The Sunday Times, 14th July 2013, Front Page Headline:
Whodunnit? JK Rowling's secret life as wizard crime writer revealed
Richard Brooks, Arts Editor
JK ROWLING has secured another literary coup by writing an acclaimed detective novel in the guise of a first-time author.
The Harry Potter creator, purporting to be Robert Galbraith, a former military man, won plaudits from top crime writers who read the book without knowing she was behind it.
The Cuckoo's Calling, which features a war veteran turned private investigator called Cormoran Strike, was published to critical acclaim in April. One reviewer described it as "a scintillating debut". Another praised the "male" author's ability to describe women's clothes.
Rowling's authorship was revealed by The Sunday Times after it investigated how a first-time author "with a background in the army and the civilian security industry" could write such an assured debut novel. It has sold more than 1,500 copies in hardback.
Rowling said yesterday: "I had hoped to keep this secret a little longer because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience. It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation, and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name."
The clues that pointed to Rowling's authorship include the fact that she and "Galbraith" share an agent and editor. The book was published by Sphere, part of Little, Brown, which published The Casual Vacancy, Rowling's novel for adults, last year. The book's style and subject matter bore similarities to her other works.
The Sunday Times, 14th July 2013, Feature:
JK Rowling, the cuckoo in crime novel nest
The Harry Potter writer has been unmasked as the author of an acclaimed detective tale
Richard Brooks and Cal Flyn
IT WAS a remarkable first novel, and the critics were lavish in their praise. Robert Galbraith's detective story The Cuckoo's Calling had marked him out as a writer to watch.
The book reminded the crime writer Val McDermid of "why I fell in love with crime fiction in the first place". On the novel's back cover, Mark Billingham, another crime writer, described its central character, Cormoran Strike, a private eye, as "one of the most unique and compelling detectives I've come across in years".
The publisher's website claimed Galbraith was a pseudonym for a former plainclothes Royal Military Police investigator who had left in 2003 to work in the civilian security industry.
In fact, none of that was true. The author is JK Rowling, writer of the bestselling Harry Potter series of children's books. With The Cuckoo's Calling, Rowling, who published a successful adults' book, The Casual Vacancy, last autumn, had pulled off another coup: she had switched genres, written a book anonymously and produced yet another hit.
Rowling was rumbled three months after the book was published and admitted that she had enjoyed the anonymity. "I had hoped to keep this secret a little longer because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience", she said yesterday.
Rowling spoke of how the pressure on her had grown before the publication of each Harry Potter book and then with The Casual Vacancy, her first non-Potter novel.
"It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation, and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name", she said.
Her editor, David Shelley, had been "a true partner in crime", she said.
The novel tells the story of Strike, a war veteran turned private eye, who investigates the death of a model who falls from a snow-covered balcony in Mayfair.
Rowling has mentioned her interest in detective books in the past, singling out the work of Dorothy L Sayers, creator of the aristocratic sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey.
For literary gumshoes, however, there were many other clues to her authorship of The Cuckoo's Calling. She and Galbraith have the same agent, Neil Blair of the Blair Partnership. And the novel is published by Sphere, an imprint of Little, Brown, which published The Casual Vacancy. However, her first adult novel had mixed reviews – not as uniformly good as those for The Cuckoo's Calling.
There were other clues too. Shelley, Galbraith's editor at Sphere, oversaw The Casual Vacancy. As Little, Brown's publisher, he is the company's most senior editorial figure and it is unlikely he would look after an unknown first-time writer.
Rowling's success is that nobody knew – until today – that she was the author of The Cuckoo's Calling, and so it is not the name that has prompted gushing reviews and healthy hardback sales.
Another successful crime writer, Peter James, said: "I thought it was by a very mature writer, and not a first-timer."
Some online comments noted how good the "male" author was at describing women's clothes and people's looks. One tweet said, insightfully, that the book must be by a female writer who had been published before.
Two independent computer linguistic experts, Peter Millican from Oxford University and Patrick Juola from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh in the US, were commissioned to run the last Harry Potter novel and The Casual Vacancy, plus The Cuckoo's Calling, along with two other detective books, through their specialist textual analysis programs.
Neither expert knew Rowling and Galbraith were the same person, but both came back pointing to considerable similarities in phrases and styles.
"It was striking that The Cuckoo's Calling came out significantly closer to A Casual Vacancy and even Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows than the other books", said Millican.
In broadcast interviews a few years ago with Stephen Fry and Jeremy Paxman, Rowling said she would much prefer to write any books after Harry Potter under a pseudonym.
The second Cormoran Strike book, which is understood to have been written already, will be published next year – again under the name of Robert Galbraith. This time we will know who he is.