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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 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.


Adelaide Marquand Hanscom: Pictorialist Photographer

October 4, 2022

Photography has been very seldom used as a basis for illustrating the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Joe Howard has sent us the following article about the first, and most important, illustrator who worked in this medium.

The first Rubaiyat edition illustrated using photographs was published in 19051. This, “Oriental Edition”, featured Fitzgerald’s IVth version and 28 photographs by Adelaide Hanscom.  It was very enthusiastically received, with newspaper articles and reviews describing it in terms such as, “A sensation”. This was Adelaide’s major professional photographic success and resulted in her reputation spreading rapidly from Berkely CA throughout the USA and overseas, especially to the UK.

Until the late 19th/early 20th century, photography was directed at accurately recording reality. This changed with the development of Pictorialism: the leader in this field was Arthur Stieglitz, who was based in New York. His Photo-Secession movement was founded to promote photography as a medium as expressive as painting. Following the publication of her Rubaiyat, Adelaide was invited to become an associate member.

Aged just 19, Adelaide (1876-1932) listed herself as an artist in the Berkley directory. Her art education continued as she studied design at the University of California and then attended the Mary Hopkins Institute of Art in San Francisco.  She was regarded as having considerable promise.  Adelaide became a well-respected and very successful society photographer (portraits, mainly of children) who took exquisite care over every aspect of her photography. A quotation from a newspaper interview2 about her Rubaiyat makes this plain:

In making my composition I first become absorbed in the thought and feeling of the quatrain; I feel it as intensely as I can, that is all the woes and joys, then I plan the general tone schemes. I think of people I know and do not know to fill the part. After I had selected the models came the task of costuming them. I studied my tone values very closely to get certain effects that would otherwise have been impossible. I studied the lines and composition before I made a direct photograph, and in many instances worked my plate to ‘the limit of the law’. I get my effects by any hook or crook that I can devise. I searched up and down the whole creation to find the face, figure, and temperament to fill the part. In many cases it was difficult to find the right model.

Contrary to the established style of sharply focused photographs, she would sometimes adjust the camera lens to selectively defocus part of a scene, therefore emphasizing the area left in focus. This effect could be enhanced by draping fine netting over some subjects to further soften their outlines and/or using contrasting tones. Choices of studio and scene lighting were crucial. Once the photograph was taken, her “post processing” included retouching the glass negatives by drawing or painting (India ink, chalk, crayons, charcoal, paint etc.) on them and/or drawing (scratching) patterns/texture with a variety of tools such as pallet knife, needle, wooden stylus, or sharpened pencil.  Air brushing was used to create larger areas of continuous shading, and a range of chemical treatments employed to adjust tones. She also combined and blended multiple negatives to generate a single composite image. This work was very delicate and took considerable skill, vision, and imagination. Note that while working on negatives, light and dark are inverted when compared with the final print. The work on an individual photographic plate frequently took many hours and was not always successful.

Printing presented more options, with the many different black and white technologies producing different “looks”. Prints could then be further processed, e.g., to produce sepia tints. Adelaide used both paper(s) and tissue as substrates: the latter, in my view, adds to the ethereal atmosphere of some of her Rubaiyat photographs. Examples exist of the same scene printed using different technologies3: all in search of fulfilling her vision. Preparation of her Rubaiyat took two years.

Using digital technology, such as available in Photoshop, the effects she helped pioneer are now routinely used by both professionals and amateurs.

I have chosen examples of four of her more extensively post-processed Rubaiyat photographs to illustrate the various techniques and their effects: note that the images reproduced here do not fully reflect the qualities of those in the original publication. Fig.2. & Fig.3. were inspired by the first quatrain. The Shaft of Light” (Fig.2.) is represented by the woman: her diaphanous garment and the contrasting backgrounds were created on the negative. Note how gracefully the figure appears to emerge from the “Field of Night”. In Fig.3. we see a man (Sun) scattering the stars into flight from the “Field of Night”. The swirling darkness was created with a pallet knife and the sword is hand drawn. Note the almost invisible image of a woman (Night?) on the lower right.

Although Adelaide often photographed her male and female models nude, a radical thing to do in the early 1900’s, their modesty is generally preserved by modifying the negatives, as in Fig.2, & Fig.3.

For quatrain XLVI, (The Eternal Saki from that Bowl has pour’d, Millions of Bubbles like us, and will pour), the studio set-up involved the model holding an empty bowl while perching on the edge of a circular table placed on its side. (Fig.4.)   The effect of a sphere (Earth) was created by manipulation of the negative and the bubbles were painstakingly drawn on the negative by hand. The same applies to the background and the “S-shaped” dark swirl (wings?) along the model’s back and to the right of the sphere.

One of her photographs from this 1905 edition, ‘the angel of the darker drink” was also used as the frontispiece for a separate small edition (3 by 6 ins) of the Rubaiyat4.

An excellent example of combining several different images into a single photograph is found on the frontispiece of the metrical translation of the Rubaiyat by George Roe5 (Fig.5.). It interprets his quatrain 85 (“When in the market-place I stopped one day/To watch the potter pounding his fresh clay…”) and comprises at least four separate photographs. They include three photos of Adelaide’s family: two of her baby, and one of her husband (naked man: the potter thumping his clay) plus one of Omar. The background was created by etching the glass plate and the images were blended by hand. A more detailed explanation of the image is given on a tissue facing the frontispiece of the book.

Adelaide was married in 1907 and her baby was born in 1909. Fig.5. also has her married name, Leeson, etched to the lower left, and so this photograph is likely to have been created specifically for the 1910 edition of Roe’s publication (see Note 1).

A 1905 publisher’s advertisement lists four versions of Adelaide’s Rubaiyat for sale:

                      1.  Cloth edition at $3.50                         2.  Cloth photogravure at $6.00                          

                      3.  Leather photogravure at $10.00         4.  Leather Artists edition at $50.00

Item 1 seems to be quite rare, while 2 & 3 are readily available. I have never seen a copy of option 4 mentioned anywhere other than on the advertisement. Given its extremely high price, I suggest it probably contained signed artists prints. I have seen these for sale but unbound. Information about this edition would be welcomed – please reply in the comments section below this article.

Adelaide won a prestigious national design competition ($500 prize) in 1907. She also, in 1912 with Blanche Cumming, published a version of her Rubaiyat in which the photographs were colourized6. Her last major work, “Sonnets from The Portuguese” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, illustrated with 19 of her photographs, was published in 1916. Although very well received, this was not judged to be comparable with her Rubaiyat. A combination of personal circumstances and tragedies led to Adelaide doing little photographic work from ca. 1918 onwards and over the years her work disappeared from public awareness. This began to change ca. 1980. Since then, her work has featured regularly in books, reviews, auctions, and exhibitions. She is now recognized as a leading female innovator of the Pictorialist movement and her 1905 Rubaiyat is regarded to be one of the most important, early twentieth century, photopoetic books.

Note 1

Potter 366 lists the “Roe Edition”, published by A.C. McClurg & Co. in 1906, and refers to a frontispiece by Adelaide Hanscom. The three copies I have seen do not have a frontispiece. Potter 366 also lists the 1910 edition published by the Dodge Publishing Company. Fig.5. is taken from my copy of the 1910 edition. I conclude that Potter’s reference to a frontispiece in the 1906 edition, is an error.


1. The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, Illustrations by Adelaide Hanscom, Dodge Publishing Co., New York 1905

2. Oakland Tribune March 19, 1906

3. Pictorialism in California, Photographs 1900-1940, M. Wilson & D. Reed, The Paul J. Getty Museum 1994.

4. Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, Dodge Publishing Co., no date given, but often quotes as 1905-the date of the copyright on the photograph.

5. Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, George Roe, Dodge Publishing Co., New York, 1910

6. Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, Adelaide Hanscom and Blanche Cumming, Dodge Publishing Co., New York, 1912

Ella Hallward, Edward Heron–Allen & H.S. Nichols

August 30, 2022

Ella Hallward (1866-1948) is a little known female artist who was active for a short period between around 1890 to 1902. Bob Forrest has been researching her life and work, including her links with the polymath and Persian scholar Edward Heron-Allen, and with the publisher H S Nichols.

Rubaiyat enthusiasts will know Hallward’s work through her frontispieces and decorations for two of Heron-Allen’s seminal books, These are his classic study from 1898 The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, Being a Facsimile of the Manuscript in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, with a Transcript into modern Persian Characters, and the equally important title Edward FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam with their Original Persian Sources produced in 1899. H S Nichols was involved with both books, though the second was actually published by Bernard Quaritch, the publisher of Fitzgerald’s Rubaiyat editions. Our illustration shows Hallward’s frontispiece for the 1898 book.

Bob has established that, as well as being a professional collaborator of Heron-Allen, Hallward was a personal friend of the scholar and his wife from some time in the 1890’s and travelled with them on holidays on the continent. She also helped to design the intricate book plate produced by Heron-Allen around 1900 (also illustrated here), and Bob explores the puzzle of who actually produced the original Persian calligraphy for the book plate and the decorations of the earlier Heron-Allen book.

The full article detailing Bob Forrest’s research on this artist and her colleagues is available via This contains further information about her life before and after her marriage in 1902, and of the one other book that Hallward is known to have illustrated (The Raven by Samuel Taylor Coleridge), together with many images. He also gives his findings about the career of H S Nichols, who had a somewhat dubious reputation. Altogether this makes a valuable addition to our knowledge of the work on the Rubaiyat, and the publishing world, at the turn of the twentieth century. Our thanks to Bob for sharing his research with us.

The Rubaiyat of S.C. Vincent Jarvis

August 17, 2022

<< In 1911 the London based firm of H. R. Allenson Ltd published a pocket edition of The Rubaiyat illustrated by S.C. Vincent Jarvis. It used FitzGerald’s second edition and contained a frontispiece and 27 in–text illustrations in black and white. It is Potter #132. >>

The above is a quotation from the start of Bob Forrest’s latest investigation into little known artists who illustrated copies or verses from Edward FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. In selecting S C Vincent Jarvis, Bob has identified someone about whom most of us knew almost nothing. In his usual manner, Bob has managed to dig out much useful information. In particular, he has established the dates of the artist as 1883-1967 and the fact that, despite the misleading public name of Vincent Jarvis, this artist was actually a woman, whose full name was Sarah Constance Vincent Jarvis.

The full write up on Vincent Jarvis is on Bob’s web site, and is accessible via the following link . In it, Bob tells us much more about the artist’s childhood and family life, her eventual marriage to a Frenchman and move with him to France. There is a full set of the images that Vincent Jarvis created for the Rubaiyat, together with Bob’s helpful commentary on them. And Bob has added further information both on the artistic career and other artwork of the artist and the background of the publisher H R Allenson, who turns out to have been very much a specialist in religious and spiritual books.

Altogether Bob’s work reveals an interesting picture of an artist’s life in the early 20th century, as well as bringing to our attention an attractive but little known copy of the Rubaiyat. Our thanks to Bob for sharing his findings.

Finding the Holy Grail of Omaresque Oil Painting

August 2, 2022

Artist and poet Austin Torney has said several times that he has produced his final version of work on the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam – see for example our post However he has now turned to a new avenue of work on the subject, stimulated it seems by the availability of AI enhanced software which is becoming increasingly available. Here is some of Austin’s comment on his new venture.

I imagined that I could just think of some words and conjure up an original and matching oil painting out of nowhere. The illustrations would have swirls and flowing clothes, somewhat like those employed by Mahmoud Farshchian, but with a new and distinctive style without everything flowing into everything, yet still with good continuity.

I would thus magically illustrate both couplets of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat quatrains since the two couplets often describe a different scene.

The excellent oil paintings would have to freely flow to me in a few seconds, with no strings attached, as original, they never having belonged to anyone else, as never before existing.

Just a wish? Just a story?

No, I have the oil paintings, although I can’t paint at all! 

How is this possible? How did it happen?

To cut short a longer story, Austin has been exploring the AI art services to produce a new style of Rubaiyat illustrations which he is combining with some of FitzGerald’s verse and some of his own Rubaiyat inspired verses and text. The services he mentions are Night Cafe, Wombo Dreams and Topaz Labs, and the results are being produced as a book and videos. Currently they can be accessed through the links below. Our illustration shows the unusual nature of the art work, some of which is quite disturbing and disorienting. See what you think.

PDF -The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam Oil-Painted: With Commentary and Omarian Echoes: Intro and quatrains 1-41:

Video: Intro and Quatrains 1-20:

Video: Intro and Quatrains 21-41:

Genius awakens genius: Professor Edward Byles Cowell F.B.A. (1826-1903)

July 18, 2022

Edward Byles Cowell was the man who introduced Edward FitzGerald first to the idea of studying the Persian language and literature and then to the manuscript of the verses of Omar Khayyam which Cowell had found in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. In a sense he can be seen as the original begetter of what became Edward FitzGerald famous poem, The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

Cowell was born and brought up in Ipswich, Suffolk and, after some time studying in Oxford, he went on to work in India and then returned to the UK, eventually becoming Professor of Sanskrit in Cambridge. One of our regular contributors, Charles Mugleston, has recently published a short appreciation of Cowell in the Newsletter of the Ipswich Society, stressing both his links with the town of Ipswich and his wide ranging scholarhip. He quotes one comment on Cowell which states that he was ‘one of the greatest minds that East Anglia has produced’. This interesting article can be accessed via the following link

Another four booklets added to Bob Forrest’s Rubaiyat Artists series

July 12, 2022

Bob Forrest continues to publish additions to his excellent series of Rubaiyat Artists booklets. These pull together his research on particular artists who have illustrated the Rubaiyat and the editions of their work.  For more information on the first nineteen booklets in the series, follow the link at the end of this post.*

During the past year, Bob has produced another four booklets in this series, bringing the total available to twenty three.  The booklets have been distributed privately only, but copies have been given to the main legal deposit libraries and some other libraries in the UK and can be consulted through them.  The new booklets available are as follows.

No.20 Blanche McManus (1864/5-1935)

No.21 Marie Préaud Webb (1879-1964) 

No.22 Willy Pogany (1882-1955) and the Rubaiyat of 1942

No.23 Alan Tabor (1883-1957) and his illuminated Rubaiyat prints

All the booklets are very well produced, with many illustrations in colour as well as black and white.  They can be accessed via the following UK libraries:

  • the British Library,
  • the National Library of Scotland,
  • the National Library of Wales,
  • the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford,
  • the University Library, Cambridge,
  • the Library of Trinity College, Dublin,
  • the National Art Library, London,
  • the Library of the Royal Academy of Arts, London,
  • John Rylands Library, Manchester.

If you can’t get to see this material at one of these libraries, the content is also available on Bob Forrest’s website .

* For our posts on booklets 1-19, see and links from that post to earlier notes.

Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam projects from Lois Pawson with University of Brighton 

July 11, 2022

Some while back we posted a couple of items about the work of artist Lois Pawson on the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. The most recent of these can be found on Lois has now sent us a further update on her work. We wish her all the best with her various projects. We are sorry that we are not closer to Brighton, in Sussex, UK, and so able to attend some of the events.

Illustrator Lois Pawson has focused her MA Illustration degree project about the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and has created an illustrated book, a headscarf-hijab inspired by Persian silk tent panels, and framed original artwork. The illustrations set out to capture what remains of Omar Khayyam’s world in modern day Iran and surviving ancient Persian artefacts. Her project research included over 40 virtual guided tours of Iran and ‘method illustration’ experimenting with traditional Persian arts and crafts – including pottery, weaving, miniature painting and dance. The project is currently on display at the University of Brighton galleries at the MA Summer Show until 16th July.  

Lois A Pawson Twilight Garden Tomb of Poet Hafez – 2022

In addition Lois is running three Rubaiyat related projects this summer; a creative workshop, an instagram-based poetry project, and a university-based display case of illustrated Rubaiyat books. 

Read Write & Draw Rubaiyat Poems’ is a creative workshop taking place on Tuesday 12th July from 1pm to 4pm at University of Brighton, Grand Parade, Brighton – the event is free to attend, materials provided, and is suitable for adults with all levels of creative skill or experience. The workshop will include reading and illustrating selected quatrains – including the Book of Pots and verses with flora and fauna – and using a quatrain structure to create modern-day rubaiyat poems. 

@versebeneaththebough is a newly launched instagram-based project encouraging people to read and engage with poetry outdoors with friends and to share ‘poetry picnic pics’ on instagram. This project is inspired by 11th quatrain of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam ‘Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough, A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse – and Thou Beside me singing in the Wilderness -And Wilderness is Paradise enow. 

  • To follow and join-in on Instagram: @versebeneaththebough #versebeneaththebough  

Design Matters is a student-led exhibition involving MA and PhD students concerning aspects of design relating to diverse topics. As part of this project Lois Pawson is displaying a selection of 20th century illustrated Rubaiyat books from the University of Brighton collection with commentary on the responsibility of artists relating to cultural appropriation and orientalism. The ground-floor vitrine display cases will be at St Peter’s House Library at University of Brighton from 17th August to 14th October, with visitor access to the public 9am to 5pm weekdays.  

Lois Pawson contact details are as follows: Website; Instagram @loispawson 

First Artists of the Rubaiyat, A Complete Illustrated Guide

June 28, 2022

Danton O’Day has sent us the following details of his latest book on the artists who first illustrated Edward FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. He writes as follows.

The book is a complete catalog of early artists of Edward FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and it offers a cornucopia of visual delights and discoveries. Hundreds of pictures by over 200 artists: photographs, oil paintings, watercolours, etchings, woodcuts, line drawings, calligraphy provide unique insight into the poetry and add beauty to one of the world’s most popular collections of verse. Many new artists are revealed with dozens of women artists identified. New revelations and discoveries plus new dates established for many artists make this not only a visually impressive book but also a unique and valuable document of this early history.

The following are some points of interest for Rubaiyat enthusiasts.

-Evidence Tearle 1910 was either inspired by or copied Sangorski 1906

-Ambrose Potter was also an artist

-Proper name of “Ad Marcel” revealed

-T.R.R. Ryder is not a true rubaiyat artist

-Gilbert James first pictures colourized by not one but two different artists

-Insights into numerous questionable publication dates

-Detailed information on Rubaiyat calendars

-See how Cade’s classic photo of FitzGerald is mis-credited.

Details of the book and its availablility.

First Artists of the Rubaiyat, A Complete Illustrated Guide by Danton H. O’Day
Softcover, 8”x10”, 213pp, ISBN 979-8-21-032614-0

Available from Amazon

And from Barnes & Noble

Readers may be interested to know that Dan is also Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto in Canada, with a specialism in Cell and Developmental Biology. He recently published a guide to Alzheimer’s, details of which are as follows.

Alzheimer’s Explained, An Illustrated Guide by Danton H. O’Day, PhD

eBook: ISBN 9781005973100 (Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, AppleBooks);

Print: Softcover ISBN 9788210013699; Hardcover ISBN 9788210013705 (from AbeBooks & other online stores).

Alan Tabor, a 20th century illuminator

June 21, 2022

Alan Tabor, 1883-1957, was an artist and illuminator who was born in Bristol but lived most of his life in the Greater Manchester area. As well as studying oil and water colour painting, he trained as an illuminator and calligrapher, and, in 1908 at the age of 25, he set up his own studio, initially providing mainly illuminated addresses, certificates and Christmas cards, but later expanding into a flourishing business in illuminated poems and calendars.

Bob Forrest has been investigating Alan Tabor and his work, having become aware of two illuminations of verses from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam done by the artist. These are shown above and below. Sadly, Bob has only been able to track down one other distinctive image from the Rubaiyat produced by Tabor, though he probably created a number more, included those used for illuminated calendars which were popular in the early decades of the 20th century.

In a detailed article on his website (, Bob sets out his research on the subject, as well as giving much information about the varied work and life of the artist, and many images. Our thanks to Bob for again sharing his valuable research with us all. If any readers have more information on Alan Tabor and his Rubaiyat images, please comment below.