Culture Literature
Culture: Does JK Rowling exist? And can a Non-person use a Pseudonym?
Saturday, 03 December 2005 Written by

Does this woman exist?
Imagine it: Young single mother. No money to heat her flat, and little enough for food. She sits in cafés, nursing a cup of coffee for hours on end, scribling on napkins. The story she's writing will one day turn her into the most successful fiction writer since Matthew, Mark and Luke and John decided to do their four man "Pulp Fiction" schtick and put pen to parchment. It's Hallmark Movie of the Month stuff, right? Jupp, says Norwegian film director Nina Grünfeld, because it is! Backed up by little else than the old conspiracy nut standby, "It all fits too neatly!" Grünfeld claims that JK Rowling, the author of the "Harry Potter" books doesn't really exist. It's all a fake, a sham, a bamboozle a plot to hoodwink people into buying books written by a committee of ghost-writers.
Grünfeld called it a "fantastic" story, that "gives hope" not least to single mothers around the world as well as mothers with unrealized dreams and strong purchasing power. "But can a person be so productive and commercially successful in a media industry where nothing is left to coincidence?" wondered Grünfeld. "Is it possible that a person can write six thick books that are translated into 55 languages and sell more than 250 million copies in less than 10 years? Is it probable that the stories then get filmed and commercially exploited to the degree seen here, without any well-thought-out strategy or highly professional players behind them?" And then came Grünfeld's provocative question: "Is it possible that JK Rowling exists?" Her own answer: "Well, who do they think they're kidding? Not me!"


Now there are of course precedents for a company stable of writers churning out books under one common pseudonym. One example is the "Nancy Drew Mysteries", a long running series of books for teenagers, every one of which was ostensibly written by Carolyn Keene, but in fact written by faceless ghost-writers paid by the page. But the commercial Powers That Be has gone one better in this case, argues Grünfeld. They've actually gone to the trouble of hiring an actor to play the part of Rowling the author, complete with soft-focus backstory of triumph over adversity. Now this raises a couple of questions. One is, would such a claim get any credence at all if Rowling had been a man. This Tolkien fellow, he created a whole blasted mythology, complete with maps, languages and botanical information. No way! He was just the front-man for the entire faculty of several Oxford colleges! More damning should be the easily verifiable fact that this Bloomsbury Publishing and Warner Bros. conspiracy would somehow allow their puppet to lay claim to enough of the loot to make her one of the richest people in Great Britain. Now there's an acting gig I'd like to get! Now here comes meta-madness: In a recent interview with actor, director, poetic scourge and voice of the Harry Potter audio books, Stephen Fry, Rowling said that her post-Potter project would probably be published under a pseudonym (The Scotsman requires a free registration for access to their articles. Or you can go to BugMeNot.com and get a username and password there).
In the interview with Fry, to be broadcast next week on BBC Radio 4, Rowling revealed that she has another children's book up her sleeve. The writer, who lives in Edinburgh, said that she has an idea for a new novel after she has written the seventh and final episode of the boy wizard's adventures. But Rowling, whose first novel was turned down by several publishers before it hit the shelves, added that she might use a pseudonym for the next attempt. She said: "There is another book that's sort of mouldering in a cupboard that I quite like, which is for slightly younger children. There are other things I'd like to write. But I'll need to find a good pseudonym and do it all secretly."
I'm dizzy. I need a lie-down.