Skip to content

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.

Article on FitzGerald and the Rubaiyat in Dhaka newspaper

December 14, 2017

We are frequently reminded about how international the interest in the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and Edward FitzGerald has become.  Jos Coumans has alerted us to another manifestation of this in the form of an article on the subject, by a fellow researcher John Drew, in the Dhaka Daily Star.  The Daily Star is described in Wikipedia as the largest circulating daily English-language newspaper in Bangladesh and the article is on the paper’s literature page.  It can be accessed via the following link

The article provides an excellent introduction to the story of FitzGerald and the Rubaiyat with a certain emphasis on the South Asian connections.  Judging by the length and content of this piece, the readers of the Daily Star must be quite a sophisticated bunch, with more serious interests than is apparent among the readers of some British newspapers.  We congratulate John Drew on his success in spreading the word about the Rubaiyat in this way.

New index for Potter’s Bibliography now available online

November 30, 2017

A little over a year ago, we reported that Douglas Taylor and Bob Forrest had co-operated to put together a new index for the well know Bibliography of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam ‘together with Kindred Mattter …’  by Ambrose George Potter – see  As we commented then, Potter’s Bibliography is a wonderful resource but it is marred by a very idiosyncratic index.  There have also been relatively few details about Potter’s own life history.  These are gaps that Douglas Taylor and Bob Forrest have filled with a splendid new and comprehensive Index for the Bibliography which Bob had printed for limited circulation in 2016.  The new Index contains, at the back, a ‘Provisional Biography’ of Potter, giving much new information.

The great news now is that Bob has put the new Potter index, plus his Biography, on line on his own website.  It can be accessed via  The index includes listings of the Potter entries by the following categories:  artists;  publishers;  translators, editors, commentators, parodists etc.;  authors in periodical literature; and anonymous articles.  It also identifies some errors that had crept into Potter’s work.  The booklet can be viewed online or downloaded.  If you do the latter, it is then easy to search the whole volume for particular names.

Many thanks from all of us to Douglas and Bob for doing this.  For those who don’t know Potter’s work, it only covers Rubaiyat-related material (or most of it) published up to 1929.  For the years 1930 to 2009, Jos Coumans’ Updated Bibliography provides an invaluable complement;  he also includes some earlier items that Potter left out.  See J Coumans, The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám: An Updated Bibliography (Iranian Studies Series). Leiden, Leiden University Press, 2010.

A cartoon by Gilbert James and a website which identifies many more Rubaiyat-related cartoons

November 27, 2017

The investigation of Rubaiyat-related cartoons is proving to be a very interesting area of research.  We have two further items of information, courtesy of our correspondents, to whom we are very grateful. 

First, Bob Forrest reminds us of a cartoon by one of the earliest illustrators of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat, Gilbert James.  This parody of quatrain 11 in FitzGerald’s first edition appeared in the issue of The Tatler for Feb 24th 1904.  The illustration left is taken from Bob’s own website, where there is much more information on the artist;  see

 Second, Joe Howard, whose information originally started this theme on the blog, has discovered an extremely useful website for those interested in the subject.  Joe writes as follows.

I discovered an excellent website the “British Cartoon Archive” located at the University of Kent:

Using the search term “Omar” yields 20 hits of which 16 are distinct cartoons (in some cases they have both the original cartoon and its printed form). Of these 12 are ROK related. The remaining 4 refer to contemporary persons with the name Omar. Cartoonists of interest, with the number of their cartoons shown, are:

Will Dyson (2)
Ronald Carl Giles (1)
Leslie Gilbert Illingworth (1)
John Jensen (1)
Nicholas Garland (4)
Victor Weisz (3)

Interestingly, all three of Weisz’s cartoons use the same quotation from quatrain 65; “But, fill me with the old familiar Juice, Methinks I might recover by-and-bye!” The “Juice” referred to in these cartoons is “oil”.

Changing the search term to “Rubaiyat” reveals an additional cartoon by Nicholas Garland.

Changing it again to “Khayyam” leads to 11 hits but only the last one, by Victor Weisz is not already included above.

The website provides considerable detail about the cartoons, plus good images.

We seem to get slightly different numbers from Joe’s when we do the searches (using the advanced search facility), but the site is clearly a very useful resource.  Our second illustration is by David Low and has a suitably seasonal tone, referring to David Lloyd George in 1922.  Joe’s original comments are available on the following link:

Yet more Rubaiyat-related cartoons

November 26, 2017

In response to Joe Howard’s original post *, Bob Forrest has sent in images of two more cartoons that make satirical use of extracts from FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat.  Bob has also provided brief comments on the origins of the cartoons.

The Anglo-Persian Oil Concession Cartoon

 In 1901 the English-born millionaire William Knox D’Arcy negotiated a concession to prospect for oil over a large part of Iran for a period of 60 years, in return for which large payments would be made into the Royal Treasury. But by 1931, a glut of oil on the world market, plus the effects of the Depression, led to substantial reductions in payments to Iran by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC) under the D’Arcy concession. As a result, in November 1932 the then Iranian monarch Reza Shah threatened to cancel the concession (hence this cartoon from Punch in December 1932.) This resulted in the case going before the International Court of Justice in the Hague. Some Iranian brinkmanship seems to have been involved here, for in April 1933 the Shah did a U-turn, and a new agreement was signed, with royal assent, in May 1933.

In the cartoon the Shah is represented as Reza Khayyam, with an oil can at his feet and a petrol pump behind his head, tearing up the D’Arcy Concession. The lines beneath are a parody of the last two lines of verse 12 of the first edition of The Rubaiyat:

Ah, take the Cash in hand and waive the Rest;
Oh the brave Music of a distant drum.

Exploded Reputations VIII:

 This was one of a series of cartoons on the theme of “Exploded Reputations” by George Morrow, published in Punch on January 13th 1909. It takes an alternative look at the famous verse 11 of FitzGerald’s first edition:

Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse – and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness –
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.

Here, Paradise is anything but Paradise, and Omar’s Beloved is depicted as a jug-swigging termagant

Other cartoons in the series depicted, for example, Alfred the Great as “Alfred the Great Pastry Cook,” selling “Cakes baked under Royal Supervision”; and Leander about to swim the Hellespont after a hot drink, wearing a buoyancy ring, and with a boat ready to hook him out of the water if he gets into trouble.

* See Joe’s original post on, plus a follow up from Jos Coumans on

Bob Forrest also draws attention to a cartoon by Gilbert James in the style of his well known Rubaiyat illustrations.  More details of this will come in a further post.