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Fine edition of Rubaiyat decorated by Joyce Francis

September 12, 2018

We recently acquired a copy of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam published by Ebenezer Baylis and Son at the Trinity Press, Worcester in 1934.  This is a fine limited edition of 100 copies, with decorations by an artist called Joyce Francis.  Some images from the book are shown below.  There are a total of six small black and white engravings as decoration, all similar in form to the three shown.

The book is listed as number 76 in Jos Coumans Bibliography, and we know that there are copies in two major libraries.  But otherwise we know nothing about the book, its publisher or the artist.  We wonder whether any readers of this blog have more information.  If so, we should be glad to know – please add your comments below.


Rubaiyat lecture/recital in Woodbridge, September 18th 2018

August 6, 2018

Charles Mugleston has sent us the following notice about a lecture/recital on the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam that he is giving next month.  If you are anywhere near Woodbridge in mid September, this will be something well worth attending.  Details of location and time are shown at the end.

The Ruba’iya’t of Omar Khayya’m

Edward FitzGerald’s Suffolk Psalm

“A poem of genius awakening genius…
“Like a bridge over troubled water…


Question : What do Cambridge and Woodbridge share in common ?

Answer : In their names… an ancient word that defines a structure crossing a river, or whatever, enabling people to cross over from one side to the other more easily.

Answer : As written into their historical DNA, they are towns that have shared the company of Edward FitzGerald 1809 – 1883 the anglo-irish Genius, scholar, writer & poet, attending Trinity College, Cambridge and eventually settling in Woodbridge.

Answer : Professor Juan Mascaro who also studied, then taught in Cambridge wrote a superb introduction – a comprehensive vision of the Sublime Panorama of Spirit & Spirituality for his translation of ‘The Upanishads.’ Published by Penguin, which happily mentions Edward FitzGerald’s Mystical Masterpiece, the universally loved poem The Ruba’iya’t of Omar Khayya’m which has sold millions of copies around the world. The collective voices informing this noetic poetic such as Rumi, Shakespeare, Donne, Dryden, Attar, Hafiz et al provide a bridge of Light uniting all Spiritual Traditions and none… helping us to answer our own questions – awaken to our Innate & Universal Ideas, stand on our own two feet Spiritually and physically thus becoming truly Universal in our attitudes and actions…thus becoming fully & delightfully human… blossom like a rose, just one of the poems wisely woven mystical metaphor’s.

Come to Woodbridge and find out more.  A brief introductory lecture on the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, followed by a recital of the first edition of this enlightening and entertaining poem – with musical bookends – will be given at Woodbridge Library, Suffolk on Tuesday September 18th at 12.45 as organised by The Friends of Woodbridge Library. Free entry. “The moving finger writes and having writ moves on…

Press Release from the :

Lotus Library Publications No. 1: Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: Request for information

July 26, 2018

Joe Howard and Bob Forrest have sent us the following request for information relating to the Lotus Library edition of the Rubaiyat.  This request derives from their work on the illustrator of this edition, W G Stirling, which has been the subject of a number of earlier posts on this blog.

It has come to our attention that there are variants of one of the illustrations in the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam illustrated by W G Stirling and published, in a limited 1000 copies edition, by Lotus Library Publications (Potter 174).

The three variants that we are aware of are shown below. They contain different representation of the ‘eye” of the peacock feather that covers the woman’s abdomen. These images are otherwise identical.

Fig. 1                                                       Fig. 2                                                  Fig. 3

An informal survey of several Rubaiyat enthusiasts shows that, of eleven copies examined, one contains the Fig. 2 version, one contains Fig. 3 and nine have Fig. 1. Of these latter nine, four, when examined carefully, have clear signs of the “eye” of Fig. 2 showing through the black ink.

Our current hypothesis is that there was an “original” illustration which was then altered in different ways by adding ink. We also consider it likely that the ink has been applied more thickly in some instances. One plausible reason for these alterations is that the “eye” in illustrations like Fig. 2 or 3 could be interpreted, somewhat embarrassingly in a 1918 context, as representing parts of the female reproductive system and that this was not realized until after printing had started. This does not immediately explain why there are more than two variants. The limited-edition numbers of the 11 copies are interspersed with one another, so it appears that the modifications were not done in sequential batches.

We would really like to gather data on additional copies of this Rubaiyat and would appreciate it if owners of this edition would provide the following information;

(a) limited edition number

(b) whether the image is like Fig. 1 or Fig. 2, or Fig.3. If not, send us a photo of the illustration in your copy

(c) when examined at different angles or with different lights can you see evidence a concealed image? If so is it like one of those above?

We appreciate that this is a lot to ask, so, send what you can. The information can be sent to, or if you prefer not to share your email, please send it in a message to Sandra and Bill at this blog.

We offer our sincere thanks for your help and we will report the results of the survey, with our conclusions, in this blog. We are extremely grateful to those who have already shared information and photographs with us.

Another bumper edition of Omariana is now available

July 23, 2018

Jos Coumans of the Netherlands Omar Khayyam Society has just produced a bumper new issue of the newsletter Omariana.  This is an invaluable research resource providing information on new material relating to the Rubaiyat, Omar Khayyam, Edward FitzGerald and related topics.  There are sections on recently produced editions of the Rubaiyat, on books and articles on relevant topics, and on new audio versions, web sites and other miscellaneous matters.  The latest edition contains a tribute to Jos Biegstraaten, founder president of the Netherlands Society, together with a special section on the new Iranian editions of the Rubaiyat which Jos Coumans located on a recent trip to Iran.  There are also reports on recent conferences and exhibitions with Khayyam and the Rubaiyat as their theme.

The newsletter is available free from Jos Coumans and you can subscribe to it via the following link  Our thanks to Jos for continuing to share his extensive finds with others through the newsletter.

The Ouseley brothers: their links to Persia and the Rubáiyát

July 16, 2018

Many readers of this blog will be aware of a manuscript of verses attributed to Khayyám which is in the Bodleian Library and is often referred to as ‘Ouseley 140’  (the library shelf mark). This is one of the two Khayyám manuscripts that Edward FitzGerald used as the basis of his famous version of the poem, published in 1859.

Some years ago, we became curious about the name Ouseley and the reason why it was attached to this copy of the Rubáiyát. This led us to William and Gore Ouseley, two brothers living in the late Georgian and early Victorian periods, both of whom were important collectors of Persian and Arabic manuscripts. Their collections largely ended up in the Bodleian Library, the so-called Ouseley 140 coming from the elder brother, William. The brothers were also notable writers and scholars, particularly William, and they separately travelled and worked in India in the period between 1787 and 1805. Subsequently they together undertook one of their most important journeys, an official visit to Persia between 1810 and 1815.

Sir William Ouseley 1767-1842                                        Sir Gore Ouseley Bart. 1770-1844

This journey has been the core focus of some research that we have recently completed.  The results of this work have now been published in a short book which tells the story of the two Ouseley brothers and how they came to be part of an important mission to Persia in the early nineteenth century.  Using four different reports of the journey east between 1810 and 1815, two by the Ouseleys and two by other members of the mission James Morier and William Price,  we describe where the travellers went, their experiences and what they found in Persia and the other countries they visited.  There is much to be learned about the way life was lived some 200 years ago, and the book contains verbatim quotations from the individual reports, giving the reader an idea of personal reactions and priorities on what was an extraordinary and eventful journey.

Full details of the book are shown below.*  It has been privately published and is for limited circulation to libraries and researchers.  If you are particularly keen to have a print copy, please contact us on , giving an indication of the nature of your interest in the subject.  A PDF version of the book can be accessed online via the link shown. **

One thing that disappointed us personally in studying the reports on this early mission to Persia is the lack of any mention of Omar Khayyám, his writings or his tomb.  Other major Persian poets are mentioned, notably Háfiz and Sa’di, but at that period, before FitzGerald brought him to worldwide fame, Khayyám was not important in Persian culture.  We also do not actually know whether William Ouseley acquired his copy of the Ouseley 140 manuscript of the Rubáiyát on this trip.  But thanks to research by Douglas Taylor, communicated to us by Bob Forrest, we do know that William Ouseley became well acquainted with the Rubáiyát and its contents and he discussed this work in a paper presented to the Royal Society of Literature in 1826.  It is possible that further research will lead to the discovery of more links between the Ouseley brothers and Khayyám and his Rubáiyát

* Martin, William H. and Mason, Sandra, The Ouseley brothers and their journey to Persia 1810-15: Insights into the world of the traveller in the early nineteenth century  (Dry Drayton, Cambridge: Leisure Consultants, 2018).  ISBN 978-1-873450-03-1.

** PDF version available on!AjchErtiuRImgqRh09rVJZq2mCOr5Q

William George Stirling – a full write-up

July 12, 2018

The work of the artist William George Stirling was the subject of some extensive debate on this blog earlier in the year;  see and related posts.  Bob Forrest who contributed much original research to the debate has now completed a full write up of his work on the artist and his contribution both to Rubaiyat illustration and in other areas.  Bob summarises his findings as follows

My article provides a provisional account of the life and work of Stirling, who illustrated both the enigmatic, opium–related, Lotus Library Rubaiyat in 1918, and the rather more orthodox, wine–related, Malay Rubaiyat of A.W. Hamilton in 1932. The later book was published openly bearing his name, but the earlier one bore only his initials in monogrammed form, which, intentionally or otherwise, hid his identity for many years.

Bob’s report can be found via the following link:
Bob is also preparing a print version of his report for publication as another in his series of privately circulated booklets on Rubaiyat artists.  Our thanks to Bob for enlightening us all further on this interesting subject.

Another first edition of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat is on the market

June 25, 2018

Charles Mugleston has alerted us to the fact that another copy of the first edition of Edward FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam is currently on the market.  It is being offered at auction by Chiswick Auctions in London, and bids can be placed online via the following link .  The live auction will be on 12th July 2018.  The auctioneers’ estimated price is £15,000-20,000.  This compares with the price for the copy of the first edition offered for sale last year by booksellers Peter Harrington, which was as much as £45,000, though we have no way of knowing whether that price was actually realised – see our earlier post .

Charles is anxious to encourage museums and other organisations in Suffolk to come together to try to buy this newly available historical copy of the work of one of Suffolk’s famous sons.  We quote from the letter that Charles has sent to relevant people in pursuit of his aims.

“[The county would] thus secure a representative copy for its collections to possibly add to the several Edward FitzGerald items curated by Christchurch Mansion yet sadly not on view… oh Ipswich – oh Suffolk wake up to your heritage – Edward FitzGerald’s golden legacy to you ! or, perhaps in Woodbridge.

With a collective effort, this item could be obtained and I would ask the EADT [East Anglian Daily Times] (who produced a beautiful souvenir book for the local 1909 EFG Centenary Celebrations) to take the lead – form a campaign to help raise the projected sum a.s.a.p.”

It would be wonderful if this campaign were succesful.  Good luck, Charles!