The Diary of Tom Marvolo Riddle
by Penelope Clearwater
Years ago, a gathered force of the magical community defeated and ended the great terror that threatened to destroy everything we know in our world. They were young and old, students and graduates and professors alike; and they were the brightest and bravest stars in our sky whom stood up to face the darkness which then seemed indomitable.
And on the 2nd of May, 1998, these heroes delivered the final death to the most terrible Dark Lord of our time, Voldemort.
The student leaders of this heroic defense, Dumbledore's Army, were,celebrated for their indispensable role in scotching the horrors that the dark wizards sought to wreck upon human civilization itself. And may they always be - for the shining beacon of hope they were and all their victory entails will continue to be an important lesson for future generations of wizardkind.
But the purpose of this book is not to sing praises of our heroes, whom will no doubt have been immortalized in numerous novels by the time these words come under the scrutiny of the venerable Board of Censors.
Nor is it about demonizing the dark wizards - some controversially pardoned, others condemned to Azkaban - who amassed behind their leader at his call, would-be executioners of his bigoted and dictatorial masterplan.
Instead, it is my humble aspiration to breathe life - and dare we hazard it: humanity - into the exhausted accounts of the dark lord's past and ascent to power.
In his seventy-one years on this plane of existence we call the living realm, the dark lord engendered unspeakable horrors and created extensive destruction to the intrinsic fabric of society as not seen since the reign of terror of his predecessor, the dark lord Gellert Grindelwald, during the first Muggle world war.
Countless individuals, Muggle or wizard, innocent or deserving, child or adult, suffered the terrible wrath of his uncontainable power. Indeed, he was an - in many ways mysterious - individual whom inspired such a wave of unprecedented fear and revulsion among the wizarding community that before his final death, few knew or dared to speak his name.
Had there been hints of the poisonous ideology that would surface in later years embedded in his past? And could we, the unseen, omnipresent force of the wizarding society, have prevented his rise to power if these signs had been identified sooner?
That is the question I posit to you, dear readers, and hope to address throughout this narrative biography. To this end, I beseech you to put aside your preconceptions and judgements, and experience the chronicled events with the fresh acceptance of approaching a hitherto unknown topic.
For simple though it may be to dismiss him as a born monster, infused with evil and destined to wreck devastation, even Voldemort may once have been a simple wizard child like us all.
As a matter of fact, we do not know many details regarding our subject's childhood. But it is certain that the future self-styled 'Lord Voldemort' was born Tom Riddle, abandoned and raised in a Muggle institution named Wool's Orphanage. It seems likely that he passed most of his childhood there, unaware of his wizard heritage, until he reached the age of acceptance.
The late Albus Dumbledore, then a Professor at Hogwarts, personally delivered the academy's acceptance letter to Riddle, along with arrangements for his journey into the wizarding world.
For the next eight years, Riddle would achieve an outstanding reputation at Hogwarts, where he graduated with stellar academics and as Head Boy in his final year. The few of his contemporaries whom made themselves available for comment marked him as a charismatic, confident peer and student.
Yet it seems likely that all this was merely a carefully honed facade. As revelations in the past decade inform us, Riddle's ambitions were already taking dangerous form in his schoolboy days - in opening the Chamber of Secrets at the age of 16, he killed a fellow student and pinned the blame on another, before calming spending the rest of his Hogwarts days lining his impressive track record with even more noble achievements.
As later observed, the seeds of Riddle's insidious influence were planted in his youth at Hogwarts, amongst his fellow students and perhaps even professors. From his close group of schoolmates would grow his first and closest ring of Death Eaters, the ruthless organization whose name would one day be whispered by wizards between words about 'He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named'.
This curious name no doubt sprung from Riddle's life-long obsession and fear of death, a defining and consistent characteristic that is almost certainly a reflection of the true soul of Tom Marvolo Riddle.
To both consume death, and strike the fear of it into the hearts of others.
Like most pursuers of immortality in history, Riddle sought to receive the perceived gift of eternal life solely for himself. It is probable that the idea of immortality seemed great enough to eclipse all other wizardly achievements hitherto; and was simultaneously a tool to pave his path in establishing his superiority in the world.
Indeed, in comparison to his closest contemporary in Dark wizardry, Riddle's agenda appears staggeringly self-serving, and his motives peevishly personal. Grindelwald's claims of the 'greater good' were a projection of his desire for wizard supremacy, with few scholars arguing from the angle of private profiteering. Riddle's ambitions, on the other hand, seem strictly centered around his individual immortality, with the idea of elevation of social position as a subconscious - or conscious - product of his inferiority-superiority complex, as well as a useful, rewarding goal to rally his followers behind.
Of course, none of this diminishes the terrible deeds of both dark wizards, and the indelibly grim mark they have left in our history. As one of the many victims of Riddle's atrocities during my time at Hogwarts, I struggled to reconcile my personal revulsion with the desire to write a meaningful, penetrative, and thought-provoking narrative of his life.
What events transpired during the living years of Tom Riddle, and how did they shape his mind and actions? This was the question I set out to explore.
In truth, we know little of his life and the inner workings of his brain. The combination of his complex and lack of sense of belonging produced an immensely private nature, long before his increasingly illicit and nefarious activities necessitated secrecy. Even amongst his closest associates, he maintained a barrier formed from fear and respect. At key points in his life, he disappeared almost entirely off the grid of our knowledge.
So, how to construct the life and times of a man so private, so abominated by the wizarding world from a humane, relatable perspective?
Perhaps it is an impossible task; even as I write this, many well-meaning friends are advising me against my mission.
And yet, how can we, as a society - no, as humanity, learn from the example Tom Riddle made of his life?
For it is my firm belief that only through understanding that we can truly prevent the rise of another such destructive force from our midst.
I have decided to structure this narrative in relation to one of my only points of similarity with Riddle: the Hogwarts years. From his formative years, perhaps we may study him at his most vulnerable, and glimpse how a soul was lost to darkness and corruption.
No existing primary sources from his Hogwarts era remain - at least not in the public domain. As they always have been, narrative biographies are as much deduced fiction as hard fact.
We do not know for sure the way Tom Marvolo Riddle began his journey into our wizarding world, near half a century ago.
But it may have happened like this...