Taylor Swift's new album could be an important history lesson

Taylor Swift wears many hats, from singer-songwriter and performer to director and actor. But if some theories surrounding her upcoming 11th studio album , The Tortured Poets Department, prove correct, she might be adding history professor to her resume.

While Swift's "Torture Poet" tracklist looks like it could be a Joe Alwyn breakup album on the surface, it's actually packed with historical references, from Disney princesses to women who seemed to have influenced Swift. That focus becomes clearer with the release of each new bonus track, with fans connecting the song titles to unsung women and overlooked events in history.

Granted, it's possible that Swift's song title is a red herring, but Tormented Poet may well just be an important history lesson, something that's been emphasized by the academic, British scholar vibe of the album's merchandise and visuals thus far.

If her 2020 albums Folklore and Evermore emphasized fictional narratives, with Swift crafting tales of infidelity, hometown flings and high school love triangles, Tortured Poets seems poised to become their historical nonfiction opponent. Read on for all the Easter eggs pointing to this theory.


Taylor Swift will perform in Sydney, Australia on February 23, 2024. Don Arnold/TAS24/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

When Swift dropped the third Tortured Poets bonus track, "The Albatross," during her Sydney show on February 23, fans connected it to an unusual event in New York history. In 1903, a fire broke out at the Albatross Hotel in Coney Island on the west end of the Bowery, reportedly caused by a former employee pining for a woman who was in love with the hotel owner.

After announcing "Albatross," Swift sang "Coney Island , " seemingly hinting at the origins of the new song. Additionally, references to Bowery date back to Alvin, who used William Bowie when he co-wrote songs with Swift on her past three albums, Folklore , Forever, and Midnight. Urry as a pen name.


After Swift announced the album's second bonus track, "The Bolter," some Reddit fans linked the song to Idina Sackville, a member of the Kenyan band Happy Valley in the 1930s. She was married and divorced five times throughout her life, earning her the nickname "Bolt." Sackville's great-granddaughter Frances Osborne even wrote a book about her ancestor called The Bombers .

While there is no known direct connection between Swift and Sackville, fans have speculated that the new song may draw parallels between Sackville's life and her own public reputation.

"Klara Bow"

Hollywood movie star Clara Bow in the 1920s, photographed around 1928 . John Kobal Foundation/Moviepix/Getty Images

The album's final track, "Clara Bow," appears to be named after the late actor. Bow rose to fame as a silent film star in the 1920s and was even one of the first women to be called an "It Girl" before retiring from show business in 1933.

Like many stars who came after her, Bowe's love life was a tabloid focus even in the 1920s. Swift knows this feeling all too well (pun intended). Even Bow's family (who had no prior knowledge of the song) noticed the similarities between her and Swift.

"But dad I love him"

When Swift announced the "Torture Poet" tracklist, fans immediately connected "But Daddy I Love Him" ​​to Ariel from The Little Mermaid . When the Disney princesses' father, King Triton, tried to ban Ariel from traveling to the surface to meet Prince Eric, she told him the infamous line: "But daddy, I love him," later sacrificing her voice to become of humanity.

Swift is a huge fan of The Little Mermaid and she dressed up as Ariel for a New Year's Eve party in 2019, so it's likely "But Dad I Love Him" ​​was inspired by Ariel's story and connected to her own life, many of which Fans speculate that the song is one of many about Alvin.