Depending on how well you know me, or how much you’ve poked around this website, you will know that occasionally, I write under the pen name “Dormouse.” I will be the first to admit that it’s a rather unconventional pen name. (Typically, people use people names for pseudonyms.) And, contrary to possible first impressions, I did not take the pen name because of a love for Alice in Wonderland. I actually took it because I love Harry Potter.
I did not read any of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books until I was a senior in college. Instead of sleeping between final papers and exams fall semester 2007, I stayed up late to sprint through all seven books. Somehow, I did not fail all of my finals!
Part of the reason I read these books at that time was because a lot of my friends were in love with the series. Some of them were new to the books like I was, and others were Potterheads from years earlier. At one point, as all good geeks are wont to do, we began deciding what our patronuses would be. For those unfamiliar with patronuses, the basic concept is that when a witch or wizard is in danger, she or he can cast a patronus charm by saying, “Expecto patronum,” which conjures up an animal guardian. (Go here for more info on the details.)
Each person’s patronus will take a different shape, but each patronus will reflect back in some way on the person who cast the charm. You see how we enjoyed figuring out what ours would be. One of our professors was a polar bear, another one was a cat. My friends’ patronuses ranged from owls to griffins to tigers. I could not decide what mine would be, and then one of my friends suggested a dormouse.
At first, I was a little disappointed. A dormouse? But…they’re so tiny! How can something so small be any sort of protection? My friend argued that the size of the patronus did not change its effectiveness. After all, Hermione’s otter was just as powerful as Harry’s stag. So there it is. And…once I was perfectly honest with myself, a dormouse really does suit me. I’m quiet. I keep to myself. Even though I’m 5’10”, I usually don’t command attention when I’m in groups of people. I like to observe more, participate less.
Not surprisingly, the name Dormouse stuck.