Past challenges

The ‘Nelson’ challenge

A photo of Nelson's Column, Trafalgar Square, London

This challenge has now closed and we will be announcing the results on 15 April. Keen to keep puzzling? Check out ‘Nelson’ part II.

Deadline: 31 March 2022

Our first #SolveItDickens challenge of 2022 comes from the notebooks of Dickens’s shorthand pupil, Arthur Stone, at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

A shorthand exercise titled ‘Nelson’. Image © The Free Library of Philadelphia [ref: cdc5890009]

At the top of the page you can see the heading ‘Nelson’ written in Dickens’s handwriting and a page of his shorthand underneath. Like the ‘Sydney Smith’ and ‘Two Brothers’ texts, this is likely to be a dictation exercise. But what does it say? Is it taken from a book, or a news article? Can we find a source text? Is it about Nelson, as the title suggests, or something else?

Use our ‘Resources’ to help you decipher the text. Remember that it is unlikely that you will be able to solve the whole text, but even one new symbol can be useful. There are plenty of new Dickens symbols in the ‘Nelson’ text that have never been transcribed before. Anyone who successfully describes a new symbol with be credited as its discoverer on our Roll of Honour.

There is no cash prize for this challenge, but there is the glory of the solve!

Please download and complete the entry form (available in .docx or .pdf format) and email us your solutions by 31 March 2022.

We will publish the results on 15 April 2022.

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