“The Voynich manuscript is an illustrated codex hand-written in an unknown writing system. The book has been carbon-dated to the early 15th century (1404–1438), and may have been composed in Northern Italy during the Italian Renaissance. The manuscript is named after Wilfrid Voynich, a Polish book dealer who purchased it in 1912”



Author: Bruce Grant
Date: Sun, 16 Jul 1995 02:02:52 -0400 (EDT)
Last update: 11 Jan 96, JJG

From: bgrant@umcc.umcc.umich.edu (Bruce Grant)

The following is a tentative "mini-FAQ" about the Voynich manuscript as
a response for Internet queries about it.  Please send me any suggestions
you have for stuff to include in it, corrections, etc. at
bgrant@umcc.ais.org.  (For example, it might be nice to include the
VM alphabet somehow, though I haven't been able to come up with a good-
looking "ASCII art" version.)

A Voynich Manuscript "Mini-FAQ"

Q:  What is the Voynich manuscript?

A:  This manuscript, which has been called "the most mysterious manuscript
    in the world", is a quarto volume of about 170 pages, handwritten in
    an unknown alphabet and illustrated with drawings in several colors.
    The name "Voynich" refers to Wilfrid Voynich, who discovered it (in a
    collection) in Italy in 1912.

    The authorship and date of origin of the manuscript are unknown.
    It has been variously ascribed to the Roger Bacon and to Dr. John Dee
    among others.  Different writers have suggested dates of origin anywhere
    from the 13th to the 16th century based on various features of the

    The manuscript is believed to have been present at the court of Emperor
    Rudolph II of Bohemia in the early 1600's, and its whereabouts are
    known at a few later dates.

    It was purchased by Hans P. Kraus, an antiquarian bookseller, in 1961,
    and was later donated by him to Yale University.

    [This information is primarily from the D'Imperio monograph cited

Q:  Where is the manuscript now?

A:  It is located in the Beineke Library at Yale University (New Haven, CT)
    and can be seen there.

Q:  Has it been translated or deciphered?

A:  No. Although several purported translations have been put forward,
    no one has convincingly established whether the manuscript is written
    in a known language (e.g. Latin, English), in some artificial or
    occult language, in a code or cipher of some form, or even whether
    it is meaningful or just a hoax.

Q:  Where can I get a copy?

A:  The manuscript has not been published to date, but photocopies are
    (or at least have been) available from the Beinecke Library, subject
    to an agreement not to re-copy or publish the text without the Library's
                          Beinecke Library
                          P.O. Box 208240
                          New Haven, CT 06520-8240

                          (203) 432-2977

Q:  Tell me more about the manuscript.  What does it look like?

A:  A sample page is reproduced in:

        Kahn, David, _The Codebreakers: The Story of Secret Writing_,
        (New York: Macmillan, 1967)

    The text appears to have been written from left to right,
    top to bottom, in an alphabet of approximately 36 symbols.  The alphabet
    is very attractive but is not known to appear in any other manuscript.
    It has some resemblances to Arabic script and to medieval Latin and
    Greek abbreviations, but has not been identified as a version of any
    known script.

    The illustrations are intermingled with the text and appear to include
    male and female human figures (naked and clothed), stars, signs of the
    Zodiac, flowers, pipes and vats, and many other curious figures.

Q:  What's available on the net?

A:  There is an Internet mailing list for people interested in the
    Voynich Manuscript, run by Jim Gillogly (jim@rand.org).

        To subscribe:      [TBS]

        To post:           send mail to voynich@rand.org

        To unsubscribe:    [TBS]

        (Lately this has been a low-volume mailing list, however.)

     There is no Usenet newsgroup.

     There are two ftp sites with Voynich stuff:


        (also reachable as

   and another Web page:

Q:  Where can I get more information?

A:  The most extensive document about the Voynich Manuscript appears to be
    a monograph written by M.E. D'Imperio in the late 1970's:

        M.E. D'Imperio, _The Voynich Manuscript: An Elegant Enigma_

    Reprints of this intriguing, 137-page book are available from:

                         Aegean Park Press
                         P.O. Box 2837
                         Laguna Hills, CA 92653

                         (714) 586-8811

    The monograph also includes a bibliography of over 300 books and
    articles either about the manuscript or about possibly related
    subjects (e.g. secret languages, alchemy, botany, Cabbala, Roger
    Bacon, Dr. Dee, etc.)

    An article by Jim Reeds on the Voynich Manuscript appeared in the
    January 1995 issue of _Cryptologia_ magazine.  This magazine is
    published by:

                          Rose-Hulman Institute
                          5500 Wabash
                          Terre Haute, IN 47803

                          (812) 877-1511      
Compiled by Bruce Grant (bgrant@umcc.ais.org)
  • voynich_manuscript.txt
  • Last modified: 2015-04-07 16:25
  • by nik