Rowling's Alter Ego Boasted Fake Military Service

'Robert Galbraith' bio claimed novel was shaped by experience with British Army

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 15, 2013 9:41 AM CDT

(Newser) – JK Rowling embarked on quite the flight of fancy when inventing her pseudonym Robert Galbraith—and that might prove controversial. Galbraith's bio claims that he spent "several years with the Royal Military Police" and that the protagonist of his novel—one-legged Afghanistan veteran Cormoran Strike—"grew directly out of his own experiences and those of his military friends." Indeed, Rowling created a full backstory for her alter ego, who apparently eventually found himself in the RMP's plain-clothes Special Investigative Branch, before leaving for the civilian security industry.

While so far Rowling's invention appears to be flying under the radar, fake military service claims often prove contentious. In the US, it's even illegal to profit from them, thanks to the new Stolen Valor Act, which was signed into law last month to replace an earlier version struck down by the Supreme Court. Then again, Rowling probably could have profited more without the pseudonym; since the reveal, sales of The Cuckoo's Calling exploded 507,000% at Amazon, reports CNN, and it's now out of stock online at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble. (A rep for the latter told the Wall Street Journal it wasn't a big seller pre-reveal.) A new edition is coming that will acknowledge Galbraith as a pseudonym for Rowling.

In this Sept. 27, 2012 file photo, British author J.K. Rowling poses for photographers during a photo call to unveil her new book, entitled: 'The Casual Vacancy', at the Southbank Centre in London.
In this Sept. 27, 2012 file photo, British author J.K. Rowling poses for photographers during a photo call to unveil her new book, entitled: 'The Casual Vacancy', at the Southbank Centre in London.   (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File)
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