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Marie Preaud Webb: Leaning more about a British Illustrator of the Rubaiyat

January 12, 2022

An edition of Fitzgerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam with illustrations by Marie Preaud Webb was first published by James Hewetson and Son in London in 1907. Until recently, little else was known about this artist’s life and works. But now, research by Bob Forrest has uncovered much more information on a notable contributor to Rubaiyat art in the early twentieth century.

The full report on Bob’s research is published on his website, see http://www.bobforrestweb.co.uk/The_Rubaiyat/N_and_Q/Marie_Preaud_Webb/Marie_Preaud_Webb.htm. He tells us that the artist was born in London in 1879 and died in Chichester, Sussex, in 1964. Her main period of artistic production was in the first decade of the 1900’s, mainly doing illustrations for James Hewetson and Son, the publisher of her Rubaiyat edition. Cecil Charles Hewetson, the ‘son’ in the publishing firm, provided the Foreward to the Rubaiyat edition, and, in 1910, he and Marie Preaud Webb were married.

Bob’s article provides an interesting discussion of the dates of publication of the different formats and reissues of the Webb Rubaiyat. He also shows us a detailed set of images from these books and some of the other work done by Webb for the Hewetsons. The most notable item among the latter was an edition of Carinal Newman’s The Dream of Gerontius, in formats not very dissimilar from that of the Rubaiyat which appeared at roughly the same time. Bob also documents the wider operations of the Hewetson firm, and the decline of the firm after the death of the founder, James Hewetson, in 1913, and the advent of war in 1914.

Once again Bob’s research has helped to fill in a significant gap in our knowledge of the history of Rubaiyat illustration. We are grateful to him for sharing his findings with us all.

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