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Ronald Balfour and his Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

December 20, 2020

The edition of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, illustrated by Ronald Balfour, is well known and greatly loved by many Rubaiyat enthusiasts. One such is Bob Forrest, who has now produced an article on Balfour and his Rubaiyat. This summarises Bob’s recent research on an artist about whose background and career little was known until now.

Balfour’s illustrations for the Rubaiyat were published in book form by Constable in 1920. According to Bob’s investigations, the Rubaiyat was the first book to be illustrated by Balfour, who was better known as a designer, first for the fashion business and later in films. It appears that Balfour actually began to create his illustrations as early as 1913-14 when he was still in his teens, and there is something of a mystery about how he actually came to be given a contract for publication by a prestigious firm like Constable, when he still very young and with no reputation for book illustration.

In his article Bob discusses this question and tells us much about Balfour’s life as a member of higher British society; he was among other things a cousin of the British Prime Minister Arthur Balfour. Bob also provides many images of Balfour’s design work as well as a detailed interpretation of his illustrations for the Rubaiyat.

There is much more of interest in the article which can be found on the following link: As always, we are grateful to Bob for sharing his research with us all. In this case he has helped to fill what was a large gap in knowledge about an important Rubaiyat artist.

Seasonal Greetings

We take this opportunity to send all our readers and contributors seasonal greetings at the close of a difficult and stressful year for us all. The continuation of Rubaiyat research and the blog items submitted by many people have helped to create some sense of normality for many of us. We are grateful to everyone who has provided material to the blog through the year, and we look forward to continuing to publish the blog in what we hope will be more normal conditions in 2021.

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