Guest Post: Horcruxes Origins and Timeline by P. Wayne Stauffer

f39174438Whence Horcruxes?
by P. Wayne Stauffer

As the Horcruxes began to surface in the Harry Potter stories, I wondered which characters died in their formation. Some were explicitly named; others not. To determine which characters died when Tom Riddle/Voldemort formed each of the Horcruxes, I ended up retracing Tom Riddle’s journey from orphan boy to Most Powerful Wizard (other than Albus Dumbledore…) for the order in which the Horcruxes were formed and a kind of chronology of Voldemort’s rise, fall, and return. Since the information about Voldemort presented in the Harry Potter saga is piecemeal and scattered throughout the seven books, I wanted to derive a continuous narrative of Tom Riddle’s younger years and his transformation into Lord Voldemort.

Much of this relies on inferences that piece together the “facts” of the overarching story across the seven books more than on a concise telling of the sequence by any character or the narrator (though Dumbledore comes close in his tutoring sessions with Harry in Prince). I am using only the information in the seven books, even though JK Rowling had significant input into the films and has posted more information about various characters since the publication of Deathly Hallows. I have not discovered a similar discussion of the formation of the Horcruxes or Tom Riddle’s timeline online or in print scholarly publications.

So, for anyone who is interested, here is my take on the victims and the order of formation of Voldemort’s seven Horcruxes.

Starting point

f38696870My reference point for investigating Tom’s origin is Harry’s origin. In Hallows Harry finally sees the plaque outside his former home in Godric’s Hollow that commemorates the deaths of his parents, “On this spot, on the night of 31 October 1981…” (332). We know from Stone (45ff) that Hagrid delivers Harry’s first letter from Hogwarts promptly at 12:00AM on 31 July, Harry’s eleventh birthday. Hagrid then tells Harry of his parents’ demise ten years earlier when he was just a year old,… more precisely, when Harry was 15 months old (from July 31 to October 31 after his first birthday.) That establishes Harry was born 31 July 1980.

So Harry starts at Hogwarts in 1991 at age eleven. He finds out in his second year (1992-93) that 50 years previously, the Chamber of Secrets was opened and a girl died at that opening. Tom Riddle reveals himself through the diary, so this puts Tom as a student at Hogwarts in the late 1930s-early 1940s. If we take the 50-year-before mark literally, rather than a general time frame, this makes the year the chamber was opened 1942. The Tom Riddle who emerges from the diary Horcrux in Chamber appears to be 16 years of age (CS 307). If Tom is a sixth-year/16-year-old in 1942 (CS 241), five years previous starts him at Hogwarts in 1937 at age 11, so his birth year then becomes 1926. Mrs. Cole, the matron of the orphanage, tells Dumbledore it was New Year’s Eve (HBP 266), so that would make it 31 December.


f39174246During his studies at Hogwarts, Tom discovers the dark magic of Horcruxes and decides to work towards immortality through them. Potions Professor Slughorn unwittingly confirms for Tom the power of the Horcruxes and the crucial part of forming them—tearing one’s soul by the act of killing another human being (HBP, “Horcruxes”). Young Tom Riddle decides to split his soul into seven pieces, seven being the “most magically powerful number” (HBP 498) to assure his immortality: six Horcruxes and the piece left in his body. Hermione suggests that Tom may have consulted Secrets of the Darkest Art for the details of forming a Horcrux that Slughorn did not know or want to share with a student (DH 102).

Years later, Tom/Voldemort learns of a prophecy regarding his demise, and he believes that the Potter child is the child of the prophecy (OP 840-844). When he kills Lily Potter, unbeknownst to Voldemort, his soul splits again and attaches itself to Harry, so he unknowingly creates an additional, unintentional, sixth Horcrux: Harry. (Voldemort had not yet created the snake horcrux.) Then, Voldemort tries to kill Harry to subvert the prophecy, but the killing curse rebounds because Lily’s love protects Harry, killing Voldemort’s own body instead. Voldemort’s incorporeal soul does not die because the six Horcruxes are intact, so as the seventh fragment, it was left wandering earth until it could be reattached to a body.

After 10 years of regaining strength Voldemort seeks the Philosopher’s Stone for its elixir of life and the renewed strength and extension of life it gives until he can restore himself via the help of Professor Quirrell, who has been in Black Forest/Romania/likely Albania also (PS 70, 134; GF 654). Harry stops him from getting the Stone in his first year at Hogwarts. Quirrell’s body and soul die, and the part of Voldemort that possesses/cohabits the body with Quirrell’s soul leaves without dying, again because the six Horcruxes are intact.

In the following analysis I will follow Professor Dumbledore into the “thickets of wildest guesswork” (HBP 197).

horcrux-diaryI believe the first Horcrux Tom forms is the Diary. In his sixth year at Hogwarts (1942-43), 16-year-old Tom finds and opens the Chamber of Secrets (CS 241). When the basilisk is released, it kills girl student Myrtle in the bathroom, and this death tears Tom’s soul for him to form the diary Horcrux (CS “Heir of Slytherin”). Tom frames Hagrid and Aragog for the death of Myrtle. He commands the basilisk back into the Salazar Slytherin statue in the Chamber of Secrets and closes it. At the conclusion of this year of school, Headmaster Dippet presents Tom with a Special Service Award and makes him Head Boy for the next year (Tom’s seventh year, 1943-44). Tom then bides his time during his seventh year, beginning to build his gathering of followers from the pure-bloods and Slytherins at Hogwarts. He also determines to make subsequent Horcruxes from articles of symbolic value to himself and the Wizarding world—former possessions of the founding witches and wizards.

At some indeterminate point years later, before he kills the Potters, an older Voldemort entrusts the diary to Lucius Malfoy (a Death Eater by that time) to bring back the heir of Slytherin at the right time, if needed. Malfoy eventually gives it to Ginny Weasley at the beginning of Harry’s second year to get it back to Hogwarts for Voldemort’s return [?] and partly to try to discredit Arthur Weasley with the Ministry of Magic. In the chapter “Horcruxes” in Prince, Dumbledore tells Harry that Voldemort was terribly angry that Lucius Malfoy had wasted a Horcrux (508).

The diary Horcrux restoration fails with Harry destroying it in Chamber of Secrets. Tom/Voldemort knows the diary Horcrux is destroyed because the emerging soul fragment watches Harry do it [?], yet Voldemort does not seem to think he needs to replace it to keep the number seven intact; that there are other intact Horcruxes seems to be sufficient at the time. Dumbledore speculates in Prince that Voldemort is not concerned about the destruction of the diary Horcrux because he knows he has other Horcruxes that could be used (HBP 501). Dumbledore tells Harry that Voldemort “…was not aware, for instance, that the diary had been destroyed until he forced the truth out of Lucius Malfoy” (HBP 508).

horcrux-ringThe second Horcrux Tom forms is the ring of Slytherin. Tom Riddle acquires the ring of Salazar Slytherin from Morphin Gaunt (HBP “Sluggish Memory”) at age 16, probably on his summer break from Hogwarts 1943, the summer between his sixth and seventh years at Hogwarts. The Riddle Manor caretaker Frank Bryce recalled the brief appearance of a “teenage boy, a stranger, dark-haired and pale” (HBP 3). Tom killed his father and grandparents Riddle to avenge his magical mother and to form the ring Horcrux (GF “The Riddle House”), framed his uncle Morphin for the crime (HBP “A Sluggish Memory”), and then buried the ring in the ruins of the Gaunt hovel in Little Hangleton near the Riddle Manor to protect it from discovery (HBP 504). This death is symbolic for Tom because an heir of Slytherin (Tom) avenges the wrongful death of his mother due to the neglect of a Muggle. The ring is also a Slytherin heirloom.

Fifty years later Dumbledore finds it and destroys it before the start of Harry’s sixth year at Hogwarts (HBP 503), but Voldemort does not seem to notice the destruction (DH 550).

Tom likely acquired the objects for the third, fourth, and fifth Horcruxes in quick succession, but the order of formation of two is uncertain, as is who died in their formation. While still at Hogwarts, likely during his seventh year, Tom smooth-talks the ghost of Helena Ravenclaw (Rowena’s daughter) into disclosing the location of the legendary Lost Diadem—a hollow tree in a forest in Albania (DH, “Battle at Hogwarts”). He likely traveled there during the summer after his seventh year at Hogwarts (1944) to search for the diadem and learn what he could of dark magic. After a several month absence, possibly with no luck finding the diadem, Tom returns to Hogwarts Fall 1944 to apply for the Defense Against the Dark Arts teaching job. But Headmaster Dippet turns down his request—he thinks Riddle too young at age 18 to be a professor. In turn, Tom takes work at Borgin & Burkes to make a living and for the potential of finding other Hogwarts founders’ artifacts to turn into Horcruxes. It is possible that Tom was unsuccessful in locating the diadem this first time searching, so he may or may not possess it at this point.

horcrux-cupThe third Horcrux is the Hufflepuff cup. While employed at Borkin & Burkes, Tom encounters the elderly Ms. Hepzibah Smith, a descendant of Helga Hufflepuff (HBP 436). She is enamored with handsome young Tom and privately shows him two of her most precious possessions: the cup of Helga Hufflepuff and the locket of Salazar Slytherin. Tom ingratiates himself with Ms. Smith to acquire both the Slytherin locket and the Hufflepuff cup from her. Two days after she shows Tom the locket and cup, she curiously dies of poisoning, apparently an accident by her old house-elf, Hokey.

Dumbledore believes Tom poisoned her and altered aging Hokey’s memory to frame the house-elf for the death, possibly as Tom’s first killing since the Riddles (HBP 439). Tom surely killed her to make the cup a Horcrux: she is a descendant of Helga Hufflepuff, so killing her to form this Horcrux has symbolic value (HBP “Lord Voldemort’s Request”). Before the Smith family discovers the missing cup and locket, Tom had resigned from Borgin & Burkes and vanished from magical society, ostensibly to the seclusion of the forests of Albania (with which he already was somewhat familiar) to both evade British Ministry of Magic authorities and to continue his search for the lost diadem.

Years later, at an indeterminate date during his rise to power Voldemort entrusts the cup Horcrux to faithful Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange to hide in her Gringott’s Bank vault for safekeeping. Bellatrix makes a comment in the Prince chapter “Spinners End” that is telling toward its chronology. Narcissa Malfoy has come to Severus Snape to get him to intervene to keep the Dark Lord from killing Draco (Draco being given the task of killing Dumbledore). Bellatrix has followed her, unwanted, to get her to leave Snape out of it because she does not trust Snape. In her mind, he has betrayed Voldemort by not coming forward to join them since Voldemort’s return. Snape has just explained his role as spy inside Hogwarts for Voldemort and there is this exchange:

“My information has been conveyed directly to the Dark Lord,” said Snape. “If he chooses not to share it with you–“
“He shares everything with me!” said Bellatrix, firing up at once. “He calls me his most loyal, his most faithful–“
“Does he?” said Snape, his voice delicately inflected to suggest his disbelief. “Does he still, after the fiasco at the Ministry?” […when the team of Death Eaters led by Lucius Malfoy failed to bring back the Prophecy and were captured instead.]
“That was not my fault!” said Bellatrix, flushing. “The Dark Lord has, in the past, entrusted me with his most precious— if Lucius hadn’t–” [underlining mine] (29)

…and Narcissa cuts off her attempt to blame Lucius Malfoy for the botched mission. Now the question is, what was the “most precious” thing that Voldemort entrusted to Bellatrix? It turns out to be the Hufflepuff cup Horcrux.
So, before Harry’s sixth year at Hogwarts, Voldemort has already given Bellatrix this Horcrux for safekeeping. We know that she has just been broken out of Azkaban the previous year, having spent the last 14 or so years there, so the cup had to have been in her Gringott’s vault before Voldemort disappeared when he tried to kill Harry the first time.

The superlative “most” also indicates that Bellatrix may believe this cup to be the only such prized possession of Voldemort. But we have to remember that Tom/Voldemort did not get too close to any of his followers. It is likely that Voldemort has not divulged to Bellatrix WHY this cup is so precious to him.

horcrux-locketThe fourth Horcrux is the locket of Slytherin. The locket previously had belonged to Tom’s mother, Merope Gaunt-Riddle, a descendant of Salazar Slytherin on her father’s side. When she left Little Hangleton after Tom Riddle, Sr., deserted her, she made her way to London, where she sold the locket to Mr. Burkes (of Borgin & Burkes) for the small amount of 10 Galleons (HBP “The Secret Riddle”). As noted above, some years later Hepzibah Smith bought the locket from Mr. Burkes (HBP 437). Tom then stole the locket from Ms. Smith’s possessions when he killed her. It is not clear whom Tom kills to form the locket Horcrux or when he forms this Horcrux.

During his rise to power, but before he kills James and Lily Potter, Voldemort forms this Horcrux, hides the locket in the cave on the coast, and enchants the hiding place. Later Death Eater Regulus Black takes house-elf Kreacher to the cave and steals the locket to destroy it, but this fails (DH “Kreacher’s Tale”). This puts the locket in 12 Grimmauld Place in the cabinet the Weasely’s clean out before the start of Harry’s fifth year (1995-96) at Hogwarts (OP 116; DH “Kreacher’s Tale”). Kreacher retrieves the locket from the trash as a keepsake (“Master Regulus’ locket”). Mundungus Fletcher steals it from the house. Dolores Umbridge extorts it from Mundungus and is in possession of it by Hallows.

horcrux-diademThe fifth Horcrux is the lost diadem of Rowena Ravenclaw. Ten years pass (HBP 440) after Headmaster Dippet turns Tom down for the Defense Against the Darks Arts position in 1944. Details of Tom’s activities and whereabouts during this interim (1944-54) are scarce in the narrative, but Tom has likely turned the locket into a Horcrux (and possibly hidden it) and found the diadem and turned it into a Horcrux as well. It is not clear whom Tom kills to form the diadem Horcrux.

He returns to Hogwarts (Fall 1954) to again apply for the Defense Against the Dark Arts position. Albus Dumbledore is now Headmaster, and he also turns down Tom’s second application for the position. Tom curses the position in his anger. But he also goes to the Room of Requirement before leaving Hogwarts to hide the diadem Horcrux for safe-keeping. Tom believes — or so Dumbledore and Harry speculate — that he is the only one to know of the existence of the Room of Requirement. By the time of Dumbledore’s tutorials with Harry in Prince Dumbledore still does not know if Voldemort has acquired a Ravenclaw object to make into a Horcrux (HBP 505).

At the time of his second application for the Defense Against the Dark Arts position, Voldemort has five Horcruxes: Tom’s diary—maybe already safe with Lucius Malfoy; Slytherin’s ring—buried under the Gaunt shack; the Hufflepuff cup—maybe deposited safely in Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault at Gringotts; Slytherin’s locket—maybe safely protected in the enchanted cave on the coast; and the Ravenclaw diadem—now safely hidden in the Room of Requirement at Hogwarts.

horcrux-HarryThe sixth Horcrux Voldemort made, the one he did not realize he had formed, is Harry Potter’s scar. Voldemort unwittingly makes Harry a Horcrux when he kills Lily Potter in 1981. The fragment of his soul attaches itself to Harry automatically. When Voldemort tries to kill Harry, the killing curse rebounds off Harry due to Lily’s sacrificial love and kills Voldemort’s body. At this point, Voldemort believes he has only five Horcruxes. The prophecy from Sybil Trelawney gives a clue to the existence of the additional, unintentional Horcrux, but Voldemort does not correctly interpret that prophecy (OP 841).

This soul fragment inside Harry gives him a connection to Voldemort that neither he nor Voldemort understands until Harry’s fifth year at Hogwarts (1995-96). Dumbledore has suspicions, but no sure proof. As long as Harry is alive, this additional soul fragment is safe.

horcrux-snakeThe seventh Horcrux is Nagini the snake. Nagini first appears in the series in Goblet as Harry sees the snake in scar-o-scope visions. Voldemort used a potion that included unicorn blood and snake venom from Nagini to gain the strength he needed to undergo the transformation in the cemetery (GF 656), so he kept the snake close for that reason.

Voldemort makes the snake a Horcrux, what he believes to be his sixth Horcrux, the seventh soul fragment, that “most magically powerful number,” but in fact, he now has formed seven Horcruxes, plus the soul fragment in his reconstituted body. It is not clear whether Voldemort killed old Frank Bryce at Riddle Manor to form this Horcrux at the beginning of Goblet. Dumbledore speculates that Nagini is a Horcrux in Prince (506) and identifies Frank Bryce as the victim whose death formed it. Bertha Jorkins is a second possible victim before the action Goblet’s narrative begins. Voldemort mentions Bertha in the cemetery as providing information and that he disposed of her, but he does not specifically talk about a Horcrux formation (GF 657).

Another possible victim is Muggle Studies teacher Charity Burbage, whom Voldemort kills two years later at the beginning of Hallows (12), though this seems unlikely because he kills her in front of a group of Deatheaters—he formed all other deliberate Horcruxes in private [excepting Pettigrew’s probable presence at both Bryce’s and Jorkins’ murders].

f38696422Once Voldemort understands that Harry, Hermione, and Ron are hunting the Horcruxes late in Hallows, he runs through a tally of the Horcruxes (DH 550) as a reminder of what and where they are. At that point, Nagini is the last on the list. Voldemort also could have formed this snake Horcrux before the beginning of Hallows as well. So the victim for the formation and the timing of the snake Horcrux are both indeterminate.

In summary, Tom/Voldemort kills Myrtle for the diary Horcrux in 1942-43; his father, Tom, Sr. for the ring Horcrux in 1943; Hepzibah Smith for the cup Horcrux in 1944; an unidentified person each for the locket and diadem Horcruxes sometime 1944-54 (though the locket Horcrux could have been formed and hidden sometime 1954-81); Lily Potter for the Harry Horcrux in 1981; and Frank Bryce, Bertha Jorkins, or an unidentified person for the snake Horcrux in 1993-97. To get this far, the following timeline makes the most sense to me.

Tom’s Timeline

1926—On 31 December Tom Riddle, Jr. is born to Merope Gaunt-Riddle, Tom Riddle, Sr. having abandoned her before Tom, Jr’s birth. She delivers little Tom at the orphanage and dies. Tom Riddle, Sr., has no idea that he has fathered this child (HBP “The Secret Riddle”). Tom grows into boyhood in the orphanage. Tom realizes he is a parseltongue (HBP 275).

Summer 1937—Professor Dumbledore retrieves young Tom, now 11, from the orphanage for his studies at Hogwarts. In the next few years Tom figures out his family heritage as an heir of Salazar Slytherin.

1942-43—By his sixth year, Tom Riddle has discovered the location of the Chamber of Secrets and opens it that sixth year. He forms the first Horcrux – the diary – with the death of Myrtle and frames Hagrid for the death. For turning in Hagrid as the culprit and stopping the attacks, he is recognized with a Special Service Award and made Head Boy for his seventh year. During the summer break 1943, he goes to Little Hangleton and steals the Slytherin Ring from Morphin Gaunt, kills his father and Riddle grandparents, forms the second Horcrux – the ring – and buries it in the ruins of the Gaunt shack for safekeeping, frames Morphin for the deaths, and returns to Hogwarts in the fall as Head Boy.

1943-44—Tom Riddle finishes his seventh year studies at Hogwarts. During this year he gets the ghost of Helena Ravenclaw to disclose the location of the lost diadem. During the summer after he finishes at Hogwarts (1944), Tom/Voldemort travels in Albania in search of the diadem. Maybe he found it, maybe not. For the Fall start of school, Tom returns to Hogwarts to apply for the Defense Against the Dark Arts teaching position, newly vacated by the retiring Galatea Merrythought. Headmaster Dippet turns him down as too inexperienced at age 18. Tom takes work at Borgin & Burkes shop in Diagon Alley instead. While employed there, he encounters elderly witch Hepzibah Smith, and she reveals to him that she possesses the locket of Slytherin (which is a Gaunt family heirloom) and the cup of Hufflepuff (her own family heirloom). Tom poisons Ms. Smith to form the third horcrux-the Cup, frames her old house-elf Hokey for the death, steals the locket and cup, and vanishes from view (most likely to the seclusion of rural Albania, where he could continue his search for the diadem and evade the Ministry authorities).

1954—Ten years later Tom/Voldemort returns to Hogwarts to again apply for the Defense Against the Dark Arts teaching position. He is 28 years old now. He has found the Ravenclaw diadem and made it a Horcrux (fourth or fifth), but it is not clear whether he has made the locket a Horcrux (fourth or fifth) and hidden it in the cave on the coast in this time frame. Headmaster Albus Dumbledore also turns him down for the position. Before leaving Hogwarts, Voldemort hides the diadem Horcrux in the Room of Requirement, a place whose existence [Dumbledore believes] Riddle thinks he is the only one who knows. (The victims who died in the formation of the diadem and locket Horcruxes are unidentified.)

At some time between 1943 and 1981 Voldemort entrusts the cup Horcrux to Bellatrix Lestrange for deposit in her family’s vault in Gringotts Bank. Bellatrix had become a trusted Deatheater. (She was imprisoned in Azkaban for her torture of Frank and Alice Longbottom upon Voldemort’s disappearance when he killed the Potters. The cup Horcrux would have to have been formed and in place in her vault before her imprisonment in 1981.) He has also entrusted the diary Horcrux to Lucius Malfoy. Voldemort has five Horcruxes at this point.

1954-1981—Voldemort grows in magical power and builds his following of Death Eaters to take over control of both wizarding and Muggle societies.

1960—James Potter and Lily Evans are born.

1971-1977—James and Lily attend Hogwarts, as do Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Peter Pettigrew, and Severus Snape. Lord Voldemort increases in power and control of the wizarding world.

Hagrid tells Harry that “…this wizard, about twenty years ago now [1971], started lookin’ fer followers….” (PS 54).

1980—Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom are born. Sybil Trelawney utters the prophecy about Voldemort’s demise (OP 841) shortly before their births. Voldemort interprets it to mean the Potter child and begins his pursuit. Voldemort is 54 years old.

1981—Voldemort kills James and Lily Potter for opposing him, inadvertently making baby Harry the sixth Horcrux. He then tries to kill little Harry to do away with his prophesied killer, but the deeper magic of Lily’s love protects Harry and makes the killing curse return to Voldemort, where it kills his body and leaves his soul to wander. His Death Eaters scatter and believe Voldemort is defeated.

1981-91—Voldemort is so weakened that his incorporeal soul fragment can only wander until it recovers and can regain strength. Professor Quirrell spends time in the Black Forest, Romania, and likely Albania, studying defenses against the Dark Arts in the summer of 1991. This is where he would have encountered the still-weak soul of Voldemort, who was just strong enough to possess Quirrell to direct him to acquire the Philosopher’s Stone.

1991-92—In Stone Voldemort tries unicorn blood to fortify him enough to get the Philosopher’s Stone. Voldemort seems to be hedging his bets of five Horcruxes by acquiring the Philosopher’s Stone for additional provision of longer life. Harry stops this acquisition for longevity, and Quirrell dies, leaving Voldemort again without corporeal form.

1992-93—In Chamber Voldemort uses the diary Horcrux to try to come back, but Harry stops him by destroying the diary, unwittingly destroying the Horcrux. After this, Voldemort is not in a hurry to replace the diary Horcrux because he still has four: locket, cup, ring, and diadem. He knows that Harry destroyed the diary Horcrux because [he learns this from Malfoy], but he does not believe anyone has understood that he has formed the Horcruxes. Voldemort did not feel the destruction of the diary (DH 550).

1993-94—In Prisoner Voldemort is gaining strength and biding his time to return. Peter Pettigrew goes to him at the end and helps give him a body in Goblet.

1994-95—In Goblet Voldemort kills Frank Bryce to make what he thinks is the sixth Horcrux – the snake Nagini – but which is actually the seventh Horcrux. He also uses other magic with Peter’s help to take human-like form—father’s bone, servant’s limb, enemy’s blood (must be Harry’s) rather than use one of the Horcruxes (GF “Flesh, Blood, and Bone”) instead of using up a Horcrux. Voldemort is now back to nearly-full strength.

So Nagini the snake is the last, seventh Horcrux Voldemort makes, yet Harry is the undiscovered Horcrux. Voldemort believes the remaining four to be safely hidden and Nagini is always with him. He does not understand the prophecy because he does not know that Harry is a Horcrux.

1995-96—During Harry’s fifth year at Hogwarts, Voldemort extends his control by infiltrating the Ministry of Magic, while Minister Fudge is in denial of his return and while Hogwarts is enduring the reign of Fudge’s servant, Dolores Umbridge. Voldemort comes to realize that he has a psychic connection with Harry and exploits it to get Harry to give him the prophecy, which is stored in the Department of Mysteries at the Ministry headquarters. He has recalled his Death Eaters and has them busy once again building his evil army. Voldemort is too busy this year to be concerned with replacing one Horcrux.

Professor Dumbledore pursues his suspicions about the connection between Harry and Voldemort and the possibility of the Horcruxes. He searches for and finds the ring Horcrux the summer after Harry’s fifth year and destroys it, causing himself a mortal wound.

1996-97—At the start of Harry’s sixth year at Hogwarts, Voldemort does not seem to have been affected by Dumbledore’s destruction of the ring Horcrux before Prince (DH 550).

Now that he thinks he has enough Horcruxes to render him, in effect, immortal, Voldemort turns to increasing his power. But his wand has a connection to Harry’s wand—the phoenix feather core—that thwarts his ability to defeat Harry. So Voldemort begins to seek the legendary Deathly Hallows to increase his power over others—the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone, the Cloak of Invisibility.

He is particularly interested in the Elder Wand because of its power. He has no loved ones to recall from the dead, so his interest in the Resurrection Stone is minimal. His interest in the Cloak of Invisibility is likewise minimal because, as the most powerful wizard who possesses the elder wand and is in effect immortal, he has no need to hide via the Cloak. Having these two Hallows would merely complete the set to secure him as the most powerful wizard of the legend. This pursuit of the Elder Wand keeps his attention away from the replacement of the diary Horcrux to bring the number back to six by his count.

Dumbledore has his suspicions about Horcruxes confirmed by the destruction of the ring and the memory from Horace Slughorn, so he tutors Harry as much as possible this year to give Harry the information he will need to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes and ultimately Voldemort.

1997-98—In what would have been Harry’s seventh year at Hogwarts, Voldemort may have made Nagini a Horcrux, or he already may have formed this Horcrux when he killed Frank Bryce three years earlier. Either way, Voldemort believes he has at least five Horcruxes intact and safely hidden. Only when he discovers that the cup was stolen from Bellatrix’s vault at Gringotts does he suspect that Harry, Ron, and Hermione know about the Horcruxes and goes to Godric’s Hollow to check on the ring and to the cave to check on the locket before he starts towards Hogwarts to check on the diadem. When he finds the ring, locket, and cup missing he knows he must at all costs keep Harry from finding the diadem and killing the snake.

But Voldemort does not seem to be weakened by Harry’s destruction of the diary, Dumbledore’s destruction of the ring, Ron’s destruction of the locket, Hermione’s destruction of the cup, or Harry’s destruction of the diadem. He still does not realize that Harry has part of his soul, so he thinks that the snake is his last, sixth Horcrux. The Hallows and Goblet films emphasize the psychic connections between Harry and Voldemort and their connections with the Horcruxes much more than the books do. Voldemort himself destroys the Harry Horcrux when Harry goes to him in the Forbidden Forest, and while Voldemort is focused on trying to kill again the resurrected Harry, [in the film] Neville destroys the snake Horcrux with the Sword of Gryffindor.

This explanation of the formation of the Horcruxes and Tom Riddle’s/Voldemort’s timeline makes the most sense to me. I do not have a problem with not knowing exactly who perished to form the locket and diadem Horcruxes, nor do I have a problem that there may be several candidates for victim in the formation of the snake Horcrux. The indeterminate dates of when the locket, diadem, and snake Horcruxes were formed also do not cause me any cognitive dissonance that I need resolved. In gathering the “facts” from the stories to ascertain the clarity I sought on the Horcruxes, I also have come to a better understanding of young Tom Riddle’s change into powerful Lord Voldemort.

Since I was looking for details associated with the Horcruxes, I am sure I missed other details in the chronology. But that would be the focus of another article….


  1. “Another possible victim is Muggle Studies teacher Charity Burbage, whom Voldemort kills two years later at the beginning of Hallows (12), though this seems unlikely because he kills her in front of a group of Deatheaters—he formed all other deliberate Horcruxes in private [excepting Pettigrew’s probable presence at both Bryce’s and Jorkins’ murders].”

    I think Nagini has to be a Horcrux by the time Harry “travels” to the Ministry and is inside her head when she attacks Arthur Weasley. If not, how else could he have connected with the snake like that? Feeling what she feels? One possible answer is that Voldemort used the Imperius Curse on her, but I don’t think that allows the “controller” to feel what the controlled person is feeling.

    One other point, could the Harry-Horcrux been formed, not by Lily’s death, but by Voldemorts? His soul doesn’t form a Horcrux when he kills Lilly. He forms the Horcrux when, attempting to kill Harry, he kills himself.

    Overall, I agree with your points. 🙂

  2. waynestauffer says

    I agree with you on Nagini being a horcrux before the Order of the Phoenix year. Both Bertha Jorkins and Frank Bryce were killed before or early in the Goblet of Fire year. Rowling identified Bertha Jorkins as the victim for the Nagini horcrux in an interview in 2007 but not in the corpus of the stories.

    Regarding your question of Lily or Voldemort forming the Harry horcrux, their deaths are nearly simultaneous with hers barely before his. I think it has to be Lily because her death splits Voldemort’s soul and deposits the soul fragment into Harry, then the killing curse rebounds off of Harry to kill Voldemort’s body. But because he has 6 horcurxes by this time, his soul does not die but becomes incorporeal (“discarnate” as John likes to say). I also believe Rowling identifies Lily as the victim for the Harry horcrux. Your point is well taken because those deaths take place in such close sequence.
    Thank you for the comments!

  3. In the summer of 1937 he would still be ten because his birthday is at he end of the year and he wouldn’t be able to start hog warts until he 1938 school year

  4. Wayne Stauffer says

    Good point, Piggy. The last day of one year for a birthdate complicates the calculus. I need to do more research on UK school application/ acceptance practices and policies for more details. Since this is the magical world, Headmaster Dippet may have made an exception for young Tom’s circumstances.

  5. waynestauffer says

    This gets me thinking even more about whether JKR will try to work Young Tom Riddle into the storyline of future Fantastic Beasts films…not to mention more about Your point, Piggy.

    Surely the Ministry could detect magical activity in the vicinity of the orphanage where Tom was and sent someone to investigate…and surely they would inquire into any unusual incidents that might involve any of the children…and surely the name Tom Marvolo Riddle would get the attention of Ministry officials, “Marvolo” being the unique name among muggles and associated with the events of the memories Dumbledore revealed to Harry years later in Half-blood Prince…it seems sensible that the Ministry would want to …um…assure Tom’s safety by taking him to Hogwarts maybe a year early, considering he has no parental supervision and lives among muggles.

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