Tuesday 24 April 2018

Law firm in Rowling's bad books after leaking pseudonym

JK Rowling: angry over slip
JK Rowling: angry over slip

Jill Lawless in London

The mystery has been solved.

A UK law firm admitted yesterday that one of its partners inadvertently revealed that JK Rowling had authored the mystery novel, 'The Cuckoo's Calling'.

'The Sunday Times' newspaper revealed last weekend that the 'Harry Potter' author had penned the book under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

The newspaper said it had received a tip-off on Twitter, and there was speculation that Rowling or her publisher were behind the revelation – which has sent sales of the thriller skyrocketing.

But law firm Russells said yesterday that one of its partners, Chris Gossage, had let the information slip to his wife's best friend, Judith Callegari – the woman behind the tweet. Her Twitter account has now been deleted.

A phone message left for Ms Callegari was not immediately returned.

Russells said in a statement that "we apologise unreservedly" to Rowling. It said that while Mr Gossage was culpable, "the disclosure was made in confidence to someone he trusted implicitly".

Russells, a specialist in entertainment law, said it had informed Rowling and her agent once it learned what had happened.

"We can confirm that this leak was not part of any marketing plan and that neither JK Rowling, her agent, nor publishers were in any way involved," the statement said.


'The Cuckoo's Calling' had garnered good reviews but sold in the hundreds since being published in April, ostensibly as the first novel of a former soldier. Since Rowling was outed as the author, it has topped bestseller lists.

The Sunday Times followed up its tip-off by asking language experts to compare the style of 'The Cuckoo's Calling' to work by Rowling and leading crime writers. Patrick Juoma, a computer science academic at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, in the US, used specialist style-comparison software to identify Rowling as the likely author.

Rowling said that "only a tiny number of people knew my pseudonym and it has not been pleasant to wonder for days how a woman whom I had never heard of prior to Sunday night could have found out something that many of my oldest friends did not know".

"I assumed that I could expect total confidentiality from Russells, a reputable professional firm, and I feel very angry that my trust turned out to be misplaced," said Rowling.

Irish Independent

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