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The Voynich Manuscript

The Voynich Manuscript

The Mysterious Code That Has Defied Interpretation for Centuries

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An examination of the many theories surrounding this enigmatic text, apparently written in code

• Reveals the connections between this work and the Cathars, Roger Bacon, and John Dee

• Explains the cryptanalysis methods used in attempts to break the code

• Includes color images from the manuscript juxtaposed with other medieval writings

Since its discovery by Wilfrid Voynich in an Italian monastery in 1912, the Voynich Manuscript has baffled scholars and cryptanalysists with its unidentifiable script and bizarre illustrations. Written in an unknown language or an as yet undecipherable code, this medieval manuscript contains hundreds of illustrations of unknown plants, cosmological charts, and inexplicable scenes of naked “nymphs” bathing in a green liquid that some interpret as a symbolic depiction of human reproduction and the joining of the soul with the body.

Gerry Kennedy and Rob Churchill explore the mystery surrounding the Voynich Manuscript, examining the many existing theories about the possible authors of this work and the information it may contain. They trace the speculative history of the manuscript and reveal those who may be connected to it, including Roger Bacon, John Dee, and the Cathars. With the possibility that it may be a lost alchemical text or other esoteric work, this manuscript remains one of the most intriguing yet enigmatic documents ever to have come to light.

Gerry Kennedy is a freelance writer and has produced a number of BBC Radio 4 programs, including one on the Voynich Manuscript in 2001. Rob Churchill is a professional writer who has written scripts for many production companies, including the BBC and Thames Television. Both authors were consultants for the BBC/Mentorn Films documentary The Voynich Mystery. They live in London.
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  • Inner Traditions | 
  • 328 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781594771293 | 
  • August 2006
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Read an Excerpt

from Chapter 6

A Garden of Unearthly Delights


Gerry Kennedy once again takes up the story of his visit to Yale.

The realisation of a fantasy is proverbially fraught; the long-sought-after has a habit of failing to live up to the dream, and, to make things worse, is subject to the fickle vagaries of a first impression. In July 2001, having travelled up from the Big Apple to Yale University to inspect the fabled Voynich manuscript, I was hoping to gain a clear and calm overview of its delights that up until then had been supplied remotely by a computer screen.

Initially, the sheer privilege of being granted an audience... see more

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