The Birthplace of a Fandom (Paper 3)- By Courtney Kellogg
Scotland is full of wonders including Arthur’s Seat, the Scotland Highlands, and the famous golf courses. It is also home to the most famous book series ever written. The Harry Potter series was born in the small Elephant House Coffee Shop in Edinburgh, Scotland. J.K. Rowling did not have a lot to her name but she did have a new magical world stored up in her head. Little did she know that her characters and story would create something special for the whole world to know.
I personally have been a Harry Potter fan for a while now so it was exciting to be able to go to the birthplace of where it all began. After a morning class lecture, our group had the opportunity to go see various places that J.K. Rowling got her inspiration from. We found a list online that gave us links and maps to get to various places. Also included in the list were “Fact or Fiction” comments. This stated whether J.K. Rowling had confirmed that these places and monuments were inspiration and real. A lot included in that list fell in the middle. These suggestions of places that were in the middle meant that J.K. had mentioned something related to it but was neither confirmed.
After getting ahold of the list, we set out to find Greyfriars Kirkyard. This graveyard supposedly included a lot of names of characters that J.K. Rowling used in her book. Once again it was never confirmed but in an interview, she did say that places around her helped her write her book. It seemed too good to be true however, considering that 5 different Harry Potter character names could be found on various gravestones throughout the graveyard. It was exciting to see the name “Thomas Riddell” engraved on an old tombstone that could have represented Lord Voldemort in the series.
In the graveyard, Harry Potter tours were being led. The tour guide would be dressed up in a robe or a Gryffindor scarf holding a fake wand in their hand. As for the tour itself, it seemed like the guide was full of information and excitement. A big part of a tour guide’s job is to explain and hand out information to others making that a part of mass communication. I have found that compared to U.S.A. guided walking tours, the tour guide is not as fired up about the information as do the Scots. It seems like U.S.A. guided tours like to keep to a strict schedule and get to each destination at a timely fashion. While observing the Harry Potter walking tour, the guide seemed to want to keep his audience engaged. The guide was open to questions and seemed to want the best for each person to have a fulfilling experience.
Like I mentioned earlier, the true birthplace of Harry Potter started at Elephant House Coffee Shop. Right on the front of the small red building is a sign that marks this special location. Walking in you can find elephant statues, paintings, and pictures that are hung on bright yellow walls. The café is buzzing with tourists and even locals who have sat down for an evening tea. The Café also serves as a bakery and a restaurant. As you walk further into the café, newspaper clippings, photographs, and magazines can be found all talking about J.K. Rowling. You can also buy souvenirs like postcards, magnets, and hats that all display “Birthplace of Harry Potter”. The café is definitely a must see location if you ever go to Edinburgh.
I found out that throughout our stay in Edinburgh, locals had a different sense of love for Harry Potter than do Americans. Locals seem to appreciate the history and making of the book series of Harry Potter. They appreciate and honor what J.K. Rowling has provided to the world. The books are where everything has all came from. So to people in Edinburgh, the actual book series and birthplace itself seems to be positively appreciated.
As for America, we are movie junkies. We love the thrill of seeing things come to life on the big screen and keeping up with the actors who played the main characters. People do not seem to appreciate what these films are actually based off of. Could it be that we are too lazy to read a book series?
No matter what, I discovered that both places love their Harry Potter merchandise. Wizard shops could be found on the streets of Edinburgh selling fake wands, Quiddich t-shirts, Gryffindor scarfs, and more. The same goes for places in Florida like Orlando Studios which hosts The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Amusement Park. In the park, stores are lined up and down the streets selling candy, house robes, magical stuffed animals, and more. It is clear to me that we love to show off our Harry Potter spirit no matter where we are.
As we hit our last week ending in London, I will be making a lot of Harry Potter “runs” myself. I will be attending a play called “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”. This play was written by J.K. Rowling and is about Harry Potter’s child and his friendship with with a Malfoy. Our class will then be making a trip to Warner Brother’s Studio where we will be able to see sets, costumes, and props that were used during the Harry Potter films. I also am going to try to make a stop at King’s Cross Station where a lot of filming was done for the movie. There is a special wall that took Harry and his friends to Platform 9 & ¾. You are able to take photos by the wall and pretend that you are traveling to Hogwarts as well! It’s exciting to be in a city where a lot of the movie series were filmed. A tube station like Westminster can also be found in the films. I will be sure to look up more areas to visit while I am here!