JK Rowling has offered to turn part of the plot
to communal space
Only 16 years ago
was a single mother putting
the finishing touches to her first Harry Potter book on a manual
typewriter while surviving on benefits in a rented flat in her adopted
city of Edinburgh.
Seven best-selling instalments of the boy wizard saga later and
accommodation issues are proving much easier to solve for the
45-year-old writer whose personal fortune is estimated at £519m. It
emerged yesterday that the author is planning to demolish the
five-bedroom house next door to her family mansion in the Scottish
capital's plushest suburb in the north of the city in order to enlarge
Rowling has been on a charm offensive with neighbours to persuade them
of the benefits of the plan to level the £1m villa, offering to turn
over part of the large plot to a communal space.
One neighbour said locals, who appear to have taken the new arrival in
their cul-de-sac to their hearts, were surprised at the scale of the
author's plans for the detached period home. She has yet to move into
the premises full time which she will eventually share with her husband
Neil Murray, who is a doctor, and their three children.
"It's not every day you hear someone seeking approval from their
neighbours to flatten a £1m house to make their garden bigger," the
resident said after attending a community meeting about the proposal.
"There's a lot of respect for her and everything she has achieved
through her writing so everyone is happy to work with her," the
A spokesman for the author declined to comment on the plan.
Rowling bought the property 17 months ago for a reported £2m – £1m below
the asking price. It signalled her decision to move out of Edinburgh's
celebrated "Writers' Row" in the exclusive Bruntsfield area of the city
where she lived alongside other leading literary luminaries such as Ian
Rankin and Alexander McCall Smith.
Rowling and her husband have applied for planning permission to
construct a number of outbuildings in the grounds of the new home
including kennels, a summer house and a residence for her security
staff. She is reported to have bought two properties adjacent to another
of her homes – a 19th-century estate on the banks of the River Tay in
Perthshire – in order to safeguard her family's privacy.
The writer also owns a £4.5m Georgian home in Kensington, London.
Yesterday it emerged that the author had given a helping hand to
the mother of the missing eight-year-old,
with her account of the disappearance in Portugal four years ago. But
Rowling denied reports that she had written the book which is due to be
published next month.
In a statement a spokesman for the author said: "While JK Rowling has
been a long-term family supporter, her only part in bringing the book to
publication has been in supporting the fact that her literary agent was
also representing Kate. Beyond this, she has not been involved in any
aspect of the writing, editing or publication of the book."