Taylor Swift has a song called “Mastermind” for a reason — that woman always has something up her sleeve. We’ve seen Blondie fill her music videos with Easter eggs, and Mother recently sent us all into detective mode with her 1989 (TV) Google vault puzzles. But recently, fans believe that Swift has a whole other career as a novelist under a pseudonym. Swifties, we need to have a discussion: Is Taylor Swift moonlighting as Elly Conway, the writer of Argylle?
Now, if you’re confused, I don’t blame you. In fact, when I first heard about this theory, I couldn’t believe it myself. But after some digging, the pieces all started to fall into place — and the answer is right there. Essentially, the theory goes that Taylor Swift has actually been writing, and publishing, books under the pseudonym Elly Conway. Reportedly, one of these books, Argylle, is being used as the inspiration for a new Matthew Vaughn spy thriller of the same name — which stars Dua Lipa, Henry Cavill, and others.
In theory, this all sounds like some mastermind-level plot to get Swift charting as a bestselling author. However (and I hate to break it to you), the Taylor Swift/Elly Conway theory has a few major plotholes.
OK, Who is Elly Conway?
According to Amazon, Elly Conway is the author of the debut thriller Argylle ($28). Her author page is (purposefully) vague, and doesn’t include any photos of the supposed author. Additionally, there is no location listed for the author, with her bio reading that she lives somewhere in the United States. Given the vagueness of the author listing, anyone can assume that Elly Conway is, well, anyone — even Taylor Swift.
But, the plot thickens! Elly Conway has an active Instagram, where she began promoting Argylle back in December 2022. The Instagram is full of snapshots of NYC streetscapes, desserts, books, and promotions for the upcoming release.
The wildest part of all, however, is that Conway’s book, Argylle, was reportedly acquired for $200,000,000 by Apple Studios. Now, there’s no exact source for this, but the film’s director, Matthew Vaughn, stated that his film is based off of an unpublished author’s first book. “When I read this early draft manuscript, I felt it was the most incredible and original spy franchise since Ian Fleming’s books of the ’50s. This is going to reinvent the spy genre,” Vaughn said previously.
What is Argylle about?
Stay with me, here — this is where things get dicey. Conway’s novel — which remains unavailable to purchase — is a spy thriller about the mysterious agent Argylle who teams up with the CIA’s most legendary spymaster to stop a dangerous, tyrannical ploy.
However, the Argylle film tells a different story — literally. In the film, Elly Conway is a fictional character who is launched into an IRL espionage after the events of her books get a little too close to the real-life workings of a sinister spy syndicate. With her cat, Chip, in tow, the once timid author is thrown into the world she has been writing for years.
The trailer for Argylle features the character Elly Conway, who fans have been quick to compare to Taylor Swift. From the bangs to the cat backpack, Swifties are drawing a ton of parallels between Bryce Dallas-Howard’s character and Swift — especially as she appears in the “All Too Well (TV)” music video. I mean, I see it. Do you?
Based on these facts, and the trailer for Argylle, Swifties have thrown themselves into a frenzy about who Elly Conway is, if she’s even real at all. And, I may be eating my words later down the line, but I think this is all just a genius marketing ploy to get folks talking about the film. Oops! Sorry!
No, the Argylle film was not written by Taylor Swift.
Don’t shoot the messenger! A quick Google search will let you know that the film Argylle wasn’t written by Conway, or even Swift for that matter. The film was actually written by Jason Fuchs, who previously penned the screenplay for Wonder Woman. The film, directed by Kingsman‘s Matthew Vaughn, also isn’t listed officially as being based on previous material. And, given the fact that the Argylle book literally does not exist at this point in time (you can preorder it on Amazon, though), it doesn’t seem like Conway is anything more than a fictional character.
But what about the fact that Elly Conway looks like Taylor Swift in the trailer? Or that Chip the Cat’s Instagram follows Taylor Swift?! Call me a cynic, but I think this is just the magic of film marketing. As someone who studied, and worked in, the film industry — I have a B.F.A. in film from one of the nation’s premier film schools — I can sniff out a film marketing stunt like it’s my mom’s pancit.
Creating a fake Instagram account for a film’s characters is nothing new. In fact, Thirteen Reasons Why created Instagram accounts for each of the characters in the show to give the illusion that these are real people. Since Argylle is about a “real” author’s spiral into espionage, it only makes sense to really play up the “real” factor by giving her an Instagram.
Unlike me, some Swifites are choosing to hold onto the theory — especially since the cat featured is a Scottish Fold, which Swift has an affinity for. So, is Taylor Swift really involved in the film? Or is the marketing point-person just a massive Swiftie? I guess only time will tell.