We’ve got a fun challenge for you today: Decode Poe.
Cryptograms were widely used during the Victorian era to protect information via secret messages. Letters and messages were encrypted to ensure secrecy in communications. The military, diplomats, businessmen, and even secret lovers used these ciphers in the safety of anonymity.
Poe was a self-declared master cryptographer, solving nearly 100 ciphers submitted to Graham’s Magazine by his readers. He used cryptography as a primary plot point in “The Gold Bug” (1843), which revolves around a cipher that contains information about a buried treasure. What’s more — “The Gold Bug” is still used in universities as instruction material for cryptography classes.
“Decoding Poe,” presented by The University of Texas at Austin is a fun look at Poe’s cryptograms. Try your hand by using the steps Poe outlines in the “The Gold-Bug” to solve cryptographs developed from “The Black Cat,” “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Tell-Tale Heart.”
Want more? Check out our “For Fun” page for more activities and to learn about the quirky Mr. Poe.