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An insightful lecture on Omar Khayyam and his writings

January 20, 2019

David Calderisi, a Rubaiyat colleague from Canada, has drawn our attention to an interesting lecture on Omar Khayyam and his writings, which can be found online.  The lecture, given in 2012 by Professor Mehdi Aminrazavi at the Library of Congress, is entitled “Reading Omar Khayyam’s Ruba’iyyat with Their Historical Context“.  It draws on Professor Aminrazavi’s book on Omar Khayyam and his life, poetry and philosophy, The Wine of Wisdom, which was published by Oneworld Publications in 2005.  This book provides one of the best analyses available of the various theories about who Omar Khayyam was, and what he actually believed and wrote, and the lecture in 2012 is a good introduction to many of these topics.  It can be found on


Fred Adlington – a new Rubaiyat artist discovered by Bob Forrest

January 20, 2019

All of us who have researched the many illustrators who have worked on FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat know that there are unknown artists out there waiting to be identified and others whose work has not yet received serious attention.  Fred Adlington (c1891-1931) is one in the latter group.  As Bob Forrest puts it in his new article about this artist “I checked in Douglas Taylor’s Index of Potter’s Bibliography of 1929. There was no mention of Fred Adlington in there, nor any mention of him in Jos Coumans’ Bibliography of 2010, nor in Bill Martin & Sandra Mason’s Art of Omar Khayyam of 2007. Adlington seemed to have slipped under all our radars.”

Bob’s tell the story of how he came to be aware of Adlington’s work.  “One day, in a second–hand bookshop in South Manchester, when I was looking for something else entirely, I also asked – as I usually do – if the shop had anything interesting in the Rubaiyat line. The man behind the counter disappeared for a few moments, then reappeared with a book which he handed to me, saying, “It’s a fiver, if you want it.” … A glance at the title–page [shown below] revealed that Frank Brangwyn had done the designs for it, but a glance at the plates [one illustrated here] showed that they were by a Fred Adlington, a name I’d never heard of at the time, and whose name was not mentioned on the title page, nor anywhere else in the book for that matter. Needless to say, a fiver was duly handed over.”

The full story of what Bob has found out about Adlington, his work on the Rubaiyat and much more can be found on Bob’s web site on .  It is a tale both of publishers cutting corners and of a neglected artist who was also a talented musician and arranger.  There do not appear to be any musical works by Adlington with a specific Rubaiyat theme, but some have an Oriental flavour.

Altogether Bob has given us an insight into another fascinating and unknown story linked to FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat.  As before, we are grateful to him for sharing his findings with us all.

Auction of Rubaiyat collection 30th January 2019

January 19, 2019

Charles Mugleston has alerted us to the fact that a significant collection of copies of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and related Omariana is being auctioned in the UK on 30th January 2019.  The auction takes place at Dominic Winter Auctions which is located near Cirencester in Gloucestershire.  The items are presented in two lots, nos 550 and 551 of some 240 books each.  On the basis of the images provided, the collection includes a number of early editions of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat as well as editions by other translators and biographies and collections of letters of Edward FitzGerald.  One of the images is shown below.  The full information given in the auctioneers’ catalogue can be accessed on .

We have asked the auctioneers if they can provide any more information about the contents and source of the collection being offered on sale.  If this is forthcoming, we shall add it to this post.  Meanwhile if any readers have more information themselves, please post a comment below.


Orlando Greenwood and the Rubaiyat

January 19, 2019

Danton O”Day is investigating the illustrations that Orlando Greenwood did for FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.  He has sent us the following request addressed to blog readers.

I have come across some information revealing that Orlando Greenwood, a well-known British artist, has illustrated specific quatrains from FitzGerald’s first version of the Rubaiyat. Most likely these pictures were not published, since they were done around the start of WWI, but there may be several copies of them out there. If someone has some of these or if they have any other information about them, please let me know (email:

If you have information about Greenwood’s work, we should be glad if,  as well as sending it directly to Danton, you could post a summary as a comment below.

Garry Garrard 1941-2018

December 29, 2018

Just before Christmas we heard the sad news of the death of Garry Garrard, a long standing friend and research colleague.  We first met Garry in the early 2000’s when he was working on his book on the Rubaiyat, and we were busy with our research for The Art of Omar Khayyam.  His volume, A Book of Verse:  The Biography of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, published in 2007, provided a unique view of the history of the Rubaiyat, with much new information on the evolution of Rubaiyat translation, publication, and illustration.  Garry went on to do further research on the polymath Edward Heron-Allen who carried out extensive work on the Rubaiyat, and he also explored the history of Edward FitzGerald’s links with Bedford via his friendship with W K Browne and his family.  Over the years we have enjoyed many exchanges and meetings with Garry and we and others have benefited from his advice and sharp analysis.  We mourn his passing and we send Bernadette and his family our deep sympathy.  Rest in peace, Garry.

Garry’s work has been the basis of many contributions to this blog over the past decade.  One of the most recent can be found at

Updated Rubaiyat databases available online in new location

November 15, 2018

In the course of our research into various aspects of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and its interpretation, we (Bill Martin and Sandra Mason) have created a number of databases containing our key research material.  This has allowed us to search and analyse the material more easily and effectively.  The results of the analyses have been presented in various books and articles over the past 10 years, notably The Art of Omar Khayyam (I B Tauris, 2007), Edward FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (Anthem Press, 2011), and some contributions to Encyclopaedia Iranica.

Some of these databases were made available on line in 2012 via the University of Cambridge’s DSpace facility – see .  For various reasons, we have now moved the databases to the Zenodo storage facility.  This provides open and easy access storage of data for the long term, run under the auspices of the European Community’s open data policy.  For more information about Zenodo, see .

Our databases are to be found under a general ‘community’ heading of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám – an archive of data.  This is accessed via .  The introductory page gives access to the following sets of material.

  1. Data on published versions of the Rubáiyát (all languages and formats) and on their illustrations (where relevant) up to 2011.
  2. Data on reference works dealing with the Rubáiyát up to 2011.
  3. Data on musical works relating to the Rubáiyát.
  4. Data on manuscripts of the Rubáiyát.
  5. Updates to September 2018 of listings of published versions of the Rubáiyát (item 1) and reference works dealing with the Rubáiyát (item 2).

Each of these sets of material contains searchable databases in different formats plus explanatory README text files.  The databases are not intended to be comprehensive in their coverage, but to summarise the information available to us at a particular point of time.  We know that there are more editions of the Rubáiyát, more Rubáiyát illustrators, more musical works based on the Rubáiyát, and more manuscripts than we have listed.  But we hope that the information, such as it is, will be a useful resource for other researchers in this area.

One final point.  A special feature of Zenodo is the creation of ‘communities’ which bring together a number of different sets of data on a broad topic area or project.  These data can be uploaded from different sources.  So if anyone else wishes, it would be possible for their data sets to be archived under the general community heading of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám – an archive of data, that we have used.  If you are interested in exploring this possibility, please get in touch with us, either directly or via this blog.

Simon Gladdish’s Rubaiyat based on Robert Graves now in revised version

November 7, 2018

Late in 2017, Simon Gladdish published a rhyming version of the Rubaiyat based on the 1967 edition prepared by Robert Graves and Omar Ali-Shah.  For details of the original edition of Simon’s book see .  Simon tell us that he has now published a second version of his book with a few editorial changes and completely revised format.  This is now available via Amazon, in both paperback and kindle form.

Many readers will know that the Graves/Ali-Shah edition suffered both from being based on a forged version of the original Persian verses, purporting to be from a newly found manuscript, and from reactions to Graves’ highly critical comments on the famous version of the Rubaiyat by Edward FitzGerald.  Simon deals with these issues in his preface, and he clearly feels that, despite the criticism, Graves’ version is a valuable poem, lacking only in the quality of rhyme.  This he has provided, mainly through alterations to the final line of each four line stanza.  He has also added a few of his own rubaiyat to Graves’ verses.

Readers of Simon’s book will have their own views both about the Graves’ original and Simon’s additions.  We draw attention again to an interesting and thoughtful review of the book on, which discusses the implications for the meanings of the verses of the changes that Simon has made.  If other readers have views on this, please comment below.  The review also mentions a new more spiritual analysis of the Rubaiyat by Wes Jamroz, entitled A Journey with Omar Khayyam (Troubador Publications, 2018).  If anyone has seen this book, we should be glad to have some views on it.