27 July-Ethel Lilian Voynich

Ethel lilian Voynich (née Boole) was an Irish born novelist and musician. She was the daughter of George Boole (Boolean Logic) the first Professor of Mathematics at University College Cork. Her mother, Mary Everest, was a feminist philosopher and niece of George Everest after whom Mount Everest is named.

Ethel Lilian Voynich was born at Lichfield Cottage, Ballintemple, Cork on May 11th 1864. Following the death of her father George, her mother Mary moved with her children to England where she worked as librarian at Queen’s College, London. Ethel Lilian studied piano and music composition in Berlin between 1882 and 1885.

While studying in Berlin Ethel Lilian became involved in revolutionary politics. She learned Russian and worked as a governess in St Petersburg from 1887 to 1889. She continued her revolutionary activities there, before returning to England. She published her most famous and successful book, ‘The Gadfly’ in 1897. She met Wilfrid Michael Voynich, a Russian revolutionary who had escaped from Siberia. He was working England as an antiquarian book dealer. They married in 1902. In 1920 the Voynich’s moved to New York where Wilfrid continued his business.

‘The Gadfly’ became an international success. It sold millions of copies but it was until 1955 that Voynich heard that the book had sold over 2,500,000 in the Soviet Union alone. The book was also made into a movie on two occasions in the Soviet Union. In New York Ethel concentrated on music and composed a number of cantatas.

Ethel Lilian Voynich novelist, musician and native of Cork, Ireland died in New York City at the age of 96 in the year 1960 On This Day.

Voynich by Ben Woosley on 2010-06-02 21:46:52

Cork photo

Queen’s College, Cork (now UCC)

Photo by National Library of Ireland on The Commons


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