“Paul is Dead” — Where is J K Rowling?

Those of us of a certain age (“very old”) remember the rumors that shook the US and the UK about the supposed death of Paul McCartney, then of The Beatles, in 1969. ‘Paul is Dead’ became more than a meme, believe me, and I was only slightly surprised that the story survives today as a conspiracy theory. “Only Ringo survives…” (I am increasingly prone, by the way, to believe anything tagged a “conspiracy theory,” the latest Orwellian phrase to enforce a self-inflicted conformity to media orthodoxy.)

I bring this up because J. K. Rowling last tweeted on 12 January 2019. Before her departure, she had been twittering so often that she had become the butt of jokes online. News stories last week about the split in the Labour Party included references to her because one of the meetings of the conspirators (!) was held in the office of Tony, um, Neil Blair, her literary and movie agent cum legal gopher. One article said she was not present, another piece, citing the original as its source, said she was. I have been unable to find any references to her existence or evidence that she is still among the corporeal living dated post that last tweet in January.

I learned today both that the ‘Paul is Dead’ fake-news meme of fifty years ago (1) was started by a college newspaper reporter in Ames, Iowa, and (2) it’s rapid spread into all corners of the globe resulted in LIFE magazine hunting down McCartney at his farm in Scotland and coercing him into some pictures and a brief interview (actually, Sir Paul flew into a rage, dumped a bucket of water over photographer and reporter, and he only agreed to congenial pictures and a comment in exchange for the roll of film with pictures capturing him as an ogre). Hence this post.

We have speculated that Rowling is on vacation, that she is re-writing Fantastic Beasts 3, that she has retired from public life and political commentary, even that she is working on the fifth Cormoran Strike novel (one can only hope). All this is to neglect the obvious possibilities we would suspect if one of our friends or family members disappeared suddenly and for weeks on end — that she is very ill, that she is dead, or that one of her family members is in crisis of some kind and she neglects public comment because her priorities are right-side up (which ordered considerations do not include sharing with us what is no one’s business but her own…).

Let the rumors begin, however, a la the Drake College newspaper report in 1969 that Paul McCartney was no more. Here’s the version I send out for Aeolus and the internet to spread to the global four corners (Tasmania!) in the virtual winds, call it ‘The Three Blairs’:

Tony and Neil Blair, not to mention the 115 year old not-really-dead-yet Eric Blair, are plotting how to keep Rowling, Inc., rolling without her — as well as how to keep the public from finding out she’s gone (hence, “Let’s take down the Labour Party!”). The Blair Trio are interviewing ghost writers for the screenplays (no problem here; the David Warner Brothers didn’t use her scripts anyway…) and scrambling to find look-alikes for the requisite red carpet appearances every other year.

She has recently told us that she cannot separate her “writing life” from her life as such; now that she has stopped writing in the public eye, might we not safely assume that she has separated from life altogether? No, we can’t. But maybe we can hope for an update soon.

Our best wishes for a speedy recovery if The Presence or one of her loved ones are not well. Condolensces all around, too, of course, if there really has been a death.

And please do send in your proofs that this ‘conspiracy theory’ is as unfounded as ‘Paul is Dead.’ Or just make a ‘best guess’ below about where Rowling is!



  1. Ha! Nice article John 🙂 I thought the same since she vanished from Twitter.
    By the way, I think we will see Jo next Saturday, on the official opening of Cursed Child in Melbourne.

  2. That’s a good counter theory: Rowling has been sailing to Australia since her last tweet.

    No internet, no stops for souveniers in the Canary Islands, South Africa, or Diego Garcia, nothing but a mysterious sea voyage out of the public eye…

    The Three Blairs are left to cover for her absence. I get it! Thanks, Patricio.

    Think of how excited the crowd in Melbourne will be when she appears like Botticelli’s Venus from the Pacific.

  3. Hahaha. Maybe she lost her password and can’t reset it :-/

  4. Nope. She’s not on her yacht John…

  5. Melissa D Aaron (Moonyprof) says

    I’d go for the “rewriting Fantastic Beasts 3” option. There were a number of issues with the last one that I’m sure she’s eager to avoid. If so, the reason we haven’t heard from her is that that is very hush-hush. What if, for example, they needed to write out Johnny Depp after all?
    Also, she is getting hammered on Twitter and in the press. I don’t know if someone advised her to stay away or she just chose to, but either makes sense. Personally, I’m getting tired of the way she is being beaten up, up to and including the orders for her to “just stop,” or even that she should turn the whole thing over to someone else. Excuse me? You do not get to order whether someone else writes or what they write. You can criticize it, but you can’t forbid it.

    The Mary Sue keeps writing articles about how angry they are at JKR, and the latest was on how she should be writing about the Marauders. I pray she never does. They have a whole wishlist of goodie bags of what specifically they want her to write, and they would be furious if they didn’t get exactly what they wanted.

  6. Joanne Gray says

    A fine little mystery indeed. I remember reading about the “Paul is Dead” rumors–but I always heard that it was started when they were in their “mystical phase” and they were playing around to see what would happen if they planted clues–like saying one of them was dead. I do remember that there was a story that if you played one of their songs (I think it was “A Day in the Life”) backwards, that you could hear “Paul is dead”. There was also the iconic “Abbey Road” album cover that shows the four of them walking across the street and Paul is the one without shoes. Supposedly being shoeless alluded to him being dead.

    In the 21st century a comparable sign of someone no longer among the living could easily be surmised if a very prolific and ever-present member of the Twitter-spere was to suddenly go completely, stone-cold silent for over a month (and counting). Logically it makes sense.

    Although, it could just be that these present times has presented us with a perfect storm of the stressed-emotions of fans concerning the second Fantastic Beasts, added to the every-day grind of the Brexit trauma mixed with political madness in general, finally topped off by either her own epiphany that Twitter was literally eating up, not only any free time she had, but also emotionally sucking her ever deeper into online battles. She could have just bravely decided to go cold turkey and kick the habit and reclaim her own sanity.

    I confess I do dearly want to hear of the progress on Book 5 of Strike but I’m also very glad to see her take a real break from Twitter. Hope she gets some well deserved peace and quiet to allow her to come back to her creative side renewed and refreshed.

    **Moonyprof…I too truly hope that she doesn’t give in to the calls about doing more on the Marauders. As wonderful as all of the Harry Potter stories are–Fantastic Beasts is showing why it is rarely a good idea to go back and try to fill things in that have already happened in the story you wrote (i.e. Prequels). In the original stories…people’s imaginations fill in any spaces in the backstory using their own imaginations and if something is written later to say,”actually this is what really happened”, there will invariably be a mismatch. The readers own original experience–no longer matches what they were allowed to jointly create with the author when first reading and loving the story. Damage can be done with rewinding and writing over the original experience that allowed the reader to make the author’s vision their own.

    Reading makes the story a joint experience and it can make it feel like a case of false memory when presented with a different version of a story that you thought you already knew.

  7. Brian Basore says

    Maybe she’s given us the slip by writing, perhaps publishing, under a secure pseudonym. We’ll never hear from her again, under this rumor.

  8. Found her! Wizarding News spoke to a representative today who said Rowling has not been on Twitter because she’s “busy writing” and, contrary to several media reports, is NOT “involved or associated with any new political party, and contrary to some press reports, did not attend and was not even aware of a meeting to discuss its formation.”

    Source: https://twitter.com/HPANA/status/1098893864860073984

  9. Kelly Loomis says
  10. Beatrice Groves says

    I think Twitter is poorer without her but just a reminder that she is not ‘missing’! – this is simply a return to those pre-Twitter days when months and months would elapse between her irregular website updates. I assume that she took a break due to FB3 writing pressures and – having left it – found she didn’t miss it….

  11. Okay, now that we have the official denial of death and disappearance, it seems we have at last all the elements necessary for a proper conspiracy to cover-up the disappearance or death of a Beatle-esque celebrity. Recall that ‘Paul is Dead’ is still alive in tin-foil hat land because the theory holds that he was decapitated in a motorbike accident and the winner of a look-alike contest replaced him in the Fab Four; see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_is_dead#Premise. The supposed stand-in, William Shears Campbell or ‘Billy Shears,’ may be the basis for Rowling’s fun with ‘The Quibbler’ and the surviving rock-star Stubby Boardman who is really Sirius Black in Phoenix.

    All that to say, are you going to believe the statement of the Mouth of Rowling, Inc., as they scramble to find a way to keep the galleons flowing post Rowling, or the nebulous and baseless conjectures of a Potter Pundit in Oklahoma? Seems pretty clear to me…

    More seriously, I think we have a new entry on the already long list of ‘Things True Only of J. K. Rowling.’ The new point is “Only Person Ever to Walk Away from a Social Media Platform of Almost 15 Million Followers.”

    In other wizarding world news, there’s a new ride in Orlando! http://www.snitchseeker.com/harry-potter-news/hagrids-magical-creatures-motorbike-adventure-to-open-at-universal-orlando-in-june-112132/ Those galleons gotta keep rolling along… Rowling or no Rowling.

  12. On Fri, Feb 22, 2019 at 3:30 AM Dolores Gordon-Smith wrote:
    I reckon she’s keeping her head down because there’s the new party formed and she doesn’t want to be harried about it

  13. I very much like the fact that she is writing–however–surely the logical next question could have been asked, “Wonderful, but which writing project are you working on?”

    If a spoken reply is verboten, then maybe in the long tradition of secret messages–she could “blink once” to signify that her writing involves Strike book 5 or she could “blink twice” if she is having another go at Fantastic Beasts 3. No words would be needed–and we will then (I hope) be able to wait semi-patiently–for the time being. (Not sure for how long but we’ll try to stretch it out another month at least.)

  14. The Presence will not be present at the Melbourne opening of ‘Cursed Child.’ A hand-written one page letter expressing her regrets was sent with a cake for the cast to enjoy. Pictures of both are up on the PotterMore instagram account (hat tip to Kelly!). https://twitter.com/HPPlayAUS/status/1099060100126392320

    How hard would it be to forge the letter, though? And, if she has gone underground on her own terms (is ill/dying/dead, in marriage counseling, recovering from cosmetic surgery gone wrong, caring for sick child/relation, whatever), she sent the note and baked yummy to remain out of sight. She might have written this letter months ago (she’s a planner not a pantser) if the idea was to disappear herself.

    If she is being held hostage, egad!, the leter might have been forged or coerced from her by her kidnappers, fiends in negotiation with Rowling, Inc., who are desparate for proofs no doubt that the Golden Goose is still alive.

    This letter is no proof that Rowling is alive, well, or “happily writing.” Or even that she’s vacationing with Stubby Boardman on a romantic tropical island. Stand by for more updates on the ‘Where is J. K. Rowling? Paul is Still Dead’ thread…

  15. Joanne Gray says

    Well–this is a bit unexpected.

    Here’s my best case scenario: I’d like to think that she’s just gone all method-actor in writing a story line for Strike Book 5. Something along the lines of Cormoran gone missing and Robin (as JKR’s double) along with Wardle and Shanker need to come up with the location before the clock runs out (I’ll let JKR figure out what kind of story clock is running out). I see her as getting into character to work out the details from both ends of the plot–both as the one who disappeared (what’s really happening) and also as the ones who have to find him (and what they imagine and are doing to locate him).

    The other possibility is that Warner Brothers has her locked away with their own script doctor until everything is OK’d with the FB3 script.

    I’m really hoping its something along the lines of the above first scenario and everything is already good to go with FB3.

  16. I miss her barbs.

  17. Sebastian says

    According to an interview with a Warner Brothers representative from last week, it may well be the the Fantastic Beasts 3 rewrite. (See here: https://www.latimes.com/entertainment/la-fi-ct-kevin-tsujihara-warner-bros-interview-20190227-story.html)
    I am not convinced that the biggest problem of the second movie was the original “original script” (i.e. the shooting script), but there we go. Anyway, that’s probably what was to be expected. (If true.)
    Maybe she’s trying to reduce the length of the shooting script to a size where hardly any cuts will be deemed necessary by the director?

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