Wilfrid Michail Voynich (31 October 1865 (Old Style - in use in the Russian Empire at the time of his birth - and the birthdate he normally gave)/12 November (New Style) Telsze (since 1918 Telšiai and now Lithuania) a town in then Kovno Governorate, Russia – 19 March 1930, New York), born Michał Habdank-Wojnicz, was trained as a pharmacist, and became a Polish-Lithuanian revolutionary against the Russian Empire, joining Ludwik Waryński's revolutionary organization, Proletariat. In 1886. After being sent to Siberia he escaped and eventually ended up in London. With Sergey Stepnyak-Kravchinsky, a fellow revolutionary, he founded the Society of Friends for a Free Russia. After Stepniak's death he became a successful antiquarian bookseller and bibliophile, and moved to the US. In 1902 he married Ethel Lilian Voynich - having lived with her for a number of years. She was the daughter of George Boole the mathematician and the author of The Gadfly and other works.

In 1912 he acquired what became known as the Voynich manuscript from the Villa Mondragone - though he at times claimed to have acquired it from other places (but this may have been to deflect others from his sources of material).

Believed that Roger Bacon had written the VM.

Under the assumed name of Ivan Kel'chevskii, he helped Stepniak, a fellow revolutionary, to found the Society of Friends for a Free Russia in London (Wikipedia page [1]).

See also Case against Wilfrid Voynich authorship and Possible authors of the Voynich Manuscript.

Useful websites:

  • A biography can be found on The History Files here [2].
  • Another biography here [3].
  • The Wikipedia page [4]
  • Various documents can be found here [5].
  • Birth record and parent's info can be found here [6]

Some information on his coat of arms and travels here [7].

His life, contacts and activities could be researched further.