In the library Stephen argues that an artist's life is hugely important to understanding his work, eliciting skepticism from men who find Shakespeare's life less interesting than the universal truths that his art reveals. John Eglinton brushes aside Stephen's preoccupation with familial and sexual relations: "The highroads are dreary but they lead to the town." In the string of thoughts that follows this remark, Stephen associates Eglinton with people who have tried to make Shakespeare's life utterly irrelevant by assigning authorship of the plays and poems to more eminent Elizabethans: "Good Bacon: gone musty. Shakespeare Bacon's wild oats. Cypherjugglers going the highroads. Seekers on the great quest." Of the dozens of anti-Stratfordian candidates that have been proposed Sir Francis Bacon was the first, and ever since the 1880s arguments for his authorship have involved the solving of ciphers, or secret codes. The aims of this approach are "high" in several senses.

John Hunt 2023

1617 oil on panel portrait of Francis Bacon by Paulus van Somer, held in the Palace on the Isle, Warsaw. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Portrait of Delia Bacon in Theodore Bacon's 1888 biography, from a daguerreotype taken in 1853. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Photographic portrait of Ignatius Donnelly by Frederick Gutekunst ca. 1898. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

1909 photographic portrait of Dr. Orville Ward Owen. 
Source: Wikimedia Commons.

"Cipher wheel" used to discover cryptograms in Shakespeare's works, shown on the frontispiece of Owen's Sir Francis Bacon's Cipher Story (1894). Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Petter Amundsen. Source:

Cracking the Shakespeare Code, a 2017 documentary.