J.K. Rowling's Mystery Book Pen Name, Robert Galbraith, Is Homage to "Robert F. Kennedy, My Hero"

Famed author opens up about the origins of her pseudonym as well as why she chose to write her new detective book as a man

By Josh Grossberg
|  Thursday, Jul 25, 2013  |  Updated 10:38 AM EDT
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British author J.K. Rowling

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J.K. Rowling is a big fan of RFK. Who would've thought?

After the Harry Potter author was outed last week as having written a new book, "The Cuckoo's Calling," under the pen name Robert Galbraith, Rowling is now revealing her inspiration for the pseudonym.

In a FAQ page on the Robert Galbraith website, the famed scribe confessed that she took the nom de plume as a tribute to her favorite '60s American political leader, Senator Robert Kennedy.

"I chose Robert because it is one of my favorite men's names, because Robert F. Kennedy is my hero and because, mercifully, I hadn't used it for any of the characters in the Potter series or 'The Casual Vacancy,'" she wrote.

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Regarding the origin of the last name, Rowling added that "when she was a child, I really wanted to be called 'Ella Galbraith,' and I've no idea why."

"I don't even know how I knew the surname existed, because I can't remember ever meeting anyone with it," she said. "Be that as it may, the name had a fascination for me. I actually considered calling myself L.A. Galbraith for the Strike series, but for fairly obvious reasons decided that initials were a bad idea."

On why she chose a man's name, the 47-year-old mother of three said when her editor read "Cuckoo" blindly without knowing it was Rowling, she noted he exclaimed he "never would have thought a woman wrote that"--so it made perfect sense to her to be a guy.

"Apparently, I had successfully channeled my inner bloke," the Hogwarts mastermind admitted, adding that she gave Galbraith a military background because it was a "solid excuse not to appear in public or provide a photograph."

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As she's stated previously after a law firm leaked the news that she and Galbraith were one and the same, the idea of a writing persona was liberating, especially as it enabled her to try her hand at other genres out of the media glare.

"I've always loved reading detective fiction. Most of the Harry Potter stories are whodunits at heart ('Order of the Phoenix' is more of a why-did-he), but I've wanted to try the real thing for a long time," Rowling said. "As for the pseudonym, I was yearning to go back to the beginning of a writing career in this new genre, to work without hype or expectation and to receive totally unvarnished feedback. It was a fantastic experience and I only wish it could have gone on a little longer."

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Rowling also denied she took the name as a publicity stunt, pointing out that "The Cuckoo's Calling" was "all about the work" and her desire "to fly under the radar."

Lastly, she announced plans to continue under the Galbraith pen name writing the series, which centers around former soldier turned investigator Cormoran Strike.

"I've just finished the sequel and we expect it to be published next year," Rowling revealed.

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