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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.

The tale of two Romany versions of the Rubaiyat

November 3, 2018

Bob Forrest has been delving into yet another little known area of Rubaiyat studies.  This is the story of two published versions of verses from FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, translated into Romany, the language of the Roma people or gypsies.  The first of these, containing just one verse in English Romany, was published in 1899.  The second, with 22 verses in Welsh Romany, appeared in 1902.

FP to 1902 version by Augustus John

The full story of these two Romany translations is contained in a special article on Bob’s web site,  Something of the flavour of the study can be seen from Bob’s introduction to the larger 1902 version.  He says:

“Translations of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat into foreign languages do not normally arouse much enthusiasm in me: interest, yes, but enthusiasm, no. But the Romany Rubaiyat (Potter #507) is not like so many others – it involves key participants in the Rubaiyat story in a merry–go–round of such readable unorthodoxy and even scandal, that it merits special attention.“

The story is indeed a fascinating and absorbing one.  It involves significant figures such as Augustus John, Francis Hindes Groome and George Borrow, as well as John Sampson, the translator of the 1902 Romany edition.  There is a complex network of relationships, involving several Romany ladies and some unconventional life styles.  Bob has done his usual thorough research into the subject, and he presents it all in a very readable way, with many illustrations.  This is an article well worth looking at, and we are grateful to Bob for sharing the results of his research with us all.

Frank E. Unger* illustrates the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, 1906

November 2, 2018

Several years ago Danton O’Day posted information about an unusual one-off version of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, lettered and illustrated by Frank E Unger*, which is in his collection;  see  Danton has now produced a replica copy of this book.  He has sent us the following details of his new publication.

This beautiful one-of-a-kind poetry book presents 86 unpublished watercolors by a previously unknown artist, Frank E. Unger* reproduced in a 6×9 inch, softcover format by Danton H. O’Day. Unger privately published his unique and complete collection of colorful decorated and embellished verses of Edward FitzGerald’s Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. Of these artistic works, 82 are watercolours consisting of various styles of calligraphy coupled with elaborate page decorations. In addition to the decorated verses, there is an opening title page and a penultimate page that depicts the opening bars from the sheet music for “Moon of My Delight” composed by Liza Lehmann. As with various versions of the Rubáiyát, a simple page with the word “TAMAM” ends the book.

Two pages of calligraphed text are also present at the start, one covering introductory content by John Hay and another more profusely decorated one on the Persian poet Omar Khayyám, who wrote the original verses that FitzGerald translated. The book was completed in 1906, placing it within the Golden Age of Rubáiyát Art, 1884-1913, an era dominated by numerous established artists. Unlike those artists, Unger appears to have left no trace of his artistic life save this sole, bound collection of his watercolours.

This new, unique book, “Frank E. Unger* illustrates the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, 1906”, celebrates Unger’s artistic contribution beginning with an introduction to his work and ending with a discussion of how the artist depicted the verses and put his own emphasis on their presentation. It stands alone as lovely book of poetry and would be strong addition to any Rubáiyát collection.

Frank E. Unger* illustrates the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, 1906, by Danton H. O’Day, Emeritus Books. Full colour, 96pp, softcover, 6×9”, ISBN 978-0-46-471984-7, US$14.99 or less.

Available from:, and other online booksellers.

* Further information contained in the comments below on this post suggest that the artist’s name is actually Frank L Unger.

More information on Rubaiyat artist Joyce Francis

October 31, 2018

In an earlier post, we mentioned an edition of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam decorated by Joyce Francis – see .   We asked whether any readers knew more about this artist.  Bob Forrest has provided some useful information.    Bob writes as follows.

 Trawling through COPAC, AbeBooks etc reveals the following list of books illustrated by Joyce Francis:

  • Baskerville in Letters – H.H. Bockwitz (tr H. Woodbine), cover by Joyce Francis (Birmingham School of Printing, 1933)
  • Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (Ebenezer Baylis, Worcester, 1934) [Coumans #76]
  • The Book of Ruth (Ebenezer Baylis, Worcester, 1934)
  • Shakespeare’s Venus & Adonis (Birmingham School of Printing, 1934) illus by E. Joyce Francis
  • Boccaccio’s Decameron (2 vols, Oxford, 1934-5) – vol.1 – wood engravings re-cut by E. Joyce Francis.

There is also a children’s book, authored by a Joyce Francis, first published in London in 1961, entitled Little Hoo tries to Help.  On the evidence of the dates given below, this could still be ‘our’ Joyce Francis, but we are rather doubtful about making this attribution.

The association with the Birmingham School of Printing suggested that tracking her via Birmingham might yield some results on Ancestry websites, and a search using E. Joyce Francis and Birmingham did indeed yield some results.

An Eleanor Joyce Francis appears in the Electoral Rolls for Birmingham in both 1930 and 1935. Links from these reveal that she was born in West Bromwich in the third quarter of 1904; that she was living with her family in Handsworth, Birmingham in the 1911 census. In the third quarter of 1938 she married Arthur Thomas Goodborn in Birmingham. The two of them are recorded as living in London (Putney) in the 1939 Electoral Roll (he had been born in London), but they clearly moved back to Birmingham at some stage, as her husband died there, in Handsworth, in 1952, aged 46, and. Eleanor J. Goodborn features on her own in the 1955 Electoral Roll for Handsworth, Birmingham. She died in Wales in 1985, aged 80.

Bob has attempted without success to seek information about Joyce Francis from the Birmingham School of Art.  We are making a further enquiry with the Library of the University of Birmingham who have a collection of the publications of the Birmingham School of Printing with which Joyce Francis co-operated in the 1930’s, and an archive of papers belonging to Leonard Jay, the head of the School between 1925 and 1953.  If any reader can add to what we know so far about the artist, please comment below.

Folio Society edition of William Morris Rubaiyat Manuscript of 1872

October 28, 2018

The London based Folio Society has recently been publicising another edition of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.  This is a facsimile of the manuscript edition, designed and calligraphed by William Morris, with figurative decoration designed by Morris and Edward Burne-Jones and painted by Charles Fairfax Murray.  The manuscript, created in 1872, is currently in the British Library in London.  We understand from The Folio Society that their facsimile was first produced in 2015.  There is an earlier facsimile of the Morris manuscript published by Phaidon in 1981 (no 21 in Jos Coumans’ Bibliography).  And the Society has published a number of other editions of the Rubaiyat with different illustrators and formats.

The latest Folio Society copy is 16.5 x 12 cm, roughly the same size as the original manuscript.  It is finely bound in red cloth decorated in gold, with a slip cover.  Images of the cover and some examples of the pages are shown below.  The book is available from The full cost is £29.95, but new customers before Christmas 2018 can get a £10.00 discount on their purchase plus a free Folio Society 2019 diary (quote voucher code KF262 with your order).  For anyone interested, this could make a good Christmas present this year!


More inlaid pieces with a Khayyam-related theme

October 9, 2018

Alan Birch has sent us information about some more inlaid wood pieces with Rubaiyat and Khayyam-related themes that he has found recently.  Alan writes as follows.  

I have recently picked up the attached marquetry images which may be of interest.  Photos of them are shown below.  Figures 1 and 2 are approximately 29 cm in width;  Figure 3 is some 40 cm wide and Figure 4 is 23 cm.

The pair of plaques, each with a quatrain inscribed in a white cartouche, are obviously definitely Omar related. I think the large portrait of the couple and the small plaque of the girl holding a rose (?) probably are too.

Fig 1

Fig 2










There must be quite a lot of this stuff out there. I wonder whether these are pieces brought back from Persia by tourists or pieces exported to feed a western market?

Do any readers have an answer to Alan’s question on the origins of these pieces?  Please comment below. More information about Alan’s other findings in this field can be seen via the following link .

Fig 3

Fig 4