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A manuscript version of the Rubaiyat prepared by John Tearle

November 25, 2021

Roger Paas has sent us information about an unknown (at least to us) fine copy of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam that was recently for sale on AbeBooks. Thanks to Roger for this. The volume is a one-off manuscript edition calligraphed, illuminated and illustrated by John Tearle, whom the bookseller describes as an American designer, illuminator and publisher. The manuscript is no longer available, but its qualities are worth a mention. The bookseller’s description, slightly edited, is shown below, together with some specimen pages. This is yet another example of the creative response to the Rubaiyat in the early 20th century; it was produced in 1910. We should be interested to know whether other readers have heard of John Tearle and/or this MS. Please comment below if you can add to what is known.



From Phillip J. Pirages Rare Books (ABAA) (McMinnville, OR, U.S.A.)


228 x 152 mm. (9 x 6″). 2 leaves of Japanese vellum at the front and back, and 20 vellum leaves of text (of which, 37 written on and 3 pages blank). Single column, 24 lines in an attractive, uncluttered calligraphic hand.Translated by Edward FitzGerald. Original stiff vellum. In (slightly frayed) red linen dust jacket and red straight-grained morocco slipcase with gilt titling on spine.

Main body of the text in black ink, but ILLUMINATED THROUGHOUT BY JOHN H. TEARLE, TITLE PAGE WITH FOLIATE INITIAL “R” ON A BURNISHED GOLD GROUND extending into a half border, the whole decorated with red and purple flowers and with green, orange, red, blue, and purple acanthus leaves on a ground of burnished gold, FACING PAGE WITH OPULENT THREE-QUARTER BORDER FORMED BY A GRAPE VINE with green and gold leaves and succulent purple fruit, THE OPENING WORD “WAKE” IN RAISED GOLD on the top of the border, AND, AT THE BOTTOM, A LARGE OVAL MINIATURE (approximately 55 x 70 mm.) SHOWING AN ONION-DOMED PALACE.

Each verse of the text with three-line opening initial in colors and/or gold and embellished with elaborate penwork in a vaguely Oriental style, half a dozen with more elaborate leafy extensions, and two pages with leaves or other ornaments extending the length of the border.

FINAL PAGE OF TEXT WITH six-line initial in colors on burnished gold and with A LARGE ROUND MINIATURE (70 mm. in diameter) of a beautiful Persian maiden in a moonlit garden. In pristine condition. Considerably longer than most modern illuminated manuscripts, this is an immaculate book with initials and other embellishments that beautifully reflect its Persian setting. The miniatures have an exotic quality, with lush gardens, distant minarets, and Oriental architecture. The overall effect evokes the exuberance, beauty, and passion associated with FitzGerald’s lush and lilting translation.

Highly praised by Tennyson, this 12th century classic appealed strongly to Victorian and Edwardian sensibilities. First printed, anonymously, in 1859, it became immensely popular and went through a great many editions. Englishman Edward FitzGerald (1809-93) devoted most of his adult life to literature, especially translation, and the “Rubáiyát” remains his chief work and enduring contribution to world literature.

American designer, illuminator, and publisher John Tearle (b. 1868) was born in Britain, and served a seven-year apprenticeship there to learn the art of illumination. This appears to be one of the luxury books he produced after ending his business relationship with Ross Turner in 1903. The first opening here is very striking, the manuscript is in outstanding condition, and–at 40 pages–it is a substantial piece of excellent work. SIGNED in the colophon by John H. Tearle. (Seller Inventory # ST17129-043)

Some new presentations of the Rubaiyat by Austin Torney

November 22, 2021

We have received a note from Austin Torney about his latest versions of his work on the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. We quote his descriptions below. Of special note is his production of what he calls ‘The restored private Jewett edition of the Rubaiyat’, which is mentioned towards the end of the note. Jewett’s MS version of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat has been the subject of earlier posts on the blog, notably

Austin writes as follows.

Here is the essential illustrated version PDF of ‘The Expanded Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam via its Parallel Interleaved’, as cut to fit in one volume in a 11×8.5 800 page book, for download, at 150 dpi, 400 megabytes, which is fine enough to be viewed onscreen.

It may take a minute to download and then one can look at it and also save it by the usual means. It is a kind of mostly the best of the two volume version. One would only need to buy the book if one likes content in a book form, otherwise it’s best to save money view it for free as a PDF.

Book if to buy:×85/hardcover/product-6e55yp.html?page=1&pageSize=4

[Here are] fantastic long videos of it all, plus more not in the book: and and

[And] here is the full text 6×9 version PDF, with some grayscale illustrations:×9-text-only.pdf.

Full text book if to buy:×85/hardcover/product-6e55yp.html?page=1&pageSize=4

[A final] bonus: The restored private Jewett edition of the Rubaiyat. PDF:

To buy the Jewett book:

[And a] video:

Previous posts about Austin Torney’s work on the Rubaiyat can be accessed via the search function. The latest is on

A discussion of the Quarantine Quatrains

November 19, 2021

A new set of Rubaiyat, produced during the first lockdown in the UK in 2020 by Malcom Guite and Roger Wagner, was the subject of a couple of blog posts last year. The most recent of these posts is For many people, these Quarantine Quatrains summarised well the shock and suffering caused by the arrival and spread of Covid 19.

We have now been told about a short video produced in summer 2020 in which the author and illustrator of these quatrains discuss how the verses and pictures came to be produced. Malcom Guite also reads two sections from the book. The video is well worth looking at. It is available on It is also heartening to know that the profits from the original booklet and subsequent separate production of some extra prints from the illustrations raised a total of £7,700 which was given as a donation to the Careworkers Charity in the UK. Congratulations to all concerned.

More on Edward Taylor Jewett

November 15, 2021

Several years ago, Bob Forrest posted an item about a unique copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam which was hand illuminated and illustrated in the 1920’s by the US artist Edward Taylor Jewett – see

Very recently Beverly Sacks posted the following comment on the original blog item

‘I have an original painting on vellum by Edward Taylor Jewett illustrating the poem Bold Souls by Hafiz Shirazi.’

Beverly has since sent us some images of this painting, two of which we show below. She comments further ‘The painting is in its original frame.  Overall measurements with the frame is 8-1/4″ x 6-1/4″.  It is signed above the word cheek in the text.’

The style of the painting is certainly very similar to that of the Rubaiyat illustrations that Jewett created, and Bob’s article quotes a source that indicates that the artist had a special interest in Persian Art. Unfortunately Beverly has no more information about the provenance of the Hafiz painting. If any readers know more about this work or about the output and life of Jewett more generally, please comment below.

Edward J. I. Ardizzone and the Omar Khayyam Club

November 9, 2021

Joe Howard has sent us a fascinating article about the artist Edward Ardizzone who had important links with the Omar Khayyam Club of London. Our thanks to Joe for sharing his reasearch with us.

Fig.1. Edward Ardizzone ca 1978

The membership of the Omar Khayyam of London (the Club) has included several noted artists and illustrators. One of the most prolific was Edward Jeffrey Irving Ardizzone CBE RA (1900-1979), who illustrated at least six menus for the Club’s regular dinners. Ardizzone (Fig.1.) was installed as Club President in 1968.

Generally regarded as a quintessentially English artist, Ardizzone was born in Tonkin, now Haiphong, in what is currently Vietnam. His mother was English while his father was a naturalized Frenchman of Italian descent. Ardizzone moved to England in 1905 where he attended school in Ipswich before being transferred to a boarding school in Dorset where he received encouragement from his art teacher. On leaving school he spent six months at a commercial college (typing, shorthand etc.) in Bath. This was followed by routine office jobs, firstly in Warminster then London. He became a naturalized British citizen in 1922.

While working in London Ardizzone received his only formal art training. For 6 years he attended evening classes taught by the inspiring Bernard Meninsky at the Westminster School of Art. The undemanding nature of his office tasks fortunately allowed Ardizzone to spend considerable time drawing while at work. In 1926 his father gave him £500 intending it to help him establish a more secure financial footing. Much to his father’s chagrin, Edward instead resigned from his office job and embarked on a month-long European art tour, returning to start a financially risky new career as author and freelance artist/illustrator.

Ardizzone often signed his work “DIZ”, though “EA” is also well known.

For his artwork DIZ used oils, watercolours, pencil and pen, and was an accomplished printmaker (lithography). He is best known, though, for his drawings and watercolours. According to Gabriel White1,a fellow student at Westminster School of Art, lifelong friend and brother-in-law, “While he was awake, he was almost always drawing, whatever else he might be doing…”

DIZ illustrated at least 180 books, for 26 of which he was both author and illustrator. He also drew 38 book jackets2. A notable feature of these is his incorporation of both title and author’s name in his own handwriting. An indication of just how prolific he was is his production of 153 pen drawings for his first book commission, In a Glass Darkly by J Sheridan Le Fanu (1929). His best-known book-illustration work, the Tim series of children’s books, commenced in 1936 and continued until 1972, with him as author and illustrator. In 1956 he was awarded the inaugural Kate Greenaway Medal for Tim All Alone. His illustrations for Titus in Trouble written by James Reeves, earned him a commended runner-up citation for the same award in 1959.

It came as a surprise to him while serving as a 2nd Lieutenant in an anti-aircraft battery on Clapham Common in 1940, when Sir Kenneth Clark appointed him an official War Artist. In this new capacity DIZ was posted to France, North Africa, Sicily, and Italy to paint watercolours of wartime scenes. In 1941 he published an account3 of his experiences during the Battle of France and the subsequent retreat of the British Expeditionary Force through France and Belgium. DIZ was also posted to post-war Germany to record scenes there. Many of his ca 400 watercolour paintings resulting from his war service are held in the Imperial War Museum: an excellent selection may be viewed on-line.

Fig.2. Menu for the Overtons St. James’s location: front and rear covers

DIZ produced illustrations for publications such as the Radio Times, Punch, Parade, Strand Magazine and Vogue. He also worked with organizations such as Guinness, Moss Bros., Shell and the Arts Council, providing illustrations for marketing and advertising purposes: though he did not regard this commercial work as one of his strengths. To this corpus must be added ephemera such as prints, posters, bookplates, Christmas cards, postcards, posters, leaflets, catalogues, calendars, invitations, programmes, brochures etc. A characteristic of his work is his representation of people in small-scale dramas with rotund bodies and receding hairlines, mostly living in a rather comfortable world (Fig.2.).

DIZ was appointed a CBE in 1971 and in 1975 he was elected as a Senior member of the Royal Academy of Arts.

In advance of his work on the Club menus, DIZ illustrated (pen) menus for the Double Crown Club annual dinners (held at Ketner’s) whose rules required the menus to be designed by a member. He also illustrated (lithograph) menu covers for the two Overtons restaurants and the Hatchets restaurant in London in the mid 1950’s. The design (Fig.2.) for the St. James’s restaurant remained in use until the restaurant closed in the 1990’s. The print was folded along the vertical centre-line to form the front and rear covers.

His illustrations for the OK Club menus are shown in Figs.3-8. They cover the period 1961 to 1975 and are excellent examples of his use of lines and cross-hatching to add depth and drama to his work. These illustrations are rather literal interpretations of the relevant quatrains. A few comments:

  • Fig.4. This is very unusual as he has signed it both as “DIZ” and “Edward Ardizzone”.
  • Fig.5. (a) The angel figure at the top of the picture is not immediately recognized by everyone (b) experts consulted by Sandra and Bill advise that the text being written by the finger is not genuine Farsi or Arabic (c) the text is being written left to right, which is incorrect and (d) the arrangement of the tables when combined with the context of the menu, implies that this is whimsical representation of a formal OK Club dinner. If so, I’m extremely surprised to see two participants clearly exchanging blows!
Fig.3. Kettner’s 23 Mar. 1961 and Fig.4. Kettner’s 28 Nov. 1963
Fig.5. Kettner’s 30 Mar. 1965 and Fig.6. Kettner’s 4 Nov. 1966
Fig.7. Kettner’s 23 Nov. 1972 (Ladies night) and Fig.8. Kettner’s 20 Nov. 1975

Examples of DIZ’s work can readily be found on the internet (google images, or for books etc.). His life and his work are comprehensively described in several books: some examples1-6 are listed below.

I would be delighted to learn of any additional illustrations Ardizzone produced for the Omar Khayyam Club of London.


  1. Edward Ardizzone, Gabriel White, Schocken Books, 1980
  2. Edward Ardizzone A Bibliographic Commentary, Brian Alderson, Private Libraries Association 2003
  3. Baggage to the Enemy, Edward Ardizzone, John Murray 1941
  4. Edward Ardizzone’s World The Etchings and Lithographs, Nicholas Ardizzone, Unicorn Press and Wolseley Fine Arts, 2000
  5. The Young Ardizzone An Autobiographical Fragment, Edward Ardizzone, The MacMillan Company, 1970
  6. Edward Ardizzone Artist and Illustrator, Alan Powers, Lund Humphries, 2016

Additions to the booklets on Rubaiyat artists

October 29, 2021

Over the past few years, Bob Forrest has published an excellent series of booklets which pull together his research on particular artists who have illustrated the Rubaiyat and the editions of their work.  For more information on the first fourteen booklets in the series, follow the link at the end of this post.*

Over the past year, Bob has produced another five booklets in this series, bringing the total available to nineteen.  The booklets have been distributed privately only, but copies have been given to the main legal deposit libraries and some other libraries in the UK and can be consulted through them.  The new booklets available are as follows.

No.15 The Rubaiyat of “Anne Marie” 

No.16 Ronald Balfour (1896-1941)  

No.17 Ned Wethered (1890-1964)

No.18 Margaret R Caird (1896-1961)

No.19 Lawrence Andrew Patterson (1896-1964)

All the booklets are very well produced, with many illustrations in colour as well as black and white.  They can be accessed via the following UK libraries.

·         the British Library,

·         the National Library of Scotland,

·         the National Library of Wales,

·         the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford,

·         the University Library, Cambridge,

·         the Library of Trinity College, Dublin,

·         the National Art Library, London,

·         the Library of the Royal Academy of Arts, London.

If you can’t get to see this material at one of these libraries, the content is also available on Bob Forrest’s website .

* For our posts on booklets 1-14, see and links from that post to earlier notes.

Blanche McManus, an early illustrator of the Rubaiyat

October 27, 2021

The American born artist, Blanche McManus, was one of the earliest illustrators of Edward FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, and, as far as is known, she is the first woman to have done this.  The first set of her illustrations was published in the United States right at the end of the nineteenth century, and versions of this work continued to be published right up until the 1920’s, mainly by London-based publishers De La More Press.  A second set of illustrations by McManus first appeared in the early 1900’s under the imprint of L C Page of Boston, Mass.

Blanche McManus from Mansfield and Wessels edition 1899

This much about Blanche McManus is well known.  But, until recently, there was little other information about this artist’s life or works.  Now, thanks to in-depth research by Bob Forrest, we have learnt a good deal more about an important contributor to Rubaiyat history.  We know, in particular, that she was most probably born in 1865, and she died in 1935.  Both events took place in the deep South of the USA, and both her parents came from plantation owning families.  As a young adult she moved north to work as an artist, and in 1898 she married a New York based publisher, Francis Mansfield.  His firm, Mansfield and Wessels, published her first work on the Rubaiyat, in a series of editions, starting in 1898.

Bob Forrest has documented the various versions of the Rubaiyat illustrations produced by McManus, and, in his full article (see link below), he provides many images of this work. He also summarises much of her other work as an artist, including illustrations for FitzGerald’s translation of Salaman and Absal, as well as for children’s books and Rudyard Kipling’s poems.  Bob provides an interesting outline of the life of the artist and her husband from around 1900 when they spent much time in Europe, particularly in France, and North Africa.  Mansfield worked for some time as an American diplomat and together they produced a successful series of travel books.  It was not until the 1920’s that McManus returned to live in the United States.

Altogether Bob Forrest has provided us with another very informative picture of the way the Rubaiyat stimulated artistic work from the late nineteenth century.  Our thanks to him for sharing his research with us all.  The full article on Blanche McManus can be seen on .

Hear the story of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat in Woodbridge soon

September 24, 2021

If you can be anywhere near Woodbridge in Suffolk on November 7th 2021, it will be worth while visiting the Bull Inn on Market Square. The Bull was well known to Edward FitzGerald and it has also been the scene of meetings of the Omar Khayyam Club of London. From 2 pm on the afternoon of Sunday 7th November, Charles Mugleston will be retelling the story of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, accompanied by relevant music. Persian tea and other refreshments will be served. Having heard Charles’ interpretation of the Rubaiyat before, we know that this will be an illuminating occasion even for those who think that they know FitzGerald’s poem well. Full details of this and other events at the Bull are shown below and can also be found on

The new Khayyam Collection from Elmy Designs

September 10, 2021

Afsoon Elmy has sent us details of products that have been prepared by Elmy Designs under the heading of the ‘Khayyam Collection’. The collection comprises a variety of simple and well designed items, ranging from mugs to tote bags and from tea shirts to water bottles, each of which is decorated with an intricate design based on the name ‘Omar Khayyam’. An example of a cushion from the collection is shown on the right. More details can be found via the following three links. At present it appears that all products are being delivered from the USA, involving extra P&P costs for European buyers.

More about the pirate Rubaiyat of 1883

September 8, 2021

In the previous post we highlighted the pirated copy of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam that was produced by Harry Quilter in 1883 – see .  Thanks to valuable contributions from some blog readers, we are now able to present some images relating to this rare edition of the Rubaiyat, and its production.

The first two images below have been provided by Jos Coumans, to whom many thanks.  They show the basic characteristics of the volume, described by Harry Quilter as being  ‘… the plain, unannotated text of the poem, bound in brown cardboard, and printed on sugar-loaf paper, in big Old English type …’.  Jos also alerted us to the comments about the pirate edition in J H McCarthy’s Introduction to his version of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam published by David Nutt in 1889.  In this McCarthy recounts his version of the genesis of the Quilter edition at a dinner party at Quilter’s house, and he adds his own assessment of the volume as ‘… not an attractive book … [but] a literary curiosity … [and] indeed a very rare book …’  As mentioned in the earlier post, McCarthy, who was the first president of the Omar Khayyam Club in London, is one of the people identified as acquiring a copy of the pirate edition in 1883.

Our second set of images has been provided by The Diba Library of Persian Studies, to whom we are also very grateful.  On the left is the cover of a special presentation copy of the Quilter pirate edition of the Rubaiyat.  This copy was covered in old Italian silk brocade, and was originally given by Quilter to Rev. Stopford A Brooke, an Irish churchman and writer, who was for a time chaplain to Queen Victoria.  This fine copy was subsequently owned by Ambrose G Potter, the bibliographer of the Rubaiyat – see his entry no 138.  The image on the right shows a letter of 1921 to Potter from Eben F Thompson, an American enthusiast for the Rubaiyat and one of the founders of the American Omar Khayyam Club.  In the letter, Thompson discusses the publication and distribution of Quilter’s pirate, suggesting that the print run was probably no more than 50 copies, and that Quilter refused to sell the copies, but gave them to friends, some of whom may have helped to pay for the original printing.  He quotes a price of five guineas for a copy on the market in 1906.

Taken together with our earlier information, these new images and sources help to flesh out another fascinating story in the history of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat over the past 162 years.  Our thanks again to all contributors.  If readers have addition material on the subject , please add your comments or send them to us on and we can post them for you.