Could you crack the 'Charles Dickens Code'?

A famous literary mystery has been solved.

An 'impossible' code was finally broken.

Experts and amateurs from around the world worked together to decipher a puzzling set of notes.

Scribbled hastily on a piece of paper more than 160 years ago.

But why the excitement? Why have people been trying to understand them for over a century?

Because they were written by the hand of a literary genius.

The same hand that wrote Great Expectations, Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol.

Charles Dickens.

the charles dickens shorthand code

The notes are Dickens' own version of shorthand, which he called “the Devil's handwriting".

Only he understood his obscure system of letters and symbols, which he used to get his ideas onto paper as quickly as possible.

This newly-translated page, known as the 'Tavistock Letter', dates from May 1859.

It sheds light on Dickens' legal problems surrounding his magazines Household Words and All the Year Round.

But now the code has been cracked, there are dozens more manuscripts to be deciphered.

And some believe there could even be an unpublished Dickens short story lurking in the archives, waiting to be discovered...

 charles dickens at his writing desk

I wanted to share this story with you for a simple reason:

It really gets to the heart of why our hobby is special.

The idea that the handwritten word is a very powerful thing.

It speaks to you across the centuries. It brings you closer to the past.

It could be a signature. A sentence. A personal letter or a great work of literature.

These pieces still crackle with the energy of those who wrote them.

It's that energy that draws us in so strongly. That's why we collect them.

Charles Dickens handwritten passage fom David Copperfield

Take Dickens' favourite of all his own works: David Copperfield.

It's his most autobiographical novel. To read those words on the page is to know him a little better.

But to read them in Charles Dickens' own handwriting...

And to hold that manuscript in your hand, 170 years after his pen touched the paper...

That gives you a direct connection to the man himself.

That's something else entirely. Something truly magical.

So as you build your collection, ask yourself this:

Which historic figures are you drawn to? Who inspires you the most?

Owning something they've signed or handwritten gives you a direct connection you won't find anywhere else.

Song lyrics. Love letters. Poems. Political speeches. Even everyday items like bank cheques and Christmas cards.

All of them can be touched by greatness, with the stroke of a pen.

These are pieces you'll live with for years. They'll give you daily inspiration and a lifetime of pleasure.

And when you're passionate about history, it's your way of bringing these people back to life. Even just for a moment.

When Dickens scribbled his shorthand notes back in 1859, he had no idea they'd get people so excited in 2022.

But like I said, the handwritten word is a powerful thing.

So make sure the next piece in your collection brings you that same excitement.

(And hopefully, it will be a little easier to read!)

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