Thursday 23 July 2020

My Short Career in J.K. Rowling Studies

When I spotted How to Be Topp by Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle (Max Parrish, 1954) on the shelf of a reopened charity shop, naturally I had to have it. This is the second volume of the Nigel Molesworth saga, and perhaps the best. Browsing in its pages the other night, I came across something that for a moment led me to think I could make an unlikely contribution to J.K. Rowling studies.
There it is, on page 31, a 'Latin pla' entitled... 'The Hogwarts'. Was this where Rowling got the name for her famous academy from? Had anyone noticed this before? A quick internet search revealed that, alas, the Rowling scholars are all over this like a rash – here, for example.
So, for your edification, I will simply quote the opening scene of 'The Hogwarts' by Marcus Plautus Molesworthus –

'The villa of Cotta at Rome. Enter CORTICUS a dreary old slave and RADIX his mate.
CORTICUS: (laying a skin of wine on the sideboard) Eheu!
   (The headmaster and all lat. masters who watch roar with larffter.)
RADIX: Eheu!
   (More larffter they are in stitches)
RADIX: Eheu!
  (The curtain falls as the masters roll helplessly in the aisles.)'


  1. Isn't 'how to be topp' the one where they go hunting for gerunds? So good!

  2. When my son was thirteen or so, I tried to persuade him to translate "eheu" as "oy, veh" in some homework. He was a better judge of his teacher's sense of humor, and did not.

  3. 'Oy veh' is perfect!
    And yes Worm – a whole picture spread is devoted to The Private Life of the Gerund, including Kennedy discovering the gerund and leading it into captivity. The gerunds look rather like Moomins, but with more hair.