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Life’s Echoes by ‘Tis True! : a Guide for the Perplexed

March 21, 2018

Life’s Echoes by ‘Tis True  is one of the great curiosities in Rubaiyat publication.  Some of the background and content of this strange work has been covered in earlier posts, most recently in   and


Bob Forrest has done a considerable amount of research and analysis on Life’s Echoes and the compiler of the book, now known to be Col. R J R Brown.  To date the full results of Bob’s work have been available only through his own website, see

Now Bob has produced a print version of his work, in the form of two booklets under the title of  Life’s Echoes by ‘Tis True! (Col. Robert J R Brown):  A Guide for the Perplexed.  Part 1, in the first booklet, includes the text of Bob’s analysis.  Part 2 contains notes and plates showing aspects of the book and other information.

The booklets have been produced for private distribution and library reference only.  However, Bob is anxious to find out more about other copies of Life’s Echoes that may be in private collections.  So, if anybody ‘out there’ has a copy of Life’s Echoes and would like a copy of the new booklets, then they can earn a free copy by sending Bob full details of their copy of “Life’s Echoes” – location of covers, missing / wandering plates, copy number, dedication by Col. Brown, ownership inscription / bookplate etc.  If you would like to get in touch with Bob about this offer, please contact us on and we’ll pass your details on.  And we send Bob our congratulations on providing a valuable new resource for the Rubaiyat community.


A mid-summer evening with the Rubaiyat

March 20, 2018

Charles Mugleston has sent us information about a special Rubaiyat event in London at the end of June 2018.  Charles will be doing a full recitation of the poem with a brief introduction.  Based on our attendance at a previous event like this, it will be an enlightening experience, and well worth going to.

“This first summer month” A Celebration of The Ruba’iya’t of Omar Khayya’m

Thursday, June 28, 2018 from 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM (BST)

St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconcilation and Peace

78 Bishopsgate
EC2N 4AG London
United Kingdom

For more information and tickets


Charles also adds the following information about a historical link between Edward FitzGerald and St Ethelburga’s. 

Edward FitzGerald attended the King Edward the Sixth School in Bury St Edmunds at the same time as John Medows Rodwell  1808 – 1900 likewise born in Suffolk who was Ordained in 1832, translated the Koran published in 1861, and who was the Rector of St Ethelburga’s from 1843 until he retired. There is mention of him once in the Terhune edition of FitzGerald’s letters. How well they knew each other, possibly corresponded with each other (correspondence destroyed ?)  is as yet unknown.

Some online sites relating to the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

February 26, 2018

Ken Vincent has recently highlighted to us a couple of websites relating to the Rubaiyat.

Picture by M Tajvidi

The first is Welcome to the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, produced by Sandor Szabo.  This shows texts from a range of English translations of the Rubaiyat, accompanied by a variety of illustrations, including a sequence of personal photos each linked to a verse of the poem.  There are also comments on the history and legends relating to Omar Khayyam.

The second site, from Shahriar Shahriari, is to be found on   It contains more of a spiritual interpretation of the Rubaiyat together some history about Khayyam.  There is also a series of illustrations, which we know from the work of an Iranian artist, Mohammad Tajvidi, published in a multi-lingual edition by Amir Kabir in 1959;  they may have been originally published in an earlier edition of 1953.

There are quite a number of other websites that deal with the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam in different ways.  If you find new ones, please let us know.  For those interested in a more analytical approach to the different translations of the poem, we recommend Jos Coumans’  on-going work on the concordances or correspondences between the many versions.  This is available on   Sadly, however, another useful website appears to have disappeared from the scene.  This is Richard Brodie’s work entitled The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam:  a complete on-line resource which, inter alia, provided a sortable comparison between the texts of FitzGerald’s different versions of the Rubaiyat.  This used to be available on but the link now takes one to a site offering this web domain for sale – at $895!  If any reader knows what has happened to Richard Brodie and his work on the Rubaiyat, please post a comment below.

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.