Past events

A school auditorium. Pupils seated in rows try to crack Dickens's mysterious shorthand code.
Lionheart Educational Trust students attempt to crack the Dickens Code as part of the 2022 Being Human festival


  • Being Human 2022
    • ‘Decoding Dickens: School Workshops’. A series of in-person workshops delivered to Year 10 students at eight Leicestershire secondary schools, in collaboration with the Lionheart Educational Trust, Leicester.
    • ‘Decoding Dickens Workshop’, Saturday 19 November 2022. An online workshop, open to all.
  • Festival of Arts, University of Leicester, 22 June 2022
    •  A workshop introducing Year 10 and Year 12 students to Victorian voice recording technologies, shorthand, and how to get started with decoding Dickens.
  • Being Human 2021
    • Cracking the Dickens Code, Saturday 20 November 2021.
Dr Wood shares Dickens's Code and the Brachygraphy manual with students at the University of Leicester's 'Festival of the Arts'
Dr Wood shares Dickens’s shorthand code with Year 12 students at the University of Leicester’s Festival of Arts (June 2022)

Public talks

  • ‘Dickens and Shorthand’, Dickens Day, 25 February 2023
  • ‘Decoding Dickens’ with U3A Cambridge, Wednesday 15 February 2023


  • Nineteenth-Century Handwriting and Study Day and Workshop, Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, 13 April 2023
    • A workshop on the practicalities and materialities of writing, aimed primarily at academics and doctoral researchers.
  • ‘Solving Dickens’s Shorthand Texts’, Dickens Universe, University of California, Santa Cruz, July 2022
    • Dickens Universe combines features of a scholarly conference, a festival, a book club, and summer camp, with participants including academics, graduate and undergraduate students, high school teachers, professionals, and retirees. In 2022, one of the set texts was Dickens’s David Copperfield, which records David’s painful struggles to master Brachygraphy shorthand. In a series of four workshops, participants had the chance to appreciate these difficulties first hand, by learning to decode and tackling a range of shorthand manuscript material.
  • ‘#SolveItDickens: Hunt the Source Workshop’, Friday 27 May 2022
    • Supporting participants to develop a search strategy for potential source texts for the mysterious shorthand dictation exercises within the notebooks of Charles Dickens’s shorthand pupil, Arthur Stone.
  • ‘#SolveItDickens: An Introductory Workshop for New Decoders’, Friday 22 April 2022
    • Exploring lines from the recently transcribed dictation exercise, ‘Nelson’.
  • Gad’s Hill School Primary and Secondary School decoding workshops, Friday 4 February 2022
  • ‘#SolveItDickens Workshop 3’, Friday 3 December 2021
    • Exploring one of Dickens’s letters to Richard Bentley.
  • ‘#SolveItDickens Workshop 2’, Friday 5 November 2021
    • Exploring the mysterious ‘Two Brothers’ dictation exercise in Arthur Stone’s notebooks in the Free Library of Philadelphia.
  • ‘#SolveItDickens Workshop 1’, Friday 1 October 2021
    • Exploring a Dickens shorthand letter.

For details of our academic talks, visit our University of Leicester webpage.