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The Secrets Behind Pop Culture's Most Mysterious Pseudonyms
J. K. Rowling, Stephen King and other covert authors

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The anonymity was fun while it lasted. A little over three months ago, a new crime writer debuted with a new novel about a new detective. The book did quiet business and picked up some decent reviews… until the revelation that it was really by a rather successful former children’s author kicked it aggressively up the bestseller lists. If you’ve missed the story so far, we’ve included it below, along with those of ten other famous authors who chose, for various reasons, to be other people for a while.

WORDS OWEN WILLIAMS
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The Secrets Behind Pop Culture's Most Mysterious Pseudonyms | J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling

Pseudonym: Robert Galbraith

You may have heard of Jo Rowling: she wrote a series of books about a boy wizard called ‘Harry Potter’. Following that multi-billion dollar juggernaut, Rowling published the small-town drama The Casual Vacancy, which did perfectly well, but unsurprisingly attracted huge critical attention as her first non-Potter work. So as an experiment, and a way to sidestep that weight of expectation, Rowling published the recent The Cuckoo’s Calling – a mystery novel intended as the first in a new series about detective Cormoran Strike – under the pen-name ‘Robert Galbraith’.

Gratifyingly for the author, it was well-reviewed: hailed by more than one source as the arrival of an exciting new talent. Less gratifyingly, it shifted only 1500 copies in its three months of anonymity (which, depressingly, is actually pretty good for a hardcover by an unknown author). Still, Galbraith would probably have continued unrumbled for at least another book, if not for a loudmouth among Rowling’s solicitors and an eagle-eyed Times journalist. But since Galbraith shared both Rowling’s publisher and editor, someone was bound to twig at some point.

 

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