Guest Post: Crimes of Grindelwald, Locks of Love, and Nicolas Flamel

A Guest Post from Oxford’s Beatrice Groves, author of Literary Allusion in Harry Potterabout the lock with Nicolas Flamel’s initials that can be found on the Crimes of Grindelwald screenplay cover. Enjoy!

When MinaLima’s new cover art for The Crimes of Grindelwald dropped on Pottermore at the end of May, the write-up stressed the Parisian nature of its design.

Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima spoke to Pottermore about the creative process behind the heavily detailed cover, and how important it was to portray France in their designs.

‘The Art Nouveau aesthetic is so strong in this film… So while there are Easter eggs and hidden gems in here, they’re all knitted in with these swirls and flourishes that really follow that traditional aesthetic.[1]

Paris is going to be an important setting for Crimes of Grindelwald – and the Eiffel Tower (central to the cover design) has been shown on a postcard in a previous photo drop. But I was interested how strongly Paris was stressed in the Pottermore write-up of the cover given that other than the Eiffel Tower and general Art Nouveau aesthetic, there is nothing else obviously Parisian about it. So, is there a Parisian Easter egg perhaps?

            Five objects stand out as breaking the symmetry of the image – the Dark Mark-style skull at the top, the quill-knot-lock above the title, and the trio of a pendant, a stone in a display case and a ‘NF’ locket below it. Let’s take a look at that stone and locket for a possible Paris connection.

The stone looks like it could be the Philosopher’s Stone – which, at the time this story was set in Harry Potter canon, was in the possession of Nicholas Flamel. We know Flamel will appear in this film, so perhaps the ‘NF’ on the locket also refer to him. Flamel is a real historical figure (reputed, due to his great wealth, to have discovered the secret of the Philosopher’s Stone) who lived in Paris. Indeed ‘Nicholas Flamel’s House’ standing in the Rue de Montemercy and built in 1407 is Paris’s oldest house and is decorated with his initials: N and F.

 When Rowling lived in Paris as an undergraduate it seems likely that she became aware of Flamel – either from seeing his house or, perhaps, his gravestone which is also in Paris (and was recently displayed in the British Library Harry Potter and the History of Magic exhibition). Flamel’s gravestone is now in the Cluny Museum; and in a nice touch the designers in the film of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone used the most famous holding of the Cluny Museum – the tapestries of the Lady and the Unicorn – to decorate the Gryffindor Common Room. 

But there is also another possible Parisian reference for this ‘NF’ padlock.

For Paris has a slightly surprising problem with padlocks.

Paris, as the city of love, has become ‘the’ place to express your love by writing your initials, and those of your loved one, on a padlock locked to the Pont des Arts and then throwing the key symbolically into the waters of the Seine running below, symbolising that you and your beloved will never be parted.

One Parisian official recently noted:

“This trend imposes itself on the affected cities, and ironically, in the city most affected – Paris – the locals think a lock as a symbol of love is barbaric.”[2]

At its height there were over 1 million padlocks on the Pont des Arts, weighing over 45 tonnes. The toll on the bridge was such that the sides collapsed due to the weight of padlocks and in 2015 these ‘love locks’ began to be systematically removed.

This padlock could still reference Nicolas Flamel – maybe Newt’s love-life is already complicated enough with Leta and Tina without adding a mysterious ‘F’ – but here’s hoping that this is a Parisian ‘love lock’ rather than just any old padlock.

[John note: The Fantastic Beasts twitter account shared this picture on the left from the film set on 27 October 2017. It doesn’t seem to be on a bridge — but there is a Paris padlock connection. You can find and read Prof. Groves’ literary allusion posts on at the Bathilda’s Notebook page and can follow her daily thoughts on twitter.





  1. Hi. I know this might not be the better place to ask : I love your posts, John Granger, and I want to read your books upon Harry Potter. Which one should I begin with ?
    Thank you very much !

  2. There’s the more obvious mythological connection since Paris — the man — factors pretty heavily into the Achilles mythos, being of course the one who shot him.

  3. I want to read your books upon Harry Potter. Which one should I begin with?

    How Harry Cast His Spell, then Deathly Hallows Lectures, then Harry Potter’s Bookshelf, then Ring Composition.

    GilderJohn, in haste

  4. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    My Flamelology is woefully weak! A quick trip to the Internet Archive finds scans of Testament of Nicholas Flamel (London: J. & E. Hodson, 1806) and Nicholas Flammel : His Exposition of the Hieroglyphical Figures which he caused to be painted upon an Arch in St. Innocents Church Yard in Paris : Concerning both the Theory and Practice of the Philosophers Stone – with a Preface by W.W. Westcott (of Golden Dawn fame) dated November 1889, and apparently a reprint of a translation “printed at London by T.S. for Thomas Walsley, at the Eagle and Child in Britans Bursse. 1624.” So, these, anyway, would have been available to Newt, or any other Wizard, should they have recourse to Muggle publications.

  5. Did anyone else’s heart flutter at that ‘Eagle and Child’ reference?

  6. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    Dear John,

    Mine did! A little further searching around finds (1) A king and no king Acted at the Globe, by his Maiesties Seruants. Written by Francis Beamount, and Iohn Flecher. At London: Printed [by John Beale] for Thomas Walkley, and are to bee sold at his shoppe at the Eagle and Childe in Brittans-Bursse, 1619; (2) The tragœdy of Othello, the Moore of Venice. Printed by N.O. [Nicholas Okes] for Thomas Walkley and are to be fold and his fhop, at the Eagle and Child, in Brittans Burffe. 1622 [the first edition!]. (My apologies for using f for long s!) And, he even has his own Wikipedia article, “Thomas Walkley”, noting lots of other things he published, and that after becoming “a ‘freedman’ (a full member) of the Stationers Company on 19 January 1618” his shop “was located first at the sign of the Eagle and Child in Britain’s Burse, until about 1630”. It’s the sort of thing Lewis and Williams, and who knows how many of the Inklings, might well have known… and been tickled by! (But I blush to say, having studied with Gwynne Evans, Herschel Baker, William Bond, and Dame Helen Gardner, it was new to me!)

    Perhaps someone should found a New Eagle and Child Press!

    Meanwhile, I find the sort of people Newt was meeting in Paris could have known Albert Poisson’s Histoire de l’alchimie, XIVme siècle : Nicolas Flamel, sa vie, ses fondations, ses oeuvres, suivi de la réimpression du Livre des figures hiéroglyphiques et de la lettre de Dom Pernety à l’Abbé Villain (1893), though young Albert Poisson himself had died at 24 around the time it appeared.

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