11th January 2007

JK Rowling finishes last Harry Potter novel in an Edinburgh hotel

Although JK Rowling started work on Harry Potter when employed as an English teacher in Portugal, much of the series was written in Scotland.

It is well known that she wrote much of the earlier material in Edinburgh coffee shops as an escape from her cold flat. However, the closing scenes of the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, were put to bed on 11 January 2007 in a room at Edinburgh’s Balmoral Hotel. Upon its release six months later, it became the fastest-selling book ever, selling more than 11 million copies on its first day on sale in the UK and US.

Among best-selling series of all time

Although the series became one of the best-selling of all time and spawned a successful film franchise, games and merchandise, there was initially some doubt over its viability, with the first 12 publishers to whom it was submitted rejecting it. JK Rowling was advised to get herself a regular job, in addition to writing, as children’s fiction rarely pays well.

The Scottish Arts Council showed greater faith, though, and gave the budding author a grant in 1997. Writing in Prospect magazine in December 2006, Magnus Linklater recalled how “newly appointed as chairman of the Scottish Arts Council, I was required to approve £8,000 to an unknown author called JK Rowling. A single mother, living in Edinburgh, she had written a book with the unpromising title Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone… by allowing her to pay for childcare during the whole of a year, it had allowed her to complete the second Harry Potter volume at a time when she had no prospects of success for the first.”

Scottish success story

Without the support of the Scottish Arts Council, then, Harry Potter may not have become the success it did. The revenue it has since generated for the country must make that £8,000 grant one of the best investments ever made by any body – cultural, political, or otherwise.

The end of the last Potter book did not mark closure for the wizarding world she created. Although Rowling has had success with other, unrelated characters – most notably the private detective Cormorant Strike, whom she created when writing as Robert Galbraith – the original series spawned the spin-off stage production, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. This was followed by several prequel films in the Fantastic Beasts series.



Other events that occured in January

FREE Scotland history newsletter

Don't miss our weekly update on Scotland's fascinating history. We promise never to sell your data to anyone else, and there's a super-easy unsubscribe link on the bottom of each email so you can leave whenever you want.