Two texts in a book written by Renaissance genius Francis Bacon contain hidden messages. Can a reader find them?

Some people believe that Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was the real author of the works attributed to William Shakespeare. Many Baconians, as these people are called, even say that Bacon coded his name in these works using steganograpic techniques. While serious Shakespeare research has long proven the Baconians wrong, it is true that Francis Bacon invented an interesting steganographic method – the Bacon cipher. The Bacon cipher is one of the earliest binary codes in history. Here’s an English version of Bacon’s book chapter describing it.


The Bacon cipher

The purpose of the Bacon cipher is to hide a message in an arbitrary text. In order to use it, we need two different typesets (“a type” and “b type”). In the following I will use ordinary letters as type a and italic bold letters as type b. With these two types we can encode all letters of the alphabet (Bacon used a 25 letter alphabet) as follows:

A: SONNE           B : SONNE          C: SONNE           D: SONNE

E: SONNE           F : SONNE          G: SONNE           H: SONNE

I: SONNE            K : SONNE         L: SONNE           M: SONNE

N: SONNE           O : SONNE         P: SONNE           Q: SONNE

R: SONNE           S : SONNE          T: SONNE           U: SONNE

W: SONNE          X : SONNE         Y: SONNE           Z: SONNE

With the Bacon cipher we can encode the word CRYPTOLOG as follows: “This is an ordinary Text containing a hidden message!”

These are the two typesets Bacon uses in his book:


Here is the word FUGE coded in the phrase MANERE TE VOLO DONEC BENERO, as described by Bacon:



Who can solve these coded texts?

In his book, Bacon introduces two other texts containing hidden messages. Here’s the first one:


The solution isn’t given. Can a reader find it? Here’s the second text:


Again, the solution isn’t given. Can a reader find it?

Further reading: Two unsolved encrypted postcards from London and Chicago

Kommentare (8)

  1. #1 Thomas
    13. November 2016

    I think the first (shorter) text is hidden in the second (longer) text

  2. #2 Thomas
    13. November 2016

    The first text seems to have only one typeset. The second text has two typesets a and b. The first line of the second text, divided into groups of five, yields:
    abbba aabaa baaaa aaabb abaaa baaba aaaaa = perdita

  3. #3 S. Tomokiyo
    13. November 2016

    Yes. The first text is called “interiour letter” and the second text is called “exteriour letter” in an English translation of Bacon’s book, of which my page
    has an excerpt.

  4. #4 Norbert
    13. November 2016

    I agree with Thomas and S. Tomokiyo. “Epistola interior” (interior letter) means “hidden message”, of course. Bacon’s introducing of the second (long) text reads as follows:

    Epistola exterior, sumpta ex epistola prima Ciceronis, in qua epistola spartana involvitur.

    This could probably be translated as

    An exterior letter, taken from Cicero’s first epistle, in which the Spartan letter has been “enwrapped”.

    Or something like that – my English isn’t that good. The point is that not a Spartan letter has been hidden, but the above-mentioned one, i.e. the “epistola interior”.

  5. #5 Gerd
    13. November 2016

    Das ist ein Code der 5 bit pro Buchstaben verwendet. Ich dachte immer, der erste solche Code wäre der Baudot-Code von 1870 (CCITT-1) gewesen, aber damit ist dieser Code von Roger Bacon wohl der älteste.


  6. #6 Norbert
    13. November 2016

    @Gerd: Roger Bacon nun auch wieder nicht – dann wäre die Erfindung noch einmal dreieinhalb Jahrhunderte älter als sie ist 🙂
    Aber die Verwechslung ist durchaus naheliegend. Um die Verwirrung jetzt komplett zu machen: Klaus, ist Francis Bacons “De dignitate et augmentis scientiarum” denn nicht von 1605, also im Gegensatz zum Beitragstitel aus dem 17. Jahrhundert?

  7. #7 Klaus Schmeh
    13. November 2016


    >also im Gegensatz zum Beitragstitel aus dem 17. Jahrhundert?
    Stimmt. da habe ich mich leider um ein Jahrhundert vertan.

  8. #8 Klaus Schmeh
    13. November 2016

    @Thomas, S. Tomokiyo, Norbert:
    Thank you very much. This means the mystery is solved.