Harry Potter and the Magic of Historic Edinburgh with Jenny Lister

Harry Potter and the Magic of Historic Edinburgh with Jenny Lister


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The streets of Scotland's capital city are steeped in stories. The first UNESCO City of Literature, Edinburgh boasts a rich literary heritage, its history, landscape, architecture, and dark past inspired the Romantic novels of Walter Scott, the adventures of Robert Louis Stevenson, and the mysteries of Arthur Conan Doyle. More importantly (for us), it was the city that J.K. Rowling moved to in 1993, with the first three chapters of the book that would become Harry Potter in her suitcase.

On this virtual tour we will journey from the cafes where some of Rowling's best-selling books were written through cobbled closes and winding wynds where tales of witches and bogles abound. We will meet a man with two faces, a wizard with a possessed staff, and some very animated chessmen. After exploring the quirky shops of Victoria Street, Edinburgh's own Diagon Alley, we will linger a while in a ghostly graveyard, in sight of a turreted school and a castle on a crag, where the names on the stones might seem very familiar (just watch out for Burke, the body snatcher!). We will discuss how these scenes left their imprint on Rowling and other Edinburgh writers and talk about how the city has responded to the demand for Harry Potter tourism. So grab your Floo powder, gather round the fireplace, and get ready to transport to Edinburgh - the birthplace of Harry Potter!

Led by historian and local Edinburgh Context expert Jenny Litser, this interactive discussion will delve into the magical world of Harry Potter. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with a better understanding of the relationship between the literature's creation and the influence of Edinburgh.

Born and raised in the Scottish Borders, Jenny moved to Edinburgh in the late 1980s to study History and English Literature. She later completed a PhD on the Scottish context of Canadian author L.M. Montgomery at the University of Edinburgh, where she also taught American History. Jenny worked in adult education research and policy at the Institute of Education, London for over a decade, living in Edinburgh and traveling regularly to Europe. Her main interests lie in Scottish literature, culture and folklore, and in children's books. She has two daughters.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.