Past challenges

‘Decoding Dickens’ prize

A letter in shorthand on Tavistock House headed notepaper

Deadline: 31 December 2021 at 5pm (GMT)

The Dickens Project is hosting a prize of £300 for the full or partial decipherment of a shorthand letter presumed to have been written by Charles Dickens. The letter, held by the Morgan Library & Museum, is written entirely in shorthand characters on ‘Tavistock House’ headed notepaper. It has never previously been decoded.


We are seeking solutions that identify what the Tavistock letter actually says. Because the process of decoding is as important as the solution, participants are also asked to write a short report about how they have arrived at their solution and the difficulties they have encountered along the way.

For full details of how to enter, download the ‘Decoding Dickens Prize Instructions’ form:

The ‘Decoding Dickens’ prize competition is now closed. Thank you to everyone who entered!