Professor Reichsmotif was a recipient of the Catholic women's college's Patriotism Award and discoverer of synthetic yaws (Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies, 75).


The name is a play on the term leitmotif (or leitmotiv, German for “leading motive”), a melodic theme associated with a particular character, place, thing, or idea[1].  By substituting reich (German for “rich,” but usually pertaining to an empire)[2], Bellairs awakens echoes of the Third Reich, a part of the not-so-distant past at the time.

"This marks the second reference (following Twilight of the Gonads) in the chapter to Richard Wagner as leitmotifs appear throughout Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung tetraology.  Nothing profound was intended here, I believe, but please note that whenever Bellairs wanted to sound particularly pompous, he would make up pseudo-Germanic words and names.[3]"


  1. Wikipedia: Leitmotif
  2. Wikipedia: Reich
  3. Correspondence with Alfred Myers.