Not many people know the name, Tom Marvolo Riddle. But they recall Lord Voldemort as it sends shivers down one’s spine. Both monikers were a mystery in the Harry Potter books. This is until his return in The Goblet of Fire as the boy wizard, Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore race to stop him from beginning a second war.
Albus let on that he knew much more about Lord Voldemort than anyone. As highlighted in a flashback in the Chamber of Secrets, Dumbledore suspected that Tom Riddle had a hand in the death of Myrtle Warren, a muggle-born student.
The Half-Blood Prince gave the audience a deeper look into Lord Voldemort’s backstory and how he came to be. That’s what we’re going to do here. We’ll dive into the man who killed Harry Potter’s parents and how he became the villain we know him as.
Also, this post will skip over a ton of stuff, as there is so much to Lord Voldemort’s story. We’ll be ending the post with his first defeat by Harry as an infant. If you want the entire history, please go to the Harry Potter Wiki page for the character.
The Birth of Tom Marvolo Riddle
Tom Marvolo Riddle was born on 31st December 1926 to Merope Gaunt and her Muggle husband, Tom Riddle Snr. Gaunt died several hours after the birth, and Riddle took off after his wife lifted her love potion, hoping he would love her for who she was.
Merope had been in love with Tom Riddle Snr for years, but her abusive father, Marvolo and equally vicious brother, Morfin, wouldn’t allow her to form any attachment to anyone. She was essentially their prisoner.
Wanting to break free from her abusive family, Merope, bewitched the senior Riddle and ran away from home. Merope and Tom were married by late 1925, and she became pregnant in early 1926. Tired of having to live a lie, she realised her husband from his enchantment, hoping that he had grown to love her. He did not, and he left. She had hoped he would at least remain for the child she was carrying. After being deserted by the man she loved, she gave up exclusive use of her magic.
Despite her heartbreak, Merope eventually went into labour on New Year’s Eve 1926, giving birth to a son she named after his father and maternal grandfather. She died, leaving her child without a family.
Tom Marvolo Riddle grew up at Wool’s orphanage, where he would delight in terrifying the other children. This is according to Mrs Cole, who helped Merope deliver her son, who would tell the story to Albus Dumbledore years later.
The boy would be unaware that it was magical until Albus Dumbledore arrived to deliver the news to him before his first year at Hogwarts. Tom had a lot of control over his magical abilities, like other children who were also magical. He could telekinetically move objects and speak Parseltongue, a rare ability to communicate with snakes. Little did he know at this time, he had descended from Salazar Slytherin, a founder of Hogwarts with the same power.
Tom even stole from the other children keeping things as trophies of his “victories.” He even mentioned to Dumbledore during their first meeting that he hated his own name, given how common it was. He would later tell Harry Potter the same thing during the events of The Chamber of Secrets.
When Dumbledore told him that he had magical blood, Tom was not surprised, given the things he could do.
Hogwarts, The Creation Of The Death Eaters, And The Chamber Of Secrets
When he starts at Hogwarts, Tom receives his wand from Ollivander’s, and his wand’s core shares the same core as his future rival, Harry Potter’s wand. This would be hinted to Potter in 1991 by Ollivander and confirmed in 1994 upon Harry’s duel with Lord Voldemort in the Little Hangton graveyard.
During Tom Riddle’s days at Hogwarts, he excelled in the magical arts. He would be sorted into Slytherin house and amass a group of followers calling themselves Death Eaters. He would parade these individuals around as if they were his friends. However, they were not and served him as if they were minions.
During the Summer breaks, Riddle had to return to the orphanage, a place he hated as it was a misery.
In his fifth year, Tom Riddle discovered his family connection to Salazar Slytherin and that he was the bloodline heir. He also discovered the existence of the Chamber of Secrets. He came to resent his father for abandoning his mother. Riddle also framed Rebeus Hagrid by making it look like his giant spider, Aragog, was responsible for the death of muggle-born student Myrtle Warren. The Basilisk that resided in the Chamber of Secrets killed her.
Why Tom Riddle Framed Hagrid And The Idea For The First Horcrux
Tom, desperate to remain at Hogwarts and allow it to stay open, framed Hagrid and was branded a hero for “catching the culprit.” Hagrid, however, was allowed to remain at Hogwarts, but not as a student. The half-Giant became the Keeper of the Keys and had his own hut on the grounds. He had nowhere else to go as his mother had left him, and his father had died.
Also, Hagrid had no one to back him up when it came to Aragog not being the monster that killed Myrtle.
Riddle would use Myrtles’s death to create the first Horcrux, the diary, a year or two later.
Years later, Aragog, now fully grown, would tell Harry Potter and Ron Weasley that he was not the monster as he was just a baby when Warrne died, and Hagrid was framed.
Tom Riddle Kills His Muggle Relatives And Frames His Uncle
As he came close to becoming Lord Voldemort, Tom Riddle set out to do the one thing that would shape him; kill his muggle relatives.
In 1943, Riddle ventured to Little Hangton, his mother’s hometown, where he met his uncle Morfin. Less than impressed, Riddle got more than he wanted from the man who tormented Merope for years. Morfin even admitted that Tom looked like his father, even being stupid enough to reveal to his nephew what happened with his parents.
Riddle then went to the Riddle house, killed his paternal grandparents and father, and proceeded to frame his uncle, just as he had done with Hagrid regarding Myrtle’s murder.
Backing Horace Slughorn Into A Corner
During his sixth year, Tom became Slytherin’s Head Boy and became a member of Potions Master Horace Slughorn’s Slug Club. Riddle weaselled out the information he needed from his Head of House to create his Horcruxes.
Slughorn was horrified when he learned what Tom wanted to do. Dividing his soul into seven pieces was seen as inhuman. However, that wasn’t the intention. The seventh Horcrux would be an accident with the deaths of Lily and James Potter on 31st October 1981 and the backfiring of the killing curse on their one-year-old son, Harry.
The Potions Master was forced to comply with his student’s wishes and handed over what he knew. Years later, Harry would see this via the Pensieve in Dumbledore’s office.
Years after leaving Hogwarts, Riddle hears a partial prophecy about his downfall. Desperate, he searched for what he believed to be his salvation. There were boys born at the end of July 1980. Neville Longbottom was born on the 30th July, and Harry James Potter was born on the 31st of July.
Now known as Lord Voldemort, Riddle didn’t bother to go after Neville. Instead, three of his most devoted Death Eaters tortured his auror parents, Alice and Frank Longbottom, to the point of breaking their minds.
The Potter family’s secret Keeper Peter Pettigrew told Voldemort they were living in Godric’s Hollow. Arriving there, the Dark Lord entered the house, killing James Potter. James was wandless and, therefore, defenceless. He Who Must Not Be Named then made his way up the stairs towards Harry’s room, where Lily was sheltering in an attempt to protect her son. She took was killed when she refused to let him die.
The former Tom Riddle cast the killing curse, but it backfired, destroying his body.
Lord Voldemort Knows Nothing Of Love
The Gaunt family is well known for its inbreeding. This caused the family to go mad, much like the Targaryens in Game of Thrones. Voldemort had no idea how to feel love, let alone how to give it. His grandfather and uncle were cold and abusive towards his mother. Merope then used a love potion to make Tom Riddle Snr fall in love with her. She died brokenhearted.
In conclusion, this is why the killing curse rebounded. The curse allowed Lily to leave the world by letting her love for her son to protect him. It was this love that allowed Harry to survive.