For the bulk of the Harry Potter series, Dumbledore was the Headmaster of Hogwarts, and for many fans he will always be the most iconic witch or wizard to lead the school. However, even within the original series, there were a few others that took on the role over the years. Dolores Umbridge, Severus Snape, and Minerva McGonagall all held the position during Harry’s time at school (or when he should have been at school, but was off chasing Horcruxes).
A few other Headmasters are mentioned in the series, too. Dumbledore’s predecessor, Armando Dippet, gets a few mentions, and others who occupy their portraits in the Office also appear, such as Phineas Nigellus Black. But based on the entire Harry Potter canon, which of the known Headmasters are worth remembering (and which are just background portraits)?
Nothing is known about this Headmaster, not even their name – but they get a mention for two reasons. First, because none of the four founders themselves were ever Headmaster, although each was ‘head’ of their own house (obviously). Second, because there was a statue of the first headmaster at the school, which is mentioned in passing. Even if he didn’t have many other achievements, being the first Headmaster is worth something!
Elizabeth Burke was Headmistress of Hogwarts, and was one of the few Slytherins to take the job. She may have been related to the Burke of Borgin & Burkes, and was known to favor her own house, and to encourage her students to be ‘nasty to Mudbloods’. From the DVD extras and games, it is known that her portraits hung over the entrances to shortcuts to and from the dungeons, that Slytherins could use with a password.
Dilys Derwent is described in the series itself as one of “Hogwarts’s most celebrated Heads. Their renown is such that both have portraits hanging in other important Wizarding institutions”. She was Headmistress from 1741 – 1768, a Healer who left a job at St Mungo’s to take up the post. She is mentioned in the series, as her portraits at Hogwarts and St Mungo’s are used to send messages when needs be (such as when Arthur Weasley is attacked).