The Untitled Book (a.k.a. “The Bee Book”)

Before Masquerade was solved in 1982, Kit had already set about creating a second treasure book, no doubt at the intense urging of his publishers. When the second book was published on May 24, 1984, its title was its puzzle. Another elaborate storybook tale was presented for exploration, this time involving bees, the changing of the seasons, and Kit’s woodcuttings. The challenge: Discover the name the book and express it without using the written word to claim the prize. No doubt due to the insanity that surrounded the hunt of Masquerade, the second book required no actual digging, and it came with a year-and-a-day time limit; the answer would be revealed on May 25, 1985.

Now, the answer/title to Untitled (also referred to as “Book Without A Name” and “that one with the bees”) is available if you go searching around the Internet, but I am not going to post it here. The book is out of print, but copies can still be located–and whether it was due to the complexity of the first book’s puzzle, the time limit, or a combination of the two, I think the second book is much easier to solve than the first. At one point when I was working on it as a kid, I had the answer written in front of me and did not see it. This either means I am brilliant and dense at the same time, or this is a very solvable riddle. There are also several red herrings–some of which I consider to be harder than the book’s true solution!

As a result, I have not wanted to spoil this one for anyone who does not yet know the answer, but wants to give it a try. Since Kit is no longer creating books like these, I figure…let’s make this one last. Locating a copy of the book is easier than I thought thanks to the Advanced Book Exchange, so for those of you who would like to give it a shot, I will not reveal the answer here. I will be glad to confirm your guesses in e-mail on a personal basis. Again, other sites tell all, so if you would still like to try to solve it yourself, don’t surf too hard–just drop me a note.

In the meantime, Harold Benney has sent me some excellent detail and a few worthwhile photos for inclusion in the site, for which I thank him greatly:

“The prize for naming the ‘Book with No Name’ was presented by Kit Williams to the winner on a TV chat show here in the UK called Wogan. The winner’s name was Steve Pearce and he lived in Leicester. I did tape the programme at the time but the tape seems to have long since disappeared. If I remember correctly there were 6 finalists and the winner was announced by Kit live on National TV. The only titled copy of the book was contained in the marquetry box which was the prize and the segment of honeycomb with the bee was supposed to be removed to reveal the title–in the heat of the studio lights it could not be opened!The winning entry was a large blue cabinet about 10 inches in height with a handle and a window through which you could see a rooster. When the handle was turned the sun would rise and the rooster would move forward and…”


Sorry–the rest of the description gives too much away as to the book’s true title. However, I will post this picture of the winning entry, which Harold scanned in from the rereleased and fully-titled second book’s dust jacket:

Mural artist Philip Lowe offers some more personal detail: “I submitted a painting to Kit and was delighted that although I hadn’t won the comp I was chosen from thousands of entries together with about 50 other contributions for an exhibition. This exhibition, called ‘Hive of Industry’ took place at the Usher Gallery in Lincoln. I have still (I think) got the tickets and photos of Kit at the opening which I’ll scan and send if you like – Kit also signed my Bee Book with the legend ‘Bee Bountiful’. I was later contacted by a writer who was thinking of putting together a book about the exhibiting entrants but this never came to anything.”

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Richard Benney August 22, 2012 at 7:45 pm

I had submitted a wooden cube with stained glass panels. The answer was viewed when the cube was set on its end. Are the submissions in a museum?–Fascinating!
Thanks.

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Julie Sorensen December 14, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Yes, I, too would like to know what happened to the entries and if they were cataloged at all. Sadly, I was unable to document my submission before sending it due to life events back in 1984-5.
But I am also very interested in where the original Kit Williams pieces are from which the book’s illustrations came. These pieces are so very marvelous and the craftsmanship of the images is beyond reproach.
Life is interesting the way nearly 30 years passes and then there is an unexpected association bringing back things like this book and my long-forgotten submission back into consciousness. !

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Barbara Brady January 21, 2015 at 11:39 am

My copy of the Bee Book is inscribed with a generous flourish “To Barbara, Bee Bountiful. Kit Williams 1984”. I live in Sydney, so I guess that means Kit must have come here for an Australian launch. I am afraid that, 30 years on, I do not recall the occasion, but of course I treasure the book. So my puzzle is: how did I come by an autographed copy?

Barbara Brady, Sydney, Australia. 21 January 2015.

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Gordon Williamson January 24, 2018 at 6:59 pm

Hi,

I thought you may like to know that I was pobably the first person to solve the title of the the “Bee Book”.

“How could that be?”, I hear you ask.

Well, I heard of the release date of the book and went to my, then, local bookshop, in Bracknell, Berks, to reserve a copy.

To my surprise, and then dismay, the lady behind the counter started out by saying that their stock of the “Book” had already arrived, but that they had been instructed not to put them on display until later in the week.

I cajoled and whimpered and tried every manipulation I could, to get her to sell me the book then and there. Eventually, I persuaded her to sell me the book, using the logic that – as the answer would not be considered for another year and a day, would it really matter if I had the book for an extra few days?

I left the shop, hurried home and started to analyse the book immediately. By the end of the day, I had found two possible answers.

The next day I decided and confirmed the correct answer and began to think how I could express the solution in the shortest possible time.

I decided a simple pencil drawing using shading and hatching would suffice. I did this and posted off my artistic submission.

A few days later, after the release of the book, there was an article in the Liverpool Echo about the release of the book, reporting an interview with Kit Williams, mentioning that two people had entered even before the book had been released. I don’t remember if he mentioned that the answers were correct.

Subsequently, my entry was proven to be correct. Hooray!

The odd thing is that I lived in Bracknell at the time, but the newspaper publication was Liverpudlian, which is where I come from originally. Isn’t it a small world?

I had spent ages on MASQUERADE and achieved nothing. I simply wanted to be the first to answer correctly, as I knew that the chances of my artistic skills prevailing would be remote.

I was more than happy to hear that I was probably the first with the answer. ( I suspect the second person with the correct answer was a friend who purchased the book the day after I did, knowing that you could get hold of it, after I told him my story.)

Prior to the ‘Bee Book’, I had purchased another treasure hunt book “The Golden Key to £50,000 treasure” – by Don Shaw.

Last March (2017) I finally solved it, after over 35 years of effort. No one else has solved this book which still remains a mystery as the supposed “Golden Key” had been deliberately removed by the organisers of the hunt. This was part of a bungled attempt to relaunch the competition which took place after Don Shaw tried to annul the original competition just 5 years after its launch in 1982. Don Shaw remains quiet about the solution and refuses to respond, and I believe that Gordon Hooke who was to relaunch the book, has died. There is no response from either source for this competition.

If anyone wants to contact me about the solution to the Golden Key then perhaps you can pass my email along to them? I will be glad to explain my solution to them.

Thanks for reviving some old memories. It would be great if you could locate a video of the ‘Bee Book’ solution to show how amazingly creative people can be.

Kind regards,

Gordon Williamson.

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Roger Morgan November 26, 2018 at 11:34 pm

I also made it to the exhibition at the Usher Art gallery – my submission was an anamorphic photograph framed in a beekeeping hive ‘frame’, viewed in a cylindrical mirror capped with a wooden coiled rope bee ‘skep’ – I thought it was a dead certainty!. I got it back at the end of the exhibition and still have it; and yes I too was contacted about a book that never happened. Clearly only the entries that made it to the exhibition were returned, I wonder what happened to the rest? How many were there?

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Danny Ashton-Booth January 18, 2019 at 11:24 am

I took my answer, to the challenge, to a collection point in Grantham between the 1st and the 20th April 1985 and that is the last I saw of ‘it’. I would love to know what became of ‘it’? Does anyone know if there are any photographs of entries or and an exhibition? I never had a camera at the time and have no record of my submission. Please reply even if the news is not good. Regards Danny. P.S. My surname was formerly Booth.

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Dan February 15, 2019 at 6:23 pm

I am not actually sure what happened to the entries; I would assume they all became property of the publisher that ran the competition, but whether they were archived somewhere, given to Kit, or simply discarded, I do not know.

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Danny Ashton-Booth August 29, 2019 at 8:55 am

Thank you. Please keep in touch. Danny

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Danny Ashton-Booth August 29, 2019 at 8:55 am

Thank you. Please keep in touch. Danny

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