H.L. Dennis: So what exactly is a SECRET BREAKER?

Hi there festival goers! I’m so incredibly excited to be coming along to Hay this year to talk about my new series Secret Breakers and to begin training some of you up in the art of Secret Breaking! I guess many of you out there are wondering what exactly Secret Breaking is and so it seems like now is a great chance to let you know. Secret Breaking involves working with codes… trying to find answers …and most of all… trying to uncover secrets.

I got the idea for Secret Breakers one rainy afternoon many, many years ago. I read an article about the most mysterious manuscript in the world. MS 408 is the name given to the manuscript found exactly a century ago by a man called Wilfred Voynich. He discovered the book hidden in a trunk in a castle in Northern Italy. Initially, the manuscript didn’t seem that unusual. It was only when he looked closer that he discovered that the book was written entirely in code.

Of course people have tried for years to break the code of MS 408. Clever people….wise people…code-cracking people. Everyone has failed. And that got me thinking. I began to wonder what type of person would be up to the challenge of making sense of a book that had baffled the minds of some of the greatest problem solvers who ever lived!

Having been a teacher for nearly two decades I began to think about how some of the children I taught might approach the problem of trying to solve the mysteries hidden by the code in MS 408. I began to think that children might look at the manuscript differently. They might approach the problem from another angle. They might look in a different way to break the secret. And that’s when the idea of Secret Breakers was finally born.

So Secret Breaking involves looking carefully. It involves looking for answers. And it involves making connections to uncover secrets!

At Hay this year I’m going to give you a chance to find out more about the fabulous MS 408 and if you come along to my event I’ll give you a chance to have a go at Secret Breaking for yourself. You don’t need to be a maths whizz. You don’t need to be great at crosswords or cryptic clues. You don’t even have to know anything about codes. I’m sure you’ll have all the skills you need to be up to the challenge of Secret Breaking, whatever your age, be it young or old.

But I do have to warn you. Once you start looking for secrets hidden around you, it’s quite likely you’ll start seeing them everywhere. In buildings, in pictures, even in pots of jam. (You’ll have to trust me on that last one…but I promise you it’s true!)  So if you’re intrigued and want to know more then that’s just the start we need. I look forward to seeing you at the Festival where your ‘Secret Breaker’ training can begin!

Lots of best wishes until then!

Catch H.L. Dennis at the festival on Sunday 10 June, 4pm

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