Calling all HARDCORE Harry Potter fans! There’s a Harry Potter ‘Prequel’ you may have not know about yet… so I am inviting you to join me in turning our ‘Time-turners’ back and to whisk ourselves to the Old Town cobble streets of Scotland’s Capital: Edinburgh.
The year is 1994, because that’s where this story really takes-off.
J.K. Rowling (born 1965) had experienced a fateful moment on a journey from Manchester to London, just 4 years earlier. She thought of Harry Potter whilst gazing into the country-side as it passed her by and when experiencing a ‘traditional’ UK 4 hour train delay.
A little boy who didn’t know he was a wizard had cast a spell on her mind.
This was a year that altered her life enormously – not just by dreaming up Harry Potter, her mother also passed away at the end of 1990, and Rowling was extremely close with her, saying that the death brought “guilt and worry and anxiety” into her life.
In the years that followed: she married a Portuguese man, moved to Portugal and would have a daughter – but all of it was not as successful as first envisioned.
From it suicidal thoughts weaved their way into her every day, and she had hit rock-bottom.
Returning to 1994 she decided to make the return to the UK, and to Edinburgh to be with her baby sister Dianne.
J.K. returned as a shattered, divorced version of herself, & a single mother. She was as poor as poor could be without being homeless.
But no matter what her financial position was – she never lost her ideas for Harry Potter.
They started to flood her mind again.
Giving herself just one year to complete it– she would spend a great deal of time in Edinburgh’s coffee shops – ‘Nicolson’s Café’ and ‘Elephant House Café’ mostly. In fact, she’s quoted as saying that coffee shops were great because the cost of coffee was cheaper than heating her home. For hours her tiny daughter would lay beside her sleeping whilst Rowling wrote.
You see “this is a city people quite literally fall in love with”, no exception for Rowling – the old world feel, the gothic architecture, hidden pockets of mystery are scattered through the city and an even bustling pace of other creatives is evident. When it came to building the books – characters, locations and imagery were all vastly inspired by Edinburgh.
J.K. Rowling’s days were either spent wandering the city or in coffee shops.
When she wandered, she passed places like George Heriot’s School – the most expensive in the area but the only one offering Single-Parent Scholarships – it also comprises of 4 towers and 4 houses… are we taking note? Combine that with the likes of Edinburgh Castle which can be seen from George Heriot’s – and ideas for Hogwarts developed, Edinburgh Castle was intriguing to her being mounted on a large ‘rock’.
She’d also wander through the Greyfriar’s Graveyard gazing at headstones for ideas of ‘Old-world’ first names and last names for characters – the most obvious links being Tom Riddle and Professor MacGonagall.
On her wanders, were the streets of Victoria Street and Cockburn Street – laced with cobble, unique bends in the road, little shops stacked against each other – the resemblance to Diagon Alley is also uncanny.
The first book was completed in 1995, she did it – stuck to her one year goal too.
And the rest as they say- is history…
This ‘edition’ of Harry Potter is ‘Fairytale meets tragedy’ – the wonderful writing of HP really commenced in Edinburgh and ended in Edinburgh- the last link to the last story’s creation being the Balmoral Hotel where she completed the book. Edinburgh is where a story was brought to life – fed, nourished, loved and where it would grow from a simple idea.
It’s a funny thing how being an Author is a considerable risk to most people, and that definitely didn’t stop with J.K.Rowling – she suffered, what seemed like endless criticism for her dreams of writing books, even way before ‘Bloomsbury’ picked it up, it was dismissed as not good enough for publication by two dozen other Publishers…
and I bet they all feel like ‘Royal Idiots’ now… just a thought.
J.K Rowling now lives in her own ‘small castle’ in Edinburgh with her family.
HERE’S SOME FUN FACTS – –
-JK Rowling used a very old Type Writer which is near-on-extinct in today’s society. See no fancy iPad required! And today is worth a collective $545 million dollars for her Harry Potter legacy – which technically makes her richer than the Queen!
– J.K. Rowling hails from England, but is notably 1/4 Scottish and her parents’ love blossomed on a train ride to Scotland.
– Edinburgh was the first UNESCO City of Literature. How appropriate?!
– As a child she began to dream of being an author and creating stories for those small too.
-HP was filmed in Warner Brother’s Studios in England, but most location filming was done in Scotland.
-The Harry Potter books (all 7) were published in 10 years exactly 1997 to 2007 and the 8 Blockbuster movies between 2001 and 2011.
-The HP Books have been translated 79 times and today 450 million copies have been sold word-wide. Impressive stuff.
Look out for part two where we talk about the awesome places to see and do all things Harry Potter!
Written by Court Jeremiah.
STH Blog Writer/Photographer.
Please Note: All opinions stated in this Blog are entirely those of the Author.
Images photographed by Court Jeremiah are not to be taken or used without permission.