Echoes of the Past
Street Names in Little Whinging
by Nik the Hermit, our "man in the street"
J. K. Rowling has stated many times that memories and "echoes"
from her own childhood became part of the Harry Potter Books. Two
well-known examples are:
Now, I find JKR a pleasingly precise author, who very rarely makes mistakes
or allows factual clashes between the books. Whilst "mapping
London" I was worred about
the use of the street name "Vauxhall Road". As
stated elsewhere, there is no such street in
London and, as far as I can
find out, there never has been. JKR spent several years working in
London, so it is likely she
would have known this. So why did she use this name? Just a mistake? Or an
effort to provide more "fog" to mask "actual" locations?
The use of the surname of her two friends from her early childhood,
Ian and Vikki Potter
Using a "School Four-House System" for Hogwarts, as there was
in her own secondary school, Wyedean Comprehensive
I searched through atlases to find real "Vauxhall Roads", and in
the UK I only managed to find about twelve. But one rang a strange bell:
"Vauxhall road, Cas-Gwent, NP6 5". The Welsh name, I remembered,
was referring to the town of
which is where JKR spent much of her childhood.
A street-plan of Chepstow
showed a "Vauxhall Road", sure enough, and something else, even
more intriguing...many streets grouped together
(termed "Drive", "Walk", "Crescent" and
"Road") with botanical names! There is no "Magnolia Road"
or "Privet Drive", but there is a "Magnolia Close" and a
"Rowan Drive"! And here are some others, all of which would
have been within the "exploring zone" of a young teenaged
None of the other "Vauxhall Roads" in the UK have these sorts of
street names near them. It is entirely possible that the neighborhood of
Privet Drive recalls the
neighborhood of Rowling's childhood.