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More on Edward Taylor Jewett

November 15, 2021

Several years ago, Bob Forrest posted an item about a unique copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam which was hand illuminated and illustrated in the 1920’s by the US artist Edward Taylor Jewett – see

Very recently Beverly Sacks posted the following comment on the original blog item

‘I have an original painting on vellum by Edward Taylor Jewett illustrating the poem Bold Souls by Hafiz Shirazi.’

Beverly has since sent us some images of this painting, two of which we show below. She comments further ‘The painting is in its original frame.  Overall measurements with the frame is 8-1/4″ x 6-1/4″.  It is signed above the word cheek in the text.’

The style of the painting is certainly very similar to that of the Rubaiyat illustrations that Jewett created, and Bob’s article quotes a source that indicates that the artist had a special interest in Persian Art. Unfortunately Beverly has no more information about the provenance of the Hafiz painting. If any readers know more about this work or about the output and life of Jewett more generally, please comment below.

Edward J. I. Ardizzone and the Omar Khayyam Club

November 9, 2021

Joe Howard has sent us a fascinating article about the artist Edward Ardizzone who had important links with the Omar Khayyam Club of London. Our thanks to Joe for sharing his reasearch with us.

Fig.1. Edward Ardizzone ca 1978

The membership of the Omar Khayyam of London (the Club) has included several noted artists and illustrators. One of the most prolific was Edward Jeffrey Irving Ardizzone CBE RA (1900-1979), who illustrated at least six menus for the Club’s regular dinners. Ardizzone (Fig.1.) was installed as Club President in 1968.

Generally regarded as a quintessentially English artist, Ardizzone was born in Tonkin, now Haiphong, in what is currently Vietnam. His mother was English while his father was a naturalized Frenchman of Italian descent. Ardizzone moved to England in 1905 where he attended school in Ipswich before being transferred to a boarding school in Dorset where he received encouragement from his art teacher. On leaving school he spent six months at a commercial college (typing, shorthand etc.) in Bath. This was followed by routine office jobs, firstly in Warminster then London. He became a naturalized British citizen in 1922.

While working in London Ardizzone received his only formal art training. For 6 years he attended evening classes taught by the inspiring Bernard Meninsky at the Westminster School of Art. The undemanding nature of his office tasks fortunately allowed Ardizzone to spend considerable time drawing while at work. In 1926 his father gave him £500 intending it to help him establish a more secure financial footing. Much to his father’s chagrin, Edward instead resigned from his office job and embarked on a month-long European art tour, returning to start a financially risky new career as author and freelance artist/illustrator.

Ardizzone often signed his work “DIZ”, though “EA” is also well known.

For his artwork DIZ used oils, watercolours, pencil and pen, and was an accomplished printmaker (lithography). He is best known, though, for his drawings and watercolours. According to Gabriel White1,a fellow student at Westminster School of Art, lifelong friend and brother-in-law, “While he was awake, he was almost always drawing, whatever else he might be doing…”

DIZ illustrated at least 180 books, for 26 of which he was both author and illustrator. He also drew 38 book jackets2. A notable feature of these is his incorporation of both title and author’s name in his own handwriting. An indication of just how prolific he was is his production of 153 pen drawings for his first book commission, In a Glass Darkly by J Sheridan Le Fanu (1929). His best-known book-illustration work, the Tim series of children’s books, commenced in 1936 and continued until 1972, with him as author and illustrator. In 1956 he was awarded the inaugural Kate Greenaway Medal for Tim All Alone. His illustrations for Titus in Trouble written by James Reeves, earned him a commended runner-up citation for the same award in 1959.

It came as a surprise to him while serving as a 2nd Lieutenant in an anti-aircraft battery on Clapham Common in 1940, when Sir Kenneth Clark appointed him an official War Artist. In this new capacity DIZ was posted to France, North Africa, Sicily, and Italy to paint watercolours of wartime scenes. In 1941 he published an account3 of his experiences during the Battle of France and the subsequent retreat of the British Expeditionary Force through France and Belgium. DIZ was also posted to post-war Germany to record scenes there. Many of his ca 400 watercolour paintings resulting from his war service are held in the Imperial War Museum: an excellent selection may be viewed on-line.

Fig.2. Menu for the Overtons St. James’s location: front and rear covers

DIZ produced illustrations for publications such as the Radio Times, Punch, Parade, Strand Magazine and Vogue. He also worked with organizations such as Guinness, Moss Bros., Shell and the Arts Council, providing illustrations for marketing and advertising purposes: though he did not regard this commercial work as one of his strengths. To this corpus must be added ephemera such as prints, posters, bookplates, Christmas cards, postcards, posters, leaflets, catalogues, calendars, invitations, programmes, brochures etc. A characteristic of his work is his representation of people in small-scale dramas with rotund bodies and receding hairlines, mostly living in a rather comfortable world (Fig.2.).

DIZ was appointed a CBE in 1971 and in 1975 he was elected as a Senior member of the Royal Academy of Arts.

In advance of his work on the Club menus, DIZ illustrated (pen) menus for the Double Crown Club annual dinners (held at Ketner’s) whose rules required the menus to be designed by a member. He also illustrated (lithograph) menu covers for the two Overtons restaurants and the Hatchets restaurant in London in the mid 1950’s. The design (Fig.2.) for the St. James’s restaurant remained in use until the restaurant closed in the 1990’s. The print was folded along the vertical centre-line to form the front and rear covers.

His illustrations for the OK Club menus are shown in Figs.3-8. They cover the period 1961 to 1975 and are excellent examples of his use of lines and cross-hatching to add depth and drama to his work. These illustrations are rather literal interpretations of the relevant quatrains. A few comments:

  • Fig.4. This is very unusual as he has signed it both as “DIZ” and “Edward Ardizzone”.
  • Fig.5. (a) The angel figure at the top of the picture is not immediately recognized by everyone (b) experts consulted by Sandra and Bill advise that the text being written by the finger is not genuine Farsi or Arabic (c) the text is being written left to right, which is incorrect and (d) the arrangement of the tables when combined with the context of the menu, implies that this is whimsical representation of a formal OK Club dinner. If so, I’m extremely surprised to see two participants clearly exchanging blows!
Fig.3. Kettner’s 23 Mar. 1961 and Fig.4. Kettner’s 28 Nov. 1963
Fig.5. Kettner’s 30 Mar. 1965 and Fig.6. Kettner’s 4 Nov. 1966
Fig.7. Kettner’s 23 Nov. 1972 (Ladies night) and Fig.8. Kettner’s 20 Nov. 1975

Examples of DIZ’s work can readily be found on the internet (google images, or for books etc.). His life and his work are comprehensively described in several books: some examples1-6 are listed below.

I would be delighted to learn of any additional illustrations Ardizzone produced for the Omar Khayyam Club of London.


  1. Edward Ardizzone, Gabriel White, Schocken Books, 1980
  2. Edward Ardizzone A Bibliographic Commentary, Brian Alderson, Private Libraries Association 2003
  3. Baggage to the Enemy, Edward Ardizzone, John Murray 1941
  4. Edward Ardizzone’s World The Etchings and Lithographs, Nicholas Ardizzone, Unicorn Press and Wolseley Fine Arts, 2000
  5. The Young Ardizzone An Autobiographical Fragment, Edward Ardizzone, The MacMillan Company, 1970
  6. Edward Ardizzone Artist and Illustrator, Alan Powers, Lund Humphries, 2016

Additions to the booklets on Rubaiyat artists

October 29, 2021

Over the past few years, Bob Forrest has published an excellent series of booklets which pull together his research on particular artists who have illustrated the Rubaiyat and the editions of their work.  For more information on the first fourteen booklets in the series, follow the link at the end of this post.*

Over the past year, Bob has produced another five booklets in this series, bringing the total available to nineteen.  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.15 The Rubaiyat of “Anne Marie” 

No.16 Ronald Balfour (1896-1941)  

No.17 Ned Wethered (1890-1964)

No.18 Margaret R Caird (1896-1961)

No.19 Lawrence Andrew Patterson (1896-1964)

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.

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 1-14, see and links from that post to earlier notes.

Blanche McManus, an early illustrator of the Rubaiyat

October 27, 2021

The American born artist, Blanche McManus, was one of the earliest illustrators of Edward FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, and, as far as is known, she is the first woman to have done this.  The first set of her illustrations was published in the United States right at the end of the nineteenth century, and versions of this work continued to be published right up until the 1920’s, mainly by London-based publishers De La More Press.  A second set of illustrations by McManus first appeared in the early 1900’s under the imprint of L C Page of Boston, Mass.

Blanche McManus from Mansfield and Wessels edition 1899

This much about Blanche McManus is well known.  But, until recently, there was little other information about this artist’s life or works.  Now, thanks to in-depth research by Bob Forrest, we have learnt a good deal more about an important contributor to Rubaiyat history.  We know, in particular, that she was most probably born in 1865, and she died in 1935.  Both events took place in the deep South of the USA, and both her parents came from plantation owning families.  As a young adult she moved north to work as an artist, and in 1898 she married a New York based publisher, Francis Mansfield.  His firm, Mansfield and Wessels, published her first work on the Rubaiyat, in a series of editions, starting in 1898.

Bob Forrest has documented the various versions of the Rubaiyat illustrations produced by McManus, and, in his full article (see link below), he provides many images of this work. He also summarises much of her other work as an artist, including illustrations for FitzGerald’s translation of Salaman and Absal, as well as for children’s books and Rudyard Kipling’s poems.  Bob provides an interesting outline of the life of the artist and her husband from around 1900 when they spent much time in Europe, particularly in France, and North Africa.  Mansfield worked for some time as an American diplomat and together they produced a successful series of travel books.  It was not until the 1920’s that McManus returned to live in the United States.

Altogether Bob Forrest has provided us with another very informative picture of the way the Rubaiyat stimulated artistic work from the late nineteenth century.  Our thanks to him for sharing his research with us all.  The full article on Blanche McManus can be seen on .

Hear the story of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat in Woodbridge soon

September 24, 2021

If you can be anywhere near Woodbridge in Suffolk on November 7th 2021, it will be worth while visiting the Bull Inn on Market Square. The Bull was well known to Edward FitzGerald and it has also been the scene of meetings of the Omar Khayyam Club of London. From 2 pm on the afternoon of Sunday 7th November, Charles Mugleston will be retelling the story of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, accompanied by relevant music. Persian tea and other refreshments will be served. Having heard Charles’ interpretation of the Rubaiyat before, we know that this will be an illuminating occasion even for those who think that they know FitzGerald’s poem well. Full details of this and other events at the Bull are shown below and can also be found on

The new Khayyam Collection from Elmy Designs

September 10, 2021

Afsoon Elmy has sent us details of products that have been prepared by Elmy Designs under the heading of the ‘Khayyam Collection’. The collection comprises a variety of simple and well designed items, ranging from mugs to tote bags and from tea shirts to water bottles, each of which is decorated with an intricate design based on the name ‘Omar Khayyam’. An example of a cushion from the collection is shown on the right. More details can be found via the following three links. At present it appears that all products are being delivered from the USA, involving extra P&P costs for European buyers.

More about the pirate Rubaiyat of 1883

September 8, 2021

In the previous post we highlighted the pirated copy of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam that was produced by Harry Quilter in 1883 – see .  Thanks to valuable contributions from some blog readers, we are now able to present some images relating to this rare edition of the Rubaiyat, and its production.

The first two images below have been provided by Jos Coumans, to whom many thanks.  They show the basic characteristics of the volume, described by Harry Quilter as being  ‘… the plain, unannotated text of the poem, bound in brown cardboard, and printed on sugar-loaf paper, in big Old English type …’.  Jos also alerted us to the comments about the pirate edition in J H McCarthy’s Introduction to his version of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam published by David Nutt in 1889.  In this McCarthy recounts his version of the genesis of the Quilter edition at a dinner party at Quilter’s house, and he adds his own assessment of the volume as ‘… not an attractive book … [but] a literary curiosity … [and] indeed a very rare book …’  As mentioned in the earlier post, McCarthy, who was the first president of the Omar Khayyam Club in London, is one of the people identified as acquiring a copy of the pirate edition in 1883.

Our second set of images has been provided by The Diba Library of Persian Studies, to whom we are also very grateful.  On the left is the cover of a special presentation copy of the Quilter pirate edition of the Rubaiyat.  This copy was covered in old Italian silk brocade, and was originally given by Quilter to Rev. Stopford A Brooke, an Irish churchman and writer, who was for a time chaplain to Queen Victoria.  This fine copy was subsequently owned by Ambrose G Potter, the bibliographer of the Rubaiyat – see his entry no 138.  The image on the right shows a letter of 1921 to Potter from Eben F Thompson, an American enthusiast for the Rubaiyat and one of the founders of the American Omar Khayyam Club.  In the letter, Thompson discusses the publication and distribution of Quilter’s pirate, suggesting that the print run was probably no more than 50 copies, and that Quilter refused to sell the copies, but gave them to friends, some of whom may have helped to pay for the original printing.  He quotes a price of five guineas for a copy on the market in 1906.

Taken together with our earlier information, these new images and sources help to flesh out another fascinating story in the history of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat over the past 162 years.  Our thanks again to all contributors.  If readers have addition material on the subject , please add your comments or send them to us on and we can post them for you.

Harry Quilter and the pirate Rubaiyat of 1883

September 1, 2021
Portrait of Harry Quilter

A while back, Fred Diba sent us scans of some material relating to Harry Quilter and his interest in Edward FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.  Quilter was an English art critic, writer and educationalist, who was born in 1851 and died in 1907.  Among the documents, was an article entitled Omar Khayyam which appeared in What’s What, a kind of encyclopaedia, edited and substantially written by Quilter and published in 1902.

The full text of the article is shown as an image at the end of this post;  the image can be opened and enlarged to make it more readable.   It deals primarily with aspects of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, rather than with the original Persian verses and their supposed author.  We comment briefly below on three particularly interesting points raised in the article. 

The first of these is Quilter’s reference, early on, to his involvement in the publication of a pirated edition of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat.  To quote from the article ‘… we printed, quite unlawfully, the plain, unannotated text of the poem, bound in brown cardboard, and printed on sugar-loaf paper, in big Old English type …’.  This pirated edition has been identified as the one mentioned in Potter’s Bibliography as number 138.  We know of some copies of this edition which exist in the hands of collectors and libraries and we hope to be able to post images from the pirated version in due course.

The second point of interest are Quilter’s claims in the article of a possible link between his pirate edition and the Omar Khayyam Club of London which was founded in 1892.  Quilter writes ‘Possibly the club grew through this very edition.’  He states that several copies of the pirate were bought by a gentleman who was ‘… very prominent in the cult of Omar.’  This person has been identified as J H McCarthy who was a founder member and first President of the Omar Khayyam Club.  The thing we find strange, given Quilter’s comments, is that there is no sign that he himself had anything to do with the London Club.  In particular, he does not appear as a member or guest at any of the Club’s regular dinners.  Whether he chose not to be involved, or was not invited, we do not know.  But members would have known of him as a frank critic of some artists’ work, notably J M Whistler with whom he had a well-publicised feud.

The final point in Quilter’s article that stood out to us is his comment, towards the end, that Mr Gladstone [W E Gladstone, British Prime Minister] ‘… had been the first to make the poem [FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat] famous.’  Quilter goes on to suggest that the Prime Minister had discovered the book at Quaritch’s bookshop, taken a copy home, and ‘… talked it into almost instant popularity.’  He dates this event to 1878-9.  Such a date may well be when Gladstone discovered the Rubaiyat for himself, and he is known to have been a customer of Quaritch.  But the more generally accepted, and well attested, story is that the first edition of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat was ‘discovered’ in Quaritch’s penny box much earlier in 1861, by Whitley Stokes and Jack Ormsby, and was gradually taken up by other writers and artists, notably the poet A C Swinburne, D G Rossetti the pre-Raphaelite painter and poet, and John Ruskin the artist and art critic. 

In our view, Quilter’s story about Gladstone is simply incorrect.  But the fact that he repeated it in print as late as 1902 suggests that the story must have had quite wide currency and acceptance at the time.  It would be interesting to explore the media and other writings of the time to see whether this account of the discovery of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat appears in print elsewhere.

Beyond these three specific points, Quilter’s article is an interesting example of the turn of the century view of FitzGerald and his poem and the link between the verses and the concept of the ‘modern epicurean’.  It is worth reading in full.  We welcome any comments our readers may have on the article and the issues it raises.  Our thanks to Fred Diba for sending it to us, and for reminding us of the interesting pirate edition of the Rubaiyat of 1883 – incidentally the year of Edward FitzGerald’s death.

Article from What’s What (1902) on Omar Khayyam

Unusual Rubaiyat illustrations from Lawrence A. Patterson

August 18, 2021

Over the years, many different types of illustrations have been created by artists for FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Some have clear subject matter, which is easily related to particular verses in the poem. Others seem much more obscure and symbolic in content, and require careful interpretation. One version in the latter category is that illustrated by Lawrence A. Patterson, which was published privately in 1926 by Johnck, Kibbee and Co of San Francisco.

Patterson was an American artist who was born in California in 1896 and died there in 1964. We now know this thanks to recent work by Bob Forrest who has been exploring Patterson’s life and works. His full article (referenced below) tells us that after early military service overseas and other travels, Patterson was based in California as a teacher, though he also had considerable success in illustrating a number of books for different publishers.

Bob provides images of the artist’s illustrations for the Rubaiyat and other volumes, and he discusses in some detail the interpretation of Patterson’s difficult imagery. One Rubaiyat illustration, for Quatrain 49, is shown here.

The full write up of Bob’s research on Patterson can be found on the following link It shows yet again the varied life patterns of Rubaiyat artists as well as the great range of their work. Our thanks to Bob for sharing his research with us all.

Omar Khayyam Poems – New translation now available

July 29, 2021
Front cover

Several months ago, we posted an item about a new translation of the verse attributed to Omar Khayyam, which was being produced by Iranian American researcher Siamak Akhavan – see This book has now been published under the title Omar Khayyam Poems – A Modern Translation. It is available from publishers Resource Publications at a price for the paperback of US$8.00 or £6.00 plus P&P; all profits are being given by the translator to Persian cultural and educational programs. There is also a hardback edition. Full details are available on the publisher’s website

In our earlier post, we gave more information about and comment on Siamak Akhavan’s aims in producing this new translation, plus some examples of his English verses taken from an earlier draft of the book. Readers also added their comments on the translations so far available. We have not yet seen a copy of the final book, but we add below the publisher’s blurb from the back cover, which includes endorsements from other experts. We look forward to having a further discussion on the book when readers of this blog have been able to look at the new translations. Please put your comments on this post or, if you prefer, send us your comments and we can post them separately.

Comments on back cover of book