Lynne Corbett – Rowling’s Astrological Inspiration

Last week the Daily Mail published some paparazzi photographs of J. K. Rowling entering the River Café in London. This café of course is the setting for Strike’s investigation into Owen Quine’s disappearance in The Silkworm. The Mail’s interest was due to this being a rare public appearance in a well known celebrity haunt, but my interest was drawn to who she was with, and a link to another book – Troubled Blood.

In the acknowledgements to Troubled Blood Rowling states:

to William Leone and Lynne Corbett for inspiration and for checking my calculations;

The friend who accompanied J. K. was Lynne Corbett: fashionista, published astrologer and life coach. Join me after the jump to find out more about her life, and how it intersects with Ms Rowling.

Lynne describes herself as a child in her blog American Baroness:

I grew up in the 1970s in a small, unremarkable suburb outside of Boston. I loved music, I read a lot of books. I read so much and so quickly that I had a special waiver at our public library allowing me to take out as many books as I could carry home.

Bahamas 2018

She portrays herself as overweight with glasses and from a poor but not destitute family, dreaming of getting the money at 14 to allow a 7 day trip to France (she did). Transport suburban Boston to rural Tutshill and the two girls could have been mirrors of each other. The chance for adventure came in her junior year at Boston University where she was studying French Language and Literature offered a year in Grenoble and it was here that she met her future husband William Leone.

After graduating Lynne and William spent a year in Paris where she studied in the Sorbonne for a Masters degree in Medieval Studies. It was here that the friendship with J. K. Rowling began. In the “Tracks of my Years” interview on BBC radio Rowling remembers her with the song Waitress by First Aid Kit:

Rowling’s Birthday 2019

This song in particular reminds me of one of my oldest friends Lynn she and I were in Paris together, we’d never have met otherwise because she’s American. There’s something about our shared nomadic tendencies in this song because it is a song about escape and reinvention. Now I’m very fortunate, I no longer feel the desire to escape or to reinvent myself I am very happy and I have a wonderful family. But I think this is a song about young women feeling displaced and feeling anxious and I think that’s the reason both of us particularly love this track.

Book Tour 2006

It would take a while for both women to find their feet. After working for fashion labels for some years by 1996 William and Lynne, now known as Stella Starsky and Quinn Cox were writing astrological sun readings for teen magazines. At some point they both received training at the London based Faculty of Astrological Studies. Just as Harry Potter was becoming a global phenomenon in 2000 they started writing their book Sextrology, Published in 2004 by Harper Collins this book became a best seller with more than 100,000 copies sold, and much coverage in the worlds press. They have now opened a consultancy – Starsky & Cox that offers consultancy on relationships and astrology.

Grenadines January 2016

Ten years after Sextrology Lynne decided on a change of life direction:

Now, I wanted to focus on a subject about which I’d become passionate: Well-Being. Over the years, I’d been reading about a new branch of social science called “positive psychology”—described as “the science of well-being”. Voilà. I enrolled in a master’s degree program in Applied Positive Psychology and received a Master of Science three years later.

After surgery she was not able to have children of her own, and she now advocates for childless women: Baron-esses, and offers life coaching through positive psychology.

All through their lives Rowling and Corbett have remained close – at the start of the Covid pandemic William and Lynne were stranded in London and unable to fly home the the States. A close friend named Jo organised a private jet to repatriate them.

[Update 07/10/21 – The Hogwarts Professor has astutely noted that this post lacks a conclusion – a fair observation!]

Lynne with Bronte 2019

Jo and Lynne have led strangely parallel lives; From their childhoods in ‘small town’ England/New England, to inventing themselves in the mid 90s, and re-inventing themselves in the early 2010s. I don’t think it is any coincidence that when Rowling was writing Professor Trelawney in The Prisoner of Azkaban, Lynne was just settling in to her first paid astrological job, writing horoscopes for Teen magazine. Rowling has admitted the inspiration of both Lynne and William for Troubled Blood in terms of the astrological calculations and presumably the astrological symbolism. It is also tempting to speculate on the influence of Lynne’s psychological training and practice on the series. I don’t think that Lynne Corbett can be too close an analogue for Robin – her ‘voice’ is very different, based on her blog, but I do think that we may see more use of Robin’s psychological training used as a reaction to trauma. Lynne – in the American Baroness is positive, self empowering, articulate and thoughtful. This I think is something to look out for in the novels to come.

 

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