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Argylle: Who is the writer whose novel is behind Henry Cavill's upcoming spy thriller?

That question in itself is a surprising mystery with no clear answer.

Image credit: Apple TV+

Who is Elly Conway?

There is a lot of confusion — and a small level of controversy — surrounding just who came up with Argylle, the new project from Kick-Ass and Kingsman director Matthew Vaughn. Officially, the project is an adaptation of a yet-to-be-published debut novel by an unknown writer named Elly Conway… but, two years after the project was officially announced, the book has yet to appear, and Conway herself remains as much of a mystery as she did when her name was first released.

Officially, the release of the Argylle novel has been pushed back multiple times since the world first learned of its existence in June 2021. At that point, the novel was scheduled for a September 29 2022 release, before getting moved to March 30, 2023. It’s since been pushed out again, and is now anticipated to arrive January 9, 2024. That would be odd enough — what book is complete enough to be optioned ahead of its release, yet so incomplete that it’s not been published until a year-and-a-half later than its original date — but then there’s the matter of the fact that… Conway might not actually exist.

The biography of Conway on Penguin Books’ website is a simple one: “Elly Conway is the author of the heavily anticipated debut thriller, Argylle. She lives in the United States and is currently working on the next installment in the series.” Short, sweet, and… entirely without any actual information about the author.

Searching online won’t help; Conway has no significant digital footprint, outside of an Instagram account with no posts. Curiously enough, there is a deleted Twitter account called @TheEllyConway, and also another Twitter account for an Ellie Conway — a spelling of the first name that was initially used in early news reports about Argylle — that seem to belong to another writer altogether called Cat Conner.

To add more intrigue, when the Hollywood Reporter tried to ask Ballantine Books, which will publish Argylle in the US, about the author, the imprint apparently stopped responding to questions altogether. Requests to speak to Conway’s agent similarly went unanswered.

All of which raises the obvious question: is Conway real? This wouldn’t be entirely unexpected; the first-time writer for 2017’s Logan Lucky was similarly believed to be a pseudonym for a more established writer, after all. But if that’s the case, then who is Conway a front for?

Two names immediately spring to mind. The first is Jane Goldman, Vaughn’s collaborator on Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class, and the Kingsmen movies. Her resume has been remarkably light recently, with only her uncredited work on The Little Mermaid to show for the last three years that anyone knows about… which surely means there’s enough time to help create Vaughan’s next big cinematic franchise. If not Goldman, there’s someone a little more unexpected — Mark Millar, who has worked with Vaughn on a number of comics-to-movies projects before now. While he’s never written a novel before (which, honestly, might explain why it keeps being pushed back…), he is the kind of writer who loves the high concept “James Bond but better” idea behind Argylle… and he’s also someone who, thanks to his Millarworld deal with Netflix, would have reason to hide behind a fake name in working on this project, potentially.

Of course, perhaps Conway is real, and just a very private individual. At this stage, with months to go before the book’s release, it’s hard to tell what is true and what is just speculation and rumor. But one thing’s for sure — this is the kind of thing that will make more people be paying attention with Argylle does hit the shelves in January. Perhaps that’s the whole point all along.

Everything you want to know about Argylle — other than the writer’s identity — can be found right here.

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About the Author
Graeme McMillan avatar

Graeme McMillan

Staff Writer

Popverse staff writer Graeme McMillan (he/him) has been writing about comics, culture, and comics culture on the internet for close to two decades at this point, which is terrifying to admit. He completely understands if you have problems understanding his accent.

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