On Thursday, May 19, Joe Alwyn appeared on The Kelly Clarkson Show in order to promote his new Hulu series, Conversations With Friends. At one point, Clarkson asked Alwyn what it was like co-writing songs with his girlfriend Taylor Swift for her Folklore and Evermore albums, and why he used the pseudonym William Bowery for their collaborations.
“You did it under a pseudonym. It wasn’t your name,” Clarkson said, before asking Alwyn why he wanted to remain anonymous.
“We chose to do it so the people first and foremost would listen to the music before dissecting the fact that we did it together,” the 31-year-old actor said. “We did it under [the] name William Bowery.”
After Clarkson called the name “very fancy,” Alwyn agreed, saying, it “sounds like a kind of Agatha Christie character that should be wearing a monocle with a big mustache.”
Alwyn then explained where he got the inspiration for the name. “It was a combination,” he said. “William, my great-grandfather, who I actually never met was a composer. He wrote a lot of classical music and he wrote a lot of film scores, and then Bowery is the area in New York that I spent a lot of time in when I first went over there.”
After Swift dropped her Folklore album in July 2020, fans immediately thought Alwyn was secretly William Bowery. First of all, they knew Swift was no stranger to using pseudonyms in her music. In 2016, she co-wrote a song for her then-boyfriend Calvin Harris and Rihanna’s single “This Is What You Came For” under the name Nils Sjöberg.
Second, after researching Alwyn online, Swifties discovered his great-grandfather was named William. Finally, fans remembered when Swift and Alwyn began dating in October 2016 — five months after her reported breakup with Harris, the couple reportedly hung out at the Bowery Hotel, which only added to the speculation Alwyn was behind the name William Bowery.
Swift finally confirmed the theories in November 2020. According to Entertainment Tonight, in her Disney+ concert film, folklore: the long pond studio sessions, she said, “There’s been a lot of discussion about William Bowery and his identity. He’s not a real person. William Bowery is Joe.”
So, there you have it. Swifties were right all along about the meaning behind the name!
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