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Cecil G Trew and ‘Reveries of Omar Khayyam’

November 8, 2015

Bob Forrest and Douglas Taylor have been studying an unusual illustrated edition of quatrains from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. They have put together a fascinating picture of the edition and its illustrator, but there are still outstanding questions. If you can help with information, please post your comments below.  Bob Forrest writes as follows.

Douglas Taylor and I have been having some interesting correspondence about Cecil G. Trew’s “Reveries of Omar Khayyam”, published in Los Angeles in 1929, in a limited edition of 1000 copies. This consisted of a folio (Fig.1) containing 25 black and white plates, each mounted on a card bearing a verse quoted from the fourth edition of The Rubaiyat (Fig.2 is an example.) Given its nature, there has been a tendency for the odd plate to get lost from the extant copies over the years, so that today it is rare to find a complete folio. Both Douglas’s copy and mine contain only 23 plates, for example. But by comparing our copies with each other, and with two other copies – one in the UCLA library, and the other a copy offered for sale on the internet – we have at least identified 25 different plates, those illustrating verses 1, 3, 4, 12, 13, 17 (two versions), 18, 19, 22, 24, 27, 29, 32, 37, 43, 44, 48, 64, 71, 80, 83, 86, 90 and 98. This would seem to qualify as a possible complete set of 25 prints, but if anybody reading this knows of any others, would they please let us know.

Fig. 1                                                                                             Fig. 2












The UCLA copy seems to contain a loose ‘title page’ like the outer cover of the folio (Fig.3), and the copy on the internet a loose colophon page (Fig.4), both of which have disappeared from Douglas’s copy and mine. If anybody reading this can confirm this, again, we would be grateful if they would let us know, as there is some confusion over who exactly the publisher of “Reveries” was – Fig.4 quite clearly gives “National Illustrated News Service” as the publisher, and yet the Kaloprint Corporation is often cited as the publisher when copies are offered for sale on the internet, and indeed their name does appear in the lower right-hand corner of Fig.3, and what looks to be their logo in Fig.4. This rather suggests that the National Illustrated News Service was indeed the publisher, and the Kaloprint Corporation just the printer of the plates. To add to the confusion, WorldCat cites both the Kaloprint Corporation and the Danbys as the publisher, but not the National Illustrated News Service! Again, comments are invited.

Fig. 3                                                                                       Fig. 4













Incidentally, Cecil G. Trew was not, as is sometimes stated, the pseudonym of Mrs Cecil Gwendolen Ehrenborg. Rather, she was born Cecil Gwendolen Russell in England in 1897, and became Cecil Gwendolen Trew on her marriage to an American physician, Niel Charles Trew, in Bristol in 1918. In March 1919 she and her husband left England to live with his family in Los Angeles. In 1929, the same year that “Reveries of Omar Khayyam” was published, her husband died, and she returned to England with her two children. It was in London, in December 1932, that she married Rolf Killigrew Ehrenborg, thus becoming Mrs Cecil Gwendolen Ehrenborg. However, she continued to use Cecil G. Trew as her professional name, both as a writer and as an artist, though she was never to produce anything like “Reveries” again.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. Joe Howard permalink
    November 8, 2015 2:17 pm

    I have a copy with 24 plates (just one version of No17) with verse numbers identical to the ones you list. Mine also lacks the colophon but has a slightly different version of the “Title page”, your Fig 3. My page has only the illustration and the signature-no other text either at top or bottom. This illustration is also more sepia/brownish than black and white. I can supply an image if you wish
    I really appreciate all your research and your enthusiasm for sharing your results.

  2. Joe Howard permalink
    November 8, 2015 3:30 pm

    I neglected to mention that the front cover of the portfolio is also different from the one you showed. The title of mine is “THE RUBAIYAT OF OMAR KHAYYAM ILLUSTRATIONS BY CECIL GWENDOLEN DREW”. The illustration is the same on my copy as is the quotation below it. The quotation though, has a font and layout different from the one you show.

    • Bob Forrest permalink
      November 9, 2015 8:58 pm

      Thanks for both these posts, Joe. Yes please, if you could supply an image of both your title page and portfolio cover, then that could be very useful for future reference. Also, if you will forward me an image of your verse 17, I will forward you an image of the other one.

      • Joe Howard permalink
        November 9, 2015 9:09 pm

        Thanks Bob, I’m not sure how to attach files. Can you help? I will also include an image of a folio cover that has the usual illustration but no text. Joe

      • November 10, 2015 9:20 am

        This is a reply to Bob and Joe about attaching images to the comments in this and other series of exchanges. So far, we haven’t managed to find a way of doing this, though it is easy to get images into the original postings. So Joe, please send us your images attached to an e-mail, and we’ll post a supplementary item including them. If someone out there knows a better way of putting images into comments, please let us know. Thanks. S&B

      • Joe Howard permalink
        November 10, 2015 2:43 pm

        I will send the images attached to an email-what email address should I use? Thanks Joe

      • November 10, 2015 5:10 pm

        Thanks Joe. Please use S&B

      • November 11, 2015 4:17 pm

        Joe Howard’s images are now posted under a new blog item – see Thanks to Joe for this contribution. S&B

  3. Garry Garrard permalink
    November 9, 2015 9:00 am

    With just a quick look at this fascinating contribution, the old fellow with the beard could have come from the Adelaide Hanscom/Blanch Cumming edition! He could have just put a new hat on! Garry

  4. Roger Paas permalink
    November 9, 2015 6:47 pm

    I have three different editions:
    The Kaloprint Corporation, 1929 [ltd. ed. of 1000; artist proof set];
    The Kaloprint Corporation, 1929 [trade edition];
    National Illustrated News Service, 1929 [ltd. ed. of 1000; artist proof set]

    Unfortunately, however, I can’t answer your specific questions, for I am still unpacking boxes from my move to England, and I’m not quite sure when that job will finally be done.

    • November 10, 2015 9:22 am

      Thanks for your comment, Roger. The chase is hotting up. We look forward to hearing more when you are further on with the unpacking. Good luck. S&B

  5. Joe Howard permalink
    November 9, 2015 9:02 pm

    I came across a contemporary (1930) book review in “The Science of Mind Magazine” May 1930 pages 42-44. It states “Illustrations of twenty-four of his quatrains which she calls, Reveries from the Rubaiyat, have recently been published by Cecil Gwendolen Trew” .

  6. Bob Forrest permalink
    November 16, 2015 8:41 am

    Many thanks to all for their comments, and my apologies for the delay in this response – I’ve been away for a few days. Roger’s contribution is clearly a big step forward – I had no idea we were dealing with no less than three different editions! Once Roger has unpacked, we must compare Joe’s edition, Douglas’s edition and mine with Roger’s copies – I have photos of all the plates in my copy (Douglas’s is the same as mine, it seems) and can send them on to Roger, Joe and anyone else interested. Roger, is your email address the same now you are back in the UK ? Joe, your plate of verse 17 is the same as mine – the other version turned up in the UCLA copy and was sent to me by Douglas. I’ll have to send that via Sandra & Bill since I can’t attach it here. Another thing to note: Roger makes no mention of “The Danbys” as publisher – cited by WorldCat and by Jos Coumans in his bibliography (# 277.) Does anybody out there know anything about this?

    • Joe Howard permalink
      November 16, 2015 6:44 pm

      Thanks Bob. I would like to see all the photos of the plates in your copy. I will compare them with mine and let you know what I find. B&S have my email and I’m OK with them providing it to you. I’m intrigued to know if one of Roger’s copies is similar to that I found on the auction site ie no title or text on the portfolio cover.


  1. A valuable write-up on Cecil G Trew and her Rubaiyat illustrations | Omar Khayyam Rubaiyat

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