Hidden Photos at Rowling Websites: Digital Clues and Detective Work #2

We got some great results in our first look at embedded pictures on The Presence’s website homepage. The Smith’s album cover shown is from an album that has song lyrics noting three different murders (per Louise Freeman) and one song with a suggestive title, ‘Shakespeare’s Sister’ (Chris Calderon). For more discussion on that, go to the thread following ‘Hidden Photos at Rowling Websites: Digital Clues and Detective Work #1.’

Today let’s have a look at another photo-on-the-edge, this one in plain site but hard to figure: a book and what looks to be a coaster but the url says is a ‘bath.’

Well, the url actually says “bath-book.png” and looking at the book maybe it just means the book was dropped in the tub during a reading (Rowling has said this a common fate for her favorite books).

The book is Off With Their Heads by Ngaio Marsh and it deserves it’s own longish post. Just as a teaser, it features a white horse so it got this brief mention in our Lethal White pre-publication White Horse Round-Up:

Rowling’s home web site is not PotterMore; it is JKRowling.com. It’s worth a visit every month or so to see what she’s put up there. Early this year I noticed a book cover I’d missed on previous drop-ins. The title is barely legible (see picture on the right), but it turns out to be Ngaio Marsh’s Off With His Head! which was published as Death of a Fool in the United States. I asked my Lewis Carroll expert and friend, Brian Basore, to look into it because I assumed it was a reference to the Queen of Hearts in Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass. Not so much, it turns out.

But — Alchemy (the forge!), the Fool (see Evan Willis on the Harlequin) temperaments/humours, Shakespeare, Jonson, mise en abyme, murder mystery… with P. D. James’ The Skull Beneath the Skin, Marsh’s Off With His Head is another model for Silkworm and a brilliant alchemical murder-mystery set-piece. It’s must reading for Potter Pundits, especially with the Rowling.com cover posting.

And, as Brian Basore reminds me, the murder in the novel turns on the details of a Morris Dance routine in which the star figure is a white horse in two pieces. Are you seeing a pattern?

I will write up those notes soon, trust me, but what I’m really wondering about today is that coaster:

Any ideas? The closest thing I could find was a Welsh dragon bumper sticker. I’m confident that’s not it. Please tweet it out to your friends, do the requisite Google searches, or post it on FaceBook for your followers to recognize. I look forward to reading your findings…


  1. If you look at the red image on the coaster–bringing the right side (with the white pages) as the base—then I think the image looks like a mythical firebird. Maybe an image for a Fantastic Beast?

  2. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    My analogous guess is a phoenix – perhaps a “Chinese phoenix” – though Wikipedia tells me “mythological similarities with the Western phoenix are superficial.[citation needed]”, under ‘Fenghuang’.

  3. Kelly Loomis says

    I agree with Joanne. The image reminds me of a Phoenix.

  4. That’s Russian lacquer work and I think it’s a firebird too.

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