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Some unusual views of Omar – from beyond the grave and as Humpty Dumpty

August 24, 2015

Bob Forrest has been investigating a couple of writers who took distinctive and unusual views of Khayyam and the Rubaiyat. There are brief summaries below. Follow the links to Bob’s website for the full write-ups.

Omar speaks from Beyond the Grave? This is a spiritual interpretation of The Rubaiyat supposedly offered by Omar himself from beyond the grave, via the American medium Mrs Esther O’Neill. The results were published in a rather curious little volume entitled Omar’s Rubaiyat Re-written (Vantage Press Inc., New York, 1954.) The book contains the story of Mrs O’Neill’s contacts with ‘Omar’ as well as a ‘correct’ translation/interpretation of Khayyam’s verses in spiritual terms. See for more information.

Humpty_Dumpty_clip_art_mediumOmar Khayyam as Humpty Dumpty (7th January 1901). This is the title of last of four articles written by A. H. Millar for The People’s Friend, the others being “The Omar Khayyam Myth” (11th June 1900), “The Omar Myth Reviewed” (23rd July 1900) and “Homer, Omar and Andrew Lang” (22nd Oct 1900.) The four articles together are listed as Potter #842 The theory of the author is that, though Omar the mathematician and astronomer really existed, Omar the poet is a myth, all of the verses attributed to him being forgeries dating from at least three centuries after his death.  For more details on the content of the articles and the vociferous reactions to them by Rubaiyat enthusiasts, see

As Bob Forrest has commented, neither of these is particularly significant in the field of Omarian studies – but they shine a light in a couple of unusual corners of Omarian literature. Thanks to Bob for sharing his research on this.

Unknown Artist in 1902 Rubaiyat. Can you help with identification?

July 16, 2015

We have received the following request from Danton O’Day in Canada.  If you can help at all with information, please comment below on this post.

I’m trying to identify one of the artists in my collection. I can’t seem to find any information from regular sources so I thought I’d ask the Khayyam group via this blog. I’ve included a sample illustration plus an enhanced artist’s signature. I’m pretty sure this is not one of the known artists but any help would be appreciated.









5Q20 “Fledges the river-lip on which we lean.”






Enhanced “signature”


Book. The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, and Salaman and Absal of Jami, Tr. by Edward FitzGerald, 1902. 5th & 1st with variations of 2nd to 4th Eds., Biographical Preface, “To E. FitzGerald” by Alfred Lord Tennyson, OK by E.F. and “Note by the Editor” W. Aldis Wright, Variations between 2nd, 3rd, 4th, Letter to Professor Cowell, Notice of Jami’s Life, Appendix; EF pic in frontis, 3 BW quatrain illustrations by unknown; Blue linen cover with title in gold and red, gold and black floral design on front and spine (6¼” x 4¼”, 176pp); Homewood Publishing Co., Chicago; Abbey Series

Thanks, Danton O’Day

New musical setting of Rubaiyat quatrains from Double Dutch Discords

June 24, 2015

doubledutchCDWe have received news of a new musical setting of verses from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. This is the work of Afsoon Elmy and Alan Boorman of Double Dutch Discords. Afsoon writes as follows.

‘The cd has been a labour of love for both Alan and myself, who are songwriters.  Khayyam has been an influence throughout my life, and I’ve always felt duty bound to introduce him to people who were unfamiliar with his work, so setting his words to contemporary music seemed the logical step.  We hope that our endeavour will broaden Khayyam’s appeal, in particular with regard to the younger generation.’

The verses are sung in English in FitzGerald’s translation. The full cd (of 11 tracks) can be purchased from, price US$9.99 plus p&p from the USA. The link is:

Currently there is only one track (Potter’s Shop) as a single release which can be downloaded via iTunes, Google, Amazon and others using the following links

More details and extracts are available on the website under ‘Khayyam’.

Our congratulations to Afsoon and Alan on their initiative. We are looking forward to listening to the disk when it arrives from the USA.

The Dutch Omar Khayyam Society celebrates 25 years of existence

May 29, 2015

dutchoklogoOn 30th May 2015 Het Nederlandse Omar Khayyám Genootschap (the Dutch Omar Khayyam Society) will celebrate its 25 years of existence. On behalf of all our blog readers, we send the Society and its members our heartfelt congratulations on this special occasion. .

The event will be marked on Saturday in Leiden in the Netherlands. There will be a small congress, with a reading by a guest, and some readings from Khayyám’s quatrains in Persian and Dutch. A new issue of the Society’s Yearbook will be presented; this contains contributions by the members in which they look back and reflect on their membership, or on why they have become a member anyway. In the evening there will be a celebratory dinner.

Since its foundation in 1990, the Dutch Omar Khayyam Society has played an important role in furthering the study of Khayyam and the Rubaiyat and in bringing awareness of the richness and fascination of these subjects to a wider public. As well as holding biennial meetings for its members, the Society has published Yearbooks and other works, and organised several exhibitions relating to the Rubaiyat. It was particularly active in contributing to the celebrations in the anniversary year of 2009. One of the features of the Dutch Society is that it has bridged the gap that sometimes exists between academics and so-called ‘independent researchers’ and Rubaiyat enthusiasts, providing a valuable forum for many useful exchanges.

The Dutch Omar Khayyam Society has for many years published a Bulletin Omariana which has been a useful source of comment and information on Khayyam and Rubaiyat matters. Initially in print form, Omariana then became available via a web site, and laterly it has taken the form of a blog: Both sites are very worthwhile consulting. People who would like to make contact with the Society and its secretary Jos Coumans, or to send their own congratulation on the 25th anniversary, can do so either via the Omariana website, or through a comment on this blog post.

Rubaiyat cards help to raise money needed by Boulge Church

May 19, 2015

Boulge Church is in need of funds to help with repairs to the fabric, and for the levelling of the stone of Edward FitzGerald’s grave. The church was recently the setting for a performance of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat by Charles Mugleston, see earlier post, and Charles has produced some attractive greetings cards to help with the fundraising.

boulgecardThe cards (see illustration) show an attractive and entertaining image by Cyril Bird, which was used on a menu of the Omar Khayyam Club of London in 1959. They are on sale for £1.50 each, plus post and packaging, from Charles Mugleston, or telephone number 01394 285 669. If you are interested in making a general donation to help Boulge Church funds, this can be done directly to the Boulge PCC account at the CAF Bank, sort code 40-52-40, account no. 00012993, with the Church’s sincere gratitude for all received.

Raise a glass on Omar Khayyam’s 967th birthday

May 18, 2015

k02-omarnish97Today, 18th May, marks the 967th anniversary of the birth of Omar Khayyam.  We hope that all our readers will find a moment in which to raise a glass and toast his memory.  Greetings to all on this special day.

Gilbert James (1865-1941) – New research provides important insights into the life and work of a major illustrator

May 12, 2015

RFjamesq75Most people who have browsed through illustrated copies of the Rubaiyat will have come across the work of Gilbert James. He was one of the earliest and most prolific of the artists to take up the challenge of providing illustrations for FitzGerald’s verses and his work was reprinted many times in different forms during the 20th century. But until now, very little has been known about Gilbert James the man; even the dates of his birth and death were unclear. And the chronology of his work on the Rubaiyat and other volumes has been very confused.

Now, thanks to the efforts of Bob Forrest, we are in ignorance no longer. Bob has carried a major investigation into the life and work of Gilbert James, results of which are accessible via the link The article deals first with James’ work on the Rubaiyat illustrations, giving a clear guide to the different versions and the complex links between those published in book form and those in the magazine The Sketch and on menus of The Omar Khayyam Club. There is an extensive gallery of illustrations on the site, well linked to the text.

RFgilbertjamesBob then goes on to tell something of James’ life history, from his birth in Liverpool to his death at the age of 75 in a mental hospital in Surrey. The accompanying images include a photo portrait of James, the first we have seen. The article concludes with a full discussion of other works illustrated by James, and some of the differing views about this artist’s work. There are also extensive notes following the text which highlight many other points of historical interest.

We must all be very grateful to Bob Forrest for the energy and analysis that he has put into finding and then sorting out so much new information about this important illustrator. Although Gilbert James is not our personal favourite among the artists who interpreted the Rubaiyat, he had a major influence on the development of illustration in the Edwardian period, and his work and his history deserve to be better known.


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