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Nicolas Flamel ~ A Real-Life Harry Potter

Updated on July 31, 2011
Nicolas Flamel
Nicolas Flamel | Source

It is thought that JK Rowling was inspired for her Harry Potter characters from the real-life alchemist, Nicolas Flamel. Rowling mentions Flamel in her first book, “The Sorcerer’s Stone” claiming that Albus Dumbledore partnered with Nicolas Flamel in his youth, so it’s not such an outlandish supposition that Rowling studied Nicolas Flamel’s life while researching her books.

Flamel worked as a bookseller in Paris during most of his adult life. Through this he was able to read and to write while on the job. He owned a small seller’s stall near the Cathedral of Saint-Jacques la Boucherie. From this location he and his assistants copied and illustrated books. Flamel reported that during a dream he was visited by an angel (a winged creature). The angel showed him a beautiful book and said to him, “Look well at this book, Nicholas. At first you will understand nothing in it – neither you nor any other man, but one day you will see in it that which no other man will be able to see.”

As Flamel was about to take the book from the angel, he awoke from his dream. Soon afterwards a stranger approached him in his shop with a book he was desperate to sell. Flamel immediately recognized the cooper-covered book from his dream and bought it. The cover was engraved with strange diagrams and words that he did not recognize as French, but believed them to be Greek. Nicolas was able to understand from deciphering the first few bark pages that it had been written by a man named “Abraham the Jew,” who was a prince, priest, Levite, astrologer and philosopher.

Familiar with the terms alchemist used through his trade as a books seller, Flamel was able to understand that the book contained valuable information, as the secrets of nature and life itself. For the following 21 years this book became Flamel’s obsession.

Flamel traveled to Spain in an attempt to find someone who could help him translate the Jewish text of the book. He finally found an elderly, Maestro Canches who was willing to assist him. They were able to translate the first few pages that Flamel had scribed and brought with him, but Canches died before he could see the entire book. However, the translations that were done were enough for Flamel to figure out much of the remainder of the book himself. Three years later, after the entire book had been translated, Flamel was able to perform some of the feats described in the book.

Flamel claimed that he was able to perform transmutation-transforming mercury into gold!

Since this was such an outlandish claim, most of his contemporaries disbelieved it. However, inexplicably, Flamel became a very wealthy man! Records show that he became so wealthy that he built housing for the poor, established free hospitals, and made generous donations to local churches. None of his new wealth was used to benefit himself or his family.

Some burial records indicate that Nicolas Flamel died in 1417, but after he was gone, no trace of his book, or the materials he used for transference were ever found. Some say he showed up again much later, but his identity has never been verified.

Text was found in France in the late 1750s allegedly written in Flamels handwriting. It was published in London in 1806. The original document was written in a coded alphabet consisting of 96 letters. Flamel wrote this text without telling anyone about it save for his nephew, Father Pernetti. Pernetti and a Monsieur de Saint Marc were finally able to break the code in 1758. Keep in mind that Nicolas Flamel was born in 1330 , , ,


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    • Christine B. profile image

      Christine B. 5 years ago from Medina, Ohio

      Thanks, Lizzy... It was fun researching it and I love the idea of Harry Potter being a real person! :o)

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Fascinating, indeed.....thanks for bringing this to light. It is always interesting to understand an author's inspiration..

      Voted up, interesting and awesome.

    • Christine B. profile image

      Christine B. 6 years ago from Medina, Ohio

      Thanks, Eiddwen... I hope you have time to read more of my "musings."

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

      Very interesting and I vote up accordingly

      Take care


    • Christine B. profile image

      Christine B. 6 years ago from Medina, Ohio

      Thanks, Kristen... I hope you have time to read more of my articles... lots of unusual information here! :o)

    • K. Burns Darling profile image

      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      Some of my friends and family members refer to me as "the Queen of Useless Information." Useless to them perhaps, but interesting and thought provoking to me. This hub is right up my alley, the story of a little less known, slightly obscure and very interesting person. Nicely written hub about someone I didn't know about, and am now inspired to learn more about. What a nice way to start a Sunday morning! Thank you for sharing. Voted up, useful, interesting.