Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"I did not write the plays." F. Bacon

Love stories abound: Jo and Townsend. Helen and Charles. Linda and JD. And now we have William and Elizebeth.

I blogged about the extraordinary "Mrs. Friedman" a few weeks ago.. I did not know her full name nor her story then, but I have found both in the NSA Hall of Honor. Shorter version follows:

After graduating from Wooster College in Ohio (another of the Ohio sons and daughters who crop up so often in this story) with a degree in Literature and languages and a love of Shakespeare, Elizebeth (yes,that's how she spelled it) was recruited by textile millionaire George Faybin, to develop linguistic proof that Francis Bacon was the author of Shakespeare's work. At Riverbank, as his private think tank was called, Miss Smith joined a versatile staff. that included typists, translators, a graduate student in genetics, and professionals specializing in acoustics engineering.

Outside of the U.S. Army', Riverbank possessed the only cryptographic research unit of its kind in the US and while there, Elizebeth flourished. She also fell in love with fellow student, William Friedman. They were married in 1917 and moved to Washington, D.C. in 1921.

Her subsequent employment with the Treasury Department placed her at the cutting of the crypo-security field, at a critical time in history. As Another NSA historian noted: "The radio operations of the rum-running organizations were, in fact, comparable in terms of size, technical skill, and organization with  those operations conducted by enemy agents in World War It,  After the war, Elizebeth created communications security systems for the International Monetary Fund.

In retirement, the Friedmans turned their collective attention to the love that had brought Elezebeth to the crypto field, and collaborated on a book entitled "The Shakespearean Ciphers Examined."  In this work the Friedmans dismissed Baconians  with a classic demonstration of their talents and humor.  They hid a phrase in cipher which expressed their final opinion of  the controversy. "I did not write the plays. F. Bacon."

I can see them laughing  together as they conocted this scheme.It wasn't the first time they  used Bacon's Code to hide a message in plain sight.

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