Number 4 Privet Drive?

11 Sep

There are some things you should know about me: 1. My years of primary and secondary education ranged from 1996-2009 and 2. I have always been an avid bookworm. Putting these two facts together will inevitably lead you to the conclusion that have read all seven Harry Potter books at least twice. In fact, like many of my peers, I’ve read them more than twice, listened to them on audiobook on car rides and hold the movies in ever so slight contempt.  It really was a collective experience for my generation to have shared in Harry and Co.’s  journey into semi-adulthood in sync with our own coming of age.

So, it’s been a good few years since we devoured the final book- so why am I blogging about Harry Potter. Well, while reading Ian McEwan’s Atonement today I noticed a familiar word – “privet”. Of course, Number 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey is indeed, the address of Harry’s peevy relatives, the Dursleys!

The context of the sentence gave me enough information to surmise that, indeed, our friend the illustrious JK Rowling had, as she so often does, chosen a name with the most specific of intentions.

A privet is, in fact, a shrub often used to manicure into privacy hedging! But of course, that stiff manicured stuff is so indicative of the Dursleys! The specificity of the reference is wonderful.

This revelation of mine betrays, I suppose, a lack of knowledge of landscape gardening, or just a general lack of trivia know-how. But, regardless, I thought I’d share that little insight just as a reminder of all the clever little things in which a true Potter fan finds constant delight.


3 Responses to “Number 4 Privet Drive?”

  1. Emily Dziubek September 11, 2010 at 12:03 pm #

    It is the subtle references like this that J.K. Rowling spills throughout all the books that keeps me coming back time after time. I just reread “The Sorcerer’s Stone” and found names and events that foreshadowed those in the later books. At this point, I can’t even recall how many times I have read the books (nor do I really want to admit it either…let’s just say I can no longer count on one had the times I’ve read “Prisoner of Azkaban”), but I know each time I do, I find something delightful that I hadn’t thought of or noticed before.

    By the way – I’m a landscape designer and never connected Privet Drive to the shrub either!

  2. Dr Gary Katz September 11, 2010 at 5:14 pm #

    Lovely writing style. Dr. Gary K

    “It is Hell to write…it is Heaven to have written.”
    I.e. (id est…that is)…keep writing…you are good. Doc

  3. crazygoangirl September 18, 2010 at 6:15 am #

    That’s pretty cool and interesting to know! I am a Potter fan too and have read the books too many times to count, but this, I never would have guessed :)

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