1943-c.2000 Summary

In summary 1943-2000:

By 2000,  that Roger Bacon was author  or owner [even of posited exemplar/s] are ideas that have been dropped, perhaps a little hastily;

The ‘English’ provenance survived for a time though shifted forward to the sixteenth century – then dropped;

Newbold’s name was a cause of embarrassment, though the ‘telescope’ and ‘microscope’ notions would soon be revived.

Some of the anachronistic astronomical matter published in older papers survives online to this day.  The idea that one folio depicts the ‘Andromeda nebula’ or some other galaxy is still believed by many.

Those seminal papers delivered by Newbold and Voynich in 1921 were all but forgotten, though most of Wilfrid’s assertions (unacknowledged) continued then, as today, and due to repetition in d’Imperio’s work, to be mistaken for fact, as  “common knowledge”.

With Rene Zandbergen’s arrival – and that of an obscure if funded “team” –  a new and serious element was to enter “Voynich studies”, by 1999 deeply dysfunctional despite the intelligence and genuine scholarly generosity of some earlier writers and contemporary members of the first Voynich mailing list.

 ‘Voynich studies’ was scarcely any longer the study of a manuscript: it was partly a competition to ‘solve’ the text, and partly an exercise in the power of propaganda, to see which imagined scenario (or “theory”) could attract the greatest number of adherents: for a preferred auteur and/or national identification. These ranged from proposed provenance in seventeenth-century Germany or Holland to fifteenth century Italy or France. 

The field was fractured along the same Newbold-Wilfrid fault-line between the great majority –  focussed on the cipher-text –  and  “the rest”.  Rene Zandbergen shouldered the task of combing chat-rooms and online writings, for what he considered the most sensible ideas and conclusions, these then having their content re-presented on his website voynich.nu/

Also after 2000, Pelling began making efforts to interest researchers in codicology and palaeography and so on, but before about 2010 none followed his lead – except as his work was read by individuals and re-presented in voynich.nu/

It is an interesting question whether many cryptanalysts, or even many of “the rest” would have felt any great loss if the manuscript had vanished once the transcription project and scanning project were completed. 

As an object, the  ‘Voynich manuscript’ was being perceived as little more than a text-book exercise in decryption.

In effect, study of the manuscript for its own sake was on the verge of expiring before engaged.

In the following list of publications, those concerned solely, or chiefly, with comments on the ‘cipher text’ are coloured blue.



  • Joseph M. Feely, Roger Bacon’s Cipher: The Right Key Found, Rochester, NY.,1943.



? –   Hugh O’Neill,  ‘Botanical Remarks on the Voynich MS’ Speculum, 19 (1944): 126.

July 29th., Hugh O’Neill,  ‘Voynich Manuscript. Botanical Clue, Evidence indicating Roger Bacon could not have written the Voynich manuscript…’,  Science News Letter, July 29,1944, p.69.



 June 15th.,   Leonell C. Strong,  ‘Anthony Askham, the author of the Voynich Manuscript’, Science, n.s. 101 (15 June1945): 608-9. [Folio f78, put into English: “When skuge uf tun’c-bag rip, seo oogon kum sli of se mosure-issue ped-stans sku-bent, stokked kimbo-elbow crawknot.”]

Nov 26th.,  Francis Sill Wickware, ‘The Secret Language of War’, Life 19 (26 November1945) pp. 63-70. [Only one sentence mentions the VMS, calling it “possibly the only unbreakable code”  J.r.]



Nov/Dec. Leonell Strong and E.L. McCawley, ‘A Verification of a Hitherto Unknown Prescription of the 16th Century’, Bulletin of the History of Medicine (Baltimore, Md.) 21(November-December1947), pp.898-904. [On f93: “I up a bol koten wet with oil spindl, compound honei, a pine recin spagges gains piler ose firm, err-stirt. Wanne orgie ebb, so koten bee remov’d.”]



  •    E. Westacott, Roger Bacon in Life and Legend. New York: [Publisher?],1953. [A balanced writer whose errors are flaws in his sources rather than his apprehension of them. The text is online through the internet archive. – D.]



  •      Jose Ruysschaert, Codices Vaticani Latini 11414 – 11709. Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana,1959. [Describes the MSs acquired by the Vatican from the Collegium Romanum, and mentions that W. Voynich bought a number of them which have been transferred to various American libraries, including the VMS.]

?     W.F. and E.S. Friedman,  ‘Acrostics, Anagrams, and Chaucer’, Philological Quarterly 38 (1959), pp.1-20.



  •    H.P. Kraus, Catalogue 100. Thirty-five manuscripts: including the St. Blasien psalter, the Llangattock hours, the Gotha missal, the Roger Bacon (Voynich) cipher ms. New York: H.P. Kraus,1962. [Beautiful reproductions of several leaves of VMS.]


June 25th., ‘Kraus Marks Anniversary With Catalog of Treasures’, Publishers’ Weekly, 181 (25 June1962) pp. 39-40. [Kraus auction – Vms listed but didn’t sell.]

June 26th., David Kahn,  ‘The Secret Book’, Newsday. 26 June1962.

July 18th.,   Sanka Knox, ‘700-Year-Old Book For Sale; Contents, In Code, Still Mystery’, New York Times, 18 July1962, p 27, col 2. [Kraus auction. Includes picture of 85/86r4. .]

August 5th.,    Elizebeth S. Friedman,  “The Most Mysterious Manuscript” still an Enigma’, The Washington Post, 5 August1962, sec. E, pp. 1,5.



Jan.    Alfred Werner, ‘The Most Mysterious Manuscript”, Horizon, 5 (January,1963), pp.4-9.



  • Richard D. Altick, The Scholar Adventurers. New York: The Free Press,1966. [First ed. in1950. Has discussion of VMS and Manly’s refutation on pp.200-206.]

April   Joseph Ashbrook, ‘Roger Bacon and the Voynich Manuscript’, Sky and Telescope, April,1966, pp.218-219.



  •    David Kahn, The Codebreakers, New York: Macmillan,1967. [Discussion on pp.863-872, 1120-1121.]
  •    E.M. Sowerby, Rare People & Rare Books. Constable,1967; Williamsburg: The Bookpress,1987. [Contains reminiscences, biographical details, and a photograph of W. M. Voynich.]
  •    John Tiltman,  The Voynich Manuscript: ‘The most mysterious manuscript in the world’, Baltimore: Baltimore Bibliophiles,1967. [. Unclear what relation it has to following entry.]

July   John Tiltman, ‘The Voynich Manuscript, “The Most Mysterious Manuscript in the World”‘,  NSA Technical Journal 12 (July1967) pp.41-85.



April   Herman W. Liebert, ‘The Beinecke Library Accessions 1969’, Yale Library Gazette, 44 (April1970). [Describes Kraus’s gift of VMS on pp.192-3.]



?   Curt A. Zimansky,  ‘William F. Friedman and the Voynich Manuscript’, Philological Quarterly 49 (1970): 433-42.

Oct.    Betty McKaig,  ‘The Voynich Manuscript–Cipher of the Secret Book.” (Interview with Leonell Strong). North County Independent, Oct. 7,1970. Reprinted courtesy Independent Newspapers, Inc., San Diego, California.



  • Peter Way, Codes and Ciphers. London: Aldus,1974. [Perfunctory discussion, wretched illustrations.]
  • Brumbaugh, R. S. ‘Botany and the Voynich “Roger Bacon” Manuscript Once More.” Speculum 49 (1974), 546-48.



  • [Exhibition Catalogue] The Secular Spirit: Life and Art at the End of the Middle Ages. (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art,1975) p.203 (with illus.) and color pl. 9.

  ?    Brumbaugh, R. S. ‘The Solution of the Voynich “Roger Bacon” Cipher’, Yale Library Gazette 49 (1975): 347-55.

May 6th., ‘Cipher Debunked but not Decoded’, New York Times, Tuesday, 6 May1975, sec 2, p.37, cols. 7-8; and p 41, col 7.



  • William Ralph Bennett, Scientific and Engineering Problem Solving with the Computer, Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall,1976. [Contains a chapter on VMS.]

JanMichael Daiger, ‘The world’s most unusual manuscript’,  Occult, Jan.1976.

May/June and July/Aug    Larry Harnisch,  (Pseud. “AR-MYR”), ‘The Voynich Manuscript’, The Cryptogram, 43(1976) May-June, pp.45,62-63; July-August, pp.69,74-77.

  R.S. Brumbaugh, ‘The Voynich “Roger Bacon” Cipher Manuscript: Deciphered Maps of Stars’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 39 (1976): 139-50.

Child, James R. ‘The Voynich Manuscript Revisited’,  NSA Technical Journal, 21 (1976): pp.1-4. [ argues that it’s Norse.]

Nov 30th.,   M.E. D’Imperio, (ed.)., ‘New Research on the Voynich Manuscript: Proceedings of a Seminar Washington, D.C.’. Privately printed pamphlet, 30 November1976. includes: James Child, ‘A Linguistic Approach to the Voynich Text’; .Capt. Prescott Currier, ‘Some Important New Statistical Findings’; Dr. Sydney Fairbanks, ‘Suggestions Toward a Decipherment of the “Key.”’; M. E. D’Imperio, ‘The Solution Claim of Dr. Robert S. Brumbaugh’; Capt. Prescott Currier, ‘The Voynich Manuscript, Some Notes and Observations’; Stuart H. Buck, ‘What Constitutes Proof?’.



  • Robert S. Brumbaugh, The World’s Most Mysterious Manuscript. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press,1978. London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson,1977. [Survey of past writings; advances own theory of 16th century hoax..]

March-April  H. Ephron, (Pseud. “DENDAI”) ‘A burning question in re the Voynich MS (slightly revised).” The Cryptogram. 43 (1977). March-April, pp.22,46-48; May-June, pp.49,51-52,72. [suggests G. Bruno is author.]

Spring/Summer   M.E. D’Imperio, ‘The Voynich Manuscript: A Scholarly Mystery’, Manuscripts. 29:2 (Spring1977) pp.85-93; 29:3 (Summer1977), pp.161-173. 30,1 (Winter1978), pp.34-48. [. Three part article. Parts about physical history of the manuscript, about attempts at decipherment, and about Brumbaugh’s, Currier’s, and Child’s work, respectively.]



  • M.E. d’Imperio, “The Voynich Manuscript–An Elegant Enigma”, National Security Agency,1978. [published 1981]
  • H.P. Kraus, A rare book saga — The autobiography of H. P. Kraus, New York: Putnam’s, 1978.
  • Stojko, John. Letters to God’s Eye: The Voynich Manuscript for the first time deciphered and translated into English, New York: Vantage Press,1978.

Summer M.E. D’Imperio, ’An Application of Cluster Analysis and Multidimensional Scaling to the Question of “hands” and “Languages” in the Voynich Manuscript’, National Security Agency Technical Journal 23, 3 (Summer1978), pp. 59-75. [Unclassified article. agrees with Currier’s findings.]

July   [Review] Brumbaugh’s Most Mysterious Manuscript. Booklist. 74 (1 July1978) p 1647. [one paragraph.]

October   [Review] Brumbaugh’s Most Mysterious Manuscript. Choice, 15 (October1978): p.1080.



  • Blunt, Wilfrid and Sandra Raphael. The Illustrated Herbal, London: Thames and Hudson, in association with the Metropolitan Museum of Art.1979.

Spring   M.E. D’Imperio, ‘An Application of PTAH to the Voynich Manuscript’, National Security Agency Technical Journal. 24, 2 (Spring1979), pp. 65-91.

[conclusions: (1) The plain text directly underlying the Voynich text is probably not a natural language written in an alphabet, like English or Latin. (2) The Voynich text probably does not involve any form of simple substitution or alphabetic plain text like English or Latin. (3) The Voynich text does not directly represent a variably spelled or `impressionistic’ approximation of a natural language like English or Latin, as claimed by Brumbaugh. (4) The words of the Voynich text do not appear to act like code groups in a known code which includes groups for grammatical endings.” – J.r.]

Nov.   [Review] Brumbaugh’s Most Mysterious Manuscript. by Gregory S.Guzman. Historian 42 (November1979) p 120-1.



Feb.   ‘The World’s Most Baffling Manuscript’, Parade Magazine. Feb. 21,1982.

??   Frank Smyth, ‘A script full of secrets’, The Unexplained, no date [1982?], pp. 1381-1385.

??   Frank Smyth,  ‘The uncrackable code’, The Unexplained, no date [1982?], pp. 1418-1420.



  • Shailor, Barbara A. Catalog of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Binghamton, NY: Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies,1984. [. Volume 2 said to contain a nice description and history of the MS and associated materials at Yale and a plate of 100r.]

??  ‘Lovecraft and the Voynich Manuscript’,  INFO Journal, #48 [c.1984]. [The International Fortean Organization’s INFO Journal. .]



Oct. Michael Barlow, ‘The Voynich Manuscript — By Voynich?‘, Cryptologia 10 (October1986) pp.210-216.



  • Levitov, Leo. Solution of the Voynich Manuscript: A Liturgical Manual for the Endura Rite of the Cathari Heresy, the Cult of Isis. Laguna Hills, California: Aegean Park Press,1987.



  • Poundstone, William. Labyrinths of Reason. New York: Doubleday,1988.
  • Colin Wilson, The encyclopedia of unsolved mysteries. Chicago: Contemporary Books,1988.

? ‘Voynich Manuscript Translated‘, INFO Journal, #56 [ca.1988.] [The International Fortean Organization’s INFO Journal. .]

[Review] of ‘Leo Leitov’s Solution of the Voynich Manuscript’. Michael Barlow. Cryptologia 12 (1988).



  • Roberts, R. J. and Andrew G. Watson, (eds)., John Dee’s Library Catalogue. London: The Bibliographical Society,1990. [Claim the folio numbers in the VMS are by John Dee’s hand.]



  • McKenna, Terence K, The Archaic Revival: speculations on psychedelic mushrooms, the Amazon, virtual reality, UFOs, evolution, Shamanism, the rebirth of the goddess, and the end of history. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco,1991.
  • Shailor, Barbara A., The medieval book. (Medieval Academy Reprints for Teaching, 28). Toronto: University of Toronto Press in association with the Medieval Academy of America,1991. [Brief mention of VMS on p.105.]

?   [Letter to the Editor] J.B.M. Guy, ‘Voynich Revisited”, Cryptologia, 15 (1991), pp.161-166. [contra Barlow.]

?   Jacques B.M. Guy,  ‘Statistical Properties of Two Folios of the Voynich Manuscript’, Cryptologia, 15 (1991), pp.207-218.



June   Ian Seymour, ‘Thirteenth Century Magic Glass‘, Astronomy Now, June1992. p.59.

?  Frank Smyth, ‘A script full of secrets’ and ‘The uncrackable code’, reprinted in Mysteries of Mind, Space & Time: The Unexplained, pp. 3062-3069. Westport, Connecticut: H. S. Stuttman, Inc.,1992. [Originally published in The Unexplained in the UK.



  • The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library: a guide to its collections. New Haven: Yale University Library,1994.
  • Peter J. James  and Nick Thorpe, Ancient Inventions. New York : Ballantine Books,1994

    Theroux, Michael. ‘Deciphering “The Most Mysterious Manuscript in the World” The Final Word?’ Borderlands 50 (1994), pp.36-43. [said to agree with Newbold’s opinions – J.r.]



  • 1995  Drucker, Johanna. The Alphabetic Labyrinth, New York: Thames and Hudson,1995.

  Eugene Newsom, A Split in the Mystery Curtain. Pamphlet. 20 pages.1995. [suggests that Tommaso Campanella wrote it.]

  Stojko, John; edited by Dovhich, Vitality. Poslannya Oriyan Khozapam: Pam’yatka Drevn’oyi Ukrayins’koyi Movy i Publytsystyky ‘Rukopys Voyinycha’. Pershe Ukrayins’ke Vydannya. Vypushcheno Koshtom Ahentstva “Tak’spravy”. Kyjiv 7503. (c)Indoyevropa,1995.

[translation of bibliog details:] (Epistles from Ora’s Camp to the Khozars: A Memoir of the Ancient Ukrainian Tongue and Writing: “The Voynich Manuscript”. First Ukrainian Edition. Released (on authority) of the agency “From the Right.” Kiev (issue number) 7503. Copyright Indoyevropa,1995.) [Unauthorized 29 page abridged translation, augmented with modern Ukrainian version of Stojko’s decipherements.]

Aug.24th.,   Kruml, Milan. “Voynicuv rukopis.” Mlady svet. 1995, no. 35, 24 August1995. Prague. [Seen in electronic form: http://cech.cesnet.cz/htbin/encode/MS/texts/MS953500.html. Odd survey in a childrens’ magazine.]

?   Jim Reeds, ‘William F. Friedman’s Transcription of the Voynich Manuscript’, Cryptologia19 (1995) pp.1-23.



  • Karl P. N. Shuker,  The Unexplained: an Illustrated Guide to the World’s Natural and Paranormal Mysteries, Carlton Books Ltd. c1996. ISBN 1-85868-186-3 [. Has color photographs of f16v, f17r, and a closeup of a flower on f16v.]

? Sergio Toresella, ‘Gli erbari degli alchimisti’ [Alchemical herbals.] in  Liana Saginati (ed.), Arte farmaceutica e piante medicinali — erbari, vasi, strumenti e testi dalle raccolte liguri, [Pharmaceutical art and medicinal plants — herbals, jars, instruments and texts of the Ligurian collections.] Pisa: Pacini Editore,1996, pp.31-70.

[Profusely illustrated. Associates the VMS in a posited “alchemical-herbal” tradition. The phrase ‘alchemical herbals’ is a coining by Torasella, subverting the description first given his collection of such manuscripts by Aldrovandi, who called them  ‘plants of the alchemists’. Torasella thus forces back into the western ‘herbal’ genre these manuscripts from which Aldrovandi rightly distinguished them. J.r/D]



Nov. Nancy Shepherdson, ‘Mystery codes’,  Boys’ Life. November, 1997. 87, no. 11, p.42.



Wrixon, Fred B. Codes, Ciphers, and Other Cryptic and Clandestine Communication, New York: Black Dog and Leventhal, c1998. [. A brief summary. Has a drawing of f100r.]

June –  Terence K. McKenna, ‘Has the World’s Most Mysterious Manuscript Been Read at Last?”, Gnosis Magazine, 7 (Summer1988) pp.48-51. [Mildly favorable review of Levitov.]

July –   Gabriel Landini and Rene Zandbergen, ‘A Well-kept Secret of Medieval Science: the Voynich Manuscript’,  Aesculapius. No. 18, July1998, pp. 77-82. Survey of the problem; discussion of statistics of the EVA transcription, Zipf’s law, etc. (Landini created the EVA script – D).



March  [Thesis] Antoine Casanova, Méthodes d’analyse du langage crypte: une contribution a l’étude du manuscrit de Voynich: These pour obtenir le grade de Docteur de l’Universite Paris 8. March19,1999. Contient des images noirs-et-blancs de f77v, f33v, f79v, f69r, f34r, f105v, et f105r.

April   Lev Grossman, ‘When words fail: The struggle to decipher the world’s most difficult book’,  Lingua Franca 9, No. 3 (April,1999), pp. 9-15. [reports interviews with Landini, Reeds and Zandbergen].

 Sept.  Michael Pollak, ‘Can’t Read It? You Can Look at the Pictures’,  New York Times. 16 Sept.1999, p. G11. [superficial and uninformative – D.]

Oct.12th., ‘The Mystery of Manuscript 408’, The Hartford Courant newspaper of Hartford, Connecticut. October 12,1999. [Includes color images of several folios. Quotes Bennett and Reeds.]

Oct  Robert L. Williams, ‘A Note on the Voynich Manuscript.” Cryptologia, 23 (October,1999), pp. 305-309.



Jan.   Mike Jay, ‘Maze of madness’, Fortean Times (UK) Jan., 2000 (= issue 130). Fair summary of problem – J.r.]

March   [interview with] Mike Jay, author of the Fortean Times VMS article, Weekly World News, Mar. 7, 2000, pp.4-7.

July    Scot Corrales, ‘The Books of the Damned: Fact or Fiction?’, FATE July, 2000. [Rehash]

Nov. 5th.,   Bradley E. Schaefer, ‘The Most Mysterious Astronomical Manuscript: Baffled researchers are looking for astronomical clues to help decipher a medieval manuscript’, Sky & Telescope 100, 5 (November, 2000). [Emphasizes the astronomical and astrological aspects of the VMS. J.R.]

Dec. 20th., Pierre Barthelemy, ‘L’indéchiffrable manuscrit Voynich résiste toujours au décryptage”, Le Monde, 20 December 2000. [ Quotes Guy and Reeds. – J.R.]



Nov. 17th.,   Catherine Zandonella, ‘Book of riddles.” New Scientist 17 November 2001, 36-39. [Serious. quotes Stolfi, Landini, Zandbergen and Guy. – J.r.]


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