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Auction of Rubaiyat collection 30th January 2019

January 19, 2019

Charles Mugleston has alerted us to the fact that a significant collection of copies of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and related Omariana is being auctioned in the UK on 30th January 2019.  The auction takes place at Dominic Winter Auctions which is located near Cirencester in Gloucestershire.  The items are presented in two lots, nos 550 and 551 of some 240 books each.  On the basis of the images provided, the collection includes a number of early editions of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat as well as editions by other translators and biographies and collections of letters of Edward FitzGerald.  One of the images is shown below.  The full information given in the auctioneers’ catalogue can be accessed on .

We have asked the auctioneers if they can provide any more information about the contents and source of the collection being offered on sale.  If this is forthcoming, we shall add it to this post.  Meanwhile if any readers have more information themselves, please post a comment below.



Orlando Greenwood and the Rubaiyat

January 19, 2019

Danton O”Day is investigating the illustrations that Orlando Greenwood did for FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.  He has sent us the following request addressed to blog readers.

I have come across some information revealing that Orlando Greenwood, a well-known British artist, has illustrated specific quatrains from FitzGerald’s first version of the Rubaiyat. Most likely these pictures were not published, since they were done around the start of WWI, but there may be several copies of them out there. If someone has some of these or if they have any other information about them, please let me know (email:

If you have information about Greenwood’s work, we should be glad if,  as well as sending it directly to Danton, you could post a summary as a comment below.

Garry Garrard 1941-2018

December 29, 2018

Just before Christmas we heard the sad news of the death of Garry Garrard, a long standing friend and research colleague.  We first met Garry in the early 2000’s when he was working on his book on the Rubaiyat, and we were busy with our research for The Art of Omar Khayyam.  His volume, A Book of Verse:  The Biography of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, published in 2007, provided a unique view of the history of the Rubaiyat, with much new information on the evolution of Rubaiyat translation, publication, and illustration.  Garry went on to do further research on the polymath Edward Heron-Allen who carried out extensive work on the Rubaiyat, and he also explored the history of Edward FitzGerald’s links with Bedford via his friendship with W K Browne and his family.  Over the years we have enjoyed many exchanges and meetings with Garry and we and others have benefited from his advice and sharp analysis.  We mourn his passing and we send Bernadette and his family our deep sympathy.  Rest in peace, Garry.

Garry’s work has been the basis of many contributions to this blog over the past decade.  One of the most recent can be found at

Updated Rubaiyat databases available online in new location

November 15, 2018

In the course of our research into various aspects of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and its interpretation, we (Bill Martin and Sandra Mason) have created a number of databases containing our key research material.  This has allowed us to search and analyse the material more easily and effectively.  The results of the analyses have been presented in various books and articles over the past 10 years, notably The Art of Omar Khayyam (I B Tauris, 2007), Edward FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (Anthem Press, 2011), and some contributions to Encyclopaedia Iranica.

Some of these databases were made available on line in 2012 via the University of Cambridge’s DSpace facility – see .  For various reasons, we have now moved the databases to the Zenodo storage facility.  This provides open and easy access storage of data for the long term, run under the auspices of the European Community’s open data policy.  For more information about Zenodo, see .

Our databases are to be found under a general ‘community’ heading of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám – an archive of data.  This is accessed via .  The introductory page gives access to the following sets of material.

  1. Data on published versions of the Rubáiyát (all languages and formats) and on their illustrations (where relevant) up to 2011.
  2. Data on reference works dealing with the Rubáiyát up to 2011.
  3. Data on musical works relating to the Rubáiyát.
  4. Data on manuscripts of the Rubáiyát.
  5. Updates to September 2018 of listings of published versions of the Rubáiyát (item 1) and reference works dealing with the Rubáiyát (item 2).

Each of these sets of material contains searchable databases in different formats plus explanatory README text files.  The databases are not intended to be comprehensive in their coverage, but to summarise the information available to us at a particular point of time.  We know that there are more editions of the Rubáiyát, more Rubáiyát illustrators, more musical works based on the Rubáiyát, and more manuscripts than we have listed.  But we hope that the information, such as it is, will be a useful resource for other researchers in this area.

One final point.  A special feature of Zenodo is the creation of ‘communities’ which bring together a number of different sets of data on a broad topic area or project.  These data can be uploaded from different sources.  So if anyone else wishes, it would be possible for their data sets to be archived under the general community heading of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám – an archive of data, that we have used.  If you are interested in exploring this possibility, please get in touch with us, either directly or via this blog.

Simon Gladdish’s Rubaiyat based on Robert Graves now in revised version

November 7, 2018

Late in 2017, Simon Gladdish published a rhyming version of the Rubaiyat based on the 1967 edition prepared by Robert Graves and Omar Ali-Shah.  For details of the original edition of Simon’s book see .  Simon tell us that he has now published a second version of his book with a few editorial changes and completely revised format.  This is now available via Amazon, in both paperback and kindle form.

Many readers will know that the Graves/Ali-Shah edition suffered both from being based on a forged version of the original Persian verses, purporting to be from a newly found manuscript, and from reactions to Graves’ highly critical comments on the famous version of the Rubaiyat by Edward FitzGerald.  Simon deals with these issues in his preface, and he clearly feels that, despite the criticism, Graves’ version is a valuable poem, lacking only in the quality of rhyme.  This he has provided, mainly through alterations to the final line of each four line stanza.  He has also added a few of his own rubaiyat to Graves’ verses.

Readers of Simon’s book will have their own views both about the Graves’ original and Simon’s additions.  We draw attention again to an interesting and thoughtful review of the book on, which discusses the implications for the meanings of the verses of the changes that Simon has made.  If other readers have views on this, please comment below.  The review also mentions a new more spiritual analysis of the Rubaiyat by Wes Jamroz, entitled A Journey with Omar Khayyam (Troubador Publications, 2018).  If anyone has seen this book, we should be glad to have some views on it.

The tale of two Romany versions of the Rubaiyat

November 3, 2018

Bob Forrest has been delving into yet another little known area of Rubaiyat studies.  This is the story of two published versions of verses from FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, translated into Romany, the language of the Roma people or gypsies.  The first of these, containing just one verse in English Romany, was published in 1899.  The second, with 22 verses in Welsh Romany, appeared in 1902.

FP to 1902 version by Augustus John

The full story of these two Romany translations is contained in a special article on Bob’s web site,  Something of the flavour of the study can be seen from Bob’s introduction to the larger 1902 version.  He says:

“Translations of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat into foreign languages do not normally arouse much enthusiasm in me: interest, yes, but enthusiasm, no. But the Romany Rubaiyat (Potter #507) is not like so many others – it involves key participants in the Rubaiyat story in a merry–go–round of such readable unorthodoxy and even scandal, that it merits special attention.“

The story is indeed a fascinating and absorbing one.  It involves significant figures such as Augustus John, Francis Hindes Groome and George Borrow, as well as John Sampson, the translator of the 1902 Romany edition.  There is a complex network of relationships, involving several Romany ladies and some unconventional life styles.  Bob has done his usual thorough research into the subject, and he presents it all in a very readable way, with many illustrations.  This is an article well worth looking at, and we are grateful to Bob for sharing the results of his research with us all.

Frank E. Unger* illustrates the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, 1906

November 2, 2018

Several years ago Danton O’Day posted information about an unusual one-off version of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, lettered and illustrated by Frank E Unger*, which is in his collection;  see  Danton has now produced a replica copy of this book.  He has sent us the following details of his new publication.

This beautiful one-of-a-kind poetry book presents 86 unpublished watercolors by a previously unknown artist, Frank E. Unger* reproduced in a 6×9 inch, softcover format by Danton H. O’Day. Unger privately published his unique and complete collection of colorful decorated and embellished verses of Edward FitzGerald’s Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. Of these artistic works, 82 are watercolours consisting of various styles of calligraphy coupled with elaborate page decorations. In addition to the decorated verses, there is an opening title page and a penultimate page that depicts the opening bars from the sheet music for “Moon of My Delight” composed by Liza Lehmann. As with various versions of the Rubáiyát, a simple page with the word “TAMAM” ends the book.

Two pages of calligraphed text are also present at the start, one covering introductory content by John Hay and another more profusely decorated one on the Persian poet Omar Khayyám, who wrote the original verses that FitzGerald translated. The book was completed in 1906, placing it within the Golden Age of Rubáiyát Art, 1884-1913, an era dominated by numerous established artists. Unlike those artists, Unger appears to have left no trace of his artistic life save this sole, bound collection of his watercolours.

This new, unique book, “Frank E. Unger* illustrates the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, 1906”, celebrates Unger’s artistic contribution beginning with an introduction to his work and ending with a discussion of how the artist depicted the verses and put his own emphasis on their presentation. It stands alone as lovely book of poetry and would be strong addition to any Rubáiyát collection.

Frank E. Unger* illustrates the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, 1906, by Danton H. O’Day, Emeritus Books. Full colour, 96pp, softcover, 6×9”, ISBN 978-0-46-471984-7, US$14.99 or less.

Available from:, and other online booksellers.

* Further information contained in the comments below on this post suggest that the artist’s name is actually Frank L Unger.