Voynich Manuscript

By Minkyung Oh

Voynich Manuscript

Voynich Manuscript is an illustrated codex hand written in unknown language by unknown author. It was written left to right, which gives a hint that this is from the European country. The book named after Wilfrid Voynich, a book dealer who bought it in Italy in 1912. This book is carbon dated to 15th century. This manuscript was donated to Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript in 1969. This book does not have much history other than a letter that had mentioned some of the previous owners of the book that was in the book, when Voynich purchased it. All of the mentioned people lived in the first half of the 17th century.

Due to the fact that it was rediscovered in 20th century, many of the researches are modern ones.


There are quite a few mysteries about Voynich Manuscript, as it has not been encoded yet. The author, language (or code), and messages are all in mysteries. The existence of meaningful message itself became a mystery, as some say that this probably is just a meaningless text. The fact that it disappeared from the public for few centuries, then reappearing in 1912 is also weird.


The contents of the manuscript is unknown, as it has not been decoded yet, but there are illustrations in almost every page (about 220 pages out of 246 pages) that can be used to make a prediction about the contents. The illustrations include plant, celestial bodies (zodiac), cosmological, pharmacological, and female figures. These illustrations can be used to divide the book into chapters, although it doesn't have any subheadings. Some of the illustrated pages can be folded.

Theories about Author

There were theories about the author since 17th century. The author of this manuscript lived sometime in 15th century (probably early half).
  • Voynich believed that Roger Bacon, the English monk was the author.
  • Briton Nick Pelling published a theory that Italian architect Antonio Averlino being the author in 2006. He supposes that Averlino escaped to Constantinople (Istanbul) around the year 1465, having beforehand recorded his knowledge as encrypted in the Voynich manuscript.
  • There are also theory that the author is an anonymous artist who lived in that time period or someone who's completely forgotten today.

Theories about Manuscript

There are many theories about the manuscript itself and language.
  • The U.S. cryptologist William Friedman, who was one the best cryptologist, failed to encrypt this text. He considered this text was composed of artificial language.
  • Gordon Rugg, a mathematician from Keele University, U.K. thinks that this is just a hoax text. He developed his own code that is similar to "Voynichese text," so he can show that it is easy to create meaningful looking patterns.
  • There's a theory that this book was written to cover some other text by transferring to a code, and that it was a work of alchemists and scientists trying to make a secret language.


Hogenboom, Melissa. "Mysterious Voynich Manuscript Has 'genuine Message'" BBC News. N.p., 22 June 2013. Web. 04 Oct. 2016.

Schmeh, Klaus. "The Voynich Manuscript: The Book Nobody Can Read - CSI." The Voynich Manuscript: The Book Nobody Can Read - CSI. N.p., Jan.-Feb. 2011. Web. 04 Oct. 2016.

"The Voynich Gallery - The Complete Manuscript 1." The Voynich Gallery - The Complete Manuscript 1. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2016.

"Voynich Manuscript." Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Oct. 2016.