The Fascinating Inspirations Behind Beloved Children’s Books

Harry Potter

Inspiration: A train journey

One day in 1990, struggling writer Jo Rowling was taking a train from Manchester from London. She’d apparently spent most of the day apartment-hunting up north — she was planning to move to Manchester with her boyfriend — and as she day-dreamed on the journey home, an idea popped into her head: a story about “a scrawny, little black-haired, bespectacled boy.” The only problem was that Rowling didn’t have a pen with her, so she spent the rest of the journey developing the idea in her head, and set to work on what’d become Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (or Sorcerer’s Stone in the US) that night.