At The Guardian, Simon Osbourne examines the Dickens Code, a project in which a group of decoders teamed up to decipher the shorthand hieroglyphics Charles Dickens used in his letters and documents. More recently, the project sent out a call for amateur sleuths to enter a competition to transcribe one of 10 documents written in the Victorian author’s maddening scrawl, with the winner being awarded a monetary prize. This particular document is a mystery letter that has been kept for more than a century in a New York library. The sleuths helped figure out it is the “Tavistock Letter,” which reveals a troubled period in Dickens’s life, one where a “once canny businessman reached a fraught juncture in his love life and literary career, and is now leaning on his connections and the courts for help.” The £300 prize was awarded to Shane Baggs, a Californian IT worker and code enthusiast, who solved the most symbols.
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