Wilfrid Michael Voynich
Wojnicz c. 1885
|Native name||Wilfrid Voynich|
31 October 1865|
Telšiai, Kovno Governorate, Russian Empire
|Died||19 March 1930
New York City
|Occupation||Revolutionary, Antiquarian Book Dealer|
|Known for||Discovery of the Voynich manuscript|
Wilfrid Michał Habdank-Wojnicz was born in Telsze (since 1918 Telšiai—a town in then Kovno Governorate, which was part of the Russian Empire)—into a Polish noble family. The "Habdank" part of his surname is the name of a Polish heraldic clan. He was the son of a Polish petty official (titular counsellor).
He attended a gymnasium (junior grammar school) in Suwałki (a town in northeastern Poland), then studied at the universities of Warsaw, St. Petersburg, and Moscow. He graduated from Moscow University in chemistry and became a licensed pharmacist.
In 1885, in Warsaw, Wojnicz joined Ludwik Waryński's revolutionary organization, Proletarjat. In 1886, after a failed attempt to free fellow-conspirators Piotr Bardowski (1846-1886) and Stanisław Kunicki (1861-1886), who had both been sentenced to death, from the Warsaw Citadel, he was arrested by the Russian police. In 1887, he was sent to penal servitude at Tunka.
After Stepniak's death in a railway crossing accident in 1895, Voynich ceased revolutionary activity. In 1898 he opened a bookshop in London. In 1902 he married a fellow former revolutionary, Ethel Lilian Boole, daughter of the British mathematician, George Boole. Voynich was naturalised a British subject on 25 April 1904, taking the legal name Wilfrid Michael Voynich.
Voynich opened another bookshop in 1914 in New York. He became deeply involved in the antiquarian book trade, and wrote a number of catalogues and other texts on the subject.
Voynich died in New York in 1930.
The most famous of Voynich's possessions was a mysterious manuscript he said he acquired in 1912 at the Villa Mondragone in Italy, but first presented in public in 1915. He owned the manuscript until his death. It is written in an unknown script.
- Деятели революционного движения в России: Био-библиографический словарь: От предшественников декабристов до падения царизма: [В 5 т.]. - М.: Изд-во Всесоюзного общества политических каторжан и ссыльно-поселенцев, 1927-1934. Entry on Voynich
- Lewis Bernhardt, "The Gadfly in Ruissia," The Princeton University Library Chronicle 28, no. 1 (Autumn 1966): 2.
- Biographical information on E. L. Voynich and W. M. Voynich by Rafał T. Prinke
- History Files article on Voynich