The Life and Times of Strike and Ellacott Timeline available for Readers

At long last, the timeline I created for Robin and Strike’s lifetimes is available to anyone who requests it by email.  See link at the top left of the homepage.

This timeline grew out of my interest in the errors and inconsistencies in the series as a whole, and particularly my efforts to make sense of Donald Laing’s timeline. Troubled Blood solved a few time mysteries, but also opened up others.

I am grateful to all the readers who have already contributed to the effort through their comments on this site, particularly Nick, who explained British school calendars to me. Lots of details, such as Switch LeVey Bloom Whittaker being a probably preemie, were the result of comments on my earlier posts.

The day-by-day book timelines available at were also very useful.

I fully expect this to be a “living document” updated not only with publication of new books, but when others spot dates that I missed, or correct my errors.



New Cover Reveal for the Christmas Pig

On 29th June 2021, J.K. Rowling announced that the cover of her new children’s book – The Christmas Pig had been revealed. Designed by Jim Field the award-winning illustrator, character designer and animator.

“The new book will be published as a “gorgeously gifty hardback”, with full-colour jacket and featuring nine black and white spreads and decorative inside art from illustrator Jim Field. The jacket design will be revealed in the coming months.” The Bookseller

Jim would seem to be the ideal choice for a project that looks like a very promising animated film, and at least to me the cover has more than a little of the movie poster about it. Far more interesting to me will be the nine black and white spreads that Mr Fields has been commissioned to do. Look around his website to get an idea of some of the beautiful monochrome work he is capable of.

“Jim’s illustrations are simply perfect. It really is as though he got inside my head and drew what he saw there. I gasped out loud when I saw one particular illustration — I can’t say which it is without giving spoilers — because it was such a perfect representation of one of my favourite scenes.”  JK Rowling


“It was ever so slightly daunting when I thought about the number of people who are going to see this cover around the world. I wanted to create something filmic, timeless, that captures the excitement of J K Rowling’s incredible story and the wonder of Christmas, where the adventure begins. It is really a dream project and I’m so chuffed to be part of it.” Jim Field

Ms Rowling seems more than happy and given that Jim Field is aiming for the filmic look it is possible that we may be looking at an animated film ready for Christmas 2023.

In a comment on another thread I mentioned that Rowling tweeted about this pig before:, she was replying to her friend Jenny Colgan who had lost her daughter’s toy puffin called Neil at an airport. Ms Colgan is a very accomplished author of both romantic fiction and science fiction writing for the iconic Dr. Who series. She is also a member J.K. Rowling’s circle of friends within Edinburgh. Neil the Puffin first appears in Jenny’s romantic fiction book The Little Beach Street Bakery, published in 2014 and set in fictionalised Marazion and St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall. In 2015 she began publishing a spin off series of children’s books based on the characters she had created, principally the daughter Polly and the Puffin Neil. This series is Jenny’s first foray into children’s stories and seems to be very successful. Neil now has his own twitter account which consists principally of tweeting “eep!”, so much more tolerable than most celebrity accounts.

As a post script the original Neil the Puffin was never found, but a replacement miraculously appeared to take his place. Could J.K. Rowling be planning a similar series of adventures for the Christmas Pig? let me know in the comments.

Happy 24th Birthday, Harry Potter!

Hat tip to Patricio Tarantino at and to Beatrice Groves for sending me a reminder that Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published on this date in 1997. Much more than Harry’s fictional birthday of 31 July, one he shares with The Presence, the date of his first adventure’s publication marks his true entry into the real world.

Many thanks to the midwives at Bloomsbury that made the birth and the subsequent births so eventful — and congratulations to Harry’s real mum, the author, for all she overcame to carry the Boy Who Lived to term and to his final victory over the Dark Lord!

Troubled Blood: Steel Dagger Interview

Troubled Blood is up for another prestigious award, the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger. This annual prize is for the ‘Best Thriller’ and is given out by the British Crime Writers Association as one their Dagger prizes, the most prestigious of which is the Cartier Diamond Dagger for Lifetime Achievement. The Steel Dagger differs from the Diamond Dagger in focus and in being a relative newcomer to the Crime Writers Association.

Its focus is the thriller, which is an inclusive genre, no doubt about it:

[The Steel Dagger] award is for the best thriller novel first published in the UK. The broadest definition of the thriller novel is used for eligible books; these can be set in any period and include, but are not limited to, spy fiction, action/adventure stories and psychological thrillers. Ian Fleming said there was one essential criterion for a good thriller – that ‘one simply has to turn the page’; this is one of the main characteristics that the judges look for. Sponsored by Ian Fleming Publications Ltd.

Unlike the Diamond Dagger, which has been an annual event since 1986, the Steel Dagger has only been awarded since 1982. The names on the Diamond list, as you’d expect for a lifetime achievement award, are relatively well-known; Eric Amber, P. D. James, and John Le Carre, for example, won the first three, and authors we have discussed here at HogwartsProfessor — Val McDermid, Ian Rankin, and Martin Edwards, for starters — are past winners. In contrast, I have read only one Steel Dagger recipient, though I have read everything that winner has written.

It’s a big enough deal that Rowling-Galbraith submitted answers to interview questions sent to all the nominees in hopes that she can add a Steel Dagger to Troubled Blood‘s trophy case, next to her Nibbie Crime and Thriller statuette. The interview is short but relatively revealing.

Join me after the jump for a walk through The Presence’s answers and two other thoughts about this award — [Read more…]

J. J. Marsh’s ‘Behind Closed Doors:’ Did Cormoran Strike Begin as a Bet that Rowling Made with Two Old Friends?

Rowling tweeted last month that “one of my best friends, who lives in Spain,” had sent her a video of an accomplished guitarist.

I asked Nick Jeffery who this “best friend” of Rowling might be and he, as always, had a good guess:

My guess (and it is a guess) is Aine Kiely, one of the Godmothers of Swing from the Prisoner of Azkaban dedication. She fits the bill as ‘one of her oldest friends’ and is currently working and living in Spain. The other Godmother of Swing, Jill Prewett, writes detective fiction under the name J J Marsh and lives in Switzerland. Both have holidayed with JKR in recent years.

I was struck by Nick’s aside that one of Rowling’s oldest and dearest friends writes detective fiction. I had read Prewett-Marsh’s 2013 interview with Rowling, one of the best, but hadn’t known the journalist here was a writer, too. I see now that Rowling mentions Ngaio Marsh twice in that very bookish discussion, the most frequently cited interview, I think, in our list of Rowling references to books and authors she likes.

I ordered, consequently, an omnibus or Box Set edition of J. J. Marsh’s first three Beatrice Stubbs novels: Behind Closed Doors, Raw Material, and Tread Softly. My thought was to check if these books, written by Jill Prewett and published at the same time as Rowling-Galbraith was planning and writing the Strike series, had any obvious over-laps with the more famous Cuckoo’s Calling and subsequent four books.

I read the first Stubbs book, Behind Closed Doors, last weekend and think there may indeed be a connection, a fun one.

Three notes before I connect those dots, all after the jump: [Read more…]