Why Harry Potter’s Success Forced J.K. Rowling to Create a Pseudonym

Bringing life to Harry Potter put too much pressure on J.K. Rowling and led her to write under a pseudonym. 

That’s what the author of the famed series said about writing books as Robert Galbraith. Learn why Rowling disguised herself in her writings ahead. 

Why J.K. Rowling created a pseudonym

In an interview with NPR, the best-selling author explained why she made the decision to publish books under another name. 

Before she spoke about why she chose to conceal her identity in her writing, Rowling explained how much Harry Potter meant to her. 

“I am so grateful for what happened with Harry Potter, and that needs to be said. The relationship I had with those readers, and still have with those readers, is so valuable to me,” Rowling told NPR.

J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling attends the 70th EE British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) at Royal Albert Hall on February 12, 2017, in London, England. | John Phillips/Getty Images

Then she told the outlet how she wanted her work to speak for itself without her name, and thus, the pressure of following in the shadow of her Harry Potter series. 

“Having said that, there was a phenomenal amount of pressure that went with being the writer of Harry Potter, and that aspect of publishing those books I do not particularly miss. So you can probably understand the appeal of going away and creating something very different, and just letting it stand or fall on its own merits,” she said. 

J.K. Rowling’s published works as Robert Galbraith

Rowling published her first book, The Cuckoo’s Calling, as Galbraith in 2013. A mystery novel following private investigator Cormoran Strike, the supposed first-time author received rave reviews from fans and critics alike for his debut novel. 

“Robert Galbraith has written a highly entertaining book…Even better, he has introduced an appealing protagonist in Strike, who’s sure to be the star of many sequels to come,” read a review of The Cuckoo’s Calling in The New York Times.

Since 2013, the novel has indeed spawned a series. What’s referred to as the Strike Series, Rowling as Galbraith has written three additional novels, the most recent published in September of 2018. 

Below is a list of all the books in the series:

  1. The Cuckoo’s Calling
  2. The Silkworm
  3. Career of Evil
  4. Lethal White

How J.K. Rowling’s secret identity leaked

But Rowling’s identity didn’t stay concealed for very long after Galbraith’s debut novel became available. 

“There is no sign that this is Galbraith’s first novel,” a review of the book in the Daily Mail said, hinting there might be more to the author than meets the eye. 

Who revealed J.K. Rowling as Robert Galbraith? 

Rowling admitted in an interview she thought BBC initially exposed Galbraith’s true identity. But that wasn’t the case. A partner at a law firm told his wife’s best friend who then revealed the truth to a reporter at the Sunday Times, a publication in London. 

'The Cuckoo's Calling' cover
The Cuckoo’s Calling | Amazon

Rowling’s identity leaked after The Cuckoo’s Calling was published.  

“I was a bit unlucky the way it happened,” Rowling told Graham Norton of BBC Radio 2. “My ambition was to try and get three [novels] out without being unmasked,” she added. 

Rowling then recalled how she felt after being outed as Galbraith. 

“When it leaked initially, for about four horrible days actually, we didn’t know how it had leaked because so few people knew the secret,” she told Norton.

Her identity aside, the books have become a huge success. BBC developed a TV program based on the novels. 

CB Strike official trailer | Cinemax via YouTube

She has no intention of stopping soon, she told Norton she’d like to write 10 books in the Strike Series and already has ideas for the next two books. So, look out for more from Galbraith aka Rowling in the future.