In a rare instance of not using her social-media pages to rewrite the backstories of beloved literary characters (or detail how wizards used to relieve themselves), over the past few days J.K. Rowling has been offering up her fact-checking services for some of the most prevalent origin stories and myths about the Harry Potter franchise. As compiled by Vanity Fair, Rowling responded to several fan questions about purported significant locations when she was writing the series, including the Elephant Room in Edinburgh, a popular tea and coffee house that fancies itself as being “the birthplace” of Harry Potter. “I was thinking of putting a section on my website about all the alleged inspirations and birthplaces of Potter,” Rowling wrote. “I’d been writing Potter for several years before I ever set foot in this café, so it’s not the birthplace, but I did write in there so we’ll let them off!” She also refuted a common theory that a library in Portugal inspired the creation of a certain school of magic.
“It’s beautiful and I wish I had visited it,” she said, “but it has nothing to do with Hogwarts!” Rowling also asserted that an old street in York, England, wasn’t the inspiration for Diagon Alley, despite the city’s repeated claims that it is. (“I’ve never seen or been to the Shambles.”) And about that lucky parking meter in Edinburgh? “My favorite bit of utter nonsense about Potter landmarks is still this one,” Rowling quipped. “I can’t drive.”
“A truthful tour of HP ‘inspirations’ would involve a stationery guide pointing a stick at a picture of my head,” she added, “which would be zero fun and nobody would buy tickets.” Expelliarmus to the lies!