I follow in the hand prints of J.K. Rowlings and rub a dog’s nose for good luck

Nothing in recent memory has brought so much fame to Edinburgh as J.K. Rowlings who drew inspiration from alleyway streets and gravestones of this city when she wrote the Harry Potter series.  We took a free tour which pointed out, among other things the coffee shop where Ms. Rowlings sat as she penned the first book of the series.

image Here we have J.K. Rowlings hand  prints in the sidewalk in front of the Edinburgh City Chambers building.  Notice the prints are of a different color – the results of people placing their hands in her prints and a polishing the metal.

According to our tour guide, Ms. Rowlings took a creative writing class in which the teacher suggested she draw from real life the names of people and places needed for her stories.  What follows are a series of photos from places Ms. Rowlings frequented as well as some names she garnered off of tombstones in the cemetery near where she dropped her children off to school.

The gateway where J.K. Rowlings is said to have passed though to drop off her kids at George Heriot's school in the background. The school itself the possible inspiration for Hagworts.
The gateway where J.K. Rowlings is said to have passed though to drop off her kids at George Heriot’s school in the background. The school itself the possible inspiration for Hagworts.

Fans of the Harry Potter series will recognize the name of  a certain character on the tombstone below

imageMany other tombstones had similar connections to characters including the one below for He-that-cannot-be named.


imageI would like to think blurring out the title was done on purpose in order to not frighten the reader.  Actually my camera just wouldn’t focus on the name R-I-d-d… For some strange reason.

I found other blogs that did a much better job than I with the Harry Potter connection like this one.

A great blog to click on the link below.

Thus Born the Boy Wizard: Tracing J.K. Rowling Steps in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is full of stories and there is story with a longer history than Harry Potter.  This story is centered in the same cemetery that J.K. Rowlings frequented –  Greyfriar’s Kirk.  However unlike a fictional Harry Potter, the character knows as Greyfriar’s Bobby was real.

Bobby was a Sky Terrier adopted by John the local night watchman who wanted a companion for his lonely nights on duty.  He and Bobby would frequent a nearby coffee house as part of their routine.  Within two years John was dead of tiberculous.  He was buried in Greyfriar’s Kirk where he patrolled (grave robbing was very lucrative).  But Bobby never left his master’s side.  He laid on John’s grave continually despite the efforts of the local gardener to evict him.  Eventually the gardener gave in and provided some cloth sacks under a bench for Bobby.  At o’clock each day the castle gun fired and Bobby would cross the street to the cafe, have a meal, and return to the grave.  Soon this became a big story and people would gather to look at Bobby, wait for the castle gun and watch him cross the street to the cafe.  This went on for 14 years!  When Bobby died a statue was created in his likeness.  It is said to be good luck to rub Bobby’s nose.  I could see that so I did.

image I recall reading the story about Bobby when I was a child.  Like most people I was impressed by his love and loyalty.  But I was also impressed by the people of Edinburgh who cared for Bobby.   It’s a great story, great because it is true, and greater still as a symbol of this city.  As obvious tourists who were sometimes lost in the maze of streets there was always a helpful person around in Edinburgh – indeed everywhere in Scotland – to help us on our way.

Author: talks2trees

I'm a recent writer and retired teacher. Married for more than half my life to Ariana I am content now to travel with her to warm places while snow swirls around our home in upstate NY where we live two houses away from my son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren. Our daughter lives just a block away so our decision to travel is not without a consequence. However we have taken very few vacations in our married life so this journey, that starts in Costa Rica, is very new.

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