How Harry Potter Forced J.K. Rowling to Become Robert Galbraith

John Phillips / Getty Images
John Phillips / Getty Images / John Phillips / Getty Images

Fans of the Harry Potter series all know who J.K. Rowling is, but they might not be as familiar with Robert Galbraith, the pseudonym under which Rowling has published multiple successful books. Although the acclaimed author had originally chosen to go the pen name route in order to keep her identity a secret, just months after The Cuckoo’s Calling was published under the Galbraith moniker in 2013, the truth came out. But why even use a different name to begin with? Rowling has a full explanation.

During a 2015 interview with NPR, Rowling said that her fame forced her to think outside the box with her new non-Wizarding series. Before explaining the new identity, Rowling was sure to clarify how grateful she was for Harry Potter and his world, saying, “The relationship I had with those readers, and still have with those readers, is so valuable to me.”

"Having said that," Rowling continued, "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."

On Rowling’s official Robert Galbraith website, the author explained how she chose the pseudonym, saying that Robert F. Kennedy was her hero, and that growing up, she always wanted her name to be "Ella Galbraith." After The Cuckoo’s Calling, Rowling (as Galbraith) went on to publish The Silkworm (2014), Career of Evil (2015), and Lethal White (2018), with all four books being part of her Cormoran Strike series.