Harry Potter

29 – The first Harry Potter book

June 26, 1997

ACTING hopefuls still dream about being talent-spotted at a Hollywood coffee shop.

OK, it’s unlikely – but probably a better bet than popping into an Edinburgh café and writing the world’s most lucrative book franchise.

I mean, come on, pitch this scenario to a movie mogul and see how that goes!

You’ve been stuck on a train and an idea comes to you. No, not “why the heck didn’t I get the bus?” but a notion about a boy wizard who would fight evil while finding his way in the world.

JK Rowling
JK Rowling (PA Wire)

By the time the unheard of JK Rowling was in full flow writing Harry Potter she was a single mum on benefits with a baby, Jessica.

Finding a cosy café to write in because she couldn’t afford heating would be a nice wee film flourish.

But the truth, it seems, was just that Jessica nodded off after a walk and a stroll to the café was the best option.

Two caught her fancy, Nicholson’s and the Elephant House café.

Elephant House Cafe
Elephant House Cafe

Nicholson’s later became a Chinese restaurant although, fittingly, a plaque marks the words penned there.

But the accountants for The Elephant House will always be grateful Rowling picked their back room overlooking the Castle to get out her pen and paper.

And any similarity between the castle and Hogwarts is doubtless unintentional.

Starting with Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, the seven novels are a global phenomenon, earning Ms Rowling several hundred million pounds.

Not bad, as she’d originally been told there was no money in kids’ books!