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Rubaiyat II Illustrated from Austin Torney

January 26, 2018

Over the past few months, Austin Torney has been publishing parts of his successor to FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam on the website of the newly re-established Omar Khayyam Club of America.  The latest instalment of this mammoth work, Part 38 – Being Explained, is available via the following link, 

Austin has also made the whole of the book, entitled Rubaiyat II Illustrated:  An Omarian Universal Day available free on line via iTunes.  The link for this is  The iTunes page provides further details on the book, but our impression is that the book can only be downloaded if you have a suitable Mac or IOS device.  We have failed to download the book to our Microsoft PC.  If your experience is different, please comment below.


E H Whinfield – civil servant, lawyer and translator of the Rubaiyat

January 22, 2018

Edward Whinfield (1835–1922) was one of the earliest British scholars to follow Edward FitzGerald in producing an English version of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.  In his two editions published in 1882 and 1883,  he presented a fairly literal verse translation of first 253 quatrains, then extended to some 500 quatrains, attributed to Khayyam and taken from a much wider range of manuscript sources than FitzGerald’s.  Whinfield’s verse does not have the quality of FitzGerald’s but his books remain a valuable research resource, especially since the second edition contains the Persian text and detailed notes on the sources of each quatrain.

Bob Forrest has been investigating the life and letters of Edward Whinfield and he has published the results on his website – see  The article documents Whinfield’s life first as an Indian civil servant and lawyer, and later as an oriental scholar and translator.  Bob also provides details of an interesting correspondence between Whinfield and Edward Heron-Allen on various topics relating to the Rubaiyat.  Of particular note is the critical attitude of both men to the so-called Omar cult which emerged during the 1890’s and to the London-based Omar Khayyam Club.  Bob’s whole article is well worth reading.

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and a Science Fantasy Magazine

December 22, 2017

Joe Howard recently sent us the following information about another largely unknown illustrator of a number of quatrains from FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat.  Our thanks to Joe for sharing his findings.

In 1947, Donald Bryne Day (1919-1978) started the quarterly magazine Fanscient under the auspices of the Portland Science Fantasy Society, Portland Oregon. He continued as its editor until it was discontinued in 1951. In the introduction to the first issue he wrote, “Does the RUBAIYAT illustration fit the zine? Frankly that went in because we didn’t have anything else ready. There’s more if you want them but let us know about that…”.

His Rubaiyat illustrations proved popular and were featured in each of the first six issues of this respected, idiosyncratic publication. Every issue of the magazine featured drawings of naked women, as do five of the six Rubaiyat illustrations. Objectification of women, including drawings of scantily clad or naked women, were a common feature of pulp and other publications of the period,

Day’s drawings illustrate eight quatrains, all quoted in full. With one apparent exception, these are contained within the frames of the drawings. The apparent exception is the illustration of quatrain 29, published in the first issue, where the quatrain is contained in a separate large box. As the accompanying picture (on left) shows, space had in fact been left to insert the quatrain within the frame of the drawing. Day has included the initial letter “I” of the first word, “Into”, formed in his characteristic style by an unshaded area within an enlarged and shaded rectangle. The other seven quatrains all have this feature. This suggests to me that, in this first example, he was simply using-up blank space in his new magazine. Except for the initial letters, the quatrains are typed. This may simply have been expedient for the magazine publication-one hopes he had more elegant plans for the completed artwork.

Day’s illustration for quatrain 29 shows a nude woman “reclining” in a river with a rock close by. The nicely drawn flow-lines of the water clearly relate to “…willy nilly flowing”. Closer observation reveals that Day has included multiple other nude figures on the body of the woman.

His illustration for quatrain 38 is shown below. Full texts of the magazines and each of Day’s six illustrations can be found at:

A 2014 PhD thesis states that Day had produced these drawings for a book publication. I’m attempting to obtain additional information from the author of the thesis.


Some lesser known elements in the life of Edward Heron-Allen

December 22, 2017

In the world of Rubaiyat studies, Edward Heron-Allen is best known for the work he published at the end of the 1890’s identifying the specific Persian quatrains that Edward FitzGerald used in creating his Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.  He also published his own more literal translation of verses from both the Bodleian and the Calcutta manuscripts used by FitzGerald.  This work still represents an invaluable research resource over 100 years later.

But Heron-Allen’s work on the Rubaiyat is only one element in a life that had many dimensions.  He was a polymath whose interests and expertise included violin making, palmistry, psychic research, protozoa, and more.  He was also an author of fiction which, as the Heron-Allen Society puts it, ‘dealt with various sexual taboos’ of the time, including homosexuality.  Bob Forrest has recently been following up  this aspect of Heron-Allen’s legacy, drawing attention to inconsistencies between the author’s writings and his public views as expressed particularly in the context of the version of the Rubaiyat published by Frederick Baron Corvo in 1924.

Bob has now published the results of his research in this field on his own website.  The material can be accessed via the following link:  There is more general information about Heron-Allen on:

New issue of Omariana

December 22, 2017

Just in time for Christmas, we have received a bumper new issue of the newsletter Omariana.  This invaluable product is produced by Jos Coumans of the Netherlands Omar Khayyam Society, and it contains of cornucopia of information on new material relating to the Rubaiyat, Omar Khayyam, Edward FitzGerald and related topics.  There are sections on recently produced editions of the Rubaiyat, on books and articles on relevant topics, and on new audio versions, web sites and other miscellaneous matter.  One interesting item in the new edition points us to a website and YouTube video about the performance of Khayyam’s verses in Arabic by the famous singer Oum Kalthoum.  This is something well worth listening to.

The newsletter is available free from Jos Coumans and you can subscribe to it via the following link  Our thanks to Jos for continuing to share his extensive finds with others through the newsletter.

Article on FitzGerald and the Rubaiyat in Dhaka newspaper

December 14, 2017

We are frequently reminded about how international the interest in the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and Edward FitzGerald has become.  Jos Coumans has alerted us to another manifestation of this in the form of an article on the subject, by a fellow researcher John Drew, in the Dhaka Daily Star.  The Daily Star is described in Wikipedia as the largest circulating daily English-language newspaper in Bangladesh and the article is on the paper’s literature page.  It can be accessed via the following link

The article provides an excellent introduction to the story of FitzGerald and the Rubaiyat with a certain emphasis on the South Asian connections.  Judging by the length and content of this piece, the readers of the Daily Star must be quite a sophisticated bunch, with more serious interests than is apparent among the readers of some British newspapers.  We congratulate John Drew on his success in spreading the word about the Rubaiyat in this way.

New index for Potter’s Bibliography now available online

November 30, 2017

A little over a year ago, we reported that Douglas Taylor and Bob Forrest had co-operated to put together a new index for the well know Bibliography of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam ‘together with Kindred Mattter …’  by Ambrose George Potter – see  As we commented then, Potter’s Bibliography is a wonderful resource but it is marred by a very idiosyncratic index.  There have also been relatively few details about Potter’s own life history.  These are gaps that Douglas Taylor and Bob Forrest have filled with a splendid new and comprehensive Index for the Bibliography which Bob had printed for limited circulation in 2016.  The new Index contains, at the back, a ‘Provisional Biography’ of Potter, giving much new information.

The great news now is that Bob has put the new Potter index, plus his Biography, on line on his own website.  It can be accessed via  The index includes listings of the Potter entries by the following categories:  artists;  publishers;  translators, editors, commentators, parodists etc.;  authors in periodical literature; and anonymous articles.  It also identifies some errors that had crept into Potter’s work.  The booklet can be viewed online or downloaded.  If you do the latter, it is then easy to search the whole volume for particular names.

Many thanks from all of us to Douglas and Bob for doing this.  For those who don’t know Potter’s work, it only covers Rubaiyat-related material (or most of it) published up to 1929.  For the years 1930 to 2009, Jos Coumans’ Updated Bibliography provides an invaluable complement;  he also includes some earlier items that Potter left out.  See J Coumans, The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám: An Updated Bibliography (Iranian Studies Series). Leiden, Leiden University Press, 2010.