Where did JK Rowling Write Harry Potter?
Where did JK Rowling Write Harry Potter?
For long-time fans and potential pilgrims, wishing to explore the locations that JK Rowling wrote the harry potter books – whether for pilgrimage or Harry Potter tourist – we are here to help.
As every fan knows, there is something about coming to the end of a film, book, or TV series, and still having that insatiable desire to consume more*. The love of Harry Potter runs deep here, and though the books do well to give us a resolute story, that does actually end, it still isn’t enough to fill that unquenchable hole in the depth of one’s stomach.
Wait, is that just me?
A Modern Legend
For years, decades, centuries, people have travelled to places far and wide to pay respects and to feel closer to someone or something. Whether travelling to a holy land, or Disneyland, there is something about the journey, the right of passage, that is still important for so many people.
I have been to Shakespeare’s house with school, and a few other literary figures to boot, such as Beatrix Potter, and others.
JK Rowling is a modern day legend, it is so rare for writers of beloved books with massive critical and commercial acclaim to be alive, or even within our lifetime. Perhaps that is why Harry Potter and JK Rowling, are such icons.
*Sure, fantastic beasts might give you more of the Wizarding World, but it’s not quite the same.
So where did JK Rowling write Harry Potter?
Well, that is a Loaded question, as there is not just one book, so we are going on a journey from the beginning! Join us in exploring where each of the Harry Potter books was written.
This guide will hopefully help you if you want to go on a tour of locations too 🙂
Harry Potter and The Philosophers Stone – Book 1
If you have done any prior research into JK Rowling, you may know that she is somewhat torn between two worlds, and not the muggle and Wizarding world.
Her story of writing Harry Potter goes between England and Scotland. Though Hogwarts isn’t specifically said to be in Scotland in the first book, she describes it’s location as a day away, due north on a train (Hogwarts express). But in the below interview, she says slyly, where do you end up if you travel due north from London for a day by train? Who am I to argue with the writer of Harry Potter herself? But there is a lot of magic in the world she created, so who am I to say how far a magic train can travel in a day from platform 9 3/4?! But yeah, apparently it travels to Scotland in that time.
She even says in the below interview that she imagined Hogwarts to look out over a loch, in amongst the Scottish highlands. And there has been some speculation that Hogwarts itself was modelled on the Scottish castle that she could see from the cafe in which JK Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book. Which Cafe, I hear you ask?
The Elephant House Cafe, Edinburgh
Yes, The Elephant House is the name of the cafe’s in Edinburgh that JK Rowling frequented during the writing of Harry Potter book one. But don’t let that take away from its importance in the following books in the series. Rowling had meticulously planned most aspects and plot point of the books before she even started writing the first.
It wouldn’t have only been the writing that would take place in these first few locations, but the whole 7 books would have begun taking form in her mind. There have been interviews with Rowling showing the spreadsheets and plot iterations that she meticulously planned. She knew where everyone was at every point in the story before she had finished writing book one. Sure things would change and evolve naturally along the way, but Rowling is a self-confessed planner, and even with only book one released, book 2 being written, she knew that it would be a 7 book series.
So, the name of the cafe that JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, was The Elephant House. Located in Edinburgh, Scotland.
One TripAdvisor user helpfully states “if you go into the Elephant house go right through to the back which is where the tables she sat at are. look out the window for an unusual view of Edinburgh castle the possible inspiration for Hogwarts”.
So if you want to sit where she sat and see what she saw, then that’s where you’ll have to go. And it sounds like you get quite an interesting view of Edinburgh castle from there.
The Elephant House own website states:
“Opened in 1995, The Elephant House has established itself as one of the best tea and coffee houses in Edinburgh. Made famous as the place of inspiration to writers such as J.K. Rowling, who sat writing much of her early novels in the back room overlooking Edinburgh Castle.”
The nice thing about this cafe is that it is still there! The other location that Rowling was said to have written Harry Potter books, is Nicholson’s cafe – 6a Nicholson St. In 2003 it became a Chinese restaurant complete with a message on their website that invited people to experience ‘an exquisite window view of Edinburgh – the very same view which J.K. Rowling enjoyed’
So… Whats’ the right answer?
6A Nicholson Street, Edinburgh
If we read an excerpt from JK Rowling biography, we can see something that might shed some light on this.
“J.K. Rowling first had the idea for Harry Potter while delayed on a train travelling from Manchester to London King’s Cross in 1990. Over the next five years, she began to plan out the seven books of the series. She wrote mostly in longhand and amassed a mountain of notes, many of which were on scraps of paper.
She arrived in Edinburgh in 1993 with three chapters of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in her suitcase.” – (Source:Bloomsbury)
She arrived in Edinburgh in 1993, with the first three chapters written. It was subsequently released in 1997, after being finished, edited, printed, etc., which as you know, takes a while to do.
And a small message on the Elephant House website gives a hint at the answer. “Opened in 1995, The Elephant House has established itself as…”. It is unlikely that Rowling sat around waiting for the Elephant house to open before continuing to work on the book, so this makes it far more likely she would have written most of the first book in Nicholson’s Cafe, and then moved to the Elephant house once it opened.
Chamber of Secrets – Book Two
It is much more likely that Rowling wrote the second book in the Elephant House, as the interview above is during the writing of book two, shortly after the release of book one, and takes place in non-other than the Elephant house.
Prisoner of Azkaban – Book Three
Rowling said in 2004 that Prisoner of Azkaban was “the best writing experience I ever had…I was in a very comfortable place writing (number) three. Immediate financial worries were over, and press attention wasn’t yet by any means excessive”. – wikipedia
But beyond that, it hard to come by any information about where the books were written. I will try my absolute hardest to find out though 😉
Book Four, Five, Six
Information is scarce… we have a few scouts looking out for various clues. We are trying to track down a time-turner to go back and do a little bit of recognisance. If you have one, please let us know. 😉
So, Where Did JK Rowling Finish Writing Harry Potter?
On the 11th January 2007, JK Rowling finished the final book of in the Harry Potter series, in a Hotel room in Edinburgh. She marked the occasion with a small bit of relatively well-concealed vandalism. A small note written on a marble bust reads that she finished the book in room 652 of the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh. You can see an image of the graffiti from JK Rowling herself below.
Finished Hallows 9 yrs ago today. Celebrated by graffiti-ing a bust in my hotel room. Never do this. It’s wrong. pic.twitter.com/HsqQKydY68
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) January 11, 2016
This has brought us to the end of our little travel through JK Rowling writing locations for Harry Potter. We will endeavour to update the article with more information as we find it, and additions/alterations as people bring them to our attention.