Wilfrid Michael Voynich
|Wilfrid Michael Voynich|
Wojnicz c. 1885
|Native name||Wilfrid Michał Habdank-Wojnicz|
31 October 1865|
Telšiai, Russian Empire
|Died||19 March 1930
New York City
|Occupation||Revolutionary, Antiquarian Book Dealer|
|Known for||Discovery of the Voynich manuscript|
Wilfrid Michael Voynich, born Wilfrid Michał Habdank-Wojnicz (31 October 1865 – 19 March 1930), was a Polish revolutionary, British antiquarian and bibliophile, and the eponym of the Voynich manuscript.
Wilfrid Michał Habdank-Wojnicz was born in Telsze (since 1918 Telšiai)—a town in then Kaunas 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 in Warsaw and St. Petersburg and graduated from Moscow University in chemistry, also becoming 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) from the Warsaw Citadel who had been sentenced to death, he was arrested by Tsarist police and, in 1887, sent to penal servitude at Tunka.
After the 1895 death of Stepniak in a railway crossing accident, he ceased revolutionary activity. In 1898 Voynich opened a bookshop in London. In 1902 he married a fellow-revolutionary, Ethel Lilian Boole, daughter of the famous British mathematician, George Boole. He was naturalised a British subject on 25 April 1904, taking the legal name Wilfrid Michael Voynich.
He opened another bookshop in 1914 in New York. He was much involved with 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 medieval manuscript which he had acquired in 1912 at the Villa Mondragone in Italy and which he owned until his death. It is written in an unknown script which several famous linguists and cryptologists have been unable to decrypt since the manuscript's first public presentation in 1915.
- 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