Possibility One: Personal Problems

Rowling or a loved one is sick, challenged by an addiction, or suffering from relationship issues. Maybe.

I have been thinking the last week about Rowling’s twitter silence, sixteen weeks today. While I think the reasons discussed on the subject in a variety of posts here at HogwartsProfessor are cogent and plausible, that is, one stop beyond merely possible, I have come to realize there are at least three other possibilities for her stepping away from her social media platform. They are personal reasons, legal order, and creating suspence, the last meaning only that the effect of her silence is intrigue and that it is reasonable to assume, given Rowling’s skill in manipulating readers through narrative, she may be as skilled in silence.

Today I want to discuss ‘personal reasons.’ What personal reasons could there be that would cause Rowling to retreat from her public persona into silence? What could be so serious that she would no longer retweet announcements from Lumos, the Cursed Child productions, Bronte Studios about the adaptations of her Strike novels, or Warnder Brothers about the Fantastic Beasts franchise? Three possibilities come to mind.

(1) Imminent Death: Anne Rowling, the author’s mother, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 35 and died in 1990 when only 45. MS is not a genetic disease but those with family members who suffer from the incurable illness are more likely to get the disease than those who do not as are those who smoke; Rowling was a cigarette smoker from her teen years until at least 2000 and the writing of Goblet of Fire (see all the articles that mention Rowling smoking here). If Rowling learned that she had MS or another degenerative illness, say, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, that would explain her decision to stop twittering her life away and refocus on her artistry and legacy as a story-teller. And do so privately.

At least as likely along this path is that one of Rowling’s family members, her sister Diane, her husband, her daughter Jessica from her failed first marriage or one of the two children of her second marriage is suffering from physical disease or a mental illness and in need of her attention. Rowling has been heroically protective of her family’s privacy during her second life as a global celebrity; it would be like her in this regard to step away quietly from professional commitments to include twitter in order to do the right thing, i.e., re-focus her attention on those needing her full time.

(2) Addiction and Abstinence: Rowling is an addictive personality. In addition to her history with chain smoking cigarettes, there is the record of her Minesweeper fixation, and her confession during the 2008 election that she was unable to stop reading about the American presidential primaries and the race between Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton. Her tweeting and retweeting articles this last year until January 2019 about Brexit and the need for a second referendum show the signs, too, of compulsive reading online about these subjects.

If Rowling realized that her focus on matters largely outside her control or at least her measurable influence was becoming compulsive and destructive to her ability to write novel or screenplay, it is conceivable, just as she quit cigarette smoking on 10 May 2000 and was able to wean herself from Minesweeper, that she is abstaining from twitter to get this addictive behavior under control. I’d say this was at least as true if she realized that one or more of her children was becoming addicted to their phone or computer applications, especially social media, and that she could not help them unless she joined him or her in a shared abstinence from Facebook, Twitter, etc.

(3) Relationship Issues: Rowling and her husband were both married and left their first spouses, he in an amicable split, hers anything but. Rowling has an on-again-off-again relationship with her biological father, Peter Rowling. Daughter Jessica — not the Instagram star in Portugal, I’m told — though she has a neglected twitter account, has not shared her feelings for and about mom with the public. If Rowling was having marital problems or one of her children was in rebellion, that would be sufficient reason for stepping away from remaining in constant contact with her 14.7 million followers.

I do not think any one or a combination of the three reasons are why Rowling has stepped away from her twitter account. Thay are only possibilities that the facts we have of her life history suggest may be causes. None of them, however, or all taken together really would prevent her from letting a Personal Assistant retweet announcements from Lumos, Cursed Child productions, her novel publishers, Bronte Studios, and Warner Brothers.

Which mystery raises the second possibility that we will explore tomorrow, that Rowling was ordered by a court not to be active on social media as a case in which she was involved entered final deliberations and sentencing. Stay tuned!


  1. Forrest Leeson says

    “sixteen weeks today”
    Seven, counting Reply tweets.

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