Herbert was born in 1881 into the old, pure-blood Burke family, to Antiapas and Philomene Burke (née Malfoy).
At the age of ten, he was betrothed to Belvina Black, as was the custom among the oldest wizarding famlies in England. The Blacks, another old, pure-blood family, were well-known for placing their children in strategically arranged marriages. In the mid-19th century, Belvina's father, Phineas Nigellus Black, had caused a bit of a stir in his family by going into academia, and the Black family patriarch, Cygnus, had insisted his son repair the "damage" he had done to the family's reputation by making an excellent match for his daughter. When he became Headmaster of Hogwarts in 1889, a match with the Black family became more attractive, and Antiapas Burke was pleased to accept Black's offer to wed Belvina to Herbert.
Herbert attended Hogwarts, where he was sorted into Slytherin, from 1892 to 1889 (making him a classmate of Albus Dumbledore's). He excelled in his studies, particularly Charms, and became Prefect in his fifth year.
Marriage and family
After leaving school, Herbert embarked on the traditional tour of Europe, returning home in 1901, when he began an apprenticeship in Charms.
He and Belvina were married in 1906, and their first child, Mercurius, was born ten months later. The couple quickly discovered that they were not compatible, however, a difficulty that was compounded when Belvina discovered that the Burke family finances were not nearly as lavish as she had been led to believe. Nevertheless, they would go on to have two more children, another son, Helenus, in 1908, and Cassandra, in 1910.
Increasingly unhappy in his marriage and anxious to establish an income to help support his growing family, Herbert was pleased to accept when his father-in-law offered him a job as Hogwarts' Charms master in 1910. Belvina prevailed upon her father to make Herbert Head of Slytherin House as well, ensuring he would be required to live at Hogwarts, leaving her free of him for the school year.
Although he was a good scholar, Herbert was not an especially effective teacher, but Armando Dippet, who rose to the Headmaster's position when Phineas Nigellus Black retired in 1922, kept him on, thanks to pressure from Belvina, who by that time, had secured a position on Hogwarts' Board of Governors (in part to continue to ensure her husband remained on the residential staff.)
In 1944, he stepped down as Head of House and rented a small flat in London, which alarmed Belvina, who was anxious that their paths not cross in the pure-blood circles she frequented. She was relieved to find that her estranged husband had no intention of socialising with her, but kept largely to himself when he was not teaching.
Retirement and death
As part of a bid to get him to retire while appeasing Belvina, Albus Dumbledore, newly Headmaster in the summer of 1956, provided Herbert with a "Distinguished Service Award" and a very generous award of two hundred Galleons in exchange for his retirement. He was replaced by Dumbledore's friend, Filius Flitwick.
Herbert used his prize money and some of his pension to purchase his London flat, where he lived until January of 1957, when he was visited by a former student, Tom Riddle. Herbert had made the mistake of showing then-student Riddle the Vanishing Cabinet he had kept at the school. It was one of a pair he had inherited from his family, and Herbert kept the second one at his London flat, enabling him to travel between the flat and Hogwarts secretly and at will.
When Riddle came to call on 2 January 1957, he wanted the Cabinet, which would provide him with a way to get into Hogwarts undetected. After a plesant tea and remincences of times past, Riddle used an obscure spell to stop Burke's heart. He absconded with the Vanishing Cabinet, telling Madoc Borgin (who was one of his early followers) to hide it in plain sight in his shop.
|Novels||Epithalamium · Come Autumn, Sae Pensive (1967)|
|Novellas||Till A' the Seas Gang Dry · Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart|
|Stories||"Bonnie Wee Thing" · "Winterreise (1976)" · "Familiar Rituals (1977)" · "Mammals of the Order Chiroptera (August 1995)" · "Ca' the Yowes (1996)" · "After the Fall (June 1997)"|
|Characters||Minerva McGonagall · Albus Dumbledore · Severus Snape · Thorfinn McGonagall · Amelia Bones · Poppy Pomfrey · Alastor Moody|