Our School authorities have decided to extend our syllabus. Boo!! They have sent us a letter in which they address this issue. They tell us that the new book which will be prescribed to us is hidden in the contents of the letter itself. So, Here is the letter.

Dear Students,

This is to inform all of you that a new book is prescribed in English Literature for all of you to raise the quality of the education imparted in our School. As you all know, Our School was ranked $.9$ in the recent rankings issued for the city. So, we have decided to choose -Prime $30$- among you to train you to ace the inter-school tests. That is one of our aims to reach the Number -$1$- status in the city.

Now, we would provide our contact number here in case you or your parents have any further queries. Our contact number is -$235.111$ $.919$ $.8.$ for those of you who don't know. Do remember to read history well. The Olympics were cancelled -in this year- despite Berlin being ready. Remember, the Lamb of God got nominated recently for the Grammy award for -this performance- These are some small facts that you students ought to know so that we reach the Number -$1$ or $2$ status. For, the -$518$- children here, We had to choose a book which caters to your interests as well a the school's needs. Don't worry, you will surely-like- the book- as it is. There would be no change to the book prescribed. Have a good day, students.

So, the question is: what book is prescribed for us?


The letter contains

numerous extraneous dots and dashes (as well as the expected punctuation). If we collect all the extraneous ones, not the expected ones, we get
.---- -.... ----- -----
This is Morse Code for 1600. (BeastlyGerbil.)

The letter also contains

various numbers, and alludes cryptically to some others. Some of these are to be separated into 1- and 2-digit chunks. Then these are to be deciphered to letters using 1=A, 2=B etc.
9 (BeastlyGerbil) - I
113 (prime 30) - 1 13 - AM
1 (BeastlyGerbil) - A
235 111 919 8 = 23 5 1 11 9 19 8 (BeastlyGerbil) - WEAKISH
1916 (year of cancelled Berlin Olympics) (BeastlyGerbil) - 19 16 - SP
512 (name of a track for which Lamb of God was nominated for a Grammy) (Rand Al'Thor) - 5 12 - EL
12 (BeastlyGerbil) - L
518 (BeastlyGerbil) - 5 18 - ER

Put all these together and we get

I AM A WEAKISH SPELLER, an anagram of WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (Donald L. Holmes). Shakespeare wrote one play in 1600: As You Like It. As if to confirm that this is correct, the letter contains "As you" in the first paragraph (As you all know...), and all four words albeit not in the right order ("Don't worry, you will surely-like- the book- as it is.") in the last paragraph.

  • $\begingroup$ There you go.. You got it... Now, you could show the lines which explicitly suggest it. You could make up a complete answer... $\endgroup$
    – Sid
    Sep 5 '16 at 14:30
  • $\begingroup$ Here, have 10 rep because your answer was actually correct, stating this whole chain!! $\endgroup$
    – EKons
    Sep 5 '16 at 22:37

The dots and dashes in strange locations is Morse Code

.--- -.... ----- -----

Which is


The letter also contains and references various numbers. The non-obvious ones are - Prime $30$ = $113$ (Rosie F), Berlin Olympics cancelled in $1916$ due to WWII and Lamb of God nominated for $512$th Grammy awards (Rand Al'Thor)

$9$ $113$ $1$ $23$ $5$ $1$ $11$ $9$ $19$ $8$ $1916$ $512$ $12$ $5$ $18$

Which can be spaced out to

$9$ $1$ $13$ $1$ $23$ $5$ $1$ $11$ $9$ $19$ $8$ $19$ $16$ $5$ $12$ $12$ $5$ $18$ (Credit Rand Al'Thor)

Which is


This can be seen as

I am a weakish speller

Which is an anagram of

William Shakespeare (Credit Rosie F)

The play is

As you like it


Only Shakespeare play in $1600$ and the letter contains all those words in order as pointed out be Rosie F

As you all know, Our School was ranked .$9$ in the recent rankings issued for the city

Don't worry, you will surely-like- the book- as it is

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ How can this be "Nothing to do", for which I get the Morse code -. --- - .... .. -. --. - --- -.. ---? $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Sep 5 '16 at 13:52
  • $\begingroup$ @MOehm, I've just been trying a few decoders and I'm not getting the same answer. I'm not sure at the moment $\endgroup$ Sep 5 '16 at 13:53
  • $\begingroup$ The code is wrong, try to look for dots and dashes at odd places rather than at the usual full stops.. $\endgroup$
    – Sid
    Sep 5 '16 at 13:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ missed some numbers: "The olympics were cancelled -in this year- despite Berlin being ready." -> 1916 $\endgroup$
    – Foaster
    Sep 5 '16 at 14:21
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Moreover Lamb of God was nominated for a Grammy for "512". 5 12 enciphers EL. Insert EL in the right place, and we get I AM A WEAKISH SPELLER which anagrams WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE. $\endgroup$
    – Rosie F
    Sep 5 '16 at 14:26

There are two secret messages hidden in this letter:

  • Beastly Gerbil had the right idea of

    using Morse code to translate the dots and dashes.

    However, the correct selection is not to use all of them as Beastly did, but

    to use only the dots and dashes in strange places, not e.g. the full stops at the ends of sentences: . -- -- -.... -- -- - -- ---

    This translates to


Given the most famous author of English literature who was active at that time, I believe the answer is

a Shakespeare play.

  • The second clue involve the numbers included in the letter, which seem to be 9, 30, 1, 235, 111, 919, 8, 1, 2, 518.

    Except that as RosieF pointed out, "Prime 30" means 113, the 30th prime number. Also, the year the Berlin Olympics were cancelled was 1916, and the Lamb of God was nominated for the Grammy awards for their performance 512. So we have

    9 1 13 1 23 5 1 11 9 19 8 19 16 5 12 12 5 18, which converts to I AM A WEAKISH SPELLER, an anagram of WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE.

So we are looking for

a Shakespeare play written in 1600, which according to this Wikipedia page must be As You Like It.

Interestingly, the words of the title all appear in the text of the letter:

"As you all know, [...] you will surely like the book as it is."

  • $\begingroup$ Yep... You got the first part right.... There is more in the puzzle $\endgroup$
    – Sid
    Sep 5 '16 at 14:07
  • $\begingroup$ You have to show that it is a shakespeare play. The puzzle has information in it $\endgroup$
    – Sid
    Sep 5 '16 at 14:14

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