JK Rowling or Robert Galbraith? How ‘Troubled Blood’ pen name led to anti-gay psychiatrist, transphobia and trolls

The ‘Harry Potter’ author just released another book titled ‘Troubled Blood’ and drew much criticism for its transphobic plotline

                            JK Rowling or Robert Galbraith? How ‘Troubled Blood’ pen name led to anti-gay psychiatrist, transphobia and trolls
JK Rowling (Getty Images)

JK Rowling played with our minds when she twisted Tom Marvolo Riddle into a sobriquet named Voldemort. Is she doing the same in real life? The author snuck a safe spot into millions of hearts with her ‘Harry Potter’ series but now she seems to have dived right out. Well, she just released another book, titled ‘Troubled Blood’, and drew much criticism for its transphobic plotline.

According to a review published in The Telegraph, the fifth installment in the ‘Cormoran Strike’ detective series centers on the disappearance of a woman “thought to have been a victim of Dennis Creed, a transvestite serial killer” — based on a man who wears women's clothes. Critic Jake Kerridge wrote in his review: “One wonders what critics of Rowling’s stance on trans issues will make of a book whose moral seems to be: never trust a man in a dress,” and soon the hashtag #RIPJKRowling started trending on Twitter.

The controversy comes on the heels of her anti-trans tweets that sparked much trouble earlier. Interestingly, this is not her first trans character in a book. Earlier, one of her trans characters was presented as “unstable and aggressive” in the series’ second novel ‘The Silkwork’. Now, her pen name, Robert Galbraith, is also a part of the tweetstorm as several Internet users wonder what pronouns does she use for her alias. Here's a look at how she got that name. 

Harry Potter author JK Rowling (Getty Images)

Who is Robert Galbraith?

Born on 31 July 1965 in Yate, Gloucestershire, she often wrote fantasy stories as a child and penned down the books when the idea of a young boy attending a school of wizardry hit her on a four-hour-delayed train trip from Manchester to London. At that time, JK Rowling was just known as Joanne Rowling. When she gave the finished manuscript to her publishers, they thought young boys wouldn't want to read a book written by a woman and wanted her to use two initials instead of her full name. She then picked K (for Kathleen) as the second initial of her pen name, from her paternal grandmother.

Rowling is also lovingly called as Jo by her friends and family members. Moreover, she also uses the name Joanne Murray when conducting personal business after her marriage to Neil Murray in 2001. However, the most interesting name is her alias Robert Galbraith!

In April 2013, ‘The Cuckoo's Calling’ was released and thought to be the debut novel of author Robert Galbraith, described as “a former plainclothes Royal Military Police investigator who had left in 2003 to work in the civilian security industry.” The book soon drew much acclaim and it was a Twitter conversation that revealed the author was none other than Rowling herself. 

Novelist and columnist India Knight said she was surprised that ‘The Cuckoo's Calling’ was quite good for a debut novel. Soon, a Twitter user named Jude Callegari said the author was Rowling. Upon further investigation, the books were sent for he sent the books for linguistic analysis and there were several similarities found. The sales skyrocketed after the discovery. Later, Rowling confessed she had enjoyed working under a pseudonym and confessed she took inspiration for the name from Robert . Kennedy and a childhood fantasy name she had invented for herself, Ella Galbraith. Since then, Rowling has published many crime fiction novels under that name.

J. K. Rowling attends the press preview of "Harry Potter & The Cursed Child" at Palace Theatre on July 30, 2016 in London, England. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, is a two-part West End stage play written by Jack Thorne based on an original new story by Thorne, J.K. Rowling and John Tiffany.

What is the pronoun for Robert Galbraith?

Now, as the new controversy grew, many Twitter users dragged Galbraith's name into it. "...I have to say, the irony here is rich: Basically JK Rowling is posing as a man (Robert Galbraith) to write a novel about a man who poses as a woman to kill people. PROJECTING MUCH?!?!" one tweet read and another said, "The fact that JK Rowling's new transphobic book about a crossdressing murderer is still written under her pen-name, Robert Galbraith, which was named after a doctor who experimented on gay people.... like she is just really going all in on this one."

One even went on to say: "Wait... JK Rowling's pen-name for her new book is "Robert Galbraith". Is she trolling?" Another Twitter user tweeted: "What pronouns does one use for JK Rowling when writing as Robert Galbraith? Anyone know?" 





In fact, many started linking her pen name to psychiatrist Robert Galbraith Heath who experimented with gay conversion therapy, and claimed to have successfully converted a homosexual patient, labeled in his paper as Patient B-19. "Guys JK Rowling's pen name for these books is Robert Galbraith. Robert Galbraith Heath is the father of conversion therapy. He is the one who popularized using electricity to shock the gay out of us. Why in the absolute f**k did she pick his name?" one tweeted and another wrote, "#JKRowling writes a new book where a man dresses up as a woman to kill people. Her recent comments on trans people have been disparaging. Her pen name is Robert Galbraith who was also the name of an American psychiatrist who specialized in conversion therapy 1/2."

One angry Twitter user wrote: "So lemme get all of this straight: JK Rowling calls herself Robert Galbraith - a man notorious for pushing gay conversion torture - while pushing her anti-trans trope-laiden murder mystery. Has she become a caricature of her own hatred now? What a "defender of women" she is."




Clearly, Rowling disclosed her inspiration for the name much earlier and it seems the name of the psychiatrist could just be a coincidence, couldn't it? Well, we can't really come to any conclusion without any official statement by the author. So, for now, it's time to wait and watch.

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