To the main page

Notes on Wilfrid Voynich (1921)

These, the opening words of a lecture given in Philadelphia in 1921, are the only known statement by Wilfrid Voynich about his acquisition of the manuscript which bears his name. Read in the light of the letter of Ethel Voynich, what Wilfrid says here is disingenuous and intentionally misleading but contains nothing which is actually untrue.

Philadelphia was the home town of William Romaine Newbold and the occasion was a conference at which Newbold unveiled his delusive decipherment of the manuscript as the work of Roger Bacon. Voynich believed from the appearance of the manuscript that it was of 13th century origin and accordingly endorsed the attribution to Bacon. The rest of the lecture discusses the Marci letter and the Tepenece inscription and sketches a possible route of transmission from Bacon to Rudolph II and Athanasius Kircher by way of John Dee. It is interesting that Voynich himself first introduced Dee into the web of speculation surrounding the manuscript, and that his motive for doing so was to suggest a route of transmission from England to Bohemia. Equally, if the manuscript is not of English origin, the hypothetical connection to Dee loses a good deal of its explanatory power.