The Bote-swaine Cipher
In his writings, Francis Bacon preferred steganographic ciphers in which the occurrence of a hidden name
wouldn't be noticed. What better way to conceal that name than within one word? And where should that word
be placed so as to be most preeminent?
The complete name of the real author of the First Folio of Shakespeare's Plays is concealed in the first spoken
word. It stands alone as the first word of dialogue on the first page of the first printing of the first play in the First
Folio, the 1623 first edition of Shakespeare's collected Comedies Histories and Tragedies. It is a solitary word
distinguished by its primal detachment. A cipher method based upon whole words, rather than designated
letters, presents itself.
"The Tempest," as recorded in the First Folio, is the sole authority for the language and printing of that
fanciful drama. The first word of dialogue in "TheTempest" is "BOte-swaine." The first letter, "B," is a great
capital, the kind of large ornamental initial that heads the first page of almost all of the plays. The script, after
some "scene setting" instructions which are printed in italics, gives the Master the first word to speak:
To apply the Caesar decryption here we must remember that the letter "W" is not included in our key
alphabet but it corresponds to "V" in the Folio and in the Sonnets. We shall install "BOTE-SVAINE" as the
ciphertext and run our computer program:
B O T E S V A I N E
C P V F T Y B K O F 1
D Q Y G V A C L P G 2
E R A H Y B D M Q H 3
F S B I A C E N R I 4
The plaintext, then, is "F S B I A C E N R I". It appears on the "FORTH" (+4) line in which "A" = "e". Bacon's
21 letter alphabet, ending in "T V Y," remains the same. "FS" is Bacon's own signature abbreviation of his first
name while "BIACEN" is yet another phonetic spelling of his surname.
Here it is necessary to explain that cryptography is a very old technique. Even in antiquity the rule was,
whenever the name of a place or person must be repeated in a message, it must always be misspelled. Therefore
Bacon's name is never spelled correctly, and there are many alternate forms.
Two different versions were typeset and printed as the first page of "The Tempest" in the First Folio. In both
of them "Bote-swaine" appears as the first word, but something noteworthy happened to one of the initial great
capital "B"s (preceding "ote-swaine") on at least one of this play's journeys to the press. It was printed
Bacon used a simple Caesar cipher (but with an abbreviated alphabet) and the fourth letter forward:
Ciphertext: A B C D E F G H I K L M N O P Q R S T V Y
Plaintext: E F G H I K L M N O P Q R S T V Y A B C D
Here I = J and V = V, U and W. There is no X or Z.
Thus BOTESWAINE = FS BIACEN, while R and I are nulls.
FS was often Bacon's signature abbreviation for Francis, and BIACEN is another homophone for his last name.
See probability calculations: What is the importance of Bote-swaine?
Before the Master speaks, we must recall what is going on:
A tempestuous noise of Thunder and Lightning heard:
So the Master is not just speaking. When the theater lights go down and the curtain rises, he is shouting to be
heard above the tumult:
"BOTE-SWAINE," with a great, ornamental Capital B!
At the opening of The Tempest the first word that the audience hears is the name of the author.
The curious capital "B" in The Tempest
Here is the signature of Sir Francis Bacon, Baron Verulam, Viscount ST.ALBAN: