Roses from Rowling – What is the Marilyn Manson Connection?

On January 31st 2020 the American ‘Shock Rocker’ Marilyn Manson posted his thanks to J. K. Rowling for the surprise receipt of a gift – a bunch of red roses. Almost immediately comment and speculation about this bouquet from fans of both Rowling and Manson (and a surprising intersection of both) flooded the internet. Thoughts of the meaning behind the gift ran from the romantic to a possible source for the epigraphs in Troubled Blood. In the event Rowling’s marriage still seems secure, and the epigraphs in Troubled Blood turned out to be the far more satisfying Faerie QueeneThis leaves fans of detective fiction, such as we, with a problem – we have a loose end. Join me after the jump to find out how, or if this loose end will resolve.

Because perhaps of the mystery of the 50 roses in Career of Evil, there has always been the assumption that these roses were somehow connected to the Strike series. It is helpful to review what we know, or can reasonably infer, before the speculation. Although Rowling did not acknowledge Manson’s tweet publicly, we know that J. K. Rowling has sent flowers, and in particular roses, in the past – as a thank you and as condolence, for example the family of a victim of the Orlando nightclub shooting, and for a journalist she had befriended who was murdered in Northern Ireland.

Absent any known tragedy, it is reasonable to infer that flowers were sent to Marilyn Manson in thanks for a service. Manson is not, as far as is known, in Rowling’s social or professional circle. The only link, for both dating many years, is the actor Johnny Depp. Surprisingly perhaps for a friend of Anton LaVey, Manson is a godfather to Lily Rose Depp. Rowling’s relationship with Depp started later but certainly by mid 2015. We do not know when he was initially cast as Grindelwald, but we do know that after chartering his yacht (later called by her Amphirite) Rowling bought it for substantially more than market value.

It is helpful to review what we do know chronologically:

Jan 2016 JKR purchases JD’s yacht.

May 2016 Amber Heard files for divorce and gains temporary restraining order against JD.

8th Nov 2016 JD revealed as surprise casting in Fantastic Beasts.

6th Dec 2016 MM publicly defends JD “he was completely crucified – unjustly“.

14th Nov 2017 JD appears in MM video for KILL4ME

7th Dec 2017 JKR published statement on JD casting “genuinely happy

12th Oct 2018 JD releases statement “feels bad” for backlash JKR is receiving over casting.

22nd Mar 2019 The Ink Black Heart is registered.

25th Jan 2020 JKR announces as yet unnamed Troubled Blood is finished.

31st Jan 2020 MM tweets. Roses.

6th Nov 2020 JD resigns from Fantastic Beasts following failure of libel against Sun newspaper.

1st Feb 2021 MM accused of abuse by former fiancée, followed by many others.

The roses appear just days after the manuscript for Troubled Blood is finished, but ten months after The Ink Black Heart is trademarked, and presumably at least plotted. Both Rowling and Manson have provided support to Depp throughout his very vocal ‘cancelling’.

For me the most likely possibilities are:

1. Assistance in developing or correcting the occult/demonic/satanic aspects of Troubled Blood. He doesn’t appear in the acknowledgments, but perhaps this is understandable given Rowling’s experience of the American evangelical backlash to Potter.

2. Thanks for supporting Johnny Depp, or in response to Manson’s thanks to Rowling for standing with him.

3. Something to do with The Ink Black Heart.

J. K. Rowling has never shied from controversy, where that controversy has a point. She is loyal, and will place herself in uncomfortable positions, in defence of friends, but unless there is something significant that we don’t know, I don’t think Marilyn Manson is within this circle. My personal view is that the use of Manson lyrics as epigraphs within this latest book, after the many abuse allegations have been made public is not likely. This would be a controversy without a point at this stage. The only possibility would be if those lyrics, from that artist is vital to the plot – and then pity the poor publicists.


  1. Your April 26 post says the title was registered in 2020, not 2019. Which is correct?

  2. Nick Jeffery says

    Great spot Karol, thank you! Three trademark was registered in the UK in 2019, one year before Pharoah Investments Ltd. was incorporated. This may have been caused there being a defunct company also called Pharoah Investments on the UK register which was dissolved in 2015. I’ve corrected the April post, thank you again for your close attention!

  3. Louise Freeman says

    Pure speculation, but what of this as a possible explanation?

    It is easy for me to imagine that JKR/RG originally planned another book between LW and TB, to take place during that gap of almost a year (September 2012 to August 2013). It could have been planned as a much more explicit echo of CoE, with Marilyn Manson lyrics instead of Blue Oyster Cult. Whittaker, avowed Satanist who gave his son the middle name of LeVey, would almost certainly have been a fan. It would have been logical for Strike to take on Whittaker at this point, and possibly meet his younger brother in the process. Perhaps this book was even been the mysterious “Last Cries of Men,” the title that was trademarked in fall 2015, well before “Troubled Blood” in 2019.

    The floods of Troubled Blood would then have served as the purifying albedo, rather than the dissolving nigredo.

    If this was the plan, JKR/RG would presumably have been in touch with MM’s people about using his lyrics circa 2015-16. However, MM baggage started popping up within a year or so, according to this timeline:

    One MM’s longtime band members was accused of sexual abuse and dismissed from the band in October 2017. Manson himself was publicly accused of sexual harassment by an actress from the TV series House in February 2018, and had a police report (though no formal charges) filed against him in August 2018. Turing this same time, MM’s accuser, actress Evan Rachel Wood was testifying publicly about her history of sexual abuse, though she did not explicitly name Manson as her abuser until 2021. I don’t know how common the knowledge about their previous engagement was, but it seems highly likely that people working with Manson knew he was a likely candidate for this unnamed alleged abuser.

    If so, the accusations around Manson, coupled with the flack she was already taking for her defense of Johnny Depp, may have prompted JKR to either scrap this putative MM-lyric-based Whittaker story or postpone it until later in the series, and allow the scandal surrounding MM to be resolved. The gift of flowers, coming in close conjunction to her announcement that TB would be the next book released, might have been a kind of apology to MM: “I’m sorry I had to skip “your” book in the absence of proved wrongdoing.”

    Again, pure guesswork on my part, but that’s part of the fun.

  4. I’m going to repost something I essentially said on Twitter, because I think it’s important.

    I just want to clarify something, because I have been searching – Manson thanked Rowling for sending him roses, but it is not clear to me that she ever acknowledged/responded in any way. In addition, he thanked her twice – once in a reply to a totally random Tweet she had made a year before, and then, the same day, as a separate Tweet on his account. I am … suspicious… and unless someone can give me proof that she ever publicly thanked him or acknowledged the roses with a like or anything at all, I am going to propose that maybe she never sent Manson roses at all. To me, it actually seems like maybe he was trying to provoke her or get her attention in some way.

    Also, unless I am misunderstanding Twitter, the Tweet that he made is gone from his “wall” or whatever you call it (it was made on January 31, 2020). It shows up in search results of retweets where people retweeted with commentary, but not if you scroll his Twitter feed (once again, I’m not the best Twitter user, so I could be wrong). This makes me think he removed the Tweet.

    That said, the image of the roses looks suspiciously like it’s a bouquet of 50 red roses, which immediately makes me think of Career of Evil and those mysterious roses that are still possibly an unsolved mystery,

    At any rate, I have a hard time tying anything about Marilyn Manson into guesses about the books, simply because I don’t think there’s hard proof that she sent him roses. I could Tweet to her a thanks for roses if I wanted, and it would be my word against hers (if anyone can find proof that she acknowledged this Tweet, I’ll change my tune)

  5. Nick Jeffery says

    Hello Louise, I like your theory a lot. It certainly explains the strange trademark timings, but it does make me shiver at the thought of a lost J. K. Rowling novel.

    Hello zsenyasq, Manson’s tweet and reply are still live, so he hasn’t deleted them. Rowling didn’t and doesn’t follow Manson on twitter, so it is possible (but perhaps not likely) that she wasn’t aware of the tweets. She certainly didn’t reply to either. I remember checking at the time to see if she had liked them and I never saw any evidence of that. But as tweets can be liked at any time after they are posted, I can’t be certain of that. The one point that tips me towards believing the gift is genuine, is that it would take are very careful Rowling observer to know that flowers (and in particular roses) are a signature non-book gift from JKR. Either that or Manson joins a very select group of Galbraith fans who know of the mystery of the 50 roses. Thank you for the comment zsenyasq, it certainly deserves it’s place as a possible solution to the riddle.

  6. Zsen,

    Your comment got wanting to do a bit of digging, in order to see if it was possible to find out anything, one way or the other. Here is all I’ve been able to find.

    To start with, it is claimed that Manson posted the Roses image, and his accompanying comment, onto his Instagram account, not Twitter. That apparently came later on. I have discovered this information from the following article:

    In addition, my initial search engine entry was enough to call up the specific tweet in question, right from the horse’s mouth, complete in its original blue check account:

    This at least confirms that he still has the tweet up. As for what it means, there is at least one alternate possibility. It’s been speculated that the roses were meant for the singer, and not the author. However, what if the situation is actually back to front, and Manson has sent Rowling the bouquet in response to something else?

    What if she simply asked Manson’s permission to quote from some of his lyrics in a future Strike book, and this was his way of being flattered, and showing some gratitude?

    Anyway, that just strikes me (no pun intended) as one alternative answer to things. Beyond this, the best source of information I’ve got about Book 6 comes from the good folk over at StrikeFans. They’ve compiled a timeline of events that could take place during the year in which “Ink-Black Heart” is set. Some of it may have the potential to effect the plot in some way:

  7. Thanks for the clarification, Nick. I can see the Tweets, so yes – they are still there – I just could only find the one direct tweet in searches, not on his feed. But the one was in a reply to another Rowling Tweet and I suspect he realized it must have been buried there. So remove my comment about them being deleted!
    But until she publicly acknowledges them (she has to know about them at this point), I’m on the fence. I do think it’s possible she would have consulted him on something, but I’d rather hear it from her directly.

  8. I don’t know why I am obsessing over this, but I am. So here, for my own clarification… There were two Tweets. This one at 1:40am that was a direct tweet: (@jk_rowling
    Thank You J.K. Rowling for the lovely, unexpected gift.)

    And this one: from 1:45am, which was a reply tweet (Replying to @jk_rowling
    Thanks for the lovely flowers.) on a JKR Tweet from a year earlier (this one:

    It was also posted on Instagram on January 31 with a slightly different message: (What a surprise to wake up to this morning! Thank you J.K. Rowling.)

    I’m going to stop with the rabbit hole – I know people often post on multiple platforms, and maybe he just really, really wanted her to see it. Kind of seems like overkill to me. But as to why… of course the simplest solution is that she sent him roses and he really, really wanted to say thank you…

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