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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.

Possible new areas for research and investigation relating to the Rubaiyat

October 19, 2016

k04-OKpem31125scfThis blog on the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and related subjects has now been in existence since April 2012, over four years ago.  A look at the subjects covered in the posts shows the wide range of aspects of the field in which people have either been researching, or have been seeking information.  They have ranged from details about obscure illustrators or editions of the Rubaiyat to the interpretations of FitzGerald’s version of certain quatrains, and from aspects of Khayyam’s philosophy to comparative ‘translations’ of the Persian verses into English and other languages.

Over the past four years, there have been a number of examples where requests for help with data have been met by those who already knew about the subject or who were willing to spend some time of their own examining the subject and using the resources to which they had access, notably their local academic libraries.  We have been involved in a couple of such co-operative research projects.  They have also used personal networks of contacts in the field, something that we hope might be enhanced by the kind of international Rubaiyat groupings mentioned in a recent post –

Most of the colleagues who have posted items on the blog are following their own specific interests and priorities in their enquiries.  But there are still many more topics to be explored.  We are interested to know whether there are any obvious research topics that our readers feel are being neglected, despite the many interesting subjects currently being investigated.  In particular:

Are there some areas of research which might help us to do more to bring the Rubaiyat to public awareness to students and others today? – see earlier post on this subject,

 Is there scope for more co-operative research in Rubaiyat related topics, particularly on projects that might involve local schools or universities in part of the research efforts?

Please share your thoughts and add your comments on these important questions.

Greater co-operation among Rubaiyat collectors and researchers

October 13, 2016

dscn1886The Rubaiyat Research Day in Cambridge in July was an opportunity for quite far flung researchers and collectors, all interested in aspects of the poem, and/or Omar Khayyam and Edward FitzGerald, to get together to exchange views and new findings, and to discuss new projects.  Such occasions do not occur often and the suggestion was made that more could be done, perhaps using social media, to make contact between those interested both easier and more frequent.

The possibility of establishing some kind of international grouping of people with a serious interest in the Rubaiyat was raised.  At present there are only a few national groupings of this kind, notably the well established Netherlands Omar Khayyam Society, now over 25 years old.  The London-based Omar Khayyam Club provides more of a social forum for Rubaiyat enthusiasts, and groups are believed to exist in Norway and Belgium.   Sadly, the US Omar Khayyam Club has been defunct for many years.   There seems to be scope for a new, more research oriented, international grouping, in which people could share information about their activities and interests.

Such a grouping should, we believe, be something that complements the existing networks for exchanging and publicising new information and research findings about the Rubaiyat and related subjects.  These include not only this blog and its associated website, plus the websites and newsletter operated by the Netherlands Omar Khayyam Society, but also individual websites like that of Bob Forrest, a regular contributor to this blog.  One suggestion, from our colleagues in the Netherlands, is that a new international group might be based on the established LinkedIn network, where it is possible to establish interest groups with varying degrees of openness to public scrutiny.  Our own preference would be for a group whose existence would be in the public domain, and whose membership would be identified by name and publications, but for which further access to information would be restricted to invited members.  In effect this would be a society for those with a serious interest in the Rubaiyat and related topics, aimed at facilitating communication and co-operation.

Do our readers think that such a new grouping would be a useful development?  Is something like LinkedIn a good forum for the initiative?  Please let us know what you think about this idea in comments on this post.  We are particularly interested to hear from anyone who has experience of using social media as a basis for serious co-operation.