peh·toon·yuh durz·lee /pɛˈtuːnjə ˈdɜːrz.li/
Petunia Dursley, née Evans, is the elder sister of Lily Potter (née Evans) and the maternal aunt of Harry Potter. She is married to Vernon Dursley and is the mother of Dudley Dursley.
Petunia Dursley Biography & History
Born into a non-magical family, or Muggle, Petunia grew up with feelings of jealousy towards her younger sister Lily, who exhibited magical abilities. These feelings evolved into bitterness and resentment, especially after Lily’s acceptance into Hogwarts and her immersion into the wizarding world.
Life Before Harry
In her younger years, Petunia was close to her sister but grew apart due to envy of Lily’s magical abilities. After marrying Vernon, Petunia settled into a very typical and non-magical suburban life in Little Whinging, Surrey.
Life with Harry
After the death of Lily and James Potter, Harry was left on the Dursleys’ doorstep with a letter explaining his background. Despite her resentment towards magic, Petunia took him in but treated him poorly, favoring her own son Dudley. She and Vernon kept Harry’s magical heritage a secret from him until he received his letter from Hogwarts.
Petunia Dursley’s Characteristics
Jealousy: Her envy of her sister’s magical abilities shaped much of her adult life.
Desire for Normalcy: Petunia cherishes a mundane, magic-free life and dislikes anything out of the ordinary.
Protectiveness: Despite her often cold demeanor, she took Harry in and, in her own way, tried to protect him, albeit mainly out of duty to her sister.
People Close to Her
- Vernon Dursley: Her husband, who shares her disdain for the magical world.
- Dudley Dursley: Her son, whom she dotes upon excessively.
- Lily Potter: Her younger sister, with whom she had a complicated relationship.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why did Petunia Dursley take Harry in?
Out of a sense of familial duty and also due to the protective magical charm that kept Harry safe as long as he called the Dursley’s house his home.
Did Petunia know about the wizarding world before Harry came to live with her?
Yes, she knew because of her sister Lily’s magical abilities and her involvement in the magical community.
What was Petunia’s relationship with Lily?
They were close as children, but their relationship soured due to Petunia’s jealousy of Lily’s magical gifts.
Petunia’s complex feelings about the magical world and her sister are hinted at in her words. One poignant moment is when she almost expresses her feelings before Harry leaves in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”: “You didn’t just lose a mother that night in Godric’s Hollow, you know. I lost a sister.”
Fun Trivia Questions About Petunia Dursley
Question: Who left baby Harry on the Dursleys’ doorstep?
Answer: Professor McGonagall, Professor Dumbledore, and Hagrid.
Question: What was Petunia’s childhood nickname for Lily?
Question: In the “Order of the Phoenix,” Petunia mentions hearing about dementors from whom?
Answer: “That awful boy,” likely referring to a young Severus Snape.