Where Is the “Birthplace” of “Harry Potter”?

From Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter to the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, there are many real-world locations with ties to the Harry Potter series. While many locations have claimed to be the “birthplace” of either the book series or the idea for the eponymous character, so many competing claims have left fans searching for answers.

Now, author J.K. Rowling has shed some light on the subject and provided her own input in a Twitter thread.

The series of tweets began after a fan asked Rowling if there was any truth to the belief that the Elephant House in Edinburgh was the birthplace of the series. Rowling then explained that she wanted to devote a section of her website to the subject and that she had been writing the series “for several years” before she was ever a patron of the café.



As it turns out, numerous other locations have claimed the same title. There is, for instance, a bookstore in Portugal that has some very Hogwarts-like touches. (Rowling noted that she has never been there.)



She also pointed out the “true” birthplace of the series (“…if you define ‘birthplace’ as the spot where I put pen to paper for the first time”). That location was a flat in London’s Clapham Junction, above what is now a barbershop and a travel agency. At the time, noted Rowling, the flat was above a sports shop.



Depending on the definition, however, Rowling explained that the real birthplace might be different. Rowling confirmed that her initial idea for the series came on a train from Manchester to London.



Rowling shared some other interesting locations, including the building in which she stayed when she invented Quidditch.



The author continued to debunk other rumors, including that she based Hogwarts on any of the schools in Edinburgh. She added that she did complete Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in the Balmoral. (The hotel has turned that same suite into the J.K. Rowling Suite.)



Another Twitter user commented that they had thought that the birthplace was a café called Nicolson’s, also in Edinburgh. Rowling confirmed that she used to write there, though she explained that it might be a Chinese restaurant now. (According to a local news article from 2009, the café is now Spoon Cafe Bistro, located at 6A Nicolson Street.)


Other highlights from the thread include that Rowling wrote the part of the first book in which Harry purchases his wand while seated under a tree, that she can’t drive and therefore never used a specific parking meter, and that Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley were not based on any real locations.

In a “real Harry Potter inspiration alert,” Rowling wrote that she later realized that she had taken Severus Snape’s first name from a street name in Clapham – a Severus Road in the Borough of Battersea.



The more you know!

For answers to more magical myths, visit MuggleNet’s Department of MYTHteries section.

Which definition of “the birthplace of Harry Potter do you follow? Have you visited any of these locations? Let us know in the comments!

Mary W.

I am a Slytherin, a lifelong fan of Harry Potter, and a member of MuggleNet staff since 2014. In my Muggle life, I am passionate about human rights, and I love to travel around the world and meet new people.