Dorabella Cipher Puzzle

Can you decipher the Dorabella cipher?

L. Small
3 min readJan 8


Dorabella Cipher | Photo credit:

A composer who was also a code and cipher enthusiast created a cipher for a girl. Even after many years had passed, the girl was unable to decipher the cipher, which had 87 characters spread across 3 lines.

Until now, many people are still trying to solve the puzzle of the Dorabella cipher. The Dorabella Cipher is a 3-line cipher with almost identical characters, such as the number 3 or the letters e and u.

This cipher was written by a composer and also a code and cipher enthusiast named Edward Elgar, and it was intended for a girl named Dora Penny on July 14, 1897. Edward Elgar was also well-known for composing the musical piece “Enigma.”

Edward Elgar | Photo credit:

Dora Penny (1874–1964) was the daughter of Alfred Penny, a Wolverhampton minister. Dora’s mother passed away shortly after giving birth to her. In 1895, Alfred Penny remarried. The stepmother of Dora Penny was close friends with Caroline Alice Elgar, the wife of Edward Elgar.

Edward and Alice Elgar invited the Penny family to their Wolverhampton rectory home in July 1897.

There, the Penny family spent several days of their summer vacation. Edward Elgar was a music instructor at the time before becoming a renowned composer. Apparently, Dora Penny, who liked music, was very interested in Edward’s abilities, which quickly made them close.

On July 14, 1897, as the Penny family prepared to return to Great Malvern, Alice Elgar penned a letter of gratitude to them. Edward included a note in the letter that was addressed to Dora Penny.

Dora was apparently unable to decipher the content of the note written in strange ciphers, as she kept it in her bureau for forty years. The Dorabella cipher got a lot of attention after “Edward Elgar: Memories of a Variation,” a 1937 memoir by Dora Penny, was published by Methuen Publishing.

Eric Sams, a musicologist, attempted to decipher the Dorabella cipher in 1970. According to him, the cipher contained the phrase “the Dorabella cipher” in 1970. According to him, the cipher contained the…



L. Small

"One arrow alone can be easily broken but many arrows are indestructible" ~Genghis Khan~


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