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George Fabyan (1867 – 1936) was a millionaire businessman who founded a private research laboratory. Fabyan's laboratory pioneered modern cryptography, though its initial findings, supporting Fabyan's belief that Francis Bacon wrote Shakespeare's plays, were later disproven by the cryptographers who trained there.

Fabyan supported the Baconian theory, which was popular at the time, that Shakespeare's plays were written by Francis Bacon. He established a cryptologic research group to study alleged ciphers in Shakespeare's work. Known as Riverbank Laboratories, it was the first privately owned research facility in the United States. In 1916 William Nicholas Selig, a film producer, sued Fabyan on the grounds that profits from forthcoming films of Shakespeare's works, along with a film on the life of Shakespeare, would be damaged by Fabyan's claims that Bacon was the author. A Cook Country Circuit Court judge, Richard Tuthill, found against Shakespeare's authorship. He determined that the bi-literal ciphers identified by Fabyan's analyst Elizabeth Wells Gallup were authentic and that Francis Bacon was therefore the author of the works. Damages of $5,000 were awarded to Fabyan for the interference with the publication of the book. In the ensuing uproar, Tuthill rescinded his decision, and another judge, Judge Frederick A. Smith, dismissed the ruling. It was later suggested by the press that the case was concocted by both parties for publicity, since Selig and Fabyan were known to be old friends.

American cryptologist William F. Friedman worked for Fabyan, initially in the genetics department of his laboratory, but later in the cipher department. There he met another of Fabyan's cryptologists, the woman who was to become his wife, Elizebeth Friedman. Both were employed to assist Elizabeth Wells Gallup. However, they eventually discredited the ciphers that Gallup claimed to have discovered. They won the Folger Shakespeare Library Literary Prize of $1000 in 1955 for a definitive study that is considered to have disproven the claims of all researchers that the works of Shakespeare contain hidden ciphers that disclose Bacon's — or any other candidate's — secret authorship. The study was condensed and published in 1957 as The Shakespeare Ciphers Examined.

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