J.K. Rowling comments on “utterly extraordinary” narwhal coincidence

It’s a story so fantastical, it could almost be out of Harry Potter itself!

Over 40 years ago, Mr. John Jeffries of Cornwall bought an ivory narwhal horn which had been present to a British navyman in the 1800s, but it wasn’t until much later that he realized that the name of the tusk’s recipient sounded very familiar. A plaque at the bottom of the ivory narwhal tusk reads:

Presented to Cornelius Fudge. Master at Arms. By his mess mates as a mark of respect and esteem on his leaving H.M.S London at Zanzibar to retire from the service. September 1881.

When John realized that the tusk bore the name of one of the characters in J.K. Rowling’s best-selling series, he wrote to her asking if the narwhal ivory had been the inspiration for the Minister of Magic’s name. In return, he received a hand-written note from Jo expressing her amazement at such a coincidence:

How utterly extraordinary! No, I made up the name Cornelius – or thought I did. I had never come across it and did not know of the existence of a naval C.F. Thank you for a most interesting addition to the postbag. With very best wishes, JK Rowling.

Mr. Jeffries sold the tusk at auction earlier this week, where it fetched 36,000 pounds, considerably more than he paid for it originally. He had a hunch that part of the reason the tusk sold for so much was its strange connection to the world of Harry Potter and decided that it would be appropriate for him to donate a portion of the tusk’s selling price to an MS charity, a cause close to Jo’s heart. Jeffries says of the experience:

J.K. Rowling’s letter said how utterly extraordinary it was that I had such a tusk. She said she thought she made the name up – but she couldn’t be absolutely certain. In a way it’s quite nice that we’re still in the dark about its ultimate origins. This way the tusk retains its mystery. Narwhals used to be seen as mythical creatures associated with unicorns, which ties in well with the Harry Potter magical theme. I’m giving 900 pounds of the money made from the tusk to her chosen charity. I feel that the books were part of the reason the tusk sold for so much and that it was only fair some of the proceeds went to her charity.

Read the original article here.

Jessica J.

I've been making magic at MuggleNet since 2012, when I first joined the staff as a News intern. I've never wavered from the declaration in my childhood journal, circa October 2000: "I LOVE Harry Potter! If I clean my room, my mom says she'll make me a dinner a wizard would love!" Proud Gryffindor; don't hate.