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The Doughty Rubaiyat

October 14, 2022

An edition of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat, published by the Mitre Press of London, with illustrations signed DOUGHTY, has long been something of a mystery. The exact publication date was unknown and the copy had been attributed to some time in the 1920’s. In addition, virtually nothing was known about the artist who contributed six distinctive illustrations for the poem.

Doughty: facing verses 44, 45 & 46

Recent research by Bob Forrest has helped to clarify the situation. Using information from the copy of the book in the British Library, he suggests that the publication date was more likely to be 1946, rather later than the earlier surmise. Also, after an extensive search of genealogical sources, and an investigation of the work of several artists with the surname Doughty, he concludes that the artist who illustrated this edition of the Rubaiyat was most probably Cecil Langley Doughty (1913–1985), who later became a well known illustrator for comics and magazines.

The full write up of Bob’s investigations can be found on his web site via the following link http://www.bobforrestweb.co.uk/The_Rubaiyat/N_and_Q/The_Doughty_Rubaiyat/The_Doughty_Rubaiyat.htm. As well as setting out the story of his research, Bob shows images of Doughty’s work on the Rubaiyat and other publications, and he provides an interesting interpretation of the six Rubaiyat illustrations. Doughty’s work for FitzGerald’s poem was rather dark and obscure in composition, a fact which, it is suggested, could reflect the creation of the work at a time immediately after the World War II.

This is yet another example of how modern research can add greatly to our understanding of the rich heritage of Rubaiyat illustration. Our thanks to Bob for his valuable work.

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