Cryptology in Fiction
Stories in Joseph Galland's Bibliography (1945)

Last Updated 23 August 2012

This list is the fiction titles contained in the bibliography by Joseph S. Galland.

Galland, Joseph Stanislaus. 1945. An historical and analytical bibliography of the literature of cryptology. paperback ed. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press. 209 pgs.

This book is the most extensive bibliography of cryptologic literature up until 1945. The references to fiction titles occur on pages: 10, 13, 34, 55, 57, 65, 79, 102, 122, 125, 145, 146, 156, 148, 160, 172, 175, 177, 191, 200, 203, and 207.

Galland's Crypto Fiction List

  1. Austin, Jane Goodwin. 1869. Cipher: A Romance. Hardcover. New York: Sheldon and Company. pgs.
    A good samaritan (who turns out to be the bastard child of his benefactor) inherits an estate and a cipher that unlocks a family secret. The cipher is a monoalphabetic substitution using the family motto as the key phrase. The novel itself is somewhat long and turgid, but the solution to the cipher is very clever.

  2. Balzac, Honore de. 1846. Complete Works. hardcover ed. Paris: Fume. 400 pgs.
    Balzac wrote two works with cryptograms in them. "Physiologie de Mariage", with a long, 3600 character cryptogram of unknown type, and "Histoire des Treize: Ferragus, chef des Devorants" which contains a grille cipher. Balzac gives the solution of the cryptogram but not the original text.

  3. Candler, Howard. 1902. Mrs. Gallup's Cypher Story. Nineteenth Century, January 1902, 39-49.

  4. Dickson, S. B. 1925. Coded Limericks. Fifty brilliant limericks, presented in secret cipher, to be decoded by the reader, together with full instructions explaining the technique of unravelling these mysteries. London: Jarrolds. 125 pgs.
    Fifty limericks in cipher. Includes "The Gold Bug" to give the reader instructions on cryptanalysis. All the limericks use monoalphabetic substitutions embedded in the rhyme.

  5. Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan. 1903. The Adventure of the Dancing Men. The Strand Magazine.
    Sherlock Holmes solves a case involving a series of mysterious messages - a bit late to save his client. The messages are in a simple substitution cipher, using stick figures as the cipher letters. One quirk is the use of "flags" to indicate word stops. The symbols are sometimes hard to distinguish, and there are some errors in the messages as documented in Kahn's "The Codebreakers" (page 797).

  6. FitzHugh, Mildred. 1916. Jerry and the Bacon Puppy. Riverbank edition. paperback ed. Chicago: The Riverbank Press.

  7. Flower, E. 1902. Tragedy of the cipher-code. Cosmopolitan, November 1902, 100.

  8. Grant, Maxwell. 1934. Chain of Death. The Shadow Magazine, 8-96.
    The Shadow deals a blow to Crime Incorporated. The story contains a cryptogram using a monoalphabetic substitution cipher.

  9. King, Rufus. 1930. Murder by Latitude. paperback ed. New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company. 307 pgs.
    The novel contains a transposition cipher. The cipher is on pages 121 and 124 and the solution is on page 304.

  10. McCloy, Helen. 1944. Panic. Paperback. New York: William Morrow. 369 pgs.
    Alison Tracey figures out the key to a mixed-alphabet Vigenere cipher and helps solve her uncle's murder and uncovers a traitor during WWII. The novel contains good descriptions of polyalphabetic substitution ciphers and the Bazeries and Kasiski methods of cryptanalysis.

  11. Meeker, Anne. 1936. The Queen's rings: the true romance of Elizabeth, Queen of England. hardcover ed. Chicago: D. Ryerson, Inc. 278 pgs.
    Historical romance in which several ciphers and coded messages are reproduced.

  12. Poe, Edgar Allan. 1843. The Gold-Bug. The Dollar Newspaper.
    The best and first of the classic cipher stories. Poe uses punctuation symbols as cipher letters in his message. The message is really a puzzle within a monoalphabetic substitution cipher as William Legrand solves the cipher message and unravels the resulting puzzle to find a pirate treasure. The highlight of the story is Poe's detailed description of how to cryptanalyze a monoalphabetic substitution cipher.

  13. Pollard, Alfred Oliver. 1932. The cipher five. hardcover ed. London: Hutchinson & Company, Ltd. 288 pgs.
    Chapter II - "Instructions from M.I." and Chapter III - "The Cryptograph Machine"

  14. Rinehart, Mary Roberts. 1925. The Red Lamp. hardcover ed. New York: George H. Doran Co. 317 pgs.
    From "William Porter has just inherited Twin Hollows, an isolated lakeside estate shrouded in mystery and doom. But William and his wife aren't easily swayed by ghost stories and whispered rumors. Until a shadowy apparition beckons to them from the undying glow of a red lamp. Is a stranger with a deadly purpose trying to frighten them away? Or are they being haunted by a chilling warning from the grave?" Beginning on page 109, a simple cipher.

  15. Sayers, Dorothy. 1932. Have His Carcase: A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery. New York: Brewer, Warren & Putnam. 334 pgs.
    When Harriet Vane discovers the dead body of a man on a beach she finds that it is impossible to escape from the mystery, or from the attentions of Lord Peter Wimsey. The mystery surrounding the death of the hotel gigolo Paul Alexis is that it appears to have been suicide. The excellent discussion and solution of a Playfair cipher plays a pivotal role in the solution of the mystery.

  16. Sleath, Frederick. 1923. The Red Vulture. hardcover ed. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company. 317 pgs.
    See Chapter XV, "The Code" pgs. 166-182.

  17. Stoker, Bram. 1902. Mystery of the Sea. Hardcover. New York, NY: Doubleday and Company. 300 pgs.
    When Archibald Hunter comes to Cruden Bay, Aberdeenshire, for his annual holiday, he looks forward to a tranquil few days by the sea. But his holiday is disturbed by a beautiful woman, a tragedy, and a murder. What is the significance of the pages of cipher which once belonged to Don de Escoban? The cipher used is a Bacon biliteral cipher. Appendices to the novel contain an explanation of the Bacon biliteral cipher and of the solution process used. The main purpose of the novel seems to be not the plot, but the exposition of the cipher system and the solution of the cipher messages.

  18. Verne, Jules. 1877. Journey to the Center of the Earth. Hardcover. London: Ward, Lock and Company, Ltd. 350 pgs.
    Professor Liedenbrock and his nephew decipher a sixteenth century transposition cipher in Latin written in Icelandic Runic characters. The message is also written backwards before translation into Runic. The decrypted message sends them on their journey to the center of the earth.

  19. -----. 1882. The Cryptogram. In La Jangada, or Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon. London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington. 409 pgs.
    In this second part of Verne's "Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon", Judge Jarriquez uses an approximation of the Babbage/Kasiski method to solve a Gronsfeld cipher and save an innocent man from the gallows. The story contains a good narrative of the Judge's thought processes as he struggles to solve the cipher message. Also available as an etext at

  20. -----. 1888. Mathias Sandorf. Hardcover. London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington. 479 pgs.
    The hero Mathias Sandorff uses a rotating 6 x 6 Cardano grille to encipher a message for a revolution. The villains Torontal and Sarcany intercept Sandorf's enciphered message steal a copy of the grille to decipher the message. There isn't any cryptanalysis in the story because the villians steal the grille and use it, but Verne gives a very good description of the system and how to decipher messages in it.

  21. White, Ared. 1931. The Spy Net. hardcover ed. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company. 323 pgs.
    Captain Fox Elton, a counter-espionage agent in G2 of the American Expeditionary Force in France is sent to hunt down a spy net. This Imperial German Secret Service spy ring is run out of Switzerland and is trying to steal the American plans for the St. Mihiel offensive. Elton has to stop them and capture the head of the ring. There are two different cipher systems used in the novel. Several messages are sent using a numeric homophonic cipher system where each plaintext letter has exactly three ciphertext equivalents. The second system is a simple ROT-13 system with a short keyword to scramble the letters in the second row of the substitution alphabet. See Chapters VIII, XVII and XXVIII.

  22. -----. 1934. Agent B-7. hardcover ed. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. 299 pgs.
    Captain Fox Elton of the counter-espionage unit of G2 in the American Expeditionary Force is sent on a dangerous mission through Germany, the Netherlands, and occupied Belgium in September 1918. He is to uncover and destroy not one, but two spy rings, one run by the German Imperial Secret Service and a freelance ring run by an Austrian masquerading as a Bolshevik Russian who is trying to bring down not only the German Empire, but the Allied Powers as well. Of course there are the beautiful female spies, one English, and one Austrian whose attentions nearly get in the way of Elton's mission. There are several cryptograms in the novel, all of them using a simple Caesar cipher as the crypto system. Oddly enough, while Elton has no problem deciphering the cryptograms, the spies can't seem to make any sense of them.

  23. Wilson, George W. 1929. Fifty original cryptogram limericks: rhymes in code. New York: G Sully & Co. 101 pgs.
    Just what the title says. Fifty (typically bad) limericks in code.

  24. Yardley, Herbert O. 1934. H-27, The Blonde Woman from Antwerp. Liberty Magazine, 22-30.
    Black Chamber chief, Nathaniel Greenleaf uncovers a German spy ring, nabs a beautifly spy who was stealing ciphered messages from a White House safe, and deciphers a German transposition cipher.

  25. -----. 1934. The Blonde Countess. hardcover. New York: A. L. Burt Company. 314 pgs.
    Nathaniel Greenleaf and his associates at the Black Chamber break up a German spy ring. Unfortunately, the ring leader - The Blonde Countess gets away. Greenleaf breaks the German ADFGVX cipher. There are also several discussions about secret inks and the ways of developing them.

  26. -----. 1934. Red Sun of Nippon. hardcover. New York: A. L. Burt Company. 247 pgs.
    Our hero, Black Chamber chief Nathaniel Greenleaf, uncovers another spy, saves the reputation of a half-Chinese socialite, and decrypts another cipher.

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