Cabinet has posted a curious article on Bacon’s ciphers, as they expanded the idea of the code, and allowed cryptologists to imagine that anything could signify anything. Furthermore, they played a key part in literary controversies surrounding authorship:

It is unlikely that Bacon’s cipher system was ever used for the transmission of military secrets, in the seventeenth century or in the twentieth. But for roughly a century from 1850, it set the world of literature on fire. A passion for puzzles, codes, and conspiracies fuelled a widespread suspicion that Shakespeare was not the author of his plays, and professional and amateur scholars of all sorts spent extraordinary amounts of time, energy, and money combing Renaissance texts in search of signatures and other messages that would reveal the true identity of their author.

The article explains the code in more detail, so try it out for yourself.

Originally Published: February 7th, 2011