Here's Where J.K. Rowling Got Her Magical Ideas for Harry Potter (Photos)

Phoenix rising

harry potter history

(Image credit: Copyright British Library Board)

Fawkes the phoenix roosts in the headmaster's office. (Side note, Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster while Harry is at school, has a great last name. It means "bumblebee" in Old English.) Again, history inspired J.K. Rowling to write about this fictional bird. In this 13th-century English manuscript titled "Fenix," a phoenix is described as being native to Arabia and having a life span of 500 years. The bird is shown building its own funeral pyre from branches and plants and fanning the flames with its wings. But there's no cause for sorrow: after it dies, the phoenix is reborn again, out of the ashes.

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Laura Geggel

Laura is the archaeology and Life's Little Mysteries editor at Live Science. She also reports on general science, including paleontology. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Scholastic, Popular Science and Spectrum, a site on autism research. She has won multiple awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association for her reporting at a weekly newspaper near Seattle. Laura holds a bachelor's degree in English literature and psychology from Washington University in St. Louis and a master's degree in science writing from NYU.