Three books, one author, a tweet, and a journalist: How J. K. Rowling was uncovered as the author of “The Cuckoo’s Calling”

The Cuckoo's Calling

The Cuckoo’s Calling

The New York Times has published an interesting article explaining how J. K. Rowling was unmasked as the author of The Cuckoo’s Calling.

The newly released crime novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling, was believed to be written by ex British Army officer Robert Galbraith until yesterday, when the Sunday Times broke a story that is arguably one of the greatest literary cover-ups ever and a mystery that’s as intriguing as a detective story.

The New York Times reports that it was an anonymous Twitter tip that sparked the investigation. On Thursday, Richard Brooks, the Sunday Times‘s art’s editor noticed a Twitter conversation between one of his colleagues and an anonymous account. The colleague posted a tweet about how she loved The Cuckoo’s Calling, and that it did not seem as if it was a debut novel.

An anonymous person tweeted back at her saying that it was not a first-time novel, and that it was written by J.K. Rowling. When Brooks’ colleague tweeted back asking how this anonymous person knew, they replied, “I just know”, and then proceeded to delete all of their tweets and closed down the account. There is no trace of this person.

It was then that Brooks decided to take matters into his own hands. He didn’t want to alert Rowling’s people just yet, for fear of having the story leaked by a competitor, so he took to the Internet to do some Internet sleuthing.

While investigating, Brooks discovered a number of similarities between The Cuckoo’s Calling and J. K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, published last year: both books are represented by the same agency, The Blair Partnership. They are both published by Little, Brown, and also share the same editor, David Shelley. Brooks thought it seemed odd that the editor, David Shelley, “would be in charge of both someone as important as J. K. Rowling, and someone as seemingly unimportant as Robert Galbraith.”

He then sent three of Rowling’s books – The Cuckoo’s CallingThe Casual Vacancyand Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to a pair of linguistic experts, “who found significant similarities among them.”

Acting on this evidence, Brooks sent an email to a Rowling representative, who, on Saturday morning, emailed back that Rowling had decided that it was time to “‘fess up. Rowling announced that she was Galbraith with the following statement:

“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 upside of being rumbled is that I can publicly thank my editor David Shelley, who has been a true partner in crime, all those people at Little, Brown who have been working so hard on The Cuckoo’s Calling without realizing that I wrote it, and the writers and reviewers, both in the newspapers and online, who have been so generous to the novel.

“And to those who have asked for a sequel, Robert fully intends to keep writing the series, although he will probably continue to turn down personal appearances.”

According to the New York Times article, Nicky Stonehill, a publicist for the author, said on Sunday that Mr. Galbraith and Ms. Rowling were indeed one and the same. “We can confirm it,” she said, “but we are not making any further statement.”


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