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Some publications relating to the Omar Khayyam Club of London

March 30, 2021

Joe Howard has sent us interesting images and comments on some of the less well known publications of the Omar Khayyam Club of London which he has been investigating. Joe writes as follows.

The dinner menus of the Omar Khayyam Club of London (the Club) are well known for their illustrations: images can be readily found in books and on the internet. My purpose here is to provide examples of some of the Club’s rather less familiar documents/publications.

Membership Booklets
Below is an example of an annual booklet entitled “OMAR KHAYYAM CLUB” (10 by 12.8 cm.). It contains details of past presidents and, for the booklet period, lists of (a) club officials (b) the full membership, with addresses and years of election and (c) names of deceased members. I know of several such booklets published between 1899 and 1914-all having the same format. During the dinner at Pagani’s on 13 October 1892, at which the Club was formed1 , a decision was made to limit club membership to just fifty-nine: these booklets show that this number was routinely exceeded.

Dinner Invitation
This is an elaborate invitation to the 8th December 1895 dinner, complete with illustration. Although it is not easy to see, the words OMAR, KHAYYAM and CLUB are written in the left, top and right borders, respectively, of the illustration. On the inside, members are reminded to “…wear a red rose, the badge of the Club, while guests may wear roses of any other colour”. I enjoyed the explicit reminder, “Red wine is the wine of the Club…any member desiring to order white wine must first obtain the permission of the President.”

Ladies Night
The regular OKC dinners are well known to be men-only affairs. However, here is a large format menu (22.8 by 30.5 cm.) for a “Ladies Night” held in 1972. The cartoon, by DIZ, is appropriately multi-gender. The attendees list shows that ladies were very well represented. I am unaware of how often such events have been held. In an earlier post2 I presented a cartoon of an OK Club dinner which shows ladies present-I wonder if the cartoonist had heard of such an event, or the possibly of it? Perhaps he was simply prescient?

This menu for a Club dinner to be held at the Bull Hotel, Woodbridge on June 18th 1983 deviates significantly from the usual format in that it does not include any of; a Rubaiyat-related illustration (I acknowledge that this has occurred elsewhere); a poem; the usual quotation beginning “Oh, my friends, when I am sped, appoint a meeting…“ or a printed list of members and their guests. Instead, attendees simply signed the menu card. Many of the signatures are clearly of ladies (e.g Anne Briscoe, Helga Young, Sarah Curtis etc). The June timing is also unusual for a regular Club dinner.

Summer Outing
Here we have a trifold card that refers simply to the “OMAR KHAYYAM CLUB, SUMMER OUTING-WOODBRIDGE_JUNE 18th 1983”: I find it unappealing. It is printed on only one side and this event is for the same date and location (Woodbridge) as the dinner mentioned above.

Seating Plans
In his1 “Some notes on the history…” Bennet Maxwell notes “… a fascinating table plan for the dinner in March 1939, exists in the library of McMaster University in Canada.” I have come across references to several other table plans. One is for the November 23rd, 1905 dinner at Frascati’s restaurant3,4. This plan (image available on-line) is amongst a volume of papers containing draft biographical notes on Persian statesmen and notables compiled by George Percy Churchill. He was a guest at the dinner and was seated almost opposite the Club President.
Three other table plans, for 29 Nov. 1900, 24 Nov. 1938 and 16 Nov. 1949, are listed under the “Edward Fitzgerald Miscellany” section of the “Alfred Terhune Collection Relating to Edward Fitzgerald”, held at Syracuse University5.

Although not a publication of the Club, I include pictures of “A Keepsake for the Omar Khayyam Club”. It is one of 99 copies printed and generously presented to the Club by Het Nederlands Omar Khayyam Genootschap. The occasion being the centennial anniversary of the OKC of London in October 1992. The illustration is by Frans de Jong.



Our thanks to Joe for sharing his research and information with us all.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 30, 2021 12:29 pm

    Dear Joe, Fascinating – thank you for this – it all helps fill in the very large picture we have an interest in. There is one such Membership Booklet in the Woolnough Collection in the Suffolk Archives – now moved to ‘The Hold’ down by the Docks – where H.G.Wells is listed. There is to be an exhibition there in May I believe where E.F.G is featured – more anon.
    The Woodbridge material or Bridgewood as he sometimes called it ! is very interesting – a town we need to support and cherish. Cheers

  2. stefan slater permalink
    March 31, 2021 9:31 am

    Sandra and Bill, what an interesting and beautifully illustrated collection. I have the two Books of the Omar Khayyam Club and have printed this out to accompany them. I assume the Club itself has a full archive. I went to its dinner in November 2019 and met Roger who subsequently suggested I give The Fitz in 2021 (this month) if I became a member, a terribly rapid rise to “fame”. I’d have been prepared to do so but, of course, COVID has stymied everything snce 2019. RegardsStefan SlaterEdinburgh. 

  3. March 31, 2021 10:05 am

    Thanks for your comment, Stefan. What a pity that your moment of glory in the OKC has been delayed. We look forward to hearing more in due course. S&B

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