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First Women Illustrators of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: Alice Ross

March 15, 2023

Here is the second of Bob Forrest’s articles providing some more information on certain of the first women illustrators of Edward FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, who were covered in an earlier post by Danton O’Day – see In this article, Bob provides more background on the artist Alice Edith Ross, and discusses whether she can be correctly identified as the book illustrator Alice Ross. Our thanks again to Bob for sharing this research with us.

The Scottish artist Alice Edith Ross was born in Glasgow on 27 November 1863, the daughter of William Tait Ross and his wife Barbara Ross (née Whyte.) By 1881 she and her family had moved to Edinburgh where she was to live for the rest of her life. In fact, from 1881 until her death on 10 July 1954 she lived at the same address, 18 Glenorchy Terrace, Newington, Edinburgh. She was an active member of the Scottish Society of Artists (the SSA), exhibiting some 74 paintings with them between 1897 and 1936. (My thanks are due to Kirstie Meehan and Rowan Berry at the National Galleries of Scotland, for supplying this and other information used below.)

Figure 1

But was the artist Alice Edith Ross the same as the book illustrator Alice Ross ? Alice Ross is a very common name, but the first indication that they are indeed the same person is the fact that Alice Ross illustrated at least a dozen books for the Edinburgh publisher W.P. Nimmo, Hay & Mitchell which were also printed in Edinburgh, the city with which artist Alice Edith Ross was so strongly associated. The first edition of her Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, using FitzGerald’s first version, and with four coloured illustrations by her, was published by them in 1910 (Potter #77 – the date is on the title page.) But this was only one poetry book amongst several published by them, for, at various times and with various reprints and revised issues, with different covers and often undated,  she also illustrated works by Tennyson, Robert Browning, Matthew Arnold, Christina Rossetti, J.G. Whittier, Longfellow and Ella Wheeler Wilcox, not to mention the quintessentially Scottish poet Robert Burns. (Equally Scottish was the popular story about a dog, Rab and his Friends, by Edinburgh physician Dr. John Brown, an undated edition of which she also illustrated for Nimmo & Co., probably first published in 1912.)

Figures 2 and 3

To be honest, I don’t find Alice Ross’s coloured illustrations very interesting, for they are rather literal in their approach to the text – stolidly conventional art, in other words. Fig.1 shows her illustration of FitzGerald’s famous quatrain 11 of The Rubaiyat. Fig.2 shows her illustration of Robert Burns’s poem “John Anderson my Jo”, taken from an undated edition of Auld Lang Syne – Songs of Burns, but the copy used here bearing a gift inscription dated Christmas 1919. Fig.3 shows an illustration of Tennyson’s poem “Sir Launcelot and Queen Guinevere” from an edition of Selections from Tennyson whose title-page bears the date 1908.

Figures 4 and 5

Alice Ross’s first illustrated book published by Nimmo & Co., seems to have been Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland which appeared in 1907 –  it was undated but the acquisition date of the copy in the British Library is 18 December 1907, and a contemporary newspaper advert shows it to have been issued as a Christmas book for that year. Her illustrations for this are more inventive than most of her work, perhaps not surprisingly given the nature of the book itself, though it has to said that they owe much to Tenniel’s original illustrations (Fig.4, Alice with the Mock Turtle and the Gryphon, is an example.) A few years later, again for Nimmo & Co., she illustrated Grimm’s fairy tales and those of Hans Christian Andersen – both editions undated but with accession dates of 1910 in the British Library’s copies. Some of these illustrations, again by the nature of the text, almost necessarily invoke more imagination – Fig.5 is “Little Ida’s Flowers” from Hans Andersen, for example.

Figure 6

But amidst the sea of colour illustrations she did for Nimmo & Co., I was much intrigued by Poems of Ella Wheeler Wilcox with “pencil drawings by Alice Ross” published by them in 1912 (the title page bears the date.) The frontispiece, illustrating the poem “To Marry, or not to Marry”, is shown in Fig.6. This, and her other drawings, though still conventional in style, for me at least, hold much more appeal than her colour illustrations. But then she wouldn’t be the first artist who was much better in black and white than colour.

Thus far the Edinburgh connection, but that Alice Ross the illustrator was the same as Alice Edith Ross the artist is further confirmed by the following.

In the magazine The Gentlewoman on 4 March 1916 (p.34), under the heading “Studio Club ‘At-Home’”, we learn that “Miss Alice Ross, S.S.A.” was involved in a sale of paintings to raise funds for the Scottish Women’s First Aid Corps Convalescent Hospital. (Alice Edith Ross S.S.A. never married, so she would indeed have been a Miss Alice Ross S.S.A.)

In The Edinburgh Evening News on 12 November 1925 (p.9), under the heading “Scottish Women Artists – a New Exhibiting Society”, we read that “Miss Alice Ross” (no Edith) exhibited “a spirited study of donkeys and children” at the inaugural exhibition of the Society.

Finally, The Scotsman, on 5 January 1934 (p.7), reported that “Miss Alice Ross” (no Edith) sold “The Sheep Shearer” for £5 at an exhibition of the S.S.A. This is a clincher, because “The Sheep Shearer” is listed, as no.92, as one of the three works by Alice E. Ross of 18 Glenorchy Terrace, Edinburgh, in the S.S.A. Exhibition Catalogue for 1933 (the exhibition ran from 25 November 1933 to 6 January 1934.)

Thus it is well-nigh certain that the artist Alice Edith Ross was also the illustrator Alice Ross.


Austin Torney has continued to explore the possibilities of AI in the context of the Rubaiyat

March 3, 2023

The letters AI, standing for Artificial Intelligence, are becoming more familiar to us all, even in the specialist context of the illustration of Edward FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. We recently published a blog item about the presentation of images of Omar Khayyam generated by AI and Austin Torney has now sent us information about his latest exploration of the possibilities of AI in relation to the Rubaiyat. He writes about the results below. Posts about Austin’s earlier investigations of this field can be accessed via

Artificial Intelligence generative art has come a long way, especially in MidJourney version 4.

Here is ’The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam Oil-Painted by MidJourney’:

PDF or Book at Lulu, A4 size, 488 pages

And its companion, ’Omarian Echoes Oil-Painted by MidJourney With The Theory of Everything’:

PDF or Book at Lulu, A4 size, 800 pages 

A video of the two books interleaved

‘The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam Oil-Painted by MidJourney: With Commentary and Omarian Echoes’ by Austin P. Torney. 

PDF or Book at Lulu, 11×8.5 size, 800 pages

Books also on Amazon and Apple Books.

The beginning of a longer spoken video of the intro and quatrains 1-6

First Women Illustrators of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: Mabel Eardley-Wilmot

February 21, 2023

We recently posted an article by Danton O’Day, concerning the videos he has produced on 13 of the first women artists who were illustrators of Edward FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. For some of these artists, information on their lives and works has remained very limited. Bob Forrest has been investigating three of the artists, to see what more data he could find. We shall post the results of his research in three separate articles. The first, shown below, deals with Mabel Eardley-Wilmot. Our thanks to Bob for this information.

Mabel Eardley-Wilmot was born Mabel Boisragon Winter in Loughton, Essex, England on 18 January 1867, the daughter of William Henry O’Brien Winter and his wife Fanny Cheney Winter (née Hart.) The name Boisragon appears to have come from the surname of one of the witnesses at her parents’ wedding in 1861.

After the age of 4 in the census of 1871, Mabel seems to disappear from the records until her marriage to Sainthill Eardley-Wilmot in India in 1891. He had worked in the Indian Forest Service since 1873, in which field he achieved such a level of success in prudent management and conservation work that he was promoted to the post of Inspector General of Forests in India in 1903. He was knighted for his services in 1911, his wife then becoming Lady Eardley-Wilmot.

How the two met is not clear – it is not known whether she travelled to India in the 1880s, or whether they met in England when he was on furlough back home – but certainly they married in Lucknow on 12 December 1891 and two years later had a daughter, Mabel Iris Eardley-Wilmot, who seems to have been sent back to England to live with an uncle.

In 1908 Sainthill retired and they returned to England. From at least 1920 they lived in Tollgate Cottage, Remenham, Berkshire, where Sainthill died on 13 November 1929, aged 77. Mabel lived on in the same address until 18 August 1958, when she died in a nursing home in Maidenhead, aged 91.

Mabel’s claim to fame, of course, is as an early woman photographer, her photographs being used in her husband’s book Forest Life and Sport in India, published by Edward Arnold, London in 1910, shortly after their return from India. Of more interest to us here though is the use of 32 of her photographs in Sir Edwin Arnold’s book The Light of Asia, published by Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., London, in 1908; 40 of her photographs in Laurence Hope’s book Songs from the Garden of Kama, published by William Heinemann, London, in 1909; and, of course, 38 of her photographs in The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, published by Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., London, in 1912, which used FitzGerald’s first version.

I have to confess that I am not much enthralled by most of her photographs, which are mainly landscapes that relate to various phrases used in the text, without any attempt to elucidate their particular context, and with little or no symbolic message, though they do make clever use of things like sunlight streaming through trees, or reflections in water, She does, however, feature some more adventurous symbolic content in a few – but only a few –  of her photographs for The Rubaiyat – the ghost images associated with quatrains 42 (Fig.1 above left) & 49, for example, and the moving finger image with quatrain 51 (Fig.2 right). In this last the shadowy finger has traced out the word “qesmat”, the Persian form of the English “kismet” meaning fate or destiny. (My thanks to Barney Rickenbacker for translating this.)

Some new ways of looking at the image of Omar Khayyam

February 14, 2023

This post is rather lighter in content than some of our normal posts, and should not be taken too seriously. We hope the images sent to us by Roger Paas may serve to raise a smile, or a wry comment, in the middle of the winter months. Our thanks to Roger. We publish these images with apologies to the original sources of the well known images of Omar Khayyam, which are, of course, themselves idealised views of the great astronomer, mathematician, philosopher, and perhaps poet. Roger sent us the following brief comment.

Someone sent me some AI generated images of Omar Khayyam this morning, and I thought you might enjoy them.  First is the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam as a Leonardo etching… and second is a Saul Bass style poster for Omar Khayyam.

The third set of images we have left unlabelled as a challenge to our readers.

A Leonardo etching?

A Saul Bass style poster ?


First Women Illustrators of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: 13 Short Videos

February 7, 2023

Danton O’Day has sent us information about his latest work on the early artists who illustrated Edward FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. This time he has focused on the women illustrators who were among the most important such artists of the period from the late 1890’s to the 1920’s. Danton has produced a series of entertaining short videos which introduce the work of these very varied illustrators. The ensemble of 13 videos provides an excellent summary of the artistic work of the period. Our congratulation to Danton on this unusual initiative. He writes about it below.

Edward FitzGerald’s translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam is one of the most famous and most illustrated collections of poetry. From 1899 to 1929, thirteen women each revealed their personal visions of the verses using line-drawings, photographs and paintings. This and other work revealing the amazing talent of each artist is presented in 13 short and relaxing YouTube videos by Danton H. O’Day on his DantonCanada YouTube Channel (

Here are the individual artist video links:

Blanche McManus (2:35)—McManus was the first woman to illustrate the Rubaiyat. She published two books with different sets of Illustrations.

Florence Lundborg (1:50)— Using art deco style images, Lundborg illustrated the second Rubaiyat by a woman.

Jessie M. King (1:40)—A multi-talented artist, King did four, line drawings to present a gentle vision of selected verses.

Adelaide Hanscom (2:43)—Hanscom was a photographic trailblazer producing the first US book illustrated with photographs and the first book featuring male nudes.

Evelyn Stuart Hardy (1:28)—A prolific artist, Hardy used exquisite Persian-themed paintings coupled with simple line drawings to interpret the verses.

Marie Préaud Webb (1:36)—Webb illustrated many books using line drawings. For the Rubaiyat, Webb did four full page drawing reflecting the Persian era and locale.

Alice Edith Ross (1:16)—A painter who left little historical evidence, Ross produced dynamic paintings reflect the life & times of Omar’s Rubaiyat.

Isabel Hawxhurst Hall (1:33)—Hall produced an impressive Rubaiyat illustrated with 18 charcoal images that reflected the Egyptian popularity at the time.

Mabel Eardley-Wilmot (1:27)— Using 38 unique, often manipulated, images, Wilmot was the 2nd photographer to illustrate the Rubaiyat.

Doris M. Palmer (1:18)—Palmer painted 12 full-page vivid watercolours, that reflect the Middle Eastern locale and era, to illustrate the Rubaiyat

Anne Harriet Fish (1:52)—An extremely multitalented artist, FISH did 19 Rubaiyat illustrations ranging from brightly coloured to sombre providing a unique interpretation of the content of the verses.

Hope Weston (1:17)—Weston’s 8 unique and compelling images not only provide an exciting view of the poetry they also required an explanatory forward to set the stage.

Cecil Gwendolen Trew (1:50)—An historically well documented and talented artist, Trew produced 25 monochrome illustrations bringing the poetry and its Middle Eastern location to life.

So, the next time you’re thinking of clicking on another cat video (really?), try one of these and see what women artists were doing at the turn of the last century—you’ll be happily entertained and enlightened!

Danton H. O’Day, 2023

A late start to the New Year, and the Sad Passing of Professor J T P de Bruijn

February 2, 2023

First, we send all blog readers very belated greetings for the arrival of the New Year 2023. For us, the new year arrived late due to illness, and it is only now that we are able gradually to pick up our blogging pens again. Plenty of new contributions await posting, so please watch this space.

Secondly, Barney Rickenbacker has alerted us to the news of the sad passing of the great scholar Professor J T P de Bruijn. Professor de Bruijn was known world wide for his work on, and promotion of, Persian literature and Persian poetry, and his many publications on these and other topics. He will be much missed. There is a very beautiful and moving tribute to the Professor, by his friend and student Asghar Seyed-Gohrab, circulated in Adabiat. We quote below from the beginning of the tribute. It ends with a quotation from Omar Khayyam. The full text is available via and on

Asghar writes as follows.

It is with great sadness that I report the passing of Professor Hans (J.T.P.) de Bruijn, the renowned author of Of Piety and Poetry, and my beloved, generous and learned mentor and friend, a man of outstanding integrity and erudition. He was first my teacher, then my PhD supervisor and remained my support and refuge after his retirement. I sparred over new ideas with him, and he was a source of inspiration. Over the years, he had become like a father to me.

Professor de Bruijn was born on 12 July 1931 in Leiden and died on 23 January 2023 in Voorhout, the Netherlands. He studied Semitic languages, and as minors Persian and Turkish at Leiden University. From 1954 to 1960 he collaborated in the Concordance et Indices de la Tradition Musulmane project, which was published under the auspices of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) in Amsterdam. He also contributed to the editing of the English version of Jan Rypka’s History of Iranian Literature, which was published in Dordrecht in 1968. From 1960 to 1963, he was Curator of the Middle Eastern Department at the Dutch National Museum of Ethnology. In 1964 he joined the staff of Leiden University, where he took the chair of Persian in 1988. He built up a Persian department that included expertise on Shiism, Sufism, and modern Persian literature.

From our first meeting in 1989 at the Witte Singel Complex in Leiden until a few years ago before he fell ill, he kept making plans to advance Persian and Iranian Studies. He was without doubt a pillar in our field in Europe and his passing creates a deep scholarly gap in the field. He was an inspiring authority on Persian literature, Islamic mysticism, Iranian languages and linguistics, and Iranian history.

Professor de Bruijn collaborated with major projects advancing the field of Persian and Iranian Studies. He collaborated with the late Dr Ehsan Yarshater, first as an advisor and contributor to Encylopeadia Iranicaand later as a vice-chair and editor of the 20-volume History of Persian Literature. His entries for the Encyclopaedia Iranica cover Persian literature, the history of Oriental Studies, and Persian manuscripts.Another collaboration which certainly deserves to be mentioned here is his contribution to theEncyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition (1970-2005). He was involved with this Encyclopaedia project for a long time, as an executive member, but also as a regular contributor. He published articles on Persian culture, literature, religions and history. In the last ten years of his active career, he was entirely devoted to editing the first volume of the History of Persian Literature and writing chapters for other volumes. Several of these chapters have the scope of books. His outstanding chapter on the Persian ghazal offers an indispensable survey of the genre in Persian literature, a model of how to analyse Persian ghazals, of how these poems can be approached as texts for religious and secular rituals, and why they became a central poetic form in Persian and, under Persian influence, in other Islamic literatures. (Tribute continued elsewhere – see references above).

Mera K. Sett – an Appeal for Information

December 23, 2022

Bob Forrest has sent us the following request for information on the Rubaiyat artist Mera K Sett. If you can help, please comment below.

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Nearly a decade ago now (I am somewhat alarmed to find!) I put an article onto my website (*) about Rubaiyat illustrator Mera K. Sett. Since then some new information has come to light, though not as much as I would like. Mainly I have still been unable to discover where and when Sett died – I presume in Mumbai (or Bombay as it would have been then), but when ? I have written to and emailed various people and organisations in Mumbai – in some instances twice – but have never received any reply at all. So, does any reader of this blog have any contacts in Mumbai who might be able to help ? There is an online system for ordering death certificates for the Mumbai region, but you have to know the precise date of death to use it – so far as I am aware there is nothing akin to searching for a date of death via the online ancestry sites available in the UK.

It may interest readers of this blog to see a passport photo of Sett which has turned up, dated 1934, when he would have been 45 years old (Fig.1 above right). Also newly emerged is the fact that though the title-page of his illustrated Rubaiyat, published for him by Galloway and Porter of Cambridge, bears the date 1914 (Fig.2 below left), it was not actually published until December 1915. Since this is some months after the death of Rupert Brooke, on 23 April 1915, Brooke cannot have seen a published version of it, which of course has implications for the two-column review of Sett’s book which he is supposed to have written, and which has still not been found. This is not to say it wasn’t written. Sett and Brooke could certainly have met in either Cambridge or London in 1913, so Brooke could have seen Sett’s MS “in progress” and made favourable comments about it, but no evidence for this has yet come to light, and the review, if it was ever actually published, in view of Brooke’s untimely death, remains elusive.

One avenue of approach to finding further information about Sett is to try to contact descendants of the dedicatees of the stories in the only other book illustrated by (and written by) him, “Sculptured Melodies”, but so far this hasn’t paid dividends.(*) Some dedicatees have simply disappeared into the mists of time, others died childless, or, in the one case where contact with a descendant was made, she had quite simply never heard of Sett. But the quest continues.

(*) . This article contains information about the Rupert Brooke review, and also about Sett’s “Sculptured Melodies,” which some readers may find useful to be going on with. However, some parts of it do need to be revised and updated, which I will do in due course in a more detailed look at Sett’s life and art-work.

Adelaide Hanscom’s Illustrated Rubaiyat: – Colourized Photographs

December 1, 2022

A few weeks ago, we published an article by Joe Howard about Adelaide Hanscom who was the first artist to illustrate Edward FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat with photographs. In what follows, Joe continues the story of Hanscom’s work on the Rubaiyat, discussing the period when she was working in co-operation with fellow photographer Blanche Cumming. The original post can be found on Our thanks to Joe for sharing this further work with us all.

In 1912 Dodge Publishing Co. of New York published a new edition (10¼ x7¾ ins) of Adelaide Hanscom’s 1905 Rubaiyat1 in which the original illustrations were hand-colourized (Potter 274). It was offered for sale with a choice of three bindings, cloth, ooze leather, and leathercraft, and referred to as “The Rubaiyat, Royal Edition”. A publication date is not given, but copyright dates, both 1905 and 1912, are printed on the rear of the title page. While the individual photographs of the earlier version have captions beneath them stating “COPYRIGHT 1905 BY DODGE PUBLISHING COMPANY”, the colourized version has just “© D.P.Co.” printed on each photograph.

A notable change in the colourized version (CV) is that the title page shares credit for the photographs: “… with illustrations from life studies by Adelaide Hanscom and Blanche Cumming.” Blanche shared a studio with Adelaide until it was destroyed by fire, a consequence of the infamous (April 1906) San Francisco earthquake. She also persuaded George Stirling, a prominent poet and playwright, to pose for Adelaide’s Rubaiyat.

 Blanche, like Adelaide, was both a photographer and artist and it has been suggested that she did the colourizing. This appears unlikely since the 1917 Dodge Catalogue states “The photographs, hand-colored by the Pancoast Studios, are reproduced in full color photogravure printing”. Although hand colourization of photographs is nearly as old as photography itself, the heyday of the technique is generally regarded to be 1900-1940. An example of the colourized edition (leather, boxed) and two colourized photographs are shown in Fig.1. Full scans of this, and some later editions, can be found online2. In this article, I have selected photographs primarily to exemplify points I make below. 

The CV proved justifiably popular and was reprinted many times. The colours chosen are attractive: in many instances, they are vibrant and/or saturated, which contrasts with the more muted, translucent colours commonly used for colourization in the early 20th century. It does seem to be overdone on occasion though. For example, in Fig.1b. the man looks to be wearing lipstick. Much more significantly, the extent to which the colourization has been carried out sometimes negates the very careful, creative, and time-consuming work done by Adelaide on the original glass negatives. In the monotone print (Fig.2a.), only the man and jug are in sharp focus and this area is slightly darker than the rest of the print. This was most likely done to emphasize that it is the man who is speaking in the quatrain illustrated (XII: “… A jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread-and Thou…).  

To overcome the challenge inherent in the proximity of the heads, and the limitations of the equipment available, Adelaide placed a fine veil over the face of the woman to further blur it. Neutral tones were selected for the remainder of the image which do not distract attention from the man and jug. The CV, (Fig.2b.) in comparison, has extremely strong contrast. The woman has been brought into sharp focus, and the background has considerable structure and presence. These comments are not intended to be critical, my point being that the coloured photograph represent a very deliberate and different artistic approach from the original.

Other modifications have been made, seemingly with modesty in mind. The final image in the book, a profile of a naked woman on all-fours, has been colourized (edited?) to reduce the explicit content via the introduction of very deep shadows to areas where none existed before.

The cover of the 1905 Rubaiyat was designed by Adelaide, as were all the page decorations. She also designed a rather unusual page (Fig.3a.). It depicts colours and symbols along with statements of their significance. This page, where colour plays a crucial role, is not included in the CV. The puzzling symbol, “A bird can fly without wings” is included on two photographs in the 1905 edition but has been removed from one of the corresponding colourized photographs: compare the top left of centre of Figs.3b. and 3c. It is unclear why this was done. These images also differ in their composition, a very important consideration in photography and in art generally. Cropping before printing is routinely used to improve the composition of original photographs. Fig.3b. has an awkward empty space to the left while Fig, 3c. has been cropped to eliminate it, yielding a more balanced composition. Stylistically, there is no good reason to reverse the earlier decision.  Other images exhibit comparable composition differences (e.g., Figs.2a. & b.).

The photograph retaining the “A bird can fly without wings” symbol on colourization, has it coloured red (“colour of the physical”), not blue (“colour of the spiritual”) as in the original design. Given that Adelaide created the symbol, I think it highly unlikely she would have initiated or approved such an error/change in meaning.

Thus, there are significant differences between the monotone and the colourized versions which are not intrinsic to the process of colourization (reduction of the pictorialist content, composition/cropping, the introduction of deep editorial shadows, content deletion, change of symbolism). The monochrome photographs are Adelaide’s signature artistic photographic work, the result of two years of effort. Yet, much of what led to their acclaim has been undone in the CV.  It seems unlikely to me that Adelaide would have made or indeed, willingly accepted, such modifications. As I indicated above, colourization could have been completed without making these stylistic and content modifications.  Likewise, I doubt that Blanche would have suggested or approved the composition changes. Since the photographs are copyrighted by the publisher, I suggest that it was the publisher who took final decisions and responsibility for the nature and extent of the colourization.

The CV clearly has its own appeal and apparently proved very popular since many variants were published, included covers with different colours, textures and embellishments. The front cover (Fig.4.) of one interesting version includes a gilded partial outline of the photograph in Fig.2a. There are other variants of this specific cover.

                A smaller format (6×4¾ ins) “Popular Edition”, containing just eight colourized photographs, was also published by Dodge Publishing Co. in 1914 (copyrighted for both 1905 and 1914). It excludes all photographs in which the models’ posed nude. Over several years many different bindings were introduced (Fig.5.). There is also considerable variation as to which copyright dates were included, if any. Fig.5a. is marked with copyright only for 1916-the latest date that I am aware of. Some CV’s have both photographers credited, some credit only Adelaide and others do not credit an illustrator. I’m aware of two versions with dust jackets (e.g., Fig.5b.). The “Popular Edition” was also issued with 8 black and white images (Fig.5d) with credit given only to Adelaide: the individual photographs contain a simple copyright mark, (©).

UK Editions

                The CV was published in the UK by George G. Harrap &Co. The large-format copies I have seen were printed in the USA by Dodge Publishing Co. and do not contain either publishing or copyright dates. Potter 274 lists these as [1914].

                The “Popular Edition” was also published by Harrap. There are many variants, as in the USA.


  1. More information about Adelaide Hanscom’s 1905 edition can be found at:
  2. Scans of complete copies of some of the books referred to above, can be found by searching The HathiTrust Digital Library ( The scans of the colourized photographs are generally of lesser quality than the paper copies.

Omar Khayyam’s Birthday Revisited.

November 24, 2022

In 2021, as usual, we celebrated the anniversary of the birth of Omar Khayyam on 18th May 1048. But, in a post on this blog, we drew attention to the fact that the accuracy of this birth date for Khayyam had recently been queried, by the Iranian American academic Mohammad H Tamdgidi. Both the original dating, and the queries raised by Dr Tamdgidi, are based on the interpretation of horoscopes, a field of which we are lamentably ignorant. But Bob Forrest, who has more expertise in the area, has recently spent some time assessing the original basis of the calculation of Khayyam’s birth date, and the reasons behind the queries that are now being raised.

Bob has summarised the results of his analysis as follows.

<< In 1941, in his Nectar of Grace, Govinda Tirtha calculated, on the basis of a known horoscope, that Omar Khayyam was born on 18 May 1048. In 2021 Mohammad H. Tamdgidi claimed that Tirtha’s calculations did not actually fit the horoscope, and that Omar was actually born on 10 June 1021. This article seeks to show that in fact Tirtha’s calculations were perfectly consistent with the horoscope; that Tamdgidi’s rejection of them was totally misguided; and that his 10 June 1021 – which involves invoking a double scribal error to make it work! – is effectively a false trail of his own devising. >>

The full workings behind Bob’s argument are set out in an article on his website Bob concludes that 18th May 1048 is still the best available estimate for Khayyam’s birth, with a date of death sometime between 1126 and 1131. We shall be interested to hear from readers with some expertise in this field whether they agree with the general thrust of Bob’s analysis. Please comment below.

1883 – 2023 A Celebration of Edward FitzGerald

October 29, 2022

Edward FitzGerald, the man, and the great poem the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam that he gave to the world, have stimulated writings and reflections of many kinds over the past one hundred and fifty years.  Charles Mugleston has sent us a new reflection on these subjects, designed as a tribute to the 140th anniversary of FitzGerald’s death which falls next year.  His reflection draws attention to the many links that he sees with other spiritual and philosophical thinking, as well as some of the cross currents in FitzGerald’s own life.

Charles’ free flowing and thoughtful essay is too long to be presented in full here, and we show only the first few paragraphs.  If any reader is interested in seeing the full text, please contact Charles Mugleston on  Our thanks to Charles for sharing his reflection.

The Key to ‘Conundrum Castle…

Conundrum : A riddle ending with a pun offering bread from the field – food for thought

“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 e’NOW”

Quatrain 11

“The Ball no Question makes of Ayes and Noes,

But Right or Left, as strikes the Player goes;

And He that tossed Thee down into the Field,

He knows about it all – He knows – HE Knows! ”

Quatrain 50

“Truth is ever expressed in paradox” the Chinese MysticLao Tsze observed, likewise – Lightwise [sic] the Dutch artist M.C Escher wrote about his work “I speak a language few can understand…you have to retain a sense of wonder… that’s what it’s all about”. The Self-same paradox or ‘Wonder of Oneness’ rings true of Edward FitzGerald’s world famous multi-million selling poem the Ruba’iya’t of Omar Khayya’m speaking as it does in metaphor, at-once objectively as well as subjectively, of the extraordinary within the ordinary, hence difficulties are encountered by those who try to appreciate its insights with a logical, literal, fundamentalist outlook, miss the point and remain grounded – ground dead as the poem rather more than subtly implies. Yet, upon reflection its open secret generating its universal appeal invites, delights and unites those of faith and atheists / agnostics alike proving its inner worth, because Its “One Equal Light” [John Donne] speaks directly to Itself in and through us and that is what Noetic Poetic is all about… Remembrance / Resonance / Recognition / Regeneration.  The Mystic Mother Julian of Norwich saw “This Light is Love” and such influences can be seen in the creation of a deep and abiding friendship between our free thinking Suffolk Bard, and idea, image, sound & word smith of Woodbridge, Edward FitzGerald 31st March 1809 – 14th June 1883, and the family of yet another man of Genius, our Suffolk Bard George Crabbe born at Aldeburgh in 1754–1832 “nature’s sternest painter, yet the best” [Byron].

Yes, Like attracts Like because Light attracts Light… Genius Awakens Genius and so it happened that Edward (from the Old English Ead meaning Riches and Weard meaning Guard, hence Guardian of Riches…) Purcell was born at Bredfield Hall, now demolished, just north of Woodbridge, the family adopting his mother Mary’s maiden name of FitzGerald in 1818. He was baptised on the 7th May by, it is believed, the curate Revd Issac Clarke at Bredfield Church just along the road from The Castle village pub now a home.  Bredfield was where the poet Crabbe’s son, also George Crabbe, was installed as Rector in 1834 becoming one of the four ‘Woodbridge Wits’. His son, also Revd George Crabbe eventually came to be the Rector of Merton in Norfolk where Edward FitzGerald passed from this life into what the German poet Goethe observed on his deathbed as “Light, Light more Light”. Lightwise… Goethe’s Brother Freemason was Sir Walter Scott who, sharing several extracts of Crabbe’s poetry throughout his novels and having built a delightful letter writing relationship with him, though meeting him but twice, paid Crabbe the ultimate accolade of requesting his poetry be read to him during his final illness.

FitzGerald, not a Freemason, likewise admired Sir Walter Scott, his novels and poetry all his life, travelling up the coast in July 1874 by steamer to visit Abbottsford or ‘Conundrum Castle’ as Scott winkingly called his beloved home in Scotland. FitzGerald, who called Scott’s home his ‘Mecca’, likewise paid Crabbe and his descendents one of many soulful gestures by producing at his own expense ‘Readings in Crabbe : Tales of the Hall’ in 1879.

Another factor that may have drawn E.F.G to Scotland was that the four arm, two lined, one purpose Saltire Cross of St Andrew, Scotland’s ‘Essential Freedom’, forms the central symbol of the FitzGerald Family Coat of Arms, as seen on the family memorials in Boulge Church, ditto of the bookplate designed for E.F.G by his friend William Makepeace Thackeray, speaking of which…

For the continuation of this article, please contact Charles Mugleston (see above)