The Spies Among Us: Professor Quirrell

Quirrinius Quirrell

Professor Quirrell

A good example of someone assisting Voldemort, and gladly so, is Professor Quirrell. After all, Voldemort has gotten, you might say, inside his head. At the end of book 1, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Quirrell seems more than happy to have assisted Lord Voldemort in his endeavors: he says so quite clearly—without any stuttering or nervousness! Unfortunately for him, Voldemort abandons Quirrell without hesitation, once again on the run as an ephemeral spirit looking for the next minion to help him return to physical existence.

Professor Quirrell Analysis

Recruitment by: Voldemort in a forest in Albania

Incentive Used: The promise of receiving great power

Handler: Voldemort himself—under Quirrell’s turban

Method of Communication: Direct—he’s, like, right behind you, man!

Memorable Quotes:

“A foolish young man I was then, full of ridiculous ideas about good and evil. Lord Voldemort showed me how wrong I was. There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it. . . . Since then, I have served him faithfully, although I have let him down many times” (SS 290).

“Sometimes,” he said, “I find it hard to follow my master’s instructions—he is a great wizard and I am weak—” (SS 290).


Remember how Quirrell seems to be a bumbling, frightened idiot?

Turns out his stupidity is actually a superb act.

Lesson #1 about Recruitment: Recruit Smart Spies Who Appear Stupid:

The famous Chinese general Sun-Tzu wrote in his famous book The Art of War in Part XIII 11 that good spies should seem stupid:

“As living spies we must recruit men who are intelligent but appear to be stupid; who seem to be dull but are strong in heart; men who are agile, vigorous, hardy, and brave; well-versed in lowly matters and able to endure hunger, cold, filth, and humiliation.”

Watch as Quirrell reveals his true colors!


Be sure to check out the other spies we’ve discussed in the Harry Potter Series: Mundungus Fletcher, Kreacher and the Death Eaters. And check back with us in a few weeks for our next installment of The Spies Among Us!

The Daily Prophet and Open Source Information

Gringotts Break in

In the world of espionage there are many ways to get important information. The spies in the Harry Potter series all seem to have their favorite way of information gathering. Hermione, for example, ALWAYS goes to the library when she wants to find answers:

“Harry — I think I’ve just understood something! I’ve got to go to the library!”
And she sprinted away, up the stairs.
What does she understand?” said Harry distractedly, still looking around, trying to tell where the voice had come from.
“Loads more than I do,” said Ron, shaking his head.
“But why’s she got to go to the library?”
“Because that’s what Hermione does,” said Ron, shrugging. “When in doubt, go to the library.”

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

This means that Hermione is an expert at collecting open source information.

Open Source (n): a collection of information that is generally open to all, such as newspapers, articles, maps, or other publications or documents

Her talents, of course, were cultivated after her first year at Hogwarts when an article in the Daily Prophet, a Chocolate Frog, and a  history textbook gave Harry, Ron, and Hermione the clues to what was hidden beneath Fluffy. Thanks to the Daily Prophet, Harry discovers—and relays to Hermione and Ron—that there had been a robbery attempt on vault number 713 after Hagrid had withdrawn whatever he obtained on Dumbledore’s behalf (SS 141). Hagrid had already told Harry that he was on a mission for Professor Dumbledore and that it was top secret. Hagrid is definitely being a secret agent for Professor Dumbledore, though we wonder how secret an agent he is when he discloses so much of what he is doing to Harry (SS 63)!

By combining the information from the Daily Prophet with Hagrid’s loose lips, Dumbledore’s bio on the back of a Chocolate Frog card, and a chapter from the history textbook that Hermione checked out for “a bit of light reading,” the Trio makes use of all-source intelligence:

all-source intelligence (n): intelligence derived from every type of intelligence available, including covert or secret intelligence

Click here for an analysis of the role the Daily Prophet played in the Chamber of Secrets!


17 Years of Harry Potter- When did YOU first read about the Boy Wizard?

Sorcerer's Stone First Page

In honor of the 17th Anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the UK, all of the people working to publish Harry Potter and the Art of Spying are sharing their stories about the first time they read a Harry Potter book. If you’re a member of the Harry Potter fan family, share your story in the comments! We can’t wait to hear from you!

Art of Spying Authors

Lynn Boughey:

One Easter weekend (I think in 2003) when visiting the in-laws in Billings, Montana I found that I had nothing to read.  My wife had a copy of Sorcerer’s Stone, which she had just read, and suggested that I read it.  Desperate for something to read, I took it with me to the bedroom we were using and didn’t come out for about 5 hours.  I found the story fun and interesting, though not yet fascinating. When asked what I thought by my wife after I finished it, I—the college professor and lawyer and long-time student of Shakespeare and reader of primarily classics —opined, “Not bad, but it’s still ‘fluff.’”  But I was soon hooked!  As soon as I could do, I purchased the next three and read them quickly in succession.  So, by the evening of June 20, 2003, when Order of the Phoenix came out, there I was at midnight surrounded by kids half my age standing in line like all the others to get the newest book. I stayed up half the night reading and did little else that weekend until I had completed my favorite book of the series.  My twin girls were only a month old at the time so I read many portions of the book to them in the evenings when they needed to get back to sleep.  Perhaps that is why they are such great Potter fans now, at age eleven.


Stop back later today for Peter Earnest’s first memory of Harry Potter!

Amy Quale, Editor and Publisher for Wise Ink Creative Publishing


I first read the book in ninth grade while traveling for my sister’s hockey tournament. I finished it part way through the weekend and we made a special trip to a bookstore to pick up the Chamber of Secrets!
Kellie Hultgren, KMH Editing
I first found Harry Potter while attending a summer program in Boston. It was a hot, humid day, and I was dawdling in the bookstore because they had air conditioning and my dorm housing did not. Before they kicked customers out at closing, I picked up the UK paperback edition of _Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone._ The black-and-white photo of a steam locomotive on the cover seemed nothing like the fantasy novel I’d heard reviewers rave about. I went back to my sweltering room, turned up the window fan, and sat down to read–and the next few hours vanished!
Kelsey Roebuck, Social Media Coordinator for Harry Potter and the Art of Spying
I was only 7 when I first read a Harry Potter book in the summer after first grade. Mom had taken my sister and me to our local Sam’s Club for our favorite mini quiche and there was a giant pallet piled high with copies of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Mom, ever the enabler for my already voracious appetite for books, gave into my silent, wide-eyed plea for one of those books. We read the first two books aloud, with my little sister squirming the whole time. By the third book, I was on my own and reading a Harry Potter book late into the evening to finish it. I am so grateful that I got to grow up with Harry Potter!