I feel obliged to offer my services in the continuing struggle against the cursed Death Eaters
A Professor of Chemistry applies for a job at Hogwarts
26th June 2022 marks 25 years since publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the first title in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. The following exchange can be found in the second volume of Letters of Note, by kind permission of Steven Armes and J. K. Rowling.
Steven Armes has an impressive CV—impressive enough, one would think, to secure a teaching job of his choosing. At the time of writing the following letter, he was (and indeed still is) Professor of Polymer and Colloid Chemistry at the University of Sheffield; before that, he had worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, one of the largest and most revered research institutions in the world. He has also authored hundreds of scientific papers, and in 2014 became a Fellow of the Royal Society for his pioneering contributions to science. In 2001, believing himself to be a perfect candidate despite his being a Muggle1, he applied for the post of Defence Against the Dark Arts Teacher at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the fictional institution made famous by J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter book series. This is the application letter he sent to the Harry Potter offices, and the reply that soon arrived.
Teaching Post Vacancy at Hogwarts School
Dear Professor Dumbledore,
I wish to apply for the ‘Defence Against the Dark Arts’ teaching post vacancy at Hogwarts School. I am well aware of the chequered history of the former occupants of this post but, in this darkest of times (is it really true that He Who Should Not Be Named has returned, with all of his former powers?), I feel obliged to offer my services in the continuing struggle against the cursed Death Eaters.
Although most of my professional experiences has been gained in the Muggle world, I would like to point out that I studied at Bristol University under the supervision of the internationally-renowned auror, Professor B. Vincent. Furthermore, I spent 22 months working in a dungeon at the notorious Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico in 1987-89 (see enclosed CV). This US nuclear weapons laboratory is surely one of the Darkest military research laboratories in the (Muggle or Wizarding) world. In addition, in the last eleven years at Sussex University I have worked extensively on Polypyrrole, one of the Darkest conducting polymers known to Alchemy. Finally, I have spent the last seven years becoming acquainted with a budding wizard named Thomas Armes, whom I can assure you is just as much of a handful as Harry Potter. Only yesterday I caught him practising illegal curses on his younger sister, Kate.
Currently I lead an international wizard group of twelve PhD* students and research sorcerers who are working on new Colloidal Potions and the Alchemy of Polymers (I believe these are known as ‘plastics’ in the Muggle world). I am the principal auror or co-auror of more than 140 learned alchemical articles, although most of these have only appeared in Muggle journals.
I have checked my contract with my current Muggle employers, and I am pleased to confirm my availability from Sept 1st, 2001 if selected for this most important post.
Thanking you in advance for your careful consideration of my application and I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.
Steven P. Armes
Professor of Colloid and Polymer Science
P.S. Please forgive this application by Muggle post but I do not trust the owls around these parts - they have red eyes!
*Philosophy of Dark Arts
Dear Mr. Armes,
Re: Your Application for the Post of Defence Against the Dark Arts Teacher, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
It is with regret that I must inform you that the above post has been filled.
I hope your natural disappointment will be alleviated to some extent by knowing that rarely has an application caused such hilarity and mirth among the Board of Governors. You have the distinction of being the first Muggle ever to apply for a job at Hogwarts and the Board of Governors were keen to call you for interview. I trust you will attribute my vetoing of this suggestion, not to any doubts of your competence or courage, but the wish and savagery more often associated with the home-life of trolls. You might take further consolation from the fact that the post is almost certain to become available again within a year. Job security is not, unfortunately, an attraction we can offer to Defence Against the Dark Arts teachers.
I was interested to learn that your son Thomas shows early promise in the area of curses and jinxes. I shall look forward to seeing him at Hogwarts in September 2005. Thank you once again for your interest in joining our establishment and I wish you every success in your alchemical endeavours.
Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorcerer, Chief Warlock, Supreme Mugwump, International Confederation of Wizards
A person living outside the magical community.