Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Characters/Irma Pince

Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Character
Irma Pince
Gender Female
Hair color Unknown
Eye color Unknown
Related Family Unknown
Loyalty Her library and its books



Irma Pince is the librarian of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. She is described to be a "thin, irritable woman who looks like an underfed vulture." From the very little we see of her, we can guess that she is very impatient, and stereotypically we would guess her to have small glasses on her nose, which would probably be pointy. It is most likely she was in Ravenclaw house, guessing from her job and the location of the library.

Role in the Books

Beginner warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.

Madam Pince is librarian when Harry first arrives at the school. As Harry, Ron and Hermione search the library for a book containing information about Nicolas Flamel, Pince was considered someone to avoid, as she could warn Professor Snape of their activities. Once, she saw Harry edging towards the Restricted Section of the Library and asked him what he was looking for. When he answered "nothing," she sent him out of the library.

Hagrid seems to be hiding a book from Madam Pince when the Trio see him in the library. It turns out to be a book on raising dragons, and Hagrid promises to explain why he needs that book later.

Hermione Granger arrived at the library with a note written by the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher allowing her to retrieve the volume Moste Potente Potions from the Restricted Section. She gave it to Madam Pince, albeit reluctantly, wanting to keep Lockhart's autograph, and Pince studied the note very thoroughly, checking for forgery. She then went into the Restricted Section and handed over the book, despite still appearing suspicious.

Harry does spend some time in the library, but we don't hear much about Madam Pince in this book.

As part of the preparation for the Second Task, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are looking for ways that Harry can breathe underwater for an hour. After Ron and Hermione are summoned to Professor McGonagall's office, Harry remains in the library, searching on his own, until Madam Pince diminishes the lights indicating the library is now closed and chases him out.

It is mentioned that Madam Pince kept her usual routine of prowling around the library, breathing down the necks of those touching the books.

During the Easter holidays, she was seen checking out a pile of books for a frantic-looking Hannah Abbott, who was presumably revising for her O.W.L.s.

Harry is studying in the library when Ginny brings him his Easter gift from Mrs. Weasley: a large chocolate egg. Harry is distracted; he has just learned something extremely disturbing about his father and needs to talk to Sirius Black about it. Ginny tells him that, living as long as she has with the Twins, she has learned that nothing is impossible. Harry and Ginny had been distractedly eating their chocolate egg while they have been talking, and Madam Pince spots this potential damage to her precious books and chases them both out of the library, enchanting their possessions to attack them as they flee.

Madam Pince is seen in the library, prowling around the bookshelves and protecting her tomes.

At one point, as it approaches the 8:00 PM closing time, Madam Pince tells all of the students to return the books back to their shelves and leave. When she reaches the table where Harry and Hermione are sitting, she notices the Half-Blood Prince's highly annotated copy of Advanced Potion-Making. Enraged, she screams about how the book was "despoiled" and "befouled", and ignoring Harry's claims that it was his own personal copy, almost appears to have a seizure.

Madam Pince was seen in the Entrance Hall prior to Professor Dumbledore's funeral, standing by Argus Filch, and wearing a thick black veil that fell to her knees. It is likely she attended the funeral.



As the librarian at Hogwarts, arguably the center of magical knowledge in Britain, Irma Pince has full access to, and knowledge of, very nearly all the magic texts known in the country. While she may not be able to use the knowledge directly herself, for pretty much any bit of magical arcana, she knows where to find it.



Relationships with Other Characters


It has been suggested that Irma Pince and Argus Filch have a relationship, by many fans, and in fact by Harry and Ginny in conversation. There is little evidence supporting this relationship anywhere else in the series, though some fans have suggested that the "Half-Blood Prince" of the title of the sixth book might actually be the son of these two, and "Prince" might be a typo for "Pince". The final chapters of that book, however, name the Prince (Eileen Prince) and her son (Severus Snape), which rules out that possibility.

Irma is apparently obsessed with her books, and she treats students and teachers with almost equal suspicion, worried that they might be putting her precious books at risk. We never see anyone, apart from Filch on one occasion, with whom she seems to be on reasonable terms; of course, we also never see her away from her precious library. Away from her books, she may be completely different.



One thing that anyone who uses a Muggle library is aware of is the helpful nature of the librarians there. By and large, if there is something you need to research, a librarian can help you to find it. In many places in the Harry Potter story line, it becomes necessary for the Trio to find some historical fact from the books in the library: in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, for instance, it is necessary to find the identity of Nicolas Flamel; in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban the Trio are researching cases where dangerous creatures won their trials, and later won their appeals; and in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry needs a way to survive for an hour underwater. In all of these cases, a helpful librarian would have short-circuited the process of finding the answer and would have decreased Hermione's participation. Madam Pince's monumental obstructiveness thus can be seen as important to the story, both as a means of pacing, and as a means of making Hermione, with her library research skills, more valuable to the partnership.



Study questions are meant to be left for each student to answer; please don't answer them here.

  1. What are Madame Pince's interactions with the staff like? How does this compare with her relationships with students?

Greater Picture

Intermediate warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.