When it comes to the story of J.K. Rowling, her tale is as well known as The Boy Who Lived. Call it The Writer Made Good. Joanne Rowling dreamed up a wizard story while riding the train that would go on to define a new era of the young adult fantasy genre. She wrote the story in a cafe with her baby next to her in the pram. Now she's a billionaire, and the places that inspired her, like Gandy Lane and The Old Firehouse, are tourist destinations. But J.K. Rowling's tweets about Harry Potter location myths over Memorial Day weekend set some of these stories to rest.
Not that the overall story of Rowling's success isn't true. Like most histories, the general outline is correct. She did have the initial idea for the train to Hogwarts while traveling. She did write several chapters in cafes, Nicolsons Cafe being a particular haunt she favored in the mid-1990s. And her success, tapping into a deep need at the turn of the century for a new good-vs-evil fairy tale, is remarkable.
It's just that, like all good stories, the tale has grown in the telling. Moreover, many places are happy to claim credit to get those tourist dollars, even if that location has nothing to do with Rowling's success.
In most cases, these mythical tourist stops — think the pub in Oxford where JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis drank beer and debated fantasy world ideas — are about writers who have passed on, and cannot contradict the mythos springing up around them. But good old JK is alive and well and very online. And she's going to set the record straight with a few tweets. Over the weekend, Rowling debunked claims about The Elephant House in Edinburgh and a bookshop in Oporto, Portugal, both of which have long touted being instrumental in Rowling's creation of Harry Potter.
But this was only the beginning of her tweeted corrections. She did confirm her love with the now-closed Nicolsons, for instance.
But some of those tourist stops are sadly claiming credit for inspiring her when they didn't.
Even if it means she may be upsetting the British Association of Harry Potter Tour Guides.
Rowling may be trying to set the record straight, but these myths are a dime and dozen. In a couple of decades, no one will care if she said this street did or didn't inspire her if it's an "official tourist stop." But it's good for the truth to be out there, even if only the hardcore Harry Potter scholars will be the ones who take note.