Which Wizard: Who's Who in the Wizarding World. This page has been updated for Book 7.

Professor Quirinus Quirrell

"Poor bloke. Brilliant mind. He was fine while he was studyin' out of books but then he took a year off ter get some first hand experience..."
     -- Rubeus Hagrid (PS)

Professor Quirrell unwraps his turban by Mary GrandPre.On this page:

First name: Quirinus is the name given on the Trading Card, which according to Wizards of the Coast™ came from Rowling. This can't be confirmed as canon at this point, however.
Possible name meaning: Quirrell may have been meant to sound like 'querulous' which means "someone characterized by complaining; fretfulness." It may have also been meant to sound like "squirrel."
Hair: hidden under his turban most of the time; missing at the back where Voldemort's face is.
Eyes: one twitches.
Voice: Spoke with a stammer so he would sound pathetic, and thus, less suspicious (PS17).
Distinguishing features: pale and nervous, prone to fainting, pale, usually trembling, and then there's that extra face...
Age: young.
Field: Muggle Studies, and later of Defence Against the Dark Arts (PS5, BLC).

A young wizard with a “brilliant mind,” Quirrell was a professor of Muggle Studies, and later of Defence Against the Dark Arts, at Hogwarts (PS5, BLC). In between holding these two posts he took a year off to gain experience dealing with Dark Arts (PS5); unfortunately during this time he met Voldemort in Albania, and by the time he returned to Hogwarts, he was possessed by the Dark Lord. To mask his newfound allegiance he faked a stutter and an eye twitch, hoping nobody would suspect him (PS17), though he certainly made Dumbledore suspicious (DH33).

Quirrell spent the 1991-1992 school year – Harry’s first at Hogwarts – working on an attempt to steal the Philosopher’s Stone, and thus bring Voldemort back to life. His first attempt to steal it, from Gringotts, was thwarted when Hagrid took it from the vault first (PS8) and it was after this that Voldemort decided to possess him (PS17). As Voldemort’s face was sticking out the back of his head, Quirrell had to wear a purple turban the entire school year to hide him (PS7).

After a year of (rather blundering) work, Quirrell learned all he needed and decided to try to steal the Philosopher’s Stone from Hogwarts, though he was thwarted by the Mirror of Erised. When Harry followed and was able to get the stone, Quirrell tried to attack him – but blistered terribly upon touching Harry’s skin. Dumbledore later explained to Harry that he was protected by his mother’s sacrifice (PS17), and that Quirrell, abandoned by Voldemort, died (GF33).

Misconceptions about Quirrell:
A number of misconceptions about the character of Quirrell have surfaced. Most of these are the result of errors in the filmed version of the first book.

  • Harry did not see him die in the books, although he does in the film. This error will cause some problems later in the story, since Harry should be seeing the Thestrals already in his third year if he'd seen Quirrell die.
  • Voldemort did not possess Quirrell until after he met Harry in the Leaky Cauldron in the book, so he shakes Harry's hand and suffers no ill effects. In the film, Quirrell is shown wearing the turban already in the Leaky Cauldron and he pointedly avoids shaking hands with Harry. This is also incorrect.
  • Quirrell's year off from teaching was not the year just before Harry's first. The essay Quirrell's Leave of Absence discusses this in detail.

Ian Hart as Professor Quirrell.Quirrell in Film
In the film version of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's/Sorcerer's Stone," the part of Professor Quirrell was played by Ian Hart. The ending of the film was changed somewhat to make it more visually exciting, but in the process some of the basic "rules" of Rowling's world were broken. For example, in the film we see Quirrell fly across the room toward Harry.


Primary editor: Lisa Waite Bunker. Previous editor(s): Steve Vander Ark, Michele Worley.
Original artwork ©1998 Mary GrandPré, used by permission.
Original page date 2 January, 2001; Last page update 9 January, 2008.