J.K. Rowling Is Not Happy with the Law Firm That Leaked Her Secret

Edward Snowden may not be the only leaker on the run after spilling the secrets of the powerful and unforgiving.

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After this week's literary revelations, Edward Snowden may not be the only leaker on the run after spilling the secrets of the powerful and unforgiving.

We kid. But seriously, J.K. Rowling—or "Robert Galbraith," as she deemed herself in her latest literary endeavor—is not too happy with Russells, the British law firm that turns out to be responsible for leaking the news of Robert Galbraith's secret identity.

As the Associated Press explains, it was Chris Gossage, a partner in the law firm, who shared the secret with his wife's best friend, Judith Callegari, who tipped off The Sunday Times in a tweet before mysteriously deleting her Twitter account. The frenzy kicked off from there, landing The Cuckoo's Calling, the debut novel by "Galbraith," at the top of Amazon's best-seller list after a Sunday Times editor confirmed the information. Reports indicate that Callegari, meanwhile, is seeking temporary asylum in Russia not responding to requests for comment.

Russells has "apologize[d] unreservedly" to the author, but Rowling is not pleased:

Rowling said that "only a tiny number of people knew my pseudonym and it has not been pleasant to wonder for days how a woman whom I had never heard of prior to Sunday night could have found out something that many of my oldest friends did not know."

"To say that I am disappointed is an understatement," she added. "I had assumed that I could expect total confidentiality from Russells, a reputable professional firm, and I feel very angry that my trust turned out to be misplaced."

In its statement, Russells made explicitly clear that the leak "was not part of any marketing plan and that neither J.K. Rowling, her agent nor publishers were in any way involved." That concludes several days of speculation that Rowling's party had secretly masterminded the leak, an allegation this publication addressed yesterday while providing a how-to guide for famous writers interested in writing under a pseudonym. Rowling's mistake, it seems, was letting one too many people in on the secret—and there's no indication of why this information was shared with the Russells partner in the first place.

Still, her publisher can't be too upset. The book is selling like wild. Bookstores are scrambling to catch up, and signed editions are going for hundreds on eBay. Richard Davies, publicity manager for AbeBooks.com, told The Atlantic Wire in an email that a first edition signed by "Robert Galbraith" sold for $4,453.

"Yesterday two unsigned first editions sold for $907 each," Davies wrote. "Three other first editions have also sold for prices in excess of $500 this week. AbeBooks had not sold a single copy of this book before the weekend."

If the story of Stephen King and Richard Bachman indicates anything, a sleuthing fan probably would have discovered Rowling's secret eventually. Given, especially, the world of obsessive Harry Potter fan forums, that much seems inevitable. But it could have taken years rather than months, and maybe, as in Stephen King's case, that fan would have asked Rowling's permission before spilling her secret. We doubt it, though.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.