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More information on Rubaiyat artist Joyce Francis

October 31, 2018

In an earlier post, we mentioned an edition of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam decorated by Joyce Francis – see .   We asked whether any readers knew more about this artist.  Bob Forrest has provided some useful information.    Bob writes as follows.

 Trawling through COPAC, AbeBooks etc reveals the following list of books illustrated by Joyce Francis:

  • Baskerville in Letters – H.H. Bockwitz (tr H. Woodbine), cover by Joyce Francis (Birmingham School of Printing, 1933)
  • Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (Ebenezer Baylis, Worcester, 1934) [Coumans #76]
  • The Book of Ruth (Ebenezer Baylis, Worcester, 1934)
  • Shakespeare’s Venus & Adonis (Birmingham School of Printing, 1934) illus by E. Joyce Francis
  • Boccaccio’s Decameron (2 vols, Oxford, 1934-5) – vol.1 – wood engravings re-cut by E. Joyce Francis.

There is also a children’s book, authored by a Joyce Francis, first published in London in 1961, entitled Little Hoo tries to Help.  On the evidence of the dates given below, this could still be ‘our’ Joyce Francis, but we are rather doubtful about making this attribution.

The association with the Birmingham School of Printing suggested that tracking her via Birmingham might yield some results on Ancestry websites, and a search using E. Joyce Francis and Birmingham did indeed yield some results.

An Eleanor Joyce Francis appears in the Electoral Rolls for Birmingham in both 1930 and 1935. Links from these reveal that she was born in West Bromwich in the third quarter of 1904; that she was living with her family in Handsworth, Birmingham in the 1911 census. In the third quarter of 1938 she married Arthur Thomas Goodborn in Birmingham. The two of them are recorded as living in London (Putney) in the 1939 Electoral Roll (he had been born in London), but they clearly moved back to Birmingham at some stage, as her husband died there, in Handsworth, in 1952, aged 46, and. Eleanor J. Goodborn features on her own in the 1955 Electoral Roll for Handsworth, Birmingham. She died in Wales in 1985, aged 80.

Bob has attempted without success to seek information about Joyce Francis from the Birmingham School of Art.  We are making a further enquiry with the Library of the University of Birmingham who have a collection of the publications of the Birmingham School of Printing with which Joyce Francis co-operated in the 1930’s, and an archive of papers belonging to Leonard Jay, the head of the School between 1925 and 1953.  If any reader can add to what we know so far about the artist, please comment below.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Simon R.Gladdish permalink
    November 1, 2018 3:13 pm

    Dear Sandra & Bill

    Another valuable contribution to art from Wales! Incidentally, there is a fascinating review of my (and Robert Graves’) version of the ‘Rubaiyat of Omar Khayaam’ on

    Warm wishes from Simon R. Gladdish

    • November 2, 2018 10:05 am

      Thanks for your comment Simon. That is indeed and interesting and thoughtful review of your book on*. The author of the review has clearly devoted quite a bit of time to the analysis. We must try to get a sight of the new book by Wes Jamroz “A Journey with Omar Khayyam”, that the reviewer mentions. It may be of interest to other blog readers – see write up on

      * Our original post about Simon’s version of the Rubaiyat is on

      Final note to Simon. The e-mail address that you have listed with WordPress does not seem to be working. We have twice tried to e-mail you but messages were returned. Do you have a new contact address?

  2. Simon R.Gladdish permalink
    November 2, 2018 8:14 pm

    Dear Sandra & Bill

    As far as I am aware, my e-mail address is still!

    Warm wishes from Simon

  3. November 3, 2018 10:30 am

    Thanks, Simon. We’ll try again.

  4. sue permalink
    December 6, 2018 5:15 pm

    My husband was a close friend of Joyce for many years until her death,

    • December 8, 2018 3:02 pm

      Thanks, Sue, for telling us about your husband’s link to Joyce Francis. We wonder whether you have any photos or other memorabilia that you would be able to share with us? We’ll be in touch directly via e-mail.

  5. Christopher Riggio permalink
    January 10, 2019 12:22 am

    I have a beautiful painting by the artist – also found it tricky to find anything

    Contact me and I can send a photo / circa 1967


  1. Now available – a write up on E Joyce Francis, an illustrator of the Rubaiyat | Omar Khayyam Rubaiyat

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