Arbroath’s train journey led to the creation of the JK Rowling and Harry Potter books

The life of Harry Potter author JK Rowling dates back to the incredibly romantic first encounter of two strangers on a train from King’s Cross to Arbroath in early 1964.

Peter Rowling had decided to join the Navy, and Anne Volant was already in the Women’s Royal Naval Service.

They were both 18 years old and stationed at Condor Barracks on the outskirts of Arbroath, which in the 1960s became the headquarters of the Royal Navy.

Peter had gallantly offered to lend Anne his coat when she complained about the cold weather on the train, and they began to argue.

It was love at first sight and before the end of the long train journey, they exchanged kisses under duffel bags.

By the time they reached Arbroath, they were a confirmed couple.

The rest is history.

The couple abandoned their naval careers and married on March 14, 1965.

Author JK Rowling. Image: Shutterstock.

JK was born on July 31 of the same year when the couple moved to the Bristol area.

Without this train journey from London to Arbroath, JK’s parents might never have met – and Harry Potter might never have seen the light of day – and legend has it that a train journey would have been there. original inspiration from the series.

This time it was aboard a delayed service from Manchester to King’s Cross in 1990.

Pastry artist Michelle Wibowo unveils a spectacular cake featuring Hogwarts Castle to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in UK and Irish cinemas. Image: Pinpen / Shutterstock.

JK designed and began tracing his seven-book opus on this train, before his celebrated arrival in Edinburgh in 1993 with three chapters of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in his suitcase.

She said: “I was going by train from Manchester to London, sitting there without thinking about anything to do with writing, and the idea came out of nowhere.

“I could see Harry very clearly: that skinny little boy, and that was the most physical surge of arousal – I had never felt so excited about anything to do with writing.”

“I had never had an idea that gave me such a physical response.

A young boy reads a Harry Potter book.
JK Rowling felt a surge of excitement as she pictured her Harry Potter series on a train from Manchester to London. Image: Bub / AP / Shutterstock.

“So I’m digging through that bag trying to find a pen or a pencil or whatever.”

“I didn’t even have any eyeliner on me, so I just had to sit down and think, and for four hours – because the train was late – I had all these ideas bubbling up in my hair. my head.

“I can’t describe the excitement to someone who doesn’t write books except to say it was that incredibly elated feeling you get when you just met someone you could possibly fall in love with.

“It was the kind of feeling I had as I got off the train, like I had just met someone wonderful and we were about to embark on this wonderful business.

King's Cross is a
King’s Cross is a “very, very romantic place” for JK Rowling. Here, Blake, 5, and Soraya, 10, pose with the Harry Potter Platform 9 ¾ cart at King’s Cross station. Image: PinPep / Shutterstock.

“That kind of elation, that dizziness and excitement, and so I came back to my apartment in Clapham Junction and started writing, and I’ve been writing now for 10 years so it’s been a good deal.

“For me, King’s Cross is a very, very romantic place; probably the most romantic resort, only because my parents met here, so it’s always been part of my childhood folklore.

“My father had just joined the navy, my mother had just joined the REN, they were both traveling to Arbroath in Scotland – from London – and they met on the train leaving King’s Cross.

Hogwarts Castle presented as a holiday screening show at Universal Studio's Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida on December 2, 2021. Photo: Joseph Prezioso / ZUMA Press Wire / Shutterstock.
Hogwarts Castle presented as a holiday screening show at Universal Studio’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida on December 2, 2021. Photo: Joseph Prezioso / ZUMA Press Wire / Shutterstock.

“So I wanted Harry to go to Hogwarts by train; I love trains, I’m a bit cheesy like that.

“And obviously, so it had to be King’s Cross.”

In the first chapter of her book, Quidditch Through the Ages, in 2001, Rowling referred to where her parents first traveled together.

Guthrie Lochrin, a Scottish wizard writing in 1107, spoke of the “splinter-filled buttocks and bulging clumps” he suffered after a short broom ride from Montrose to Arbroath.

But whatever chaos ensues in JK Rowling’s wizarding world, this 1964 train journey from London to Arbroath means Harry Potter and the City of Angus will be linked forever.

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