Readersforum's Blog

September 25, 2012

JK Rowling’s portrayal of ‘snobby’ villagers is not based on us, say West Country residents

JK Rowling said she drew on real life for The Casual Vacancy, but locals in her old home village say the portrayal of snobby residents is “fantasy”.

By Richard Alleyne and Anita Singh

When JK Rowling needed a setting for The Casual Vacancy, her first novel for adults, she didn’t have to stretch her imagination too far.

The author has claimed she drew on her own upbringing near the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire for her tale of a “snobby” middle-class community riven by provincial politics.

However, residents of the area where Rowling grew up say they do not recognise the fictional West Country village of Pagford, where the professional classes can barely hide their loathing for the inhabitants of a neighbouring sink estate.

Locals in Tutshill, Gloucestershire, say that any resemblance between their community and Pagford is as much a fantasy as the Harry Potter franchise that earned Rowling a £620 million fortune.

The author’s years as a struggling single mother, living on benefits and writing the first Potter book in an Edinburgh café are common knowledge. Less well known is the fact that from the age of nine until she left for Exeter University, Rowling lived a middle-class existence in Grade II-listed Church Cottage in Tutshill, a small community on the English side of Chepstow, the Wye Valley market town which straddles the Welsh border.

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