Cornelius Fudge is best described as the misguided Minister of Magic who presided over Lord Voldemort’s return to power but did you know he could well have played a rather different role in the tale of the Boy Who Lived?
A very early draft of JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter novel – which is on display at the British Library’s Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition – reveals that the author had originally depicted Fudge as a Muggle politician who met with the wizarding world’s envoy, Rubeus Hagrid, to discuss a series of mysterious deaths and vanishings.
In the original version, Hagrid attributed these deeds to a villain who he refused to name and begged Fudge to warn the public about the mysterious threat. A stunned Fudge thought about the strange encounter for a while and then called a press conference to warn Muggles about a “little man with red eyes” and urged them to “be careful not to tell this little man where anyone lived”.
Don’t worry if it sounds familiar. Minister for Magic Fudge basically took on Hagrid’s role in the first chapter of Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince, visiting the Muggle Prime Minister to warn of Lord Voldemort’s return.
The Muggle version of Fudge also had a connection to a very important character in the Harry Potter novels: Vernon Dursley.
Vernon was originally one of the Muggle Minister’s enemies, who Fudge feared would be after his job now that he was “clearly nuttier than a bag of salted peanuts”. But rather than attempt to oust him, Mr Dursley actually came to chat with Fudge about the wizarding world and his nephew, who’d been placed in his care following the death of his parents.
Don’t miss Harry Potter: a History of Magic on Saturday at 9pm on BBC2