New Rowling Twitter Header: What Is It?

J. K. Rowling chose the day of the official Crimes of Grindelwald premiere in many countries to change her twitter header from the Rio de Janiero postcard view she put up at the beginning of the month to the black and white etching above. What is it? A quick search of the internet via Google’s image search yielded nothing beyond “Triumphal Arch,” which it almost certainly isn’t, and pages of seventeenth and eighteenth century engravings.

Three notes:

(1) It is the third time in the past year that Rowling has posted a cameo of herself in black and white rather than in color (December 2017 and 14 August 2018 being the others). It is the first time that the backdrop picture in any of her headers has been black and white, if the 14 August picture this year below seems black and white.

(2) The friend who alerted me to the change thought it looked “Dickensian.” I admit my first association when I saw it was “Pickwick!” Which is odd because the lettering on the store signs seems Arabic. The picture to the left is ‘Pickwick Christmas.’

(3) As regular readers of this blog know, we try to figure out what Rowling’s twitter headers are because she has said they reflect what she is thinking about at the time it is posted. We saw how true this was in Lethal White, a book in which specific scenes, plot points, and story symbolism had already been the subject of Rowling’s previous year’s headers. The Crimes crowd in junket interviews are discussing Rio as the site of the third Beasts film today but that was last month’s thought to Rowling.

So of what place do you think this is an engraved picture? Or is it the scene from a book or play? Let me know your best bet and what link it might have to Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts film franchise (say that three times fast…), to Galbraith’s next Cormoran Strike mystery, or to the mysterious new children’s book Rowling has promised for years but is now renewing her vows to finish. Might it be set in Dickens’ London? Constantinople in centuries past? Is it a time travel book?

We are waiting until the weekend to begin discussion here of Crimes of Grindelwald and its secrets. See the film a couple of times and check back in — or write a Guest Post review of the film of 500-1000 words for me to post here as part of a blurb cascade or in full! Let me know what you think on the Crimes of Grindelwald discussion post thread going up tomorrow…


  1. Melissa Aaron says

    If it is indeed Rio, I am beyond excited. I had always wanted to see something about wizards in Brazil, and that was before I remembered Bill’s pen pal. There are two good reasons for Brazil. One is that it has a rich magical tradition of its own, based on African and indigenous people’s beliefs. The appearance of Brazilian wizards would be very different, as the clothing is usually white with lots of colorful beads. The filmmakers will have to tread carefully here, as this is connected with living religious practices and would have to be respectful. I’m very heartened to see that Rowling is visiting Brazil, as she’s probably consulting with Brazilians and making sure that she does not tread on too many toes.

    The other reason is that the Amazonian rainforest would probably be paradise for Newt. I understand that a new plant or animal species is discovered every other day, and that is despite our best efforts to trash it. I definitely would like to see Castelobruxo. And if nothing else, it would be nice for non-Brazilians to see how beautiful it is.

  2. I’m almost certain that this is an old picture of the old Jewish quarter in Paris. The Hebrew letters could come from a jewish Shop which used to be there. There used to be a lot of kosher butcheries. I think I see some sausages as a stone relief.
    Of course this doesn’t necessarily have to be the Paris jewish quarter. It could be in Venice or Prague for all we know. But I have seen the Paris jewish quarter, and the picture would be compatible…

  3. Joanne Gray says

    My own guess to what JKR’s new Twitter header is that it depicting St. John’s Gate in Clerkenwell. [St. John’s Gate is the former gatehouse for the Clerkenwell priory of the Knights of St. John–Knights Hospitallers.] I found an image that was a very tight fit to in in Google images but cannot attach it here.

    I confess that I am very much interested in detecting when JKR is at work on book 5 of the Strike series. When I noticed that Clerkswell and Finsbury Park are in the same London district–I took this as possible proof–despite how unlikely it seems that a very Dickensonian image could be connected to a modern PI–that she might be working on that hoped for book 5. Finsbury Park was hinted very strongly as a location for book 5 by being mentioned twice in the last two pages of Lethal White. I did find the St. John’s Gate link before seeing the Finsbury Park link–so I have some faith that I didn’t see the link just from wishful thinking.

  4. Nick Jeffery says

    I think this is St John’s gate in Clerkenwell before the Victoriana restoration. Lots of history including the order of St John, Samuel Johnson and Hogarth.

  5. Nick Jeffery says

    The print is from the Illustrated News of the World 1859, St John’s Gate, Clerkenwell.

  6. English Teacher says

    Looks like the scene of Newt and Jacob in Paris from the new film.

  7. Beatrice Groves says

    Brilliant! Thank you Joanne Gray and Nick Jeffery for identifying the place and finding the print. I agree with you Joanne this could be a looking forward to Strike 5 in this part of London, or John, a Dickensian-period children’s book. Delighted by either!

  8. Well done to Nick Jeffery for being the first in the Potter World to identify the source of the St John’s Gate etching. Great detective work. (Alamy Stock image?)
    I agree with Joanne Gray that this could point to a setting for a scene or murder in Strike 5. Alternatively, the street nearby (Britton Street) looks very much like Denmark Street. Could this be the area where Cormoran Strike rents a new office?

    In my mind, J.K. Rowling’s headers aren’t always clues to what she’s writing about. The header from August 14 for instance, which John writes about, is the entrance to Tracy Arm Fjord. And it is in color. You can see the green foliage of the cedar trees on the left, if you have the original picture. I believe the image was taken early morning, going by the fog, on July 24th after JK had left Juneau on July 23rd. So that was probably just a holiday snap from her cruise in the Pacific Northwest. Same goes for the black and white avatar of herself (also posted on August 14) standing in front of the bookshelf (Barnes & Noble? Pick any one from 10 stores in Seattle).

    With J.K. in London for the Premier of Fantastic Beasts last week, could she have visited the St John’s Gate Museum in Clerkenwell.? Her black and white avatar in front of a whitewashed wall with inset grid window could be from one of the many St John’s Gate rooms which are available for hire for weddings and Christmas parties. Just another holiday snap then perhaps? Or maybe a recce for Strike 5?

  9. She’s got to go to Cairo (via FB franchise), no?
    We’ve got New York, London, Paris…Hogsmeade. We need Cairo, Athens, Prague, Florence.
    Alchemical and occult centers.
    Kama is a sign that we’re going to Africa. Also, Weasley vacation. Gotta be.

  10. Bob says Cairo in third Beasts film but I’d say JK Rowling has the song ‘Pop Musik’ in her head. Shades of the rise of Hitler in Fantastic Beasts 2? Then next comes MUNICH.
    ‘Get up, Get down. Radio, video. Boogie with a suitcase. You’re livin’ in a disco
    Forget about the rat race, Let’s do the milkshake. Sellin’ like a hotcake.
    Try some buy some, Fee-fi-fo-fum. Talk about, pop music, Talk about, pop music.
    Shoobie doobie do wop, I wanna dedicate this, Pop pop shoo wop, Everybody made it.
    Shoobie doobie do wop, Infiltrate it, Pop pop shoo wop, Activate it.
    New York, London, Paris, Munich, Everybody talk about pop musik’

  11. Kelly Loomis says

    The district this is in is Islington. Grimmsauld Place is located there. Islington adopted the gate for their 2012 Olympics symbol.

    It has been many things. One was a coffee house where people could buy coffee and get Latin lessons!

  12. Beatrice Groves says

    Another piece of solid info for Strike 5 via Twitter today! Rowling posted:
    ‘I’ll do the column if you write Robin’s internal monologue on the morning of her 29th birthday.’ Robin was born on October 9, 1985 – so does this mean we’re skipping a year or that Rowling is already writing the end (!? surely not).

  13. Beatrice Groves says

    Or is just that she likes the circularity….?!

    So you’re writing Robin’s birthday on Cormoran’s birthday

    @J.K. Rowling
    I am.

  14. Beatrice Groves says

    And now….!
    When is Strike’s brother coming back? You promised me it would be in the last one.
    That was rash of me. He’s in this one, though (promise).

  15. Joanne Gray says

    Thank you Beatrice for pointing out that JKR has confirmed that she is currently working on Strike 5 (Yay!!) and also that she has mentioned that Robin–who was only 27 when Lethal White ended (September 2012) was currently celebrating her 29th birthday in the scene she was working on…!?

    I had the same thought you did in your post above (from JKR’s Twitter):
    JKR posted: ‘I’ll do the column if you write Robin’s internal monologue on the morning of her 29th birthday.’
    “Robin was born on October 9, 1985* – so does this mean we’re skipping a year or that Rowling is already writing the end (!? surely not).”

    You are right about it being a year after Lethal White–if Book 5 begins in October 2013. (I think Robin was born in 1984* and because Lethal White ended in September 2012 (and Robin wouldn’t turn 28 until the following month), it would take another year and a month before she would turn 29 in October 2013.)

    I really hope JKR isn’t just at the beginning of writing book 5 for two reasons. One, if it is already October 2013 when she starts the book 5, it means she has skipped over another year in which there was still a great deal of unfinished business to address from Lethal White. And two, if she is at the very beginning, it will make it that much longer before we will see book 5 published.

    Hopefully there’s an Option 2–(best case scenario) that she is currently writing about October 2013 because she is already half way through writing book 5 and we will all be rewarded with the next book in 2020.

    I’m hoping she will give us another update soon with information about which chapter number she is currently working on so we can put this little bit of time information (October 2013) in to the right context in order to know if she has really skipped ahead another year or (hopefully) not.

  16. Joanne Gray says

    I just thought of an Option 3 for an answer to how it could be that she’s writing about October 2013 at the beginning of Strike Book 5. Could it be that she’s writing Book 5 as a flashback??

    It would certainly be unexpected–and it seems very unlikely. And I really can’t think of why she would? But it’s interesting to think that she could.

    Until we get an update of which chapter she is currently working on, I’ll keep hoping for Option 2–that she is already half-way through writing Book 5–and she’s already near the end of 2013!

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