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My dear boy, do use your common sense! My books wouldn't have sold half as well if people didn't think I'd done those things... Now you mention it. I'm rather gifted with Memory Charms. Otherwise, all those wizards would have gone blabbing. I'd never have sold another book. In fact, I'm going to have to do the same to you.
~ Gilderoy Lockhart revealing his true colors.
So, you first, Mr. Potter. Say goodbye to your memories. Obliviate!
~ Lockhart before attempting to erase Harry and Ron's memories

Gilderoy Lockhart is a famous author and temporary Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts and an antagonist in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and its film adaptation. He is played by Kenneth Branagh, who also portrays Viktor Cherevin and Dr. Arliss Loveless, Dr. Frankenstein and Iago.

History

Gilderoy Lockhart was born to a Muggle man and a witch and had two elder Squib sisters. He was spoiled by his mother in his childhood, leading to him becoming extremely vain. When he arrived at Hogwarts, he was expecting his peers to be excited about his magical prowess; he had seen himself as a genius, but no one saw him as that way.

During his time as a student, Lockhart was a brilliant and clever Ravenclaw who had exceedingly high ambitions. He claimed to his peers that he would succeed in creating the Philosopher's Stone before leaving school and that he intended to captain England’s Quidditch team to World Cup glory, before knuckling down to becoming Britain’s youngest Minister for Magic. He studied for glory and achieved infamy among the Hogwarts staff and students with antics like requesting a school newspaper (just so he could see his own name in print), sending himself 800 valentines, firing a hologram of his face into the sky, and carving his name into the Quidditch pitch (which netted him a week's worth of detentions).

After his graduation (much to the staff's relief), he became a bestselling author. Having mastered Memory Charms, he tracked down accomplished wizards, tricked them into revealing their greatest deeds, and took the credit for said deeds while erasing their memories. He became famous by writing books about his "exploits," gaining awards and invitations for book signings.

While his former teachers began to think they had misjudged him, Headmaster Albus Dumbledore suspected Lockhart's fraudulence, having personally known some of Lockhart's victims. He believed that putting Lockhart into a normal, school atmosphere would expose him as a charlatan. With a vacancy in the Defense Against the Dark Arts by June 1992, Dumbledore approached Lockhart and offered him a job at Hogwarts. While Lockhart was not keen on teaching, as his career as an author was skyrocketing, Dumbledore hinted that the chance to teach the famous Harry Potter would propel Lockhart's fame to the stratosphere, and Lockhart accepted the position. While the staff questioned Dumbledore's decision to hire Lockhart, he merely said that there was plenty to learn from even a bad teacher.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

By August 1992, Lockhart had officially become the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor of the 1992-1993 school year, and had assigned seven of his books as textbooks. He announced his new position while visiting Flourish and Blotts, where he first met Harry Potter. Excited, Lockhart dragged Harry into the spotlight, taking pictures with Harry and gifting him a set of his books in affection. An embarrassed Harry gave the set Lockhart gave him to Ginny Weasley, as he could afford his own set.

In his new position, Lockhart had taken over the DADA classroom and office with portraits of himself and copies of his books. He began the school year by issuing a lengthy quiz concerning his books, which only Hermione Granger achieved high marks on. He then unleashed Cornish pixies into the room, which caused pandemonium, before fleeing to his office and forcing Harry, Ron Weasley, and Hermione to tidy up the mess.

Lockhart once more became infamous among Hogwarts personnel, giving them unsolicited advice. Most students viewed him as obnoxious and incompetent. However, many schoolgirls like Susan Bones and Hermione were attracted to him, as were Muggle-borns.

Afterwards, he spent the rest of the year reading excerpts from his books. He also hounded Harry Potter with acts ranging from poorly healing Harry's broken arm, requesting that Harry answer Lockhart's fan mails, having Harry re-enact scenes from Lockhart's books, founding a short-lived Dueling Club, and setting up a bombastic Valentine's Day event.

After Ginny Weasley was taken into the Chamber of Secrets, Lockhart planned to leave Hogwarts instead of rescuing her, revealing himself to be a coward. When Harry and Ron forced him to help them find her, he confessed his fraudulence. Inside the Chamber of Secrets, Lockhart seized Ron's broken wand and attempted to use a Memory Charm to erase their memories, but the spell backfired, erasing his own memories. He was then taken into St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries, much to the staff and students' joy.

Some time later, Lockhart penned another book called Who Am I?

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Three years later, Lockhart was still in St. Mungo's, residing in the Permanent Resident Ward. He had recovered to the point of being able to write letters, though he still had no idea how he had ended up there. While Ron felt guilty about putting Lockhart in this situation, Harry wasn't, since Lockhart was at fault for erasing his own memories when he was trying to erase theirs.

Trivia

  • In the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets film, Lockhart has a photo of himself as a Ravenclaw Seeker. However, he most likely forged it, considering his history of creating fake exploits.
  • Originally, in the earlier drafts of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix film, Lockhart would have reappeared like in the book, with Kenneth Branagh reprising his role. He was ultimately cut from the movie.

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           Harry Potter Villains

Death Eaters
Lord Voldemort | Severus Snape | Draco Malfoy | Gregory Goyle | Quirinus Quirrell | Lucius Malfoy | Peter Pettigrew | Barty Crouch Jr. | Dolores Umbridge | Bellatrix Lestrange | Snatchers (Fenrir Greyback & Scabior) | Corban Yaxley | Kreacher | Amycus & Alecto Carrow | Thorfinn Rowle

Other Dark Wizards & Witches
Salazar Slytherin | Marvolo Gaunt | Gellert Grindelwald | Gilderoy Lockhart | Herpo the Foul | Merwyn the Malicious | Ekirzdis | Delphini

New Salem Philanthropic Society
Mary Lou Barebone | Credence Barebone

Creatures
Basilisk | Acromantula (Aragog & Acromantula Colony) | The Dementors | Centaurs | Giants | Inferi | Nagini | Charlatan