JK Rowling just debunked a legendary 'Harry Potter' myth about her university -- and students are shocked

John Phillips/Getty ImagesJK Rowling, legendary fantasy author and crusher of Exeter students’ dreams.
  • For years Exeter University students have believed that the Old Fire House pub was the inspiration for JK Rowling’s “Leaky Cauldron” in “Harry Potter.”
  • But on Wednesday, the best-selling author revealed she has never even visited the pub.
  • The debunking shocked and dismayed students, past and present, at her former university.

JK Rowling has just debunked a “Harry Potter”-related myth about the city she went to university in – and the news has left students reeling.

In the Eighties, the fantasy author studied Exeter University in Devon, in the south of England. She’s one of the university’s most famous alumni, and among students it has been common knowledge for years that her time in the city helped provide some of the inspiration for her now-world-famous series of books about the fictional wizarding world of Harry Potter.

For example, the picturesque pub Old Fire House is widely believed to be the inspiration for the famous fictional wizarding pub “The Leaky Cauldron.” It’s a cosy place, lit by candles, famous for its mulled ciders and huge pizzas. Nearly every student viewed the tales of its influence on Rowling as fact (as I found out when I studied at Exeter a few years ago). The university’s Harry Potter Society held events there. BuzzFeed published articles about it.

But, as JK Rowling revealed on Wednesday, it’s just not true.

In response to a news article about the venue being sold, the author revealed she had never even visited the Old Fire House, much less used it as inspiration for her novels.

She tweeted: “If you want real fantasy, go to an estate agent. Never visited this pub in my life.”

Old fire houseGoogle MapsThe Old Fire House, as seen on Google Maps.

Exeter students past and present reacted to the news with horror.

“Noooo I went to Exeter uni and it was a widely known (non-)fact that you frequented here,” tweeted Dan Cash.

“Why would you crush our dreams like this,” pleaded the university’s Harry Potter Society.

“My whole uni experience has been a lie,” tweeted another.

JK Rowling has however offered up some solace to the tens of thousands of distressed current and former Exeter students – giving a list of pubs in the city she did frequent.

“Red Cow, Black Horse, Mill on the Exe, the Artillery Inn (now sadly gone), but never [Old Fire House], I’m afraid,” the author tweeted.

Exeter students looking for a piece of “Harry Potter” history can also still visit Gandy Street, an picturesque little alley in the centre of town that is believed to be the inspiration for the fictional wizarding street Diagon Alley.

JK Rowling hasn’t disputed that piece of Exeter folklore – not yet, at least.

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