The Latest Taylor Swift Conspiracy Theory Involves … a Spy Novel?

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Getty Images, Retailer

Taylor Swift can seemingly do it all: Produce a record-breaking tour. Win Album of the Year at the Grammys three times over. Stomach a three-plus-hour Kansas City Chiefs game. But unfortunately for Swifties, “secret spy novelist” does not appear to be on the singer’s growing list of talents.

Last week, a new Taylor Swift conspiracy involving cat backpacks, redheads, and argyle sweaters started making the rounds. The theory, which has been gaining traction online over the past year or so, centers on the just-released spy novel Argylle and its pseudonymous author, “Elly Conway.” Though the book was released by Bantam Books and Penguin Random in January, Deadline announced back in 2021 that the Bond-esque novel would be adapted into a big-budget film directed by Matthew Vaughn and starring Dua Lipa, Henry Cavill, John Cena, and Bryce Dallas Howard.

Prior to 2022, there was virtually no trace of a so-called debut author named Elly Conway, according to the New York Post. But when Apple TV+ dropped a trailer for the film in September 2023, Swifties — intrepid bread-crumb followers that they are — found some suspicious catnip: evidence that they believed proved Elly Conway was really Taylor Alison Swift.

“Argylle?!” one TikToker wrote in a post documenting the theory. “Like, girl loves an argyle sweater.”

Aside from the novel’s name loosely alluding to Swift’s penchant for wearing argyle sweaters, internet users had pointed out that the film’s main character carries a Scottish fold in a cat backpack. (Swift has two Scottish folds and was filmed toting a cat backpack in her 2020 Miss Americana documentary.) The other smoking gun, according to Swifties, was the fact that Bryce Dallas Howard, who plays a fictional Conway in the film, has red hair. Swift’s 2021 short film, All Too Well, also features a redheaded writer.

The Washington Post’s Sophia Nguyen debunked the conspiracy earlier this month, noting decidedly that “Taylor Swift didn’t write Argylle.” Nguyen thinks the novel is most likely just a marketing tool for the upcoming film, set to hit theaters on February 2. The other problem, as I see it, is that there’s no way in hell Taylor Swift had time — in the middle of trotting the globe, hiding in janitor carts, and eating chicken with “seemingly ranch” — to pen a thrilling spy novel.

And now, Argylle director Matthew Vaughn has confirmed that Elly Conway is indeed not Miss Americana. “I’m not a big internet guy, and it was actually my daughter who came up to me — this is the power of celebrity and the internet — and said, ‘You never told me Taylor wrote the book!’” Vaughn said. “And I’m looking at her going, ‘What are you talking about Taylor Swift wrote the book? She didn’t write the book!’”

Vaughn not only claims that the mysterious Conway is not Taylor Swift but that Conway is a very real writer who wrote a very real book. “There is a real book … and it’s a really good book. And there is an Elly Conway who wrote the book, but it’s not Taylor Swift,” he said. “I did read the conspiracies and I was like, wow, they don’t leave a stone unturned! But it’s not Taylor Swift. She definitely didn’t write the book.”

At the very least, Vaughn noted that Swift did inspire the purchase of the family’s Scottish fold, named Chip, which is featured in Argylle. The director admitted that Vaughn’s daughters begged their mother, supermodel Claudia Schiffer, to buy them the Swiftian breed for Christmas.

Apologies to the conspiracy theorists, but we’ve got to put this one to bed … where Taylor Swift is probably lying down because she’s tired from having to deal with two conspiracy theories in one week.

This post has been updated.

The Latest Taylor Swift Conspiracy Involves … a Spy Novel?