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Views & Reviews Between the Lines

Much ado about nothing

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 30 June 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c3288
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

    In its quiet way the Wye is one of the most beautiful rivers in the world, and the last thing anyone would wish to do is to dredge it. But this is precisely what, in 1909, Orville Ward Owen of Detroit, Michigan, did. Moreover he persuaded the Duke of Beaufort not only that it would be a good idea but to foot most of the bill for doing so.

    Dr Owen, a successful physician with a large practice, became obsessed by the Baconian theory of Shakespearean authorship. He invented an elaborate cipher machine, still in existence, to collate the works of Bacon and Shakespeare and thus to discover hidden …

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