Tolerance Leads to Greatness

J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling

In the small town of Edinburgh, Scotland, there was a business called Nicholson’s Cafe, which was not well known to anyone besides the locals in the 1990s.

Although Europeans enjoy drinking coffee, Austrian writer Stefan Zweig’s saying highlights the difficulty of the situation: “I am not in a cafe but on the way to the cafe.” It is not coffee drinking that people want so much as having an interesting experience while drinking coffee. Nicholson’s Cafe had attempted to make itself interesting by incorporating the local culture, but this had not brought it a lot of customers, and most of the time, it was always deserted.

However, the cafe did have at least one regular customer. A young mother would often visit this cafe, pushing her child along in a baby carriage.

She always sat down in the corner that faced the street. She would sometimes stare intently, in a thoughtful sort of way, at the scene on the street outside the glass window. Oftentimes she would urgently be recalled back to the real world by the baby’s crying, and would hurriedly rock the stroller to calm her down.

More often, she would pick up a pen and write something quickly on a piece of paper. Whenever she did so, she would hold onto the sheet tightly, as though it was something that could disappear.

Occasionally, the waiter in the cafe would come to her table and ask her what she needed. She would always raise her head in a panic and sometimes order the cheapest cup of coffee, as a way of paying for her seat, even though she was struggling for cash. Due to her finances, she would sometimes simply shake her head while looking nervously at the waiter.

Fortunately, the waiters never showed her any disrespect, which is almost equivalent to asking a guest to leave.

In any case, they always bowed to her with a smile on their faces and then retreated gracefully. The smile made her feel relieved, and she thanked them for their tolerance. She was grateful, too, that they did not judge her by her looks. She was ashamed of what she wore; because she was a single mother supporting herself and her young child on government benefits, she had no money to buy nice clothes.

The winters in Scotland are unbearably cold, and the apartment that she rented reflected that in its temperature. The cafe, on the other hand, was warm during the winter, and it boasted good tables where she could sit and write.

Even when life has gotten difficult, this does not prevent people from having dreams.

Her dream of becoming a published author was finally realized when she was 24 years old. A train from Manchester to London was delayed for 4 hours due to an accident. During that long wait, she stared at the grassland, forest, and blue sky outside the window. Suddenly, the image of a thin, black-haired little boy wearing glasses came into her mind. She had no pen and paper at hand, so she could not write it down. She could only imagine it in her mind.
She always had the urge to write, but life always seemed to be playing tricks on her in order to prevent her from fulfilling that dream. As a very young woman, she had gone to Portugal to work as a teacher. While there, she fell in love with a reporter, got married, and gave birth to a daughter. Then came the divorce. She was left with only the baby and a suitcase full of the fragments of novels she had written, and she saw no choice but to return to her hometown.

The real world had become so dark and cold that she yearned to escape from it; the world that she wrote about became her getaway. In this space constructed entirely from fantasy, she could explore her hopes, dreams, and feelings through her characters.

Thanks to the tolerance of Nicholson’s cafe, she was able to write her novel in peace. Doubtlessly the fact that her brother-in-law was one of the owners of this cafe encouraged them to be understanding; however, she was still grateful for the waiters’ respectful attitude. They were kind to everyone, and all customers, rich and poor alike, could bask in the peace and quiet.

After five years of work, the novel was finally completed; the dream of a woman in poverty has quietly spread its wings.

What happened next took her completely by surprise. After the usual difficulties, her book was published and then quickly became popular all over the world. In just a few years, her works were translated into more than 60 languages and sold more than 200 million copies. She became a billionaire in the blink of an eye.

She is J.K. Rowling, the author of Harry Potter.

Although Rowling wrote about Harry Potter in many of the cafes in Edinburgh in her early years, Nicholson’s Cafe was her favorite place to work on the first Harry Potter book. Now the small town of Edinburgh where Rowling lives has lost its tranquility. Thousands of Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling fans have come here to seek inspiration.

Sadly, Café Nicholson has since been replaced by other restaurants, but its story -how its tolerance of a poor patron led to such a great literary contribution- lives on.

A warm smile or a tolerant heart is a kind of encouragement to those who are dealing with poverty or adversity. As long as you don’t lose your dreams, everything can change.

The original Chinese article is from


在蘇格蘭的愛丁堡小鎮上,有一家叫做尼科爾森的咖啡館 (Nicolson’s Cafe),在上世紀90年代它一直默默無聞。

















一部歷時5年的小說,終於完成了; 一個身處貧困之中的女人的夢想也悄悄地展開了翅膀。


她就是《哈利•波特》(Harry Potter) 的作者--羅琳 (J.K. Rowling)。


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