J.K. Rowling is one of the most popular authors in human history. So why did she choose to write several novels under the pseudonym “Robert Galbraith?” In an interview with NPR, Rowling revealed the logic behind her decision.
“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,” Rowling told NPR’s David Greene on the popular radio show Morning Edition. By writing as Galbraith, Rowling was able to avoid all of the expectations that came with her name.
Rowling’s decision was influenced by her experiences writing her first novel for adults under her real name. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy did not get the kindest treatment from critics, who seemed unable to divorce Rowling’s new effort from her Harry Potter legacy.
So when Rowling set out to write a series of mystery/thriller stories, she decided to do so under a new name. According to Rowling, even her publisher was originally kept in the dark. The tactic worked, and Robert Galbraith got fair-minded and generally positive reviews. Sales didn’t take off until it was revealed that Rowling was Galbraith, but by then she’d gotten what she wanted: a fresh start.