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Lotus Library Publications No. 1: Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

October 3, 2018

Joe Howard and Bob Forrest have sent an update about the results of their earlier request for information about one of the illustrations in the 1918 Lotus Library edition of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.  

This is an update following our recent “Request for Information” concerning variants in one of the illustrations in the above edition of the Rubaiyat:

Fourteen copies have now been examined and, of these, twelve contain images like Fig. 1 and one each like Fig. 2 and Fig.3.

Fig. 1                                                        Fig. 2                                                      Fig. 3

On careful examination of the twelve copies containing Fig. 1, seven clearly show signs of having been altered. An example, an image from Bob Forest’s copy, is shown in Fig. 4.

Fig. 4

This data supports our assertion that the Lotus Library edition was originally printed using Fig.2 and that many of the copies were subsequently altered by applying ink to cover the eye of the peacock feather in this specific illustration. We suggest that Fig.3 is the result of someone, who was aware of the original illustration, trying to restore an altered copy-albeit rather unskillfully.

We also maintain our original hypothesis that the alteration was made because, after printing, it was realized that the use of the peacock feather “eye” in this specific case was open to a possible embarrassing, for 1918, misinterpretation as representing the female reproductive system.

Two observations of the complete set of illustrations in the Lotus Library edition lend credence to this hypothesis. Firstly, there are several other illustrations which include nude figures. In every case the artist has used a device (bent knee, rotated hips, large peacock feather etc.) to cover the genital areas. This indicates a certain coyness and it seems highly unlikely that Stirling would have intentionally included an image which was more sexually graphic. Secondly, the peacock feather motif is used extensively throughout this edition with at least twenty examples of peacock feathers with “eyes” like that shown in Fig.2. However, there is no (other) example of an all-black “eye”.

So, in conclusion, we interpret the use of ink to disguise a potentially embarrassing image as a literal “cover-up”.

Finally, we wish to express our sincere thanks to all those who contributed comments and information about their own, or library copies, of the Lotus Edition No. 1.

Joe Howard and Bob Forrest


Updates to The Golden Age of Rubaiyat Art. I. The Illustrators

October 3, 2018

Danton O’Day has sent us the following update of information contained in his books on ‘The Golden Age of Rubaiyat Art, 1884-1913.  More details about these books are given in earlier posts, notably

In documenting the first artists of Edward FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, my first book “The Golden Age of Rubaiyat Art, 1884-1913, I. The Illustrators. Danton H. O’Day, Emeritus Press” summarized the known and putative publication dates for artists who produced pictures to illustrate the verses. A previously unknown artist was revealed in that book. Since then, information has come to light that alters the original publication date for this artist.

Unknown Illustrator Update

Illustration for quatrain 20 (5th Ed) by Unknown Artist.

It was previously indicated that this “Unknown Artist” illustrated a 1901 book published by Homewood Publishing. I have recently acquired a 1900 publication by W.B. Conkey Company that contains the same black and white pictures by the artist, thus pushing the original date back one year.

Here’s information about this book:

Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, and Salaman and Absal of Jami, Tr. by Edward FitzGerald, 1900. 5th & 1st with variations of 2nd to 4th Eds., “To E. FitzGerald” by Alfred Lord Tennyson, OK by E.F. and “Note by the Editor” W. Aldis Wright, etc.; frontis pic of EF, Illustrated by Unknown Artist; Decorated (holly) board cover ¼ bound with white linen with title and design in gold on front left side and spine (6¼” x 4¼”, 176pp); W.B. Conkey Co., Chicago; very good (bumped cover corners; darkened spine; dedication in ink in front endpapers), December 35, 1900; No Potter.

I hope that further examinations of their collections by others in the Omar Khayyam community will either verify 1900 as the original publication date for the artwork of the “Unknown Artist” or reveal an even earlier date. Knowing his or her name would also be a plus.

Golden Age Illustrator Update

Over the past year I’ve also gained a lot of new information about the less recognized artists of the Rubaiyat—those who decorated, embellished or otherwise visually improved the poetry collection. In the next year or so I will add information and images by a number of new frontispiece artists, page decorators and illuminators to a revised and updated “The Golden Age of Rubaiyat Art, 1884-1913, III. The Decorators. Danton H. O’Day, Emeritus Press”.

While I have made these discoveries on my own, those kind lovers of the Rubaiyat who previously have supplied important information and or pictures for my books were not only acknowledged in those books but also given a free signed copy. I hope others will fill in any artistic blanks I’ve missed. I also gratefully accept corrections to any errors I may have made.

Thank you.

Danton H. O’Day
Oakville, ON
24 Sept 2018

Fine edition of Rubaiyat decorated by Joyce Francis

September 12, 2018

We recently acquired a copy of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam published by Ebenezer Baylis and Son at the Trinity Press, Worcester in 1934.  This is a fine limited edition of 100 copies, with decorations by an artist called Joyce Francis.  Some images from the book are shown below.  There are a total of six small black and white engravings as decoration, all similar in form to the three shown.

The book is listed as number 76 in Jos Coumans Bibliography, and we know that there are copies in two major libraries.  But otherwise we know nothing about the book, its publisher or the artist.  We wonder whether any readers of this blog have more information.  If so, we should be glad to know – please add your comments below.

Rubaiyat lecture/recital in Woodbridge, September 18th 2018

August 6, 2018

Charles Mugleston has sent us the following notice about a lecture/recital on the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam that he is giving next month.  If you are anywhere near Woodbridge in mid September, this will be something well worth attending.  Details of location and time are shown at the end.

The Ruba’iya’t of Omar Khayya’m

Edward FitzGerald’s Suffolk Psalm

“A poem of genius awakening genius…
“Like a bridge over troubled water…


Question : What do Cambridge and Woodbridge share in common ?

Answer : In their names… an ancient word that defines a structure crossing a river, or whatever, enabling people to cross over from one side to the other more easily.

Answer : As written into their historical DNA, they are towns that have shared the company of Edward FitzGerald 1809 – 1883 the anglo-irish Genius, scholar, writer & poet, attending Trinity College, Cambridge and eventually settling in Woodbridge.

Answer : Professor Juan Mascaro who also studied, then taught in Cambridge wrote a superb introduction – a comprehensive vision of the Sublime Panorama of Spirit & Spirituality for his translation of ‘The Upanishads.’ Published by Penguin, which happily mentions Edward FitzGerald’s Mystical Masterpiece, the universally loved poem The Ruba’iya’t of Omar Khayya’m which has sold millions of copies around the world. The collective voices informing this noetic poetic such as Rumi, Shakespeare, Donne, Dryden, Attar, Hafiz et al provide a bridge of Light uniting all Spiritual Traditions and none… helping us to answer our own questions – awaken to our Innate & Universal Ideas, stand on our own two feet Spiritually and physically thus becoming truly Universal in our attitudes and actions…thus becoming fully & delightfully human… blossom like a rose, just one of the poems wisely woven mystical metaphor’s.

Come to Woodbridge and find out more.  A brief introductory lecture on the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, followed by a recital of the first edition of this enlightening and entertaining poem – with musical bookends – will be given at Woodbridge Library, Suffolk on Tuesday September 18th at 12.45 as organised by The Friends of Woodbridge Library. Free entry. “The moving finger writes and having writ moves on…

Press Release from the :

Lotus Library Publications No. 1: Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: Request for information

July 26, 2018

Joe Howard and Bob Forrest have sent us the following request for information relating to the Lotus Library edition of the Rubaiyat.  This request derives from their work on the illustrator of this edition, W G Stirling, which has been the subject of a number of earlier posts on this blog.

It has come to our attention that there are variants of one of the illustrations in the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam illustrated by W G Stirling and published, in a limited 1000 copies edition, by Lotus Library Publications (Potter 174).

The three variants that we are aware of are shown below. They contain different representation of the ‘eye” of the peacock feather that covers the woman’s abdomen. These images are otherwise identical.

Fig. 1                                                       Fig. 2                                                  Fig. 3

An informal survey of several Rubaiyat enthusiasts shows that, of eleven copies examined, one contains the Fig. 2 version, one contains Fig. 3 and nine have Fig. 1. Of these latter nine, four, when examined carefully, have clear signs of the “eye” of Fig. 2 showing through the black ink.

Our current hypothesis is that there was an “original” illustration which was then altered in different ways by adding ink. We also consider it likely that the ink has been applied more thickly in some instances. One plausible reason for these alterations is that the “eye” in illustrations like Fig. 2 or 3 could be interpreted, somewhat embarrassingly in a 1918 context, as representing parts of the female reproductive system and that this was not realized until after printing had started. This does not immediately explain why there are more than two variants. The limited-edition numbers of the 11 copies are interspersed with one another, so it appears that the modifications were not done in sequential batches.

We would really like to gather data on additional copies of this Rubaiyat and would appreciate it if owners of this edition would provide the following information;

(a) limited edition number

(b) whether the image is like Fig. 1 or Fig. 2, or Fig.3. If not, send us a photo of the illustration in your copy

(c) when examined at different angles or with different lights can you see evidence a concealed image? If so is it like one of those above?

We appreciate that this is a lot to ask, so, send what you can. The information can be sent to, or if you prefer not to share your email, please send it in a message to Sandra and Bill at this blog.

We offer our sincere thanks for your help and we will report the results of the survey, with our conclusions, in this blog. We are extremely grateful to those who have already shared information and photographs with us.

Another bumper edition of Omariana is now available

July 23, 2018

Jos Coumans of the Netherlands Omar Khayyam Society has just produced a bumper new issue of the newsletter Omariana.  This is an invaluable research resource providing 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 matters.  The latest edition contains a tribute to Jos Biegstraaten, founder president of the Netherlands Society, together with a special section on the new Iranian editions of the Rubaiyat which Jos Coumans located on a recent trip to Iran.  There are also reports on recent conferences and exhibitions with Khayyam and the Rubaiyat as their theme.

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.

The Ouseley brothers: their links to Persia and the Rubáiyát

July 16, 2018

Many readers of this blog will be aware of a manuscript of verses attributed to Khayyám which is in the Bodleian Library and is often referred to as ‘Ouseley 140’  (the library shelf mark). This is one of the two Khayyám manuscripts that Edward FitzGerald used as the basis of his famous version of the poem, published in 1859.

Some years ago, we became curious about the name Ouseley and the reason why it was attached to this copy of the Rubáiyát. This led us to William and Gore Ouseley, two brothers living in the late Georgian and early Victorian periods, both of whom were important collectors of Persian and Arabic manuscripts. Their collections largely ended up in the Bodleian Library, the so-called Ouseley 140 coming from the elder brother, William. The brothers were also notable writers and scholars, particularly William, and they separately travelled and worked in India in the period between 1787 and 1805. Subsequently they together undertook one of their most important journeys, an official visit to Persia between 1810 and 1815.

Sir William Ouseley 1767-1842                                        Sir Gore Ouseley Bart. 1770-1844

This journey has been the core focus of some research that we have recently completed.  The results of this work have now been published in a short book which tells the story of the two Ouseley brothers and how they came to be part of an important mission to Persia in the early nineteenth century.  Using four different reports of the journey east between 1810 and 1815, two by the Ouseleys and two by other members of the mission James Morier and William Price,  we describe where the travellers went, their experiences and what they found in Persia and the other countries they visited.  There is much to be learned about the way life was lived some 200 years ago, and the book contains verbatim quotations from the individual reports, giving the reader an idea of personal reactions and priorities on what was an extraordinary and eventful journey.

Full details of the book are shown below.*  It has been privately published and is for limited circulation to libraries and researchers.  If you are particularly keen to have a print copy, please contact us on , giving an indication of the nature of your interest in the subject.  A PDF version of the book can be accessed online via the link shown. **

One thing that disappointed us personally in studying the reports on this early mission to Persia is the lack of any mention of Omar Khayyám, his writings or his tomb.  Other major Persian poets are mentioned, notably Háfiz and Sa’di, but at that period, before FitzGerald brought him to worldwide fame, Khayyám was not important in Persian culture.  We also do not actually know whether William Ouseley acquired his copy of the Ouseley 140 manuscript of the Rubáiyát on this trip.  But thanks to research by Douglas Taylor, communicated to us by Bob Forrest, we do know that William Ouseley became well acquainted with the Rubáiyát and its contents and he discussed this work in a paper presented to the Royal Society of Literature in 1826.  It is possible that further research will lead to the discovery of more links between the Ouseley brothers and Khayyám and his Rubáiyát

* Martin, William H. and Mason, Sandra, The Ouseley brothers and their journey to Persia 1810-15: Insights into the world of the traveller in the early nineteenth century  (Dry Drayton, Cambridge: Leisure Consultants, 2018).  ISBN 978-1-873450-03-1.

** PDF version available on!AjchErtiuRImgqRh09rVJZq2mCOr5Q