Wilfrid Michael Voynich bigraphy, stories - British antiquarian

Wilfrid Michael Voynich : biography

31 October 1865 - 19 March 1930

Michał Habdank-Wojnicz (known as Michael Wilfried Voynich) (31 October 1865Деятели 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. – 19 March 1930), born Michał Habdank-Wojnicz, was a Polish revolutionary, British antiquarian and bibliophile, and the eponym of the Voynich manuscript.

Voynich manuscript

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.


Michał 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 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.

In 1890 he escaped from Siberia and arrived in London, adopting as his first name his nom de guerre, Wilfryd. In 1902 he married a fellow-revolutionary, Ethel Lilian Boole, daughter of the famous British mathematician, George Boole.

With Stepniak, a fellow revolutionary, he founded the Society of Friends for a Free Russia in London.Lewis Bernhardt, "," The Princeton University Library Chronicle 28, no. 1 (Autumn 1966): 2.

After the 1895 death of Stepniak in a railway crossing accident, the Voyniches (as they had anglicized their surname) ceased revolutionary activity. In 1898 Voynich opened a bookshop in London, followed by another in 1914 in New York. He was much involved with the handling of early books and wrote a number of catalogues and other texts on the subject.

Voynich died in New York in 1930.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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