\Donnelly, Ignatius. The Great Cryptogram: Francis Bacon's Cipher in the So-Called


\Donnelly, Ignatius. The Great Cryptogram: Francis Bacon's Cipher in the So-Called
Shakespeare Plays. Chicago: R. S. Peale, 1888.\

Donnelly begins with the idea that Shakespeare couldn't be the author of those great plays which
have been attributed to him. The man was a boor, an ignoramus, and a dunderhead. The real
author had to be someone with the knowledge and the skills to write the plays. Donnelly decides
that the author had to possess certain characteristics, certain talents: he had to be a lawyer, a poet,
a philosopher, well-traveled, politically sound, religiously aware and a library owner. The only
man of the day who possessed all these characteristics was Francis Bacon. It therefore follows
that Francis Bacon is the author of the plays.

To prove his point, Donnelly carefully examines the works of Bacon and the plays and he finds
clear evidence of their authorship: similar expressions, identical metaphors, identical opinions,
identical errors, identical use of unusual words, identical styles. All of these are the proofs of his

Donnelly had his mind set on Bacon as the author long before finding his "great cipher." The way
the message was found is revealing: search long enough and hard enough for what you think is
there and you will find it. He finds what he thinks is the code in the end of Part I of Henry IV and
the beginning of Part II. (Here I am reminded of Piazzi Smyth studying the Great Pyramid and
finding evidences of what he wanted to believe). In a long manuscript, there are all kinds of
patterns which can emerge if you are free to find whatever you wish to find. He finds, at one
point, the Our Father encoded in the play and, following that lead, he finds the rest of the

In his conclusions, Donnelly sees that Bacon really intended to claim the plays as his own some
day. Baconian wit and wisdom shine though and all one needs is an Ignatius Donnelly to find the