To mark what would be the 35th birthday of Harry's deeply unpleasant cousin, Dudley Dursley, JK Rowling has released some new writing on her Pottermore fan website concerning his parents.
Readers who visit The Cupboard Under The Stairs extract and turn their attention to the table outside it will be rewarded by unlocking the backstory of Vernon and Petunia Dursley.
"'Vernon' is simply a name I never much cared for," she writes. "'Petunia' is the name that I always gave unpleasant female characters in games of make believe I played with my sister Di."
The extract describes a disastrous first meeting between Harry's parents, Lily and James, and the Dursleys, during which Uncle Vernon patronises James, who in turn is amused by his future brother-in-law.
Mr Dursley loudly supposes that wizards must live on unemployment benefit, storming out when James attempts to explain the wizarding bank, Gringotts.
Petunia does not invite Lily to be a bridesmaid, fearing being overshadowed by her witching abilities, and there is no further contact between the siblings apart from a note iforming the Dursleys of Harry's birth, which Petunia promptly bins.
Rowling explains that Mr Dursley's poor treatment of his nephew “stems in part, like Severus Snape’s, from Harry’s close resemblance to the father they both so disliked.”
She had wanted to redeem Aunt Petunia in the final book, but found that she had to stay true to her unlikeable character, and so left it so that Petunia was unable to say anything meaningful to Harry during their final goodbye.
Rowling also said that she named the family after the Gloucestershire town of Dursley, because she liked the way it sounded.
She wrote: "I have never visited Dursley, and I am sure it is full of charming people."