Is Strike6’s Title ‘The Ink Black Heart’?

Three days ago we identified the possibility that the next Strike Title might be ‘The Last Cries of Men’, a quote from the remarkable Devotion Upon Emergent Occasions by John Donne. A correspondent of Prof Granger identified a further title ‘The Ink Black Heart’ registered from the same group of companies. Over the weekend I have uncovered further links between this group of companies and Rowling Inc. that has convince me that both these titles and the unlikely ‘Love Stories for the Rich and Desperate’ are all projects of J K Rowling.

Join me after the jump for a tiptoe through the trademarks.

David Beckman is a Chartered Accountant from Surry in the UK who owns a firm ‘David Beckman & Co Ltd‘ that offers services to assist businesses, accountancy and wealth management. Mr Beckman is listed as the sole or joint director of 56 businesses registered in Britain. Seven of them have links to J K Rowling and her work.

Portree Regent Ltd. This one one of the first companies he set up on 13th February 2014, two weeks later on 25th February this brand new company received the ownership of an unknown and unused trademark: The Ickabog from Pasiphae Enterprises Limited who first registered it on 12th October 2011. Pasiphae was first set up on 6th May 2011 by a gentleman named Haydn Wood.


Brumbaugh Ltd was set up by Michael Harris on 7th April 2014, on the same day it trademarked the phrase Career of Evil. This company was taken over by Beckman on 11th August 2015 and the trademark was transferred to J K Rowling on the 10th February 2016.

On the 22nd November 2019 Mr Beckman’s portfolio expanded considerably as he took ownership of a further four businesses.

Shastan Ltd. was set up by Thomas Meadows on 15th November 2012, four days later this company registered the trademark The Christmas Pig.

Tellyscopic Enterprises Ltd was set up by Hayden Wood on 31st January 2014, on the same day this company registered the trademark ‘Love Stories for the Rich and Desperate’.

Sunderland Partners Ltd was set up by Hayden Wood on 23rd June 2015, this company registered the trademark Lethal White initially in Belgium on 10th July 2015 before transferring this trademark to Robert Galbraith Ltd on 23rd February 2018. Robert Galbraith Ltd is a company controlled by Neil Blair – J K Rowling’s agent.

Bluejune Ltd was set up by Hayden Wood on 8th September 2015 and on the 9th September 2015 this company registered the trademark ‘The Last Cries of Men’.

On the 20th February 2020 Beckman set up a new company Pharoah Investments Ltd and after an unusually long delay on 22nd March 2020 it trademarked ‘The Ink Black Heart’. [*correction* 07/12/21 Karol Jay has spotted an inconsistency – ‘The Ink Black Heart’ was actually registered in March 2019 in the UK, by Pharoah Investments. A year before it was registered as a Limited Company.]

So far we have a network of companies, owned and controlled by one man, that has registered the trademarks The Ickabog, The Christmas Pig, ‘Love Stories for the Rich and Desperate’, Career of Evil;  Lethal White, ‘The Last Cries of Men’ and ‘The Ink Black Heart’. There is also evidence that these companies and Rowling Inc. operate with some co-ordination. In Canada J K Rowling and Robert Galbraith Ltd use the services of Drapeaulex Inc to process their trademark applications. Drapeaulex tend to submit their applications in batches, on 14th January 2015 J K Rowling trademarked Career of Evil, Zygmunt Budge, Miranda Goshawk, Book of Potions and Book of Spells. Budge, Goshawk and the wizarding books all appeared in the early incarnation of Pottermore. On the same day Portree Regent Ltd trademarked The Ickabog and Tellyscopic Enterprises Ltd trademarked ‘Love Stories for the Rich and Desperate’ using the same agent.

I believe we now have a solid claim that ‘Love Stories for the Rich and Desperate’, ‘The Last Cries of Men’ and ‘The Ink Black Heart’ are, or at least were intended to be genuine J K Rowling projects. This still leaves some questions: What about the other Robert Galbraith books? Could any of these be Fantastic Beasts films? What on Earth are they?

What of the other Robert Galbraith books?

Robert Galbraith Ltd was set up by Neil Blair on 21st November 2011 and trademarked The Cuckoo’s Calling on 6th June 2012 and The Silkworm on 17th July 2013. It was publicly revealed that J K Rowling was Robert Galbraith on 14th July 2013. We have seen that both Career of Evil and Lethal White were registered to companies now controlled by David Beckman. Troubled Blood is a bit of an outlier, in the UK it was registered on 12th March 2019 by Keycol Capital Ltd, previously known as Burlow Ltd. This company, and it’s director is not associated with either Rowling or Beckman as far as I can see. It is however interesting that on the same day 12th March 2019 Troubled Blood was registered in Canada by Pharoah Investments Ltd, the same Beckman company that registered ‘The Ink Black Heart’.

*** UPDATE 30/04/21 ***

A close reader and friend of Hogwarts Professor- has spotted that Silkworm was not first trademarked by Robert Galbraith Ltd. It was first trademarked by Pasiphae Enterprises Limited, the company set up by Haydn Wood that registered The Ickabog before being transferred to Robert Galbraith Ltd in 2016.

Could any of these be Fantastic Beasts films?

It is possible, but we only have limited information on how future films will be trademarked. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was of course trademarked long before the film. Fantastic Beasts: the Crimes of Grindelwald was registered by Warner Bros on on 31st October 2018, not long before the Paris premier on 8th November 2018.

What on Earth are they? (or Nick’s Wild Speculations)

The earliest of our three mystery titles is ‘Love Stories of the Rich and Desperate’ trademarked back in 2014. This unlikely title could be an idea for JKR’s breakthrough into romantic fiction under a new pseudonym, an idea now ruined by this article (sorry Jo!). More likely could be an anthology of short stories. We know from her Tattler interview in 2006 that she has already completed at least some short stories, and the title might indicate some autobiographical content.

Next in order is ‘The Last Cries of Men’ trademarked in 2015, three months after Lethal White was registered. One possibility is that this was the original title for Troubled Blood and it’s themes of illness and death, before being abandoned for a Spenser led book.

Lastly we have ‘The Ink Black Heart’ registered in 2020. Irvin Khaytman author of The Life and Lies of Albus …. Dumbledore  shared on twitter his theory that this is the most likely title for Strike6 as it would parallel Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and it’s psychoanalysis of a sociopath.

What do you think? Are you convinced? Let me know with your comments and corrections below.


  1. Bonni Crawford says

    Thank you for this additional sleuthing, Nick. These speculations are great fun!

    The Ink Black Heart doesn’t ‘sound’ like a Strike title to me; it sounds more like one of her fairy tale titles. But maybe I only think that because of its superficial similarity to The Warlock’s Hairy Heart.

  2. Nick Jeffery says

    Thank you Bonni! I admit to hoping it is ‘The Last Cries of Men’ for the Donne connection, even if the dates are a bit too early.

  3. Bonni Crawford says

    Me too! I love John Donne, & I think his writing would make for some fun epigraphs.

    Regarding a possible source for “the ink black heart”… As far as I can tell, the only other place the phrase “the ink black heart” has been used is in connection with a film called Crimson Peak. The phrase ‘ink black heart’ seems to have been used in an accompanying book, to describe one of the characters. At a superficial glance, it seems like the sort of subject matter Rowling might resonate with. Some of the phrasing seems quite Rowling-like as well, (e.g. “It’s not a ghost story. It’s a story with a ghost in it.” — that is something I can imagine Rowling saying, but of course, genre-busting and genre-melding are very common now, so I’m sure lots of writers and film directors say that kind of thing). These are the two sources I’ve looked at:

    So, in terms of epigraphs, a film-companion book seems unlikely, but is it possible she came across the phrase “the ink black heart” because she’s a fan of the movie, Crimson Peak? Has anyone on here seen that movie?

  4. Nick Jeffery says

    Guess what other Book of the film Mark Salisbury has written!
    “Mark Salisbury is the New York Times best-selling author of The Case of Beasts: Explore the Film Wizardry of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. A former editor of Britain’s Empire magazine, he has written numerous movie books, including Burton On Burton, Crimson Peak: The Art Of Darkness, and Prometheus: The Art Of The Film.”
    Great fun!

  5. Bonni Crawford says

    Oh wow!!

  6. Marilyn Manson has a black heart tattoo on his wrist

  7. Joanne Gray says

    I’m going to go along with those who believe that the John Donne inspired title, “The Last Cries of Men,” is the most likely title of the sixth book of the Strike series. One reason is because the metaphysical poet, John Donne, would provides an excellent and endless supply of epigraphs (no matter how long book 6 is–and I hope it’s a very long one).

    Another reason is that the title, “The Last Cries of Men,” was registered in September 2015 and one of the few things we do know about book 6 (verified) is that it takes place in the year 2015. We also know the case will have younger clientele than Troubled Blood (so not an old cold case?). Also that the sixth book will be “different” from previous books. But those are not specific pieces of information. Most readers would say that all of previous five books have varied from each other. So how different? (JKR mentioned these two things in an interview after the publication of book 5…I’m going to keep looking for a link to her interview when she talked about book 6.

    Finally, since the John Donne title specifically links the men in question to men in the midst of dying during war, it seems the perfect place for JKR to finally reveal how Cormoran came to be awarded the military medal for heroism. There is a reason why we have been told of the medal’s existence on several occasions during the span of five books–but still have never really been told of the circumstances that lead to that bestowing of that honor. There must be an important reason why that story has never been revealed. I think book 6 is finally going to reveal that reason and I can’t wait to find out!

    I think given the date of the registration for the title “The Ink Black Heart” (2020) it may very well point to the title of the 3rd Fantastic Beast movie, since that’s when it was being filmed.

  8. Bonni Crawford says

    I think you might be right about the ink black heart being connected to Fantastic Beasts, Joanne. If I had to guess what that trademark means in the HP/Cormoran Strike worlds, I’d guess it’s the title of a biography of Grindelwald.

  9. Louise Freeman says


    I think your guess about learning the circumstances of the medal is an excellent one. It is one piece of his history, like the 2 meetings with Jonny Rokeby prior to TB, that has been mentioned enough that we should conclude it is important.

    We know the medal was unconnected to the IED explosion, that it was “for bravery” and that it was important enough to the family that Jack drew a picture of Uncle Cormoran getting it.

    We have also neither seen or heard of the medal being in the boxes of items Strike brought from Charlotte’s, which makes me think it is on display in either Lucy’s or Ted’s home. I know I won’t have trusted Charlotte not to destroy it, given her hatred of his Army career.

    I have speculated that it was awarded in his mid-20’s, that Nick and Ilsa were invited to the ceremony, and reunited there.

    We’ve heard mentions of Strike traveling all over during his Army career: Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans, Bosnia, Nairobi, Cyprus, Germany. One of the more interesting mentions is from Bosnia, where a faulty cell phone data dump triggered a series of mishaps that almost got a good friend killed in Mostar. Could the heroics of this mission have been the reason for the medal, as well as leaving Strike with an ongoing mistrust of electronic mapping devices?

    We also know that Strike has a particularly hair-trigger temper regarding any mention of child sexual abuse: hence the punching of Brockbank and the drunken dinner party argument. Not that this is an unreasonable response to such a crime, but it is at odds with his “you can’t save everyone— there are kids being abused all over” attitude of CoE. Could the event have involved busting a child porn or sex trafficking ring? We know he worked on a case like that in Kosovo– which is not far from Bosnia.

    Finally, we know he has another godson out there besides Timothy Cormoran Anstis. Could this child be the son of a different colleague that he saved, or worse, failed to save? Or a child trafficking victim he rescued?

    Can’t wait for “The Last Cries of the Ink Black Hearts of the Rich and Desperate” (aka TLCIBHRD) Hey, it beats “Detergent.”


  10. Joanne Gray says

    Thank you for this wonderful overview of Strike’s military employments (which I confess I have trouble keeping track of) and what might be the cause leading to Strike’s meritorious metal for bravery. I think you have come up with some very good possibilities.

    If the precipitating incident does end up being attached to children, then I think the other still unanswered traumatic event of Strike’s childhood–what happened in the commune in Norfolk–may also finally be answered. I remember you writing a very interesting post on just that subject. It would be fantastic to have both of those big questions answered in book 6.

    I’m hoping every day that we will get a bit of real news from JKR for book 6!

  11. My train of thought went along the line of E who commented on Manson having a heart tattoo. Tattoos came up when I did a search of ink black heart. His heart tat supposedly appeared about the time of the album “Eat Me, Drink Me” which was said to be more personal than his others following a divorce. Personally, the lyrics don’t speak to me. The next Strike book is to have younger characters so I can see Robin pulling out her goth duds again. Manson also has a thing for Lewis Carroll with his looking glass. But with this being said, I have a hard time imagining Rowling using Manson lyrics considering recent allegations of assault and abuse. If that was the plan, she might be scrambling to make changes.

  12. Joanne Gray says

    Karol Jay,
    You have really given me second thoughts about my initial choice for book 6’s title. I also notice that a search for “black ink heart” came up with tatoo–since ink is slang for tatoo. And it was around the time that JKR got her own tatoo (like the one Marilyn Mason has) that she sent the image of 50 red roses (an event that appeared in a Strike novel!) to him as a thank you!

    Now I’m a bit nervous since she doesn’t need anymore online media grief. If she does use Manson’s lyrics, especially with the Strike series, the media mob will have a field day. The operating premise of the online scolds is definitely: Guilty until proven innocent. No, it’s actually become: Guilty upon suspicion of guilt. I can’t help hoping that if the title of book 6 is “The Ink Black Heart,” that maybe the epigraphs could be from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass (as you mentioned) rather than MM’s lyrics. But if past is prologue and JKR used the Blue Oyster Cult’s lyrics as epigraphs for the 3rd Strike book–I think it seems likely that book 6’s epigraphs will be Manson’s lyrics. If that’s does happen, then buckle up because it will be guaranteed turbulence ahead

    If the “Last Cries of Men” is not the title to Strike book 6, then I hope it will be book 7’s title and that we’ll finally get the story behind Strike’s military medal and the Norfolk commune.

  13. Karol Jay says

    Joanne, I could go with either one, “Ink Black” or “Last Cries”. They both present possibilities. I’m a fence sitter. I wonder how long JKR plans to take revealing Strike’s backstory. Strike and Robin are the primary reasons I read the books. And there is concern that if they get together the books will lose some of their fizzle. I wonder if JKR will hold off revealing all about Strike in order to keep some of the mystery and interest in him going past seven books. She’s indicated there will be more than that and it might be a way of holding our interest in the event the romantic tension is resolved to my satisfaction. 🙂 So I wouldn’t be surprised if we remain in the dark for now about the commune and medal. Anyway, it will be fun to see how Rowling’s plans differ from my hopes.

  14. Louise Freeman says

    I was re-listening to Troubled Blood on my way to work today. On Strike’s birthday, he was recalling never getting presents or cards from Rokeby, and remembered occasionally seeing his father’s signature on legal forms sent to his mother. He recalls looking at the name “as though the ink were blood, and solid proof that his father was a real human.”

    That makes me think the Ink Black Heart connection could be to Rokeby.

  15. Joanne Gray says

    Karol Jay,
    Well said. The Cormoran/Robin relationship is my primary reason as well but I think one of the reasons so many series with a “will they-won’t they” romantic tension at the center seem to fizzle when the two finally come together is because the author has played that trope one too many times. Tension can only be sustained for a finite period in a series and, if it passes that threshold before they finally get together, it then seems anticlimactic.

    The real trick is to stretch it just far enough before bringing them together. Making clear that the edge in the relationship is still there and, if they are rounded characters with all the flaws that real people are prone to–they will still have to work at keeping that relationship alive. They’ll still have to work to keep their relationship alive but from a fresh next level that puts everything on the line–work, friendship, and being romantically involved.

    I think, like Professor Granger’s theory of the 7 books shadowing the HP books, that in the seventh Strike book, we will actually see a second marriage for Robin . This time she’ll say her “I do” to the same man, Cormoran Strike, but this time he’ll actual be the bridegroom.

    JK Rowling may write more Strike books than seven and I really hope she does, but I think taking the “will they-won’t they” to seven books will be far enough to stretch that trope before finally resolving that tension. She did say that she sees her Strike series more as a sort of Nick and Nora Charles mystery duo (the Thin Man series–a bit ironic considering Cormoran’s description). It looks like she has planned all along for her detectives to be a married couple who solve mysteries. Time will tell but I think she will pull it off where other series have failed and unlike some, I would be very disappointed if after all this they don’t get together!

    I think the best way to hold our interest is to put more wood on the fire–solve the mysteries planted throughout by showing how they lead to even more questions and adventures. There are so many things that have yet to be adequately explained. If the sixth book is The Ink Black Heart–the answer I have heard of what this title could mean is that it points to book 6 being Charlotte centric. This worries me, not because of the danger she can pose to Cormoran but because like Professor Granger has said–he thinks the books are actually showing Robin as the main character. I fear he may be right. I personally don’t want book 6 to be about Robin in danger and she gets out of it all by herself with Cormoran as a prop in the background.

    I confess that I feel that things (especially in Lethal White) have gotten a bit too focused on just Robin. Troubled Blood did bring the duo back. I’m hopeful, (although still a bit uneasy), that future books will avoid having only one spot light on center stage shinning on Robin while giving Cormoran a side stage light with less wattage. I’m saying this as a woman who actually likes seeing men in a heroic part in the story. A duo should allow both to shine–and it just seems to me, that Strike has been more sidelined lately.

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