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More on the Brangwyn memorial plaques to Edward FitzGerald

January 8, 2017

In August last year. we posted an item on the Brangwyn memorial plaques to Edward FitzGerald – see  This was based on research by the indefatigable Bob Forrest.  He raised the question of what might have happened to the second plaque that was originally on the wall of Bredfield House, FitzGerald’s birthplace.  The first plaque is still on the wall of the building in Kings Parade in Cambridge, where FitzGerald lived in his undergraduate years.

EFGplFig (2)Quite by chance, we happened recently to meet the grandson of the sculptor and carver (Herbert) Joseph Cribb who created the memorial plaques from designs by the artist Frank Brangwyn.   He provided us with more information about his grandfather – incidentally raising a query about his first names, shown as Alfred in the earlier post?  Joesph Cribb’s life history is summarised in a recent book on Eric Gill and Ditchling, see

The younger Joe Cribb also says that there is a second Brangwyn plaque to Edward FitzGerald at SOAS in London.   It is apparently located just off the staircase first floor landing in the main building as one goes towards the common room.  He thinks that this may well be the missing plaque from Bredfield.  It should be easy to tell if such is the case since the dates on the two plaques were different, the Bredfield one showing FitzGerald’s birth date of 31.III.1809 in place of the birth and death years on the Cambridge plaque.  Otherwise the two plaques are very similar.

If anyone is going near SOAS in London, please take a few minutes to deviate to see if you can find the FitzGerald plaque and let us know what is on it.  We repeat here Bob Forrest’s image of the Bredfield plaque.  The Cambridge one is shown in the earlier post.

Learn about Edward FitzGerald and the Woodbridge Wits on 9th March 2017

January 8, 2017

f01-1iefgd28scfSince this is our first post in 2017, we send all readers best wishes for an interesting and enjoyable year ahead.  We hope it brings lots of exciting events and new research findings that we can publicise on the blog.

Our first news is of a lecture about Edward FitzGerald and the Woodbridge Wits which is being given in Ipswich on 9th March 2017.  The presentation will be by Bob Merrett, custodian of the Woodbridge Museum, under the auspices of the Ipswich Arts Association.  The location is Museum Street Methodist Church in Ipswich, 1.00 – 1.50 pm.  For more information see  It should be well worth while hearing if you can get there.

New edition of Omariana newsletter now available

December 1, 2016

The Fall 2016 edition of the excellent Omariana newsletter, produced by Jos Coumans of the Netherlands Omar Khayyam Society, is now available.  This is the second issue in the new series that began earlier this year.  You can subscribe to receive this newsletter by e-mail, via the website where you can also find digital versions of the latest and earlier editions of Omariana.

The current edition of the newsletter is full of interesting information about new editions and translations of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, new books and articles on related topics, new musical versions and relevant web sites, and other Rubaiyat matters.  This time, among the latter, there are splendid images of a verse of the Rubaiyat ‘writ large’ on the side of a building in Leiden in the Netherlands.  The first line is shown in our reproduction below.  Congratulations to all who managed to create this wonderful publicity for the poem and its thinking.  Perhaps cities in other countries could follow Leiden’s example?


Another Rubaiyat illustrator – Helen McKenzie Sinclair 1892-1986

November 14, 2016

helensinclair1116The number of artists known to have made illustrations for verses of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam keeps on expanding.  Bob Forrest has been exploring the life and works of Helen Mckenzie Sinclair (1892-1986) who, he has established, created a number of black and white images and at least two oil paintings with titles linked to Rubaiyat quatrains.  These were all shown in an exhibition at the Walker’s Galleries, London, in 1914, but little is known about what happened to this artwork afterwards.

Bob Forrest has posted the full results from his research, with many more details about the life and work of Helen Sinclair, on his web site;  see  He has included reproductions of some of Helen Sinclair work, one example of which is shown right.  The article tells a fascinating story and we hope it may lead to finding out more about the current location of the work of a fine artist.  Our thanks to Bob for sharing his findings with other Rubaiyat enthusiasts.

Ruba’iya’t recital in Felixstowe in January 2017

November 8, 2016

felixstowe1116Charles Mugleston has sent us information about a presentation that he will be doing at the Felixstowe Museum in Suffolk on Wednesday January 11th  2017, 7.30 pm at Broadway House, Orwell Road, Felixstowe.

Charles’ overall title for the evening is Edward FitzGerald and Felixstowe, though the Museum has the event billed as a talk on Omar Khayyam;  we think all these aspects will in fact be covered.  Charles will give a recital of the first edition of FitzGerald’s Ruba’iya’t, prefaced by a short talk outlining the known links between Edward FitzGerald, the Ruba’iya’t and Felixstowe – past & up to the present.

For more information on this event, see  And if you can get there, do go along.  We have heard one of Charles’ recitals of the Ruba’iya’t before and we know that his is a very insightful presentation.  Listening in this way is a good method of introducing newcomers to the beauty and music of FitzGerald’s verse, as well as the underlying thought of the poem.

Who first used the word “rubaiyat”?

November 1, 2016

David Calderisi has sent us the following basic question.

Who first used the word “rubaiyat”? Was it FitzGerald? If so, where did he get it? Did he invent it? Is the word used in the title of the Ouseley manuscript? Or in any other compilation.

Our immediate reaction is that we have to distinguish between the general use of  the term rubaiyat in Persian poetry and its application to a collection of verses attributed to Omar Khayyam, either in Persian or in some other language.  On the first issue, we know that the word rubai (one quatrain) dates back to the 10th century CE and is attributed to the Persian poet Rudaki.  We need to do more research to establish the first use of the plural word rubaiyat for a collection of verses or in connection with Khayyam, and we hope there are some readers who already know the answers?

Please add your comments below.

More on David Eugene Smith and his Rubaiyat

October 27, 2016


Early this year, we posted an enquiry about an unusual edition of the Rubaiyat published in 1933, with verses by David Eugene Smith based on a verbatim translation by Hashim Hussein, and illustrations by Rassam-I Arjangi.  The link to this post is .

Bob Forrest provided some initial information about David Eugene Smith in a comment on the post.  He has now written up the results of more extensive research on Smith and the other protagonists in a section on his own website, see

Bob provides more background on the Rubaiyat edition, with examples of the translation and images from the book itself, as well as extensive background on Smith as a mathematician as well as a poet.  There is also information about Hussein and the illustrator Arjangi.  Thanks to Bob from all of us for sharing his findings with others who are interested.