The Mysterious Rowling Twitter Anagram

I searched the internet recently for connections between Agatha Christie and J. K. Rowling lest I find at the end of a long road that someone has already traveled it and written the travelogue. I found this note at the bottom of a 2014 NPR page whose feature was about a lost Christie longbox:

A Possible Potter Puzzle: J.K. Rowling dipped a toe in Twitter on Monday, apparently just to stir things up. When anything Harry Potter is remotely involved, that’s not hard to do. After mentioning Sunday that she was working on a novel and editing a screenplay, she responded to fans’ excited guesses at the novel’s topic, tweeting, “See, now I’m tempted to post a riddle or an anagram.” Hours afterward came this little riddle:

Answers to the riddle have as yet proved inconclusive.

Rowling was outed as the writer behind ‘Robert Galbraith’ in July 2013. In September 2013 Warner Brothers had announced that Rowling was writing a screenplay for Fantastic Beasts. Why in October 2014 were the guesses about this supposed anagram on her Twitter feed not about Cormoran Strike and Newt Scamander?

More to the point, can anyone find Newt’s and Cormoran’s full names in this tweet along with a message?

If you pull out the letters for ‘Cormoran Strike mystery,’ you’re left with a-a-a-a-d-e-e-e-f-f-h-l-n-n-n-n-n-o-o-o-t-t-u-w-w-w-w-y. Spelling ‘Newt Scamander story’ leaves a-a-a-e-e-e-f-f-h-i-k-l-m-n-n-n-n-o-o-o-o-r-r-s-t-u-w-w-y-y.

There is only one ‘c’ so ‘Cormoran’ and ‘Career of Evil’ together is not possible. There aren’t any ‘b’s so ‘Robin,’ Fantastic Beasts, and Albus Dumbeldore are out. The solo ‘c’ also precludes ‘Scamander’ and ‘Jacob.’ The solo ‘k’ means ‘Kowalski’ is a non-starter. ‘Tina’ works but the absence of a ‘g’ or a ‘q’ means ‘Queenie’ and ‘Goldstein’ won’t work, not to mention ‘Gellert’ or ‘Grindelwald.’

It’s supposed to be about the novel’s topic, though, right? So forget Warner Brothers; we’re talking Career of Evil.

Working with the remainders from ‘Cormoran Strike mystery, ‘Leda’ works as does ‘death’ but not both. Jonny Rokeby is impossible (and he no-shows Career). Shanker, Whittaker, Laing, Brockbank, Digger Malley – all fail.

Love to hear your ideas!


  1. Beatrice Groves says

    It was solved (that ‘answers proved inconclusive’ is a red herring I think!) – one fan replied ‘Newt Scamander only meant to stay in New York for a few hours… ‘ – and Rowling confirmed that was correct ‘@jk_rowling Replying to @EmyBemy2
    YES!!!!!!!!!!!! People, we have a winner!
    9:51 PM · Oct 7, 2014’ – also confirming ‘The solution is the first sentence of a synopsis of Newt’s story. It isn’t part of the script, but sets the scene.’

  2. Thanks, Prof Groves!

    I guess if you pulled out ‘Newt Scamander’ and ‘New York’ the puzzle gets easier for the experts. I don’t have the first bit of luck with anagrams.

    And it’s a bit of a cheat if the test was set for the subject of the novel she was working on. Newt’s story would be a screenplay, right?

    Either way, this synopsis opener definitely is meaningful, maybe even deadly, with respect to the theory that Newt was DDore’s knowing agent in NYC (on top of Scamander’s indignation in ‘Crimes of Grindelwald’ about being manipulated into conflict with MACUSA and GrindelGraves…).

  3. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    Jolly! Any (1) literary quotations, or (2) further bits of plot synopsis in the anagrammatized form? The first bit sounds not unShakespearean (cf. Mark Antony’s “Cry ‘Havoc!,’ and let slip the dogs of war”), while “fa awry” sounds like Scots…

  4. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    I don’t have any real sense of how ‘fan (dis)satisfaction’ with HP prequellary (to perhaps coin a term) compares with those respecting either Lucas or Disney Star Wars prequellary, but my own sense of the FB plot-and-dialogue details feels far less sharp than re. HP films or books (even after all the fine posts I’ve read here)… but (with due apologies for any gaucherie) my impression is that this synopsis opener definitely is meaningful, but not necessarily even approaching deadly, with respect to the theory that Newt was DDore’s knowing agent in NYC – depending on the accent one puts on “stay in New York for a few hours” – for, might it not mean he meant to get the western part – or heart? – of his mission accomplished first, as soon as possible, and then return to NYC (or range elsewhere?) as DDore’s knowing agent in North America? (Or, again, might DD be almost a sort of Wagnerian Wotan to Newt as he later will be to Harry – to similar effect, here in putting the ‘likely’ (slightly ‘knowing’) person in (flexibly) ‘targetted circumstances’ and letting him tackle them as seems fit?)

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