In British slang, a "prang" is a minor motor vehicle collision.

According to the answer to the question What happens if Knight Bus is involved in a collision?, it's impossible for the Knight Bus, so Ernie's surname is a sort of an irony.

It's been said that Rowling took great care in the selection of character names, so there must be some sort of joke underlying this one. What did she have/could she have had in mind?

  • 2
    I mean like lots of names have that stuff like you said
    – bleh
    Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 2:14
  • 1
    We read how Ernie drives the Night Bus in a way that seems reckless (at least to us). We learn that his last name is Prang, which means to wreck a vehicle (a car, or in RAF slang a plane). As far as I know, Prang is not a common surname. How can this not be an intentional joke?
    – Blackwood
    Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 3:59

1 Answer 1



Ernie Prang and Stan Shunpike, the driver and conductor of the Knight Bus, were named after J. K. Rowling's grandfathers, Ernest Arthur Rowling and Stanley George Volant, respectively.1 Ernie's last name is a play on words, as "prang" is English slang meaning "to wreck an automobile". ernie prang

Sadly this info seems to be from a dead article on pottermore, looking for an actual interview to support.

  1. Ernest Arthur ROWLING was born on 9 July 1916 in Walthamstow, Essex, England and died about 1980 in Newport, Wales.
  2. Stanley George VOLANT was born on 23 June 1909 in St. Marylebone, London, England. rowling family

Shunpike -

a side road used to avoid the toll on or the speed and traffic of a superhighway shunpiker play -ˌpī-kər\ noun



(1) Originally to write off a car through crashing, the term developed in the U.K to mean (2) 'feeling' like a car wreck, specifically mental disassociation through drug (particularly crack, coke and skunk) over-use inducing severe fatigue, unsteadiness, derangement or paranoia. This has evolved to (3) signify any non-specific type of severe fatigue, unsteadiness or apprehension.


So we have both drivers with the names of her grandparents, and both lastnames obvious slang names for some driving related incident.

Thanks to Jason

The driver and conductor of the Knight Bus in ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ are named after my two grandfathers, Ernest and Stanley.



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