Tag Archives: Biliteral Cipher

Mysterious Mr. Voynich, Means & Motive

A Living Legend

Wilfrid Voynich seems to have been a man of many talents, one of which obviously was to evoke the air of myth & legend surrounding his person – a feat not many people achieve during their lifetime. Left out the finding of a curious manuscript his adventurous life story alone would have qualified him to be acknowledged by history. To some, the latter seems to have been one of his central ambitions (and it poses an excellent motive for a concerted manuscript forgery).

Karl May als Old Shatterhand.

Karl May as Old Shatterhand
Photo: Karl May Gesellschaft

Mr. Voynich also seemed to have a hunch on public relations. Almost all of relevant biographical information regarding him is brought to us courtesy of Wilfrid Voynich himself. The same applies to all information regarding the manuscript, by the way. I can’t help but get reminded on Karl May: Both men start their careers out of a prison, with a strong will to become someone else and a decisive strategy to generate the necessary background. Mr. Voynich seems to have had it all sketched out. That’s probably what makes his story appear somewhat schematic.

Another astonishing feat Wilfrid Voynich managed to pull off, perhaps unintentionally so, was to make the story of his finding “viral”. The Voynich Complex seems like the source code for an application that gets processed over and over again by it’s applicants, the researchers, theorists and interpreters. Unintentionally, because The Voynich probably failed to fulfil its function to Wilfrid Voynich, whatever his real intent may have been.

smoking gun photo

Photo by PG.NETO

It is interesting that Wilfrid Voynich did not always possess one necessary ingredient for grand undertakings, namely money. His swift progress from penniless dissident to respected book dealer is another remarkable transition.  To some, there is a temporal confluence of a lengthy stay in northern Italy, the arrival of considerable wealth, and the finding of the manuscript.

Whats more.. Voynich was a studied chemist and pharmacist, said to have been engaged in the matter of medieval inks and pigments during his studies. Purportedly he used cipher in his Warsaw dissident days (although not good ones since all of them got decrypted). By standards of his trade and his times he WAS a manuscript expert, with access to a wealth of scriptures perfectly suitable as source of inspiration for his masterpiece.  A possible collaborator, and also lover of Voynich’s wife, Georgi Rosenblum, a.k.a “Ace of Spies” Sidney Reilly is said to also have been studying the matter of ancient inks.

binary photo

Photo by mikecogh

The outlines of the marriage between Wilfrid and Ethel Voynich speak more of calculation than of romance. While some argue the marriage was a planned step-up for Voynich, it is also interesting to note that his spouse was daughter to the english mathematician, philosopher and logician George Boole. It may only be an odd coincidence, Boole died long before Wilfrid & Ethel met. Or it may have been another opportunity to get acquainted with some concepts that could prove useful later on, like the binary number system.

So much to my smoking guns. I deliberately left all the claims in this article unsourced because I don’t think most of them are of a lot of relevance to the matter of finding out what The Voynich actually is. Maybe some of the clues could help, like the Boole(an)-Connection.