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Things you may not have noticed about Hermione

Now you too can be an insufferable know-it-all!

Snape teaching potions from the Philosopher's Stone
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

Here are some things you might not know about Miss Granger, plus a few details you may have missed on your first read…

Her name has roots in Greek mythology…

‘Hermione’ is the female derivative of ‘Hermes’, a messenger god known for his sharp wit and ability to transition between worlds. Quite fittingly, Hermione transitioned between the Muggle and wizarding worlds, delivered information (seriously, has nobody else read Hogwarts: A History?) and was pretty sharp-witted herself.

Hermione Granger illustrated by Jim Kay
Illustration by Jim Kay © Bloomsbury Publishing Plc 2015, taken from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - Illustrated Edition

… and was a bit tricky for some readers

Ever have trouble pronouncing Hermione’s name when the books were first introduced? Well, we weren’t the only ones. In an interview from 1999, J.K. Rowling admitted that quite a lot of people ask her how you actually say it. Eventually, in Goblet of Fire, Hermione confirmed the phonetics of her name once and for all for Viktor Krum (and some of us at home too). And no, it wasn’t pronounced ‘Herm-own-ninny.’

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

She nearly had a sister

When Harry and Ron first met Hermione on the Hogwarts Express, she told them: ‘Nobody in my family’s magic at all.’ While it’s possible she meant her extended family, there may be a reason Hermione didn’t say: ‘My parents aren’t magic.’ In a 2004 interview with the BBC on World Book Day, J.K. Rowling revealed the following:

‘I always planned that Hermione would have a younger sister but she’s never made an appearance and somehow it feels like it might be too late now.’

Darn.

Hermione opens her hate mail from readers of the Daily Prophet.
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

She wasn’t good at everything!

Hermione may have been the brightest witch of her age, but there were one or two things she never got the hang of. For example, unlike Harry, she struggled a little when it came to producing a Patronus. She often lost at wizard chess (which Ron and Harry thought was ‘very good for her’) and she wasn’t much of a knitter if her house-elf fashion line was anything to go by. Oh, and her first flying lesson didn’t go too smoothly either:

Hermione Granger’s had simply rolled over on the ground and Neville’s hadn’t moved at all. Perhaps brooms, like horses, could tell when you were afraid, thought Harry.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Let’s not forget the short-lived spell in Professor Trelawney’s Divination class. Ron touched a nerve when he said Hermione didn’t like ‘being rubbish at something for a change’. But looking back to the first book, she was always sceptical about Divination.

‘Anyway, who says the centaurs are right? It sounds like fortune-telling to me, and Professor McGonagall says that’s a very imprecise branch of magic.’
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Her greatest fear was probably failure

‘I wish I could have had a turn with the Boggart –’
‘What would it have been for you?’ said Ron, sniggering. ‘A piece of homework that only got nine out of ten?’
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Ron was joking (as he often does) but he was actually very close to the truth. Part of the reason Hermione worked so hard was that she was terrified of getting things wrong and letting people down – a common trait among high achievers.

Hermione did everything perfectly until she reached the trunk with the Boggart in it. After about a minute inside it, she burst out again, screaming.

‘Hermione!’ said Lupin, startled. ‘What’s the matter?’

‘P-P-Professor McGonagall!’ Hermione gasped, pointing into the trunk. ‘Sh-she said I’d failed everything!’
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

A Boggart hiding in the cupboard
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

Something made her blush during Potions…

You might have noticed that Hermione detected an unnamed third scent in the Amortentia:

‘It’s the most powerful love potion in the world!’ said Hermione.
‘Quite right! You recognised it, I suppose, by its distinctive mother-of-pearl sheen?’
‘And the steam rising in characteristic spirals,’ said Hermione enthusiastically, ‘and it’s supposed to smell differently to each of us, according to what attracts us, and I can smell freshly mown grass and new parchment and –’
But she turned slightly pink and did not complete the sentence.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

In a 2007 webchat, J.K. Rowling identified the smell as being Ron’s hair, saying: ‘Every individual has very distinctive-smelling hair, don’t you find?’ No wonder Hermione went quiet!

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

… and her Patronus was quite revealing, too

Hermione’s Patronus, a shining silver otter, was gambolling around her.
‘They are sort of nice, aren’t they?’ she said, looking at it fondly.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Otters, as you may know, are J.K. Rowling’s favourite animal. But did you know that the otter happens to be a member of the weasel family? How fascinating when we consider Hermione’s future family ties!

Her jibe to the Minister became a tad ironic

‘Are you planning to follow a career in Magical Law, Miss Granger?’ asked Scrimgeour.
‘No I’m not,’ retorted Hermione. ‘I’m hoping to do some good in the world!’
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

In the end, she managed to do both. Driven by her earlier efforts to liberate house-elves, one of Hermione’s early jobs post-Hogwarts was at the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures to further their cause. After that, she went directly against what she said to Scrimgeour and worked in the actual Department of Magical Law Enforcement where she became ‘a progressive voice who ensured the eradication of oppressive, pro-pureblood laws’ (J. K. Rowling, in a 2007 Bloomsbury webchat). In fact, Hermione ended up having quite a few jobs in the magical law ballpark.

Oh, little did young Hermione know what she would one day become...