Helena Ravenclaw

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Helena Ravenclaw
Helena Ravenclaw.jpg
Biographical information

982 or later[1],
Great Britain or Ireland[2]


Early 11th century[3]

Blood status

Pure-blood or half-blood[4]

Also known as
  • The Ghost of Ravenclaw
  • Grey Lady[5]

Lady[5] The Grey Lady

Physical information
Hair colour


Eye colour


Skin colour

Very pale, "white"[5]

Family information
Family members

Rowena Ravenclaw (mother) †[5]

Magical characteristics

Ravenclaw House Ghost[5]



I stole the diadem. I sought to make myself cleverer, more important than my mother. I ran away with it. My mother, they say, never admitted that the diadem was gone, but pretended that she had it still. She concealed her loss, my dreadful betrayal, even from the other founders of Hogwarts.

–Helena Ravenclaw, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Helena Ravenclaw (known after death as the Grey Lady; late 10th century — early 11th century) was a witch and Rowena Ravenclaw's daughter. She attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and was Sorted into Ravenclaw house. At some point, she stole her mother's diadem and ran away to Albania. Rowena became fatally ill, and hoping to see her daughter one last time, sent the Bloody Baron, a man who harboured an unrequited love for Helena, to find her. The Baron killed Helena when she refused to return with him, before killing himself out of regret for what he had done. She and the Baron eventually returned as ghosts to Hogwarts Castle, where Helena became and continues to be the Ghost of Ravenclaw House.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Early life[edit | edit source]

Helena Ravenclaw: "My mother's diadem —"
Harry Potter: "Your mother's?"
Helena Ravenclaw: "When I lived, I was Helena Ravenclaw."
— Helena Ravenclaw relays some of her past.[src]

Helena was born into the wizarding Ravenclaw family, to Rowena Ravenclaw, no earlier than 982 somewhere in the British Isles.[1]

At the age of eleven, Helena became part of one of the first generations of students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in Scotland, which, at that time, was still being run by its original Founders. She was Sorted into Ravenclaw House and was educated in the magical arts by her mother during the seven years that followed.[6]

Around this time, she met the Baron of Slytherin house. He fell in love with her, though she always rejected his advances.[5] Helena never found true love as she never found anyone that lived up to her standards.[7]

Death[edit | edit source]

Helena Ravenclaw: "I stole the diadem from my mother."
Harry Potter: "You — you did what?"
Helena Ravenclaw: "I stole the diadem. I sought to make myself cleverer, more important than my mother. I ran away with it. My mother, they say, never admitted that the diadem was gone, but pretended that she had it still. She concealed her loss, my dreadful betrayal, even from the other founders of Hogwarts. Then my mother fell ill — fatally ill. In spite of my perfidy, she was desperate to see me one more time. She sent a man who had long loved me, though I spurned his advances, to find me. She knew that he would not rest until he had done so."
— Helena Ravenclaw tells Harry Potter of her theft of her mother's diadem.[src]

Envious of her mother's cleverness and importance, Helena stole her diadem and left Scotland, believing the item could help her become wise enough to accomplish her goals. Ashamed of her daughter's betrayal, Rowena Ravenclaw never admitted her daughter's treachery, hiding the fact that the diadem was no longer in her possession.[5]

Having fallen fatally ill and on her deathbed, Rowena desperately asked the Bloody Baron, who was deeply in love with Helena, to find her daughter and bring her back to her so that she could see her one last time. Helena tried to hide from him, but the Baron managed to track her down to a forest in Albania. When she heard the Baron blundering through the forest toward her, she hid the diadem inside a hollow tree. Helena refused to come with the Baron and rejected his affections and he stabbed her in a fit of rage. After seeing what he had done, remorseful of his action, he stabbed himself to death.[5]

Post-mortem[edit | edit source]

Oh yes, our house ghost is the Grey Lady. The rest of the school thinks she never speaks, but she'll talk to Ravenclaws. She's particularly useful if you're lost, or you've mislaid something.

Robert Hilliard., Pottermore

Helena, now known as the "Grey Lady", returned from the dead as ghost along with the Baron. They both returned to Hogwarts Castle, where they became the house ghosts of their former Houses, Ravenclaw[5] and Slytherin.[8] The Baron has been remorseful of his actions ever since, and carries heavy chains as a sign of penance.[5] Nobody else seems to know why both of them died nor why the Baron is covered in blood, not even the other Hogwarts ghosts.[8]

According to Ravenclaw Prefect Robert Hilliard, while the most of the school sees the Grey Lady as a timid ghost, she maintains a good relationship with members of her own House and is particularly useful if they were lost, or had mislaid something.[9]

1998[edit | edit source]

Harry Potter: "You've already told someone this story, haven't you? Another student?"
Helena Ravenclaw: "I had… no idea… He was... flattering. He seemed to… understand… to sympathise…"
Harry Potter: "Well, you weren't the first person Riddle wormed things out of. He could be charming when he wanted…"
— Helena Ravenclaw tells Harry Potter about how Tom Riddle managed to wheedle the location of the Lost Diadem.[src]

During the last few years of Tom Riddle's education at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he became interested in the subject of Horcruxes. Planning to create some in an effort to become immortal, Riddle favoured objects worthy of the honour.[10] He apparently heard of Ravenclaw's diadem, and questioned the Grey Lady about it. Tom traveled to Albania to turn the diadem into a horcrux.[5]

Unaware of Riddle's true intentions, the Grey Lady found him flattering and understanding, but seemed to regret revealing her secret to him after his atrocities in the First and Second Wizarding Wars.[5]

1991—1992 school year[edit | edit source]

They passed the ghost of a tall witch gliding in the opposite direction, but saw no one else.

–Description., Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

On 1 September, 1991, the Grey Lady attended the Start-of-Term Feast. She arrived accompanied by the ghost of the Cavalier,[11] and stayed by the Ravenclaw house over the Sorting ceremony.[12]

Later in the year, Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington told the Grey Lady how Harry Potter was made Seeker for Gryffindor.[13]

On 26 December, Harry Potter took Ronald Weasley with him to the storeroom containing the Mirror of Erised. On their way and under Harry's Invisibility Cloak, they passed the Grey Lady.[14]

On 4 June, 1992, the Grey Lady seemed to have attended an advanced-students' Transfiguration class, and sat taking notes on one of the desks after the class was dismissed while Professor McGonagall wrote some notes of her own on her desk.[15]

1992—1993 school year[edit | edit source]

On the evening of 14 February, the Grey Lady sat at Gryffindor Tower reading a book.[16]

1995—1996 school year[edit | edit source]

By 1995, there was a tetraptych depicting Helena Ravenclaw hung in the hallway outside the Hogwarts Library. The Grey Lady could be usually seen strolling along this corridor this school year.[17]

1996—1997 school year[edit | edit source]

An extraordinary assortment of people had already settled into half of the chairs: shabby and smart, old and young. […] The castle ghosts were there too, barely visible in the bright sunlight, discernible only when they moved, shimmering insubstantially in the gleaming air.

–Description of Albus Dumbledore's funeral., Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

On 1 March, 1997, after Ronald Weasley was in the hospital wing after drinking poisoned mead, Harry Potter, Rubeus Hagrid and Hermione Granger passed by the Grey Lady, who "drifted serenely past" while talking about the Board of Governors and the closure of the school given the recent attacks on Katie Bell and Ronald Weasley.[18]

Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts, was killed at the hands of Severus Snape in the former's plan on 30 June, 1997.[19] The Hogwarts ghosts were known attendees of his funeral in early July; this likely included Helena Ravenclaw.[20]

1997—1998 school year[edit | edit source]

Helena Ravenclaw: "You are hardly the first student to covet the diadem. Generations of students have badgered me —"
Harry Potter: "This isn't about trying to get better marks! It's about Voldemort — defeating Voldemort — or aren't you interested in that?"
Helena Ravenclaw: "Of course I — how dare you suggest —?"
Harry Potter: "Well, help me then!"
Harry Potter asks the Grey Lady for help concerning one of Lord Voldemort's Horcruxes moments prior to the Battle of Hogwarts.[src]

On 1 August, 1997 the Ministry of Magic was taken over by Lord Voldemort's Death Eaters.[21]By 1 September, 1997, Severus Snape was made Headmaster of Hogwarts while his fellow Death Eaters, Alecto Carrow and Amycus Carrow became the Muggle Studies and Defence Against the Dark Arts teachers respectively.[22]

The Carrows were put in charge of all discipline and punishments, which were violent. It is likely that the Grey Lady, as did the Heads of House, tried to protect the pupils from Alecto and Amycus.[23]

On 2 May, 1998, the Battle of Hogwarts ensued after Lord Voldemort learned Harry Potter was in the premises. The ghosts, including the Grey Lady, attended a gathering in the Great Hall, in which Professor McGonagall gave instructions on evacuation of underage students and Kingsley Shacklebolt organised the participants for battle. Harry Potter, needing information on the whereabouts of Rowena Ravenclaw's Diadem, asked Nick who the ghost of Ravenclaw Tower was. Although he was initially slightly hurt that Harry needed another ghost rather than him, he pointed her out to him. She was initially reluctant to convey any information on the diadem's whereabouts, thinking that Harry sought the diadem in a desperate (and vain) attempt to sharpen his wits and thus increase his chances of defeating Lord Voldemort. However, letting it slip that she was Ravenclaw's daughter and learning that the diadem could be effectively used in Voldemort's destruction, she conveyed to Harry all necessary information for him to be able to figure out where Voldemort had hidden the diadem, therefore destroying nearly all the Horcruxes.[5] Later on, the ghosts gathered at the Great Hall, joining the mass mourning over the fallen.[22]

After the death of Lord Voldemort, the Grey Lady might have joined the party.

Physical appearance[edit | edit source]

Harry supposed that she was beautiful, with her waist-length hair and floor-length cloak, but she also looked haughty and proud. Close in, he recognized her as a ghost he had passed several times in the corridor, but to whom he had never spoken.

–Description., Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Helena was a tall[14] witch with waist-length hair.[5] She wore a floor-length cloak.[5] Harry Potter "supposed that she was beautiful," but had trouble seeing through her proud and haughty appearance.[5] She carried herself in a serene manner.[18]

Personality and traits[edit | edit source]

A highly intellectual young lady, Helena was a scholarly, literary, and cultured woman.[7] Close to one-thousand years after her death, she still maintained her intellectual curiosity, enjoying attending Transfiguration classes[15] and reading.[16]

Helena was described as an intelligent lady. She had high standards and never bothered in love due to this.[7] She was also evasive, as she did not appear to like telling others about her past (not even that she was Rowena Ravenclaw's daughter) and somewhat taciturn.[5] She also had a preference to secluded places: she hid in a forest when she ran away from her mother,[5] hung around in deserted classrooms,[15] and chose a deserted Gryffindor Tower as a reading spot.[16] Despite all this, she had a thirst for importance and notability and was, as such, very envious of her mother.[5]

Etymology[edit | edit source]

  • "Helena" is a Latinate form of Helen, derived from Greek ‘ελενη (eleni) which means "torch" or "corposant" (source of light).
  • Eleni was the name of a saint in the Greek Orthodox Church, and as such there are many girls and women in Greece with that name.
  • Many Grey Lady ghosts are known in various locations throughout England and Wales.

Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Notes and references[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Given Hogwarts was founded in around 993 A.D. and that Helena attended it within Rowena Ravenclaw's lifetime, she must have been eleven by or after the school's founding. So, the earliest date she could have possibly been born is 982.
  2. [1]
  3. The Baron killed her after her seven years at Hogwarts, and given the earliest she could have started at the school is 993, her earliest possible death year is 1000.
  4. Helena's mother, Rowena Ravenclaw, was a witch. Therefore, Helena could not have been anything less than a half-blood.
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 5.16 5.17 5.18 5.19 5.20 5.21 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Chapter 31 (The Battle of Hogwarts)
  6. 6.0 6.1 "If a teacher is head of a house, can we assume that they were sorted into those houses when they were students at Hogwarts? Is that also true for the house ghosts? So was Snape a Slytherin?" on J.K.Rowling Official Site, available via Internet Archive
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 This information was told by J.K. Rowling to Nina Young, who plays the Grey Lady in the first film. Nina Young later relayed this information to a fan in response to a fan letter (see the letter here)
  8. 8.0 8.1 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - Chapter 7 (The Sorting Hat)
  9. Pottermore introduction for Ravenclaws (transcription available here)
  10. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Chapter 23 (Horcruxes)
  11. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film) - Chapter 13 (Nick and Other Residents)
  12. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game) - GBC version
  13. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film) - Chapter 15 (New Seeker)
  14. 14.0 14.1 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - Chapter 12 (The Mirror of Erised)
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film) - Chapter 26 (Up to Something)
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film) - Deleted Scenes
  17. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
  18. 18.0 18.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Chapter 19 (Elf Tails)
  19. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Chapter 27 (The Lightning-Struck Tower)
  20. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Chapter 30 (The White Tomb)
  21. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Chapter 8 (The Wedding)
  22. 22.0 22.1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Chapter 12 (Magic is Might) Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "DH12" defined multiple times with different content
  23. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Chapter 29 (The Lost Diadem)
  24. "Kelly Macdonald to play Helena Ravenclaw in Deathly Hallows - Part 2" on Mugglenet
  25. Metro.co.uk
  26. Pottermore - Book 2 - Chapter 9 - Moment 1 - New from J. K. Rowling - Hogwarts Ghosts
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