Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn
Credit: Jackson Lee/GC Images

Taylor Swift's surprise album Folklore has been out for less than 24 hours, and the internet is already obsessively dissecting every facet of it, as the internet is wont to do. Amid all the usual Easter eggs and elliptical references, one persistent mystery has emerged: Who is William Bowery?

Swift named Bowery among her collaborators in her Instagram post announcing the album, and he's credited as a co-writer on two songs, "Exile" and "Betty." But strangely, no other songwriting credits seem to exist for someone by that name, leading many to believe "William Bowery" is a pseudonym. Such a thing would not be unprecedented; Swift used the name "Nils Sjöberg" as her co-writing credit on Calvin Harris' "This Is What You Came For" in 2016. But who could this so-called Bowery be?

Swiftie sleuths are pointing to a few potential candidates, including Joni Mitchell, which seems, shall we say, a tad unlikely. The evidence here consists of longstanding speculation that Swift's song "The Lucky One" is about the "Both Sides, Now" songwriter, and the fact that one of Mitchell's paintings is called "Bowery Bum." That's what we in the journalism world call thin.

Far more convincing is the more widely held theory that Swift's boyfriend Joe Alwyn is the concocted co-writer. Swift has been dating the London native since 2016, and one of their first meetings was evidently at a party at New York's Bowery Hotel in October of that year. What's more, Alwyn's great-grandfather was a composer and conductor named William Alwyn. A bit convoluted, perhaps, but not as altogether unlikely as the Mitchell theory.

Other users deduced that Alwyn's mother's name is Elizabeth, hence the song title "Betty." Though, incidentally, there is also speculation that "Betty" was Swift's cryptic way of revealing the name of Ryan Reynolds' and Blake Lively's third child, who was born last year and whose name has not been revealed to the public.

Representatives for Swift did not immediately respond to EW's request for comment. (We imagine they're a little busy today.) But if Alwyn is indeed the mysterious songwriter, he's run doubly afoul of that ancient axiom: Neither a Bowery nor a Londoner be.

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