Friday, November 18, 2011

The Elephant House, or the Birthplace of Harry Potter

After our visit to St. Giles Cathedral, we walked over to The Elephant House, which proudly displays that it is the "birthplace" of Harry Potter. J. K. Rowling sat in the back room of the tea shop writing many of the early Harry Potter novels. Authors Ian Rankin and Alexander McCall-Smith have also been to the tea shop many times.

The shop is nice with the coffee bar right in front, so you can order your snack and drinks without searching around. We bought some tea for us and juice for the children, along with a rainbow cookie for Lucy, a caramel muffin for Jacob, and other assorted cakes and tray-bakes for the adults. We went to the back room to see where the "magic" happened.

Our table had a nice view of Greyfriars Kirk and some of the castle. Jacob ate his muffin with gusto.

The disappearing muffin trick; also note the elephant pictures!

Lucy nibbled on her cookie while she wrote on a napkin. I think she is attempting, in the spirit of the place, to write a Harry Potter sequel, maybe along the lines of Scarlett and Cosette. Here she is working diligently:

Writing the first sentence is always the hardest.

Like the Gettysburg Address envelop, the Harry Potter napkin

We will let you know when the final draft is ready and we've worked out a deal with Rowling to let Lucy publish her masterpiece. Or we'll reedit it with new names and places to let us get around the copyright issues.

The bathrooms here also had lots of Harry Potter graffiti, or at least the ladies' room did. My wife reports various writings, including a list of Dumbledore's Army where people put their initials. The men's room has no writing on the wall. I leave readers to draw their own conclusions.

We enjoyed our treat and recommend others visit it. We went from here to the National Museum of Scotland, where my cousin told us that many different coffee shops claim to be where Rowling wrote her novels. It seems plausible that she wrote in more than one place, though which one was first or saw the most action may only be answered by Rowling herself. She hasn't complained about The Elephant House, so I leave the readers to draw their own conclusions again.


  1. Your cousin is right - JK Rowling wrote in more than one cafe. In an interview with Jenny Renton published in 2001, she talked about Nicolsons Cafe on Nicolson Street - which is now Spoon Restaurant. And there is certainly a photograph of her posing in the window there.

  2. @Thom--Thanks, we will have to check that out next time we go to Edinburgh!