J. K. Rowling, the famed author of the Harry Potter series of books, wrote the saga while living in Edinburgh. Many of the characters’ names were consciously, or subconsciously, chosen from Edinburgh’s streets, landmarks and graveyards.
In Greyfriars Kirkyard near the George Heriot school gate is a tablet marking the grave of William Topaz McGonagall, (George Heriot’s school may have been the template for Hogwarts.) Professor Minerva McGonagall was the head of Gryffindor house at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizadry.
William Topaz McGonagall who was born in March 1825, died on 29 September 1902. He was a poet whose poems are considered the worst in English literature. Audiences threw rotten fish at him and his performances were banned leaving him a pauper when he died.
William McGonagall / Poet and Tragedian / Died 2nd September 1902 / Buried near this spot
“I am your Gracious Majesty
ever faithful to thee
William McGonagall , The Poor Poet,
That lives in Dundee.”
W. McG. 6th. Sept. 1877
The grave of Thomas Riddell also in Greyfriars Kirkyard, was chosen as the real name of the Dark Lord Voldemort. This character appeared in the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which was released in 1997.
Thomas Riddell, who died in 1806 aged 72, shares his gravestone with members of his family.
Sacred / to the Memory / of Thomas Riddell Esq. / of Befsborough, / in the County of Berwick / who died in Edinburgh / on the 24. Novm. 1806, / aged 72 years.
ALSO / of Thomas Riddell Esq. his Son, / Captain of the 14. Regiment, / who died at Trinidad in the West Indies / on the 12. Septm. 1802, / aged 26 years.
AND / of Christian Riddell, / his Daughter, / who died in Edinburgh / on the 29. Oct, 1808, / aged 31 years.
ALSO / Maira Jane Riddell, / his daughter / died 5th Sept. 1819 / aged 47″
Contradictory feelings on notes have been left at the graveside by people from all over the world.
“RIP Tom, thank you for making us all believe in magic. You are an inspiration.”
“Dear idiots, you know there’s a difference between fiction and reality, right?”