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"I Am Begging Elly Conway To Come Out Of The Shadows": Here's Who The Most Likely Author Of "Argylle" Actually Is

Argylle, the new movie directed by Matthew Vaughn, is based on a book. Or is it?

A man wearing a protective mask and holding a cat
Peter Mountain / Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

The book it claims to be based on is written by Elly Conway — ostensibly a real person. When the movie was first announced, the fact that it was based on a book seemed pretty standard — even if said book hadn't been released yet, which isn't uncommon. Matthew had even claimed to have read an "early draft" of the manuscript.

Matthew and wife Claudia Schiffer at a media event
Karwai Tang / WireImage

Suspicion over Elly's identity began mounting in 2022 when the Hollywood Reporter was unable to verify any details about her or get in contact with her. Given that the movie deal was worth a reported $200 million, it would be huge news for a debut author to be involved in such a sum.

Chris Stanley holding the book Argylle by Elly Conway open
Don Arnold / WireImage

When more details about the movie's plot came out, eyebrows were further raised. The movie stars Bryce Dallas Howard as Elly Conway, a spy thriller author who finds out that her writing reflects what's actually happening in the spy world. Capers featuring Henry Cavill, Samuel L. Jackson, John Cena, and Dua Lipa ensue. The book, on the other hand, doesn't seem to have any metafictional elements.

Cast members Henry, Dua, Bryce, and Sam Roswell at a media event
Lia Toby / Getty Images

Given that Matthew recently said, "There is a Elly Conway. I am begging Elly Conway to come out of the shadows," it's time to put it to rest: Who is Elly Conway?

Bryce with caption "Who is Elly Conway?"
Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection

According to Penguin Random House, "Elly Conway is the author of the debut thriller Argylle, the inspiration for the upcoming film of the same name. She lives somewhere in the United States."

A map of the US with a big question mark written over it
CSA Images / Getty Images/CSA Images RF

The publisher describes the book this way: "The globe-trotting spy thriller that inspired the upcoming action blockbuster Argylle." It even says "the book that inspired the major motion picture" right on the front cover.

Close-up of the book cover
Don Arnold / WireImage

Elly's Instagram page gives little detail as to the writer's identity beyond some Argylle promotional photos, pictures of other thrillers, and a handful of snaps of day-to-day activities, mainly involving food.

From "Elly Conway": How do you fluster an introvert? Publish her first novel, have Matthew Vaughn buy the movie rights, then tell her she has to start using social media for "visibility"; so I've returned to where I feel the most at home
Elly Conway / Via instagram.com

However, if you go to her Instagram comments, they seem to only be asking one thing:

"Is Elly Conway actually Taylor Swift?"
Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection

A Scottish Fold cat! A cat backpack! Cardigans! After all, wouldn't it make sense for the queen of Easter eggs and cryptic releases to be behind such a mysterious tome? Plenty of folks online certainly thought so.

Close-up of Taylor outside wearing a coat
Gotham / GC Images

Alas, Matthew also owns a Scottish Fold cat (after his family saw Miss Americana). He confirmed, "There is an Elly Conway who wrote the book, but it’s not Taylor Swift. And I say that because I imagine Taylor Swift has a load of people trying to jump on her bandwagon left, right, and center, and I don’t want to be a part of that club."

A cat in a backpack that Taylor's wearing
Netflix

That's not to say Taylor had no influence on the character of Elly. “The reality is, she was in many ways a great inspiration," Bryce recently said. “She is a cat lady. She’s got this awesome backpack with a cat in [it] that she walks around with. She loves a good argyle sweater, and there is a sort of unapologetic dorkiness about her."

Bryce and Samuel
Peter Mountain / Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection, Taylor Swift Productions

So, who else's name has floated around?

"Is Elly Conway actually JK Rowling?"
Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection

Another theory floating around on TikTok is that Elly Conway is, in fact, writer and noted anti-trans ranter J.K. Rowling.

Close-up of Rowling on the red carpet
Dave Benett / Dave Benett / WireImage

Why? Well, Matthew said at New York Comic Con last year, “I just loved the idea of what would happen if a wizard went to J.K. Rowling in Book 3 and said, ‘You know what? Wizards are real. Hogwarts is real. I’m real. I’m going to show you what it’s really like,’ and going on an adventure." He added, "So Elly Conway, I think, in real life will become a J.K. Rowling of spy movies, of spy novels.”

Dua dancing
Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

So, the theory goes, why not use J.K. herself? It would certainly behoove a studio to distance themselves from the aforementioned anti-trans toxicity via a pen name, or so it's said.

A man with long hair, a beard, and a mustache sitting on a train and holding a copy of Argylle
Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

However, there's someone else that Matthew is loosely connected to that makes more sense.

"Is Elly Conway an established author?"
Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection

Terry Hayes's name has been thrown around, since Matthew was set to direct the movie version of his 2013 debut spy thriller, I Am Pilgrim. Terry also has screenwriting credits, which would make him attuned to the world of *gestures* showbiz.

Bryan Cranston holding a backpack with a cat in it
Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Washington Post reporter Sophia Nguyen did a lot of wonderful work that led her to Robert Massey, a British astronomer who is thanked in the acknowledgments of Argylle. He told her that the writer he spoke to on contract for Penguin Random House was Tammy Cohen.

Dua on a bike aiming a weapon
Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Tammy Cohen, who has also written under the names Tamar Cohen and Rachel Rhys, is an author whose credits include When She Was Bad andThey All Fall Down. She has a connection to Matthew: Her agent, Felicity Blunt, is married to The King's Man actor Stanley Tucci.

Meme of conspiracy theory guy, Charlie Kelly from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, in a shirt and tie, with Stanley headshot in the middle
FX / Getty Images

BuzzFeed has contacted Felicity for comment, but it seems fairly likely that we won't hear much about Elly's identity for a little while. After all, it got us here, right?