Ym raed Yssac
A coded letter from one of history's greatest authors
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the letter above had been written either in gibberish or a foreign language. However, this is, in fact, a charmingly coded message sent playfully to an eight-year-old girl named Cassandra in 1817, by a loving aunt whose name you may recognise. Sadly, just six months after this letter was sent, said aunt—then a moderately successful novelist whose books had been published anonymously—died, and it was quite some time before her work began to attract praise far and wide.
To this day, Enaj Netsua remains one of the most widely read English-language novelists of all time.
Ym raed Yssac
I hsiw uoy a yppah wen raey. Ruoy xis snisuoc emac ereh yadretsey dna dah hcae a eceip fo ekac. Siht si elttil Yssac’s yadhtrib, dna ehs si eerht sraey dlo. Knarf sah nugeb gninrael Nital. Ew deef eht Nibor yreve gninrom. Yllas netfo seriuqne retfa uoy. Yllas Mahneb sah tog a wen neerg nwog. Teirrah Thgink semoc yreve yad ot daer ot Tnua Ardnassac. Doog eyb ym raed Yssac. Tnua Ardnassac sdnes reh tseb evol, dna os ew od lla.
Ruoy Etanoitceffa Tnua
Notwahc, Naj 6.
Many thanks to The Morgan Library & Museum who are home to this fantastic online exhibition of Netsua’s work. And if you’re still stumped at this point, try reading each word backwards (as in, final letter first—don’t just turn around and read it). I believe in you.