Books

Law firm apologizes for outing J.K. Rowling as author of mystery novel

July 18, 2013 at 3:58 PM ET

A British law firm has apologized for inadvertently leaking that "Harry Potter'' author J.K. Rowling is the real author of a mystery novel published in April under a pseudonym.
CARLO ALLEGRI / Reuters
A British law firm has apologized for inadvertently leaking that "Harry Potter'' author J.K. Rowling is the real author of a mystery novel published in April under a pseudonym.

A British law firm admitted Thursday that one of its partners was inadvertently responsible for the leak that revealed J.K. Rowling authored the mystery novel “The Cuckoo’s Calling” under a male pseudonym.

The law firm, Russells, apologized in a statement to the Harry Potter author on Thursday for its accidental role in revealing that she was the book's real writer, which was reported by The Sunday Times of London last weekend. The paper reported that it was tipped off to the story via a tweet, and sales of the book mushroomed once it came out that Rowling was the author.

Written under the name “Robert Galbraith,” the novel received positive reviews, but had only sold a few hundred copies since its release on April 30 before the revelation that it was written by Rowling. Since then, it has rocketed to No. 1 on the bestseller lists of Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and Publisher Little, Brown and Company has ordered a printing of 300,000 more copies.

In its statement, Russells reveals that the inadvertent disclosure occurred when one of its partners, Chris Gossage, revealed during a private conversation with his wife’s best friend, Judith Callegari, that Galbraith was a pseudonym for Rowling.

Callegari ultimately led to the leak, after a tweet from her account was sent to the Sunday Times that read, "Galbraith is Rowling." The paper then hired a language expert to get to the bottom of the mystery, who determined the writing in the book matched Rowling's other work. When contacted by the newspaper, Rowling confessed she was the real author, saying, "I hoped to keep this secret a little longer. It's been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation."

Callegari’s Twitter account has since been deleted.

J.K. Rowling's new book, "The Cuckoo's Calling," was written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith and has shot to No. 1 on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble best-seller lists since it was revealed Rowling is the real author.
ANDY RAIN / EPA
J.K. Rowling's new book, "The Cuckoo's Calling," was written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith and has shot to No. 1 on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble best-seller lists since it was revealed Rowling is the real author.

“Whilst accepting his own culpability, the disclosure was made in confidence to someone he trusted implicitly,’’ reads the Russells statement, provided to TODAY.com. “On becoming aware of the circumstances, we immediately notified J.K. Rowling’s agent. We can confirm that this leak was not part of any marketing plan and that neither J.K. Rowling, her agent nor publishers were in any way involved.”

“The Cuckoo’s Calling” is Rowling’s second foray into writing novels for adults, following last year’s “The Casual Vacancy,” which sold one million copies, and was published under her own name.

After the revelation came to light, Rowling expressed anger that she had been exposed.

“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,’’ she told The Associated Press. “To say that I am disappointed is an understatement. I had 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."

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