their priceless valuables to the shop, something he was truly good at[17].

On one of his last errands for the shop, Tom visited the home of a Miss Hepzibah Smith, an elderly old woman and a distant descendant of Helga Hufflepuff[17]. Smith showed him a gleaming golden cup belonging to Hufflepuff herself and the silvery locket of Slytherin that Burke had bought so long ago from Tom's own mother[17]. Tom later poisoned her and modified her house-elf Hokey's memory, so that the elderly elf believed she had poisoned her mistress[17]. Tom stole the necklace and the cup and disappeared for ten years[17].

Physical appearanceEdit

In his youth, Tom Riddle had dark hair, extremely pale skin and dark, narrow eyes[3]. He was noted to be rather tall for his age[3].

In later life, however, his continued use of the most sinister Dark Magic transmogrified him; his deathly pale skin gained a powdered look, his face became skull-like and his eyes turned a livid scarlet colour[8]. His nose was as flat as a snake's, with slits for nostrils[8].

Personality and traitsEdit

Riddle despised anything that made him ordinary or similar to others; even at the youngest of ages he wished to be different, special, notorious[3]. He had instincts for secrecy, cruelty and domination, and preferred to operate alone[3]. He was arrogant, impetuous, and wished to carve for himself a niche in wizarding history[17]. He was extremely proud and believed that he was superior to all others, and wanted others to think the same way about him[17].

Behind the scenesEdit

  • In the films, Voldemort has softer blue eyes, instead of red eyes.


Notes and referencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 See this FAQ answer on J. K. Rowling's official site
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 As the Chamber was opened fifty years before 1992, in 1942, and Riddle was fifteen years old at the time. He would have been born in 1927, but was born a day before then.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 3.21 3.22 3.23 3.24 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Chapter Thirteen - The Secret Riddle)
  4. 4.0 4.1 J. K. Rowling - A Year in the Life
  5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Chapter 36 (The Flaw in the Plan)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Chapter Thirty-Five - Beyond the Veil)
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 7.12 7.13 7.14 7.15 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Chapter Seventeen - A Sluggish Memory)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Chapter 32 (Flesh, Blood and Bone)
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Chapter Ten - The House of Gaunt)
  10. 10.0 10.1 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - Chapter 5 (Diagon Alley)
  11. 1999 Wamu Rehm Chat
  12. 2000 Scholastic Chat
  13. 2004 World Book Day Chat
  14. 2000 CBC Chat
  15. 2000 Jensen Chat
  16. 2000 Time Staff Interview
  17. 17.00 17.01 17.02 17.03 17.04 17.05 17.06 17.07 17.08 17.09 17.10 17.11 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Chapter 20 (Lord Voldemort's Request)
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