McEwan, Forna, Craig and Rooney sign letter defending Rowling

McEwan, Forna, Craig and Rooney sign letter defending Rowling

Authors Ian McEwan, Aminatta Forna, Amanda Craig and Rachel Rooney are among 58 people in the arts to sign a letter to the Times defending J K Rowling against "hate speech" on social media.

Citing the hashtag #RIPJKRowling, the signatories said the author had been "subjected to an onslaught of abuse that highlights an insidious, authoritarian and misogynistic trend in social media" although she has "consistently shown herself to be an honourable and compassionate person".

Joined by other writers including Lionel Shriver and Susan Hill, journalists Sam Leith and Nick Cohen and actors Alexander Armstrong and Griff Rhys Jones, the signatories said the hashtag was "appalling" and "just the latest example of hate speech directed against her and other women that Twitter and other platforms enable and implicitly endorse". 

"We are signing this letter in the hope that, if more people stand up against the targeting of women online, we might at least make it less acceptable to engage in it or profit from it," they said.

"We wish J K Rowling well and stand in solidarity with her."

Rowling has been a contentious figure for her controversial stance on issues affecting transgender people. The hashtag #RIPJKRowling trended when an early review of her latest book under the pen name Robert Galbriath, Troubled Blood, suggested the book features a male serial killer who likes to cross-dress.

Despite the controversy surrounding it, Troubled Blood has been selling strongly since publication, going straight to number one in the UK Official Top 50 after selling 64,633 copies in its first week on sale. According to Little, Brown, as well as selling more in its first day on sale than its predecessor in the series sold in a week, it has had the biggest pre-order and first week sale of any audiobook ever published across Hachette UK, with over 33,000 audio copies sold. Combined with hardback and e-book sales, total first-week sales across hardback, e-book and audio formats added up to more than 147,000 copies, it reported.