Decoding Dickens: The Shorthand Mysteries


Wednesday 3rd July at 2pm (UK time).

This virtual talk is free to attend, or you can choose to make a donation. 

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This talk will take place over zoom. The link will be sent our 1 hour before the talk begins. 


Charles Dickens’s stories are world-famous. But, more than 150 years after his death, several texts in his hand remain unread and unknown. This is because they are written in an idiosyncratic type of shorthand. Researchers and members of the public – the ‘Dickens Decoders’ – are working together to decipher these texts for the very first time. What does the shorthand tell us about Dickens’s life and career and what mysteries remain to be discovered?

In this online talk, Dr Claire Wood and Professor Hugo Bowles will explore the essential part that shorthand played in Dickens’s development as a writer, as well as the fascinating shorthand fragments that he left behind. You’ll learn about Gurney’s Brachygraphy – the fiendish shorthand system that Dickens mastered – and share in discoveries about Dickens’s newly deciphered shorthand manuscripts.
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Dr Claire Wood is an Associate Professor of Victorian Literature at the University of Leicester, with particular interests in Dickens and Victorian death culture. Professor Hugo Bowles is an Honorary Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Buckingham and author of Dickens and the Stenographic Mind (Oxford University Press, 2019). Together they lead the Dickens Code project, which involves members of the public in deciphering Dickens’s mysterious shorthand. Find out more at     


3rd July at 2pm - Virtual Talk

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