Tutshill villagers deny inspiring JK Rowling's new book
Being the inspiration for a book by one of the world's most famous authors would be a dream come true for many – but not for the people of Tutshill.
JK Rowling grew up in the Gloucestershire village, across the River Wye from Chepstow, and said she had drawn on her youth when writing her first novel for adults, The Casual Vacancy.
The tale of snobbery and parish council politics is set in a fictional village of Pagford, but residents of Tutshill have not embraced the portrayal of a community divided by petty provincial politics, saying any resemblance between their community and Pagford is as much a fantasy as the Harry Potter children's books which earned the author a fortune.
Debbie McCarty, president of Tutshill Women's Institute, has lived in the village for 30 years and her daughters also attended Wyedean School.
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"I've never experienced class division within the normal community here. This is a really nice community where people care very much about the area they live in and people work hard to keep it a nice and safe place to live," she said.
In interviews printed in national newspapers at the weekend, ahead of Thursday's publication of the book, one of the most eagerly awaited follow-ups in modern publishing, Ms Rowling shared details of an unhappy childhood in the area, where she lived with her family in Grade II-listed Church Cottage for nine years.
She told The Guardian: "This was very much me vividly remembering what it was like to be a teenager, and it wasn't a particularly happy time in my life. In fact, you couldn't give me anything to make me go back to being a teenager. Never. No, I hated it."
It is a period of her past that has not been as well documented as that which saw the writer getting by on benefits as single mother in Edinburgh, but one that has had more than a little bearing on her later life, especially her understanding of the middle classes, which she says she has 'put under the microscope'.
"We are a nominally snobby society and it is such a rich seam. The middle class is so funny. It is the class I know best and it's the class where you find the most pretension," she said.
And while Gloucester Cathedral has become famous as the location for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Tutshill – which had a quidditch team, the Tutshill Tornadoes named after it – has been barred from capitalising on it's place in the Potter pantheon.
The Casual Vacancy centres on an us-and-them battle within a parish council split by snobbery, pomposity and deep secrets.
But a member of Tidenham Parish Council, which includes Tutshill described them as a "tolerant" bunch.
"There's no 'us and them'. There are a range of ages and views in the council but we all get on extremely well," he said.