Skip to content

Lotus edition 1918 – an unknown artist and strange symbolism

April 26, 2018

We recently received a message from a fellow Rubaiyat enthusiast, Alan Birch, reminding us about a strange limited edition of the Rubaiyat, published by Lotus Library Publications in Singapore probably in 1918.  This version is no 174 in Potter’s Bibliography and it contains 17 full page illustrations in black and white plus other decorations.  Two illustrations are reproduced here, with thanks to Alan Birch.

There is no obvious indication of who was the artist who contributed to the volume.  As can be seen, the illustrations have a strong oriental theme, many seeming to be set in an opium den, and they contain much symbolism.  They have always represented something of a mystery to the researcher.  Now coincidentally Danton O’Day, in his new book on Rubaiyat Artists from 1914-1929 (see previous post), has looked at the Lotus edition, and made a suggestion about the identity of the unknown artist.  He presents evidence that Mera K. Sett, illustrator of another Rubaiyat edition published by Galloway and Porter in 1914, could be the Lotus artist. This conclusion is based on some hidden messages in the front matter of the book and on aspects of the illustrations that are common to both artists. He also explains the different artistic styles.

Danton’s analysis is persuasive and is certainly worth serious consideration.  We wonder whether any other readers have looked at the question of the identity of this unknown artist and/or analysed the meanings of the strange illustrations in the Lotus edition.  If you have, please share your findings and thoughts by commenting below.  And our thanks to Alan Birch for bringing our attention back to yet another unusual edition of the Rubaiyat.


Early Artists of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, 1914-1929

April 25, 2018

Last year, Danton O’Day published a series of books under the title of The Golden Age of Rubaiyat Illustration 1884-1913 – see  He also produced a volume on Artists of the Omar Khayyam Club of London 1892-1929 – see  Now Danton has moved on to cover more of the illustrators of the Rubaiyat  in the period during and after the first world war.  He has sent us the following information about his new book.

Edward FitzGerald’s Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám is arguably the most published book of poetry ever written. It is also one of the most illustrated. My new, intensely illustrated, book focuses on the era from 1914-1929 that followed the Golden Age of Rubáiyát Art, 1884-1913. It reveals the work of 16 illustrators who produced two or more pictures to illustrate the poems and 9 other artists who embellished the poetry with page decorations, title page adornments and unique frontispiece images.

In these pages, the identity of a previously anonymous artist is revealed. New decorators are discovered. Tables and graphic timelines put all the work into perspective as multiple images—many published here for the first time in 90-100 years—reveal the often-unparalleled talent of artists who took their pens, inks and paints to the task of illustrating FitzGerald’s Rubáiyát.

This book completes the five-book documentation of first artists of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam from 1884 to 1929.

The softcover trade version is available from online booksellers including

Early Artists of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, 1914-1929 by Danton H. O’Day, 141pp, Emeritus Books, ISBN 978-1-38-873374-2

Limited numbers of signed, hardcover photo-quality versions of the books in the series are available directly from the author. Inquire for pricing at

Danton has also produced a YouTube video which provides a useful introduction to material from the book.  Here the work of 16 artists who took their pens, inks and paints to illustrate the poems as translated by Edward FitzGerald is summarized.   This video can be accessed on .



Don’t forget Edward FitzGerald’s birthday!

March 31, 2018

Today, 31st March marks the 209th anniversary of Edward FitzGerald’s birth in 1809.  It is also the 159th anniversary of the publication in 1859 of the first edition of his famous version of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.  So this is the day to raise a glass and toast the memory of  a Victorian gentleman from Suffolk who gave great treasures to the world.  His legacy lives on with us today.

Come, fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring
The Winter Garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly—and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing.

Jos Biegstraaten 1944-2018

March 28, 2018

We have just received the very sad news of the death of our dear friend and colleague Jos Biegstraaten.   Jos was a prime mover in the foundation of the Netherlands Omar Khayyam Society and its President from 1990 to 2014.  He had a fine collection of copies of the Rubaiyat and related items and a deep love and scholarly knowledge of the poem in its many manifestations.  He shared his enthusiasm freely with others and his writings represent a major addition to the understanding of the Rubaiyat.  We have greatly valued our contacts and exchanges with Jos over the years and his passing will leave a big gap in the Rubaiyat community.  Our deep sympathy goes to his wife Petra and the family.  Rest in peace, Jos.

Life’s Echoes by ‘Tis True! : a Guide for the Perplexed

March 21, 2018

Life’s Echoes by ‘Tis True  is one of the great curiosities in Rubaiyat publication.  Some of the background and content of this strange work has been covered in earlier posts, most recently in   and


Bob Forrest has done a considerable amount of research and analysis on Life’s Echoes and the compiler of the book, now known to be Col. R J R Brown.  To date the full results of Bob’s work have been available only through his own website, see

Now Bob has produced a print version of his work, in the form of two booklets under the title of  Life’s Echoes by ‘Tis True! (Col. Robert J R Brown):  A Guide for the Perplexed.  Part 1, in the first booklet, includes the text of Bob’s analysis.  Part 2 contains notes and plates showing aspects of the book and other information.

The booklets have been produced for private distribution and library reference only.  However, Bob is anxious to find out more about other copies of Life’s Echoes that may be in private collections.  So, if anybody ‘out there’ has a copy of Life’s Echoes and would like a copy of the new booklets, then they can earn a free copy by sending Bob full details of their copy of “Life’s Echoes” – location of covers, missing / wandering plates, copy number, dedication by Col. Brown, ownership inscription / bookplate etc.  If you would like to get in touch with Bob about this offer, please contact us on and we’ll pass your details on.  And we send Bob our congratulations on providing a valuable new resource for the Rubaiyat community.

A mid-summer evening with the Rubaiyat

March 20, 2018

Charles Mugleston has sent us information about a special Rubaiyat event in London at the end of June 2018.  Charles will be doing a full recitation of the poem with a brief introduction.  Based on our attendance at a previous event like this, it will be an enlightening experience, and well worth going to.

“This first summer month” A Celebration of The Ruba’iya’t of Omar Khayya’m

Thursday, June 28, 2018 from 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM (BST)

St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconcilation and Peace

78 Bishopsgate
EC2N 4AG London
United Kingdom

For more information and tickets


Charles also adds the following information about a historical link between Edward FitzGerald and St Ethelburga’s. 

Edward FitzGerald attended the King Edward the Sixth School in Bury St Edmunds at the same time as John Medows Rodwell  1808 – 1900 likewise born in Suffolk who was Ordained in 1832, translated the Koran published in 1861, and who was the Rector of St Ethelburga’s from 1843 until he retired. There is mention of him once in the Terhune edition of FitzGerald’s letters. How well they knew each other, possibly corresponded with each other (correspondence destroyed ?)  is as yet unknown.

Some online sites relating to the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

February 26, 2018

Ken Vincent has recently highlighted to us a couple of websites relating to the Rubaiyat.

Picture by M Tajvidi

The first is Welcome to the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, produced by Sandor Szabo.  This shows texts from a range of English translations of the Rubaiyat, accompanied by a variety of illustrations, including a sequence of personal photos each linked to a verse of the poem.  There are also comments on the history and legends relating to Omar Khayyam.

The second site, from Shahriar Shahriari, is to be found on   It contains more of a spiritual interpretation of the Rubaiyat together some history about Khayyam.  There is also a series of illustrations, which we know from the work of an Iranian artist, Mohammad Tajvidi, published in a multi-lingual edition by Amir Kabir in 1959;  they may have been originally published in an earlier edition of 1953.

There are quite a number of other websites that deal with the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam in different ways.  If you find new ones, please let us know.  For those interested in a more analytical approach to the different translations of the poem, we recommend Jos Coumans’  on-going work on the concordances or correspondences between the many versions.  This is available on   Sadly, however, another useful website appears to have disappeared from the scene.  This is Richard Brodie’s work entitled The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam:  a complete on-line resource which, inter alia, provided a sortable comparison between the texts of FitzGerald’s different versions of the Rubaiyat.  This used to be available on but the link now takes one to a site offering this web domain for sale – at $895!  If any reader knows what has happened to Richard Brodie and his work on the Rubaiyat, please post a comment below.