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C. V. Dwiggins: An Illustrator of Fitzgerald’s Rubaiyat

February 19, 2018

Joe Howard has sent us the following fascinating article about yet another undocumented illustrator of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat.   It shows that there is still more to be discovered about the wide ranging impact of Khayyam’s verses and their English translation.  Thanks, Joe, for sharing your findings with us all.

Clare Victor Dwiggins (DWIG)

My research into Rubaiyat-related cartoons, has yielded several interesting discoveries, one of which relates to the work of Clare Victor Dwiggins (1874-1959). He is known to some Rubaiyat enthusiasts for his parody “Rubaiyat of the Egg” (Potter 1126), an approximately egg-shaped book published in 1905.

Clare Victor Dwiggins, was an extremely well known, respected and prolific American cartoonist. His work not only appeared in nationally syndicated comic strips (School Days, Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, Ophelia etc.), but also in books and magazines. During WWII, Dwiggins worked as a cartoonist for the Douglas Aircraft Company producing illustrated posters. He signed his artwork “DWIG” and that is how he is commonly known.

It had been reported that “…at the time of his death, he was working on illustrations for Fitzgerald’s Rubaiyat.” I have studied his original drawings for this Rubaiyat and I can confirm that it is essentially complete, but unpublished. DWIG illustrated 100 different quatrains (one with two different illustrations) and drew 3 options for a cover page (1 complete with title). The 100th illustration has Tamam Shud written at the bottom. DWIG has formed the letters by extended the string from a kite pictured within the frame, so that it looks like elaborate cursive handwriting. He used the same device, fishing line or kite string, to write both Kuza Nama and the book’s title.

While I have not finished identifying the sources of all the quatrains, it is apparent that he did not always follow Fitzgerald’s quatrain numbering and that he made use of more than one version. DWIG inserted a complete quatrain, hand written in a neat upper-case script, beneath each drawing. The initial letter is a raised capital with his quatrain number written above (see illustration).

All of the illustrations are in black ink with a mixture of outline drawings, hatched interiors and patches of solid black. He also occasionally used some white paint for highlights.  Many of his drawings have been extensively reworked. His technique for doing this was to cut out, sometimes complex, shapes in paper and paste them over the original. Examination of original drawings for his cartoon series indicates that this was a standard technique for him.

A comparison between his published cartoon work with his Rubaiyat, reveals that DWIG borrowed extensively from that body of earlier work. The famous Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer characters appear throughout in characteristic poses, along with common scenic elements such as castles, homesteads, river banks and wonderful old gnarled trees.

Many of DWIG’s pictorial representations of the quatrains are both novel and intriguing. His Saki is a 1930’s-1940’s girl with a flared dress. Soda-pop or water replaces wine, while an ice cream parlour represents the tavern. DWIG’s image for his quatrain 24 (Fitzgerald’s No. 23, Version 1) “Ah make the most of what we yet may spend…” contains an image of Huck Finn leaning on a stick and tossing some coins in the air while looking thoughtfully into the window of a well-stocked sports shop. In the attached image, DWIG nicely represents the passage of life by contrasting the image of an elderly man examining a “love-heart” carved, obviously by him in his youth, on a now elderly tree, with two young people actively engaged in carving a new heart on a younger tree. This image does not adequately capture the quality or detail of the original drawing.

I have not located any of his Fitzgerald’s Rubaiyat images in print or on the internet. His original Rubaiyat artwork was donated (1974) by his daughter to the University of Oregon in Eugene, where it is kept in the Special Collections and University Archives at the Knight Library.

It is my intention to write detailed notes on my study and analysis of DWIG’s work. When this is complete I will offer them to anyone who is interested. I’m now engaged in tracking down DWIG’s heirs with the intention of encouraging the publication of his Rubaiyat illustrations.


Omar Khayyam, a Sufi universalist

February 1, 2018

We recently received information from Dr Ken Vincent about his article on the Rubaiyat. This is written from the perspective of research into religious/spiritual/mystical experience.  Ken’s approach to Khayyam is made clear from the first paragraphs of the article.

Omar Khayyám is one of my heroes. I have read translations of his poem, the Rubaiyat, hundreds of times over the past 50 years. Amazingly, each repetition still brings some fresh insight! Rubai means “quatrain,” a four-line stanza in which there are two sets of rhyming lines. The Rubaiyat is a collection of quatrains written over a period of many years by Omar Khayyám, a Sufi mystic living in the late 11th and early 12th Centuries.  

Within Omar’s poetry, I recognize a person much like myself: someone unable to be an orthodox believer but too optimistic to be agnostic! His verses reflect the impossibility of certainty in religion, philosophy, or science; he questions the theological tenants of all religions. Ultimately, he was simply a lover of God. He believed his own mystical experiences which became the basis of his faith.

The full text of this interesting interpretation of Khayyam and the Rubaiyat can be found via the link .  The article covers the position of Khayyam as poet, polymath, cosmologist, panentheist, Sufi universalist and more.  Ken’s argument is illustrated by quotations from Whinfield’s English translation, which he prefers because of its closeness to the meaning of the poems.

The article is a chapter in a book entitled God is with us.  Dr Ken Vincent is a former teacher of Psychology and the Psychology of Religious Experience.  He served as a founding Board member of the Christian Universalist Association and is the former webmaster of the Universalist Herald website.


Rubaiyat II Illustrated from Austin Torney

January 26, 2018

Over the past few months, Austin Torney has been publishing parts of his successor to FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam on the website of the newly re-established Omar Khayyam Club of America.  The latest instalment of this mammoth work, Part 38 – Being Explained, is available via the following link, 

Austin has also made the whole of the book, entitled Rubaiyat II Illustrated:  An Omarian Universal Day available free on line via iTunes.  The link for this is  The iTunes page provides further details on the book, but our impression is that the book can only be downloaded if you have a suitable Mac or IOS device.  We have failed to download the book to our Microsoft PC.  If your experience is different, please comment below.

E H Whinfield – civil servant, lawyer and translator of the Rubaiyat

January 22, 2018

Edward Whinfield (1835–1922) was one of the earliest British scholars to follow Edward FitzGerald in producing an English version of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.  In his two editions published in 1882 and 1883,  he presented a fairly literal verse translation of first 253 quatrains, then extended to some 500 quatrains, attributed to Khayyam and taken from a much wider range of manuscript sources than FitzGerald’s.  Whinfield’s verse does not have the quality of FitzGerald’s but his books remain a valuable research resource, especially since the second edition contains the Persian text and detailed notes on the sources of each quatrain.

Bob Forrest has been investigating the life and letters of Edward Whinfield and he has published the results on his website – see  The article documents Whinfield’s life first as an Indian civil servant and lawyer, and later as an oriental scholar and translator.  Bob also provides details of an interesting correspondence between Whinfield and Edward Heron-Allen on various topics relating to the Rubaiyat.  Of particular note is the critical attitude of both men to the so-called Omar cult which emerged during the 1890’s and to the London-based Omar Khayyam Club.  Bob’s whole article is well worth reading.

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and a Science Fantasy Magazine

December 22, 2017

Joe Howard recently sent us the following information about another largely unknown illustrator of a number of quatrains from FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat.  Our thanks to Joe for sharing his findings.

In 1947, Donald Bryne Day (1919-1978) started the quarterly magazine Fanscient under the auspices of the Portland Science Fantasy Society, Portland Oregon. He continued as its editor until it was discontinued in 1951. In the introduction to the first issue he wrote, “Does the RUBAIYAT illustration fit the zine? Frankly that went in because we didn’t have anything else ready. There’s more if you want them but let us know about that…”.

His Rubaiyat illustrations proved popular and were featured in each of the first six issues of this respected, idiosyncratic publication. Every issue of the magazine featured drawings of naked women, as do five of the six Rubaiyat illustrations. Objectification of women, including drawings of scantily clad or naked women, were a common feature of pulp and other publications of the period,

Day’s drawings illustrate eight quatrains, all quoted in full. With one apparent exception, these are contained within the frames of the drawings. The apparent exception is the illustration of quatrain 29, published in the first issue, where the quatrain is contained in a separate large box. As the accompanying picture (on left) shows, space had in fact been left to insert the quatrain within the frame of the drawing. Day has included the initial letter “I” of the first word, “Into”, formed in his characteristic style by an unshaded area within an enlarged and shaded rectangle. The other seven quatrains all have this feature. This suggests to me that, in this first example, he was simply using-up blank space in his new magazine. Except for the initial letters, the quatrains are typed. This may simply have been expedient for the magazine publication-one hopes he had more elegant plans for the completed artwork.

Day’s illustration for quatrain 29 shows a nude woman “reclining” in a river with a rock close by. The nicely drawn flow-lines of the water clearly relate to “…willy nilly flowing”. Closer observation reveals that Day has included multiple other nude figures on the body of the woman.

His illustration for quatrain 38 is shown below. Full texts of the magazines and each of Day’s six illustrations can be found at:

A 2014 PhD thesis states that Day had produced these drawings for a book publication. I’m attempting to obtain additional information from the author of the thesis.


Some lesser known elements in the life of Edward Heron-Allen

December 22, 2017

In the world of Rubaiyat studies, Edward Heron-Allen is best known for the work he published at the end of the 1890’s identifying the specific Persian quatrains that Edward FitzGerald used in creating his Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.  He also published his own more literal translation of verses from both the Bodleian and the Calcutta manuscripts used by FitzGerald.  This work still represents an invaluable research resource over 100 years later.

But Heron-Allen’s work on the Rubaiyat is only one element in a life that had many dimensions.  He was a polymath whose interests and expertise included violin making, palmistry, psychic research, protozoa, and more.  He was also an author of fiction which, as the Heron-Allen Society puts it, ‘dealt with various sexual taboos’ of the time, including homosexuality.  Bob Forrest has recently been following up  this aspect of Heron-Allen’s legacy, drawing attention to inconsistencies between the author’s writings and his public views as expressed particularly in the context of the version of the Rubaiyat published by Frederick Baron Corvo in 1924.

Bob has now published the results of his research in this field on his own website.  The material can be accessed via the following link:  There is more general information about Heron-Allen on:

New issue of Omariana

December 22, 2017

Just in time for Christmas, we have received a bumper new issue of the newsletter Omariana.  This invaluable product is produced by Jos Coumans of the Netherlands Omar Khayyam Society, and it contains of cornucopia of information on new material relating to the Rubaiyat, Omar Khayyam, Edward FitzGerald and related topics.  There are sections on recently produced editions of the Rubaiyat, on books and articles on relevant topics, and on new audio versions, web sites and other miscellaneous matter.  One interesting item in the new edition points us to a website and YouTube video about the performance of Khayyam’s verses in Arabic by the famous singer Oum Kalthoum.  This is something well worth listening to.

The newsletter is available free from Jos Coumans and you can subscribe to it via the following link  Our thanks to Jos for continuing to share his extensive finds with others through the newsletter.