You indicated the Voynich manuscript was in London in the late 16th century but there appears to be no record of this. Can you tell us something about your evidence?

The Voynich manuscript is mainly a book about plants and, in 1597, an encyclopedia of plants was published in London, financed in part by the Lord Burghley, the most powerful man in England. This is him depicted on the title page of that book:

Herball depiction of Lord Burghley

To this day, that encyclopedia remains the largest botany book ever published in the English language. This here is another snippet from the title page of that book:

Herball title page depiction of the 4-o glyph

Notice that, vertically, the number "4" is placed above the letter "o". Also note that the downward shaft of the "4" has an offshoot to the left attaching it to the "o".

Voynich manuscript depictions of the 4-o glyph

This is a snippet from the Voynich manuscript. Notice that, though now horizontally, "4o" (with which many words begin) is the most prominent glyph seen in the Voynich manuscript. Also note that the crossbar of the "4" typically moves across to touch the "o" that follows, similar to how the "4" is arranged to touch the "o" in the above graphic. All a coincidence? Possibly, but how else do you want to explain those glyphs on the cover of a botany book?

Wilfred Voynich began his antiquarian book business in London in 1898, some fourteen years prior to his alleged acquisition of the manuscript in Italy. I think Voynich lied about acquiring the manuscript in Italy, which would explain why he did not announce it until years later when there would be no one to denounce this claim. I think he acquired the manuscript right there in London, possibly under sinister circumstances. But it is unclear whether the Kircher and other fabrications, including a faint signature, were the work of Voynich himself or of those from whom he acquired the manuscript.

I must mention, additionally, that I found an indication that the Voynich manuscript spent a couple of centuries safely stored away in the library at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. I do not know when and how it wound up back in London.

In ways that you can hardly imagine, the Voynich manuscript had a profound impact on English culture during the late 16th century and beyond and may even become instrumental in solving a great authorship mystery. But that is a long story best left for another occasion.

To be continued.

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