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A Rubaiyat of the Trenches and the mystery of ‘de C’

October 28, 2019

RF clery1019 trenchesThe Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam has a significant place in the history of the First World War, both as a source of solace to members of the armed services and others affected by the fighting, and as a stimulus to many well directed, and often bitter, poems, commenting on the conduct of the war.  Bob Forrest has recently been investigating one of the latter, whose authorship has long been uncertain.  The results of Bob’s research have now been published on his website (see link at end).  Bob summarises his article as follows. 

A Rubaiyat of the Trenches was a biting anti–War parody of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat published in London in 1917. Its author was named only as “de C”, and two candidates have been proposed for his identity – William Edward Clery (or de Clery as he sometimes styled himself) and Alec de Candole – both names neatly abbreviating to “de C”, of course.  Though there is no direct and unequivocal proof, all the evidence points to de Clery as the poem’s author. The article shows that the publisher of the poem was Frank Fawcett, and suggests that he may have been the anonymous “Friend” who wrote the Foreword.

As well as investigating the merits of both the possible authors,  along the way Bob looks at the religious doubts which arose as a result of the horrors of the Great War, one manifestation of which was A Rubaiyat of the Trenches His article provides a enlightening analysis of the many issues involved together with a fascinating tale of yet another unusual individual who played a part in the history of the Rubaiyat.  We are grateful to Bob for sharing his work with us.

The full article can be accessed via the following link: .  The article will also be published shortly as one of Bob’s series of booklets on people connected with the Rubaiyat.  For more information on the limited circulation of these booklets, see

More Rubaiyat-Related Cartoons

October 28, 2019

Continuing the lighter theme of recent contributions, Joe Howard has sent us a couple more cartoons with some Rubaiyat content, together with helpful explanations of their history and context.  Thank you Joe for keeping us smiling.  We particularly enjoy the simple Peanuts version.


The cartoon shown below was published on July 25, 1957. At its peak, Peanuts was circulated in some 2,600 newspapers. Charles Schultz (1922-2000) wrote and illustrated Peanuts cartoons from Oct. 2, 1950 to Feb. 13, 2000. With 17,897 “Peanuts” cartoon strips published, I wonder if there are others which contain references to the Rubaiyat?

Some on-line copies of this cartoon contain very small print at the top left of the third panel. This text refers to “All rights reserved….”and is not an integral part of the cartoon text.

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Freaky Fables

J. Bernard Handelman (1922-2007), commonly known as “Bud”, was a cartoonist and illustrator who published extensively in The New Yorker, Playboy and Punch. The cartoon shown below (Punch, Feb. 28. 1979, issue # 7220, page 336) is one of his “Freaky Fables” series which ran for some 11 years and which usually included a moral that is stated in the final panel.

Handelman’s work was most often concerned with politics, history and human relations. He had a sharp eye for emerging trends. In the 1990’s he drew the Statue of Liberty answering a cellphone with her left hand, and with the usual torch held high in her right. The caption reads “Well it all depends. Where are these huddled masses coming from?”: a question recently discussed in the USA news media as a result of statements of made by senior government officials. In another cartoon, he depicted the Pilgrims as asylum seekers.

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The Rubaiyat of a Test Match

October 21, 2019

Keeping on the theme of cricket, Bob Forrest has sent us a Rubaiyat parody which relates to a Test Match in Johannesburg in 1928.  The poem is reproduced in full below.  Thanks, Bob,  for this contribution.


From: The Nottingham Journal, 19 March 1928 (p.4)

“A level Wicket, as the Ground allow/A driving Bat, a lively Ball, and thou”

October 7, 2019

At this time of international political turmoil, Joe Howard has sent us some welcome light relief in the form of comments on a cricket match with Rubaiyat links that was reported in the magazine Punch in July 1904.  Thank you, Joe, for sharing this unusual find.  The source of the title of our post is given in note 1 below.  The relevant page of Punch is shown at the end of the post.

Sensational Cricket”, published2 by “Punch” (see below) recounts the events of a cricket match held in 1904 on Parkers Piece in Cambridge. Members of the Omar Khayyam Club competed against D. L. A. Jephson’s XI. Four contributors, including both team captains, supplemented the score sheet by providing short reports on the event. The article is detailed and very well written, however, on close inspection, suspicions arise. Though easily skipped over, the date of the event is given as 31 June, a non-existent day! A slightly less obvious indication of problems is the enormous tally of 1226 runs scored during what is purported to be a one-day limited-overs match.

North Carolina State University resources enabled the unnamed authors of the article to be identified as Edward V. Lucas and Charles L. Larcom. Both were Punch staffers widely known as prolific authors and humorists. As expected of Punch, this spoof report is replete with topical references and allusions, making it difficult to fully appreciate from a 2019 perspective.  I’ve researched some references and their contexts and describe them below in the hope that other Rubaiyat enthusiasts derive the enjoyment from the article that I have. I will largely continue the pretense that the game did take place and treat the report as genuine. I have added a little information from later years.

The score sheet shows that the game was a rout. Jephson’s team clocked up a score of 793 in a single inning, without losing a wicket. The OK Club team scored 433 over two innings while losing 20 wickets. That this game was never to be fair would have been obvious to contemporary readers.  Mr. Jephson and his opening batsmen were famous professional cricketers. Digby Loder Armroid Jephson played for Surrey as an all-rounder and is remembered as one of the last lob (i.e. underarm) bowlers. Charles Burgess Fry represented Surrey and England, and later (1912) was England’s captain. His numerous achievements include playing for Southampton in an FA Cup final and equalling the world long-jump record. Pelham Francis Warner, known as “Plum”, played for Middlesex and captained England for tours in 1903/04 and 1905/06. In 1904 Plum was named “Wisden Cricketer of the Year” and in 1937 was knighted for his “services to cricket”.

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C. F. Fry                      D. L. A. Jephson                       P. F. Warner                            W. R. Nicholl

Another famous cricketer was third in the batting order. K. S. Ranjitsinhji3, an Indian prince, who played for Sussex and England and later became Maharaja of Nawanagar, did not have the opportunity to demonstrate his famous innovative strokes. His inclusion in the team, however, lends credence to the reported Rubaiyat-related incident (see below).

The OK Club team included the then President, Henry Newbolt, and four past presidents (Austin, Shorter, Birrell and Clodd); Clement K. Shorter was a founding member of the Club.  Given the strength and experience of the opposition, it seems to me that the results achieved by the OK Club representatives would have seemed rather creditable at the time.

Shorter and Warner’s accounts refer to an incident which, unlike the crushing defeat, conveys something of the convivial spirit in which the game was played. C.K. Shorter apparently owned a first Persian edition of a Rubaiyat and engaged K.S. Ranjitsinhji in a discussion concerning the decipherment of the author’s inscription within it. This had vexed him for some time and help had not been forthcoming from his OK Club colleagues. Their discussion ended only when the pair were separated by the umpires and the game restarted, by which time the translation was complete.

In his somewhat whimsical contribution, P. F. Warner states “The bowling analysis of the Omar Khayyamites is too tragic a document to reproduce…”. The subtly introduced “131 extras“, justify his assessment more than does the high runs total. Extras are a sure sign of untidy bowling! Warner chose Augustine Birrell’s total of 201 for special praise and added “…and he will now, no doubt, get his blue.” I do not fully understand the point of this facetious comment, however, blues cannot be awarded in such circumstances. For context, several players (e.g. Jephson, Fry, Ranjitsinhji) were Oxbridge blues. Rather remarkably, the famous Plum Warner himself had not earned one. Birrell had been an MP and would later become a Cabinet Minister and receive a knighthood.

A contribution was attributed to “Claudius Clear”, a nom de plume for the OK Club team captain, William Robert Nicholl. With help from Hodder and Stroughton, Nicholl had founded the “British Weekly”, a nonconformist newspaper to which he contributed a popular regular feature “Correspondence of Claudius Clear”. He was also the editor of the successful “The Expositor” for some 39 years. This explains the comparison, at the start of his account, with “C B Fry’s Magazine” (full title, C. B. Fry’s Magazine of Action and Outdoor Life), which was struggling and finally prove unsuccessful. With no factual basis for commenting adversely on the cricketing performance of the opposition, Nicholl continued with more personal comments, notably one directed at Plum Warner: “In the tea interval he created a sensation by drinking Tatcho and Apollinaris.” Tatcho was a brand of hair restorer and Apollinaris is an upmarket German mineral water. This is a rather more subtle reference to Plum’s hair loss, than that made by Jephson in his contribution- where he described Plum as “…the player with the most polished head.”.

Jephson nicely parodies a quotation from a novella (“The Voice of John Ball”) by William Morris. The correct quotation is “… fellowship is heaven, and lack of fellowship is hell: fellowship is life, and lack of fellowship is death…”. Jephson is self-critical for not being “direct” like “Tom Richardson”. Richardson and Jephson both played for Surrey, with Richardson also participating in 14 test matches. Jephson is likely referring to the fact that Richardson was noted for the full, straight (i.e. “direct”) length he always bowled.

The Punch article portrays a fictional event played and is reported by enthusiasts while maintaining a spirited sense of humour and a harmless “disrespect” for one another. Surely those who were falsely credited with contributions, would have been given the opportunity to approve them. I’m delighted to observe that the current website of the real OK Club of London, strongly reflects the same admirable attitudes and values.

The following may assist in further understanding some details of the Punch article.

Sir Max Pemberton (1863-1950):   Journalist and author (of more than 60 novels). Founder of the London School of Journalism

Benjamin’s portion: largest share. See Genesis 43:32

Quondam whilom: former, onetime


  1. The poems of Francis Thompson, A New Edition. Ed. Brigid M. Boardman, Continuum 2001. p.480
  2. Punch July 6th, 1904, Vol. 127, Issue# 3317 page 8
  3. S. Ranjitsinhji is named in Thompson’s poem, reference 1 above



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Victor Roland Anderson Illustrates the Rubaiyat

September 16, 2019

Danton O’Day has sent us information about a new facsimile edition of a version of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat illustrated and decorated by Victor Anderson, which was originally produced in 1934 – for more details of the original version see

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Victor Roland Anderson Illustrates the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
by Moira Anderson Allen and Danton H. O’Day, 2019.
ISBN 978-0-46-425914-5; 36 pages, colour
Available soon at online bookstores worldwide including Abe books, Barnes & Noble, etc. Details of prices etc to follow – now available see end of post

An earlier blog post to this site (see link above) introduced the work of Victor Roland Anderson, an American artist who illustrated and decorated pages of the first version of Edward FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat. Anderson’s original work was done on elephant-folio size sheets of parchment that now have been scanned to produce an 8”x10” softcover book for all to enjoy.

Moira Anderson Allen, the granddaughter of Victor collaborated with Danton O’Day in the production of this book to ensure it would meet the standards of the artist’s work. After a short introduction to the artist, Victor Anderson’s beautifully designed pages are presented in full.  This is a visually appealing book that is a pleasure to read and it will be a welcome addition to any Rubaiyat collection.


This book can now be purchased via the following outlets: – $ 23.98 – £ 20.43 – $ 26.59

A contemporary review of Cecil G Trew’s ‘Reveries of Omar Khayyam’

September 13, 2019

In the previous post, Joe Howard mentions a contemporary newspaper article about Cecil G Trew’s  illustrated version of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat which appeared in 1929 under the title of ‘Reveries of Omar Khayyam’.  He has provided a copy of this article which was published in the Los Angeles Times of May 5th 1929, and it is reproduced below.  It provides an interesting view of attitudes to the Rubaiyat at that time, as well as much information about the publication plans for the work, which Joe has commented on above.

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Cecil G.Trew’s “Reveries…”: the continuing story.

September 13, 2019

The version of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, illustrated by Cecil G Trew and published  in 1929, has been the subject of several earlier posts – see and previous.  Joe Howard has sent us some more comments on the different forms in which this work was published.  Our thanks to Joe for sharing this.

I recently came across both a previously unreported version of C. G. Trew’s “Reveries of Omar” and a contemporary (1929) newspaper article1 describing the plans for publication of the “Reveries…”. Taken in conjunction, these documents shine new light on the publishing history of Trew’s work. They also raise additional questions.

The newspaper article1 explains that there are 25 drawings by Trew in the series. This number has previously been the subject of some uncertainty2. As its conclusion the article also states: “The sets, which are published in three editions, under the title “Reveries of Omar,” two of them de luxe and a third popular, will be placed on the market through the regular book-selling channels. The de luxe sets will sell at $250 and $100, the popular edition at $35 and $25. Individual prints will also be placed on the market”. As a comparison point for these high prices, a Chevrolet Roadster cost $525 in 1929.

Bob Forrest’s comprehensive article2 about Trew and her “Reveries…” contains a great deal of information which underpins this report. Specifically, it describes two editions. One is in the form of a loose-leaf portfolio with paper boards (this has many variants) and the second is bound in book form with velvet over paper boards (ref. 2; Fig 46 and note 4b).

Leather Portfolio Edition

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Fig. 1.  “Reveries of Omar Khayyam” with decorated leather portfolio cover (Artist Proof # 366) 

While researching auction records, I located two copies of an additional version of the “Reveries…” (Artist Proofs #366 and #372) which have identical decorative, debossed and coloured- leather portfolio covers (Fig.1.) These are described as “arts and crafts style”. The covers are flexible (without paper boards) and have leather lacing around their edges. I suggest that these are examples of the expensive deluxe editions and that purchasers had the option of personalizing them, in matching font, on the lower front.

Velvet/Suede Bound Edition

With just one reported copy2 of this bound form (Roger Paas), it was unclear to me whether this is as-issued, or is a loose portfolio copy that has been rebound. I now own a bound copy (Fig.2. left) that is identical to Roger’s, except that mine has been personalized with a small debossed name on the front cover. I describe the board covering as suede, a description supported by details on other bound volumes issued by the same publisher- see below. I suggest that these two bound volumes are examples of the lower-cost deluxe edition.

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Fig. 2. Suede-covered, bound versions of Trew’s Kaloprint portfolios: left is “Reveries of Omar” (Artist Proof #424) and right is “The Franklin Letter”.

I located two other (non-Rubaiyat) bound books of Kaloprints by Trew. These are bound like Fig. 2. left and are copies of numbered limited editions of 1000. The first (Artist Proof #274), is published by Danby’s and has “The Franklin Letter” stamped on the cover (Fig. 2. right). The owner states that it is actually a copy of “Choosing a Woman” and claims that this later title was used on the cover of the trade edition. A second copy of “The Franklin Letter“ (Artist Proof #117) is bound in red suede and published by The Kaloprint Corporation. It is bound identically to those in Fig. 2.

A third bound book of Kaloprints, titled “The Romance of El Camino Real” (Limited edition #251S of 1000), is of interest.  This is not illustrated by Trew but is bound identically to the suede copies above. A second copy of this book (Copy # XLIV) differs only in having the title “The King’s Highway” on the front cover. This trend of having the cover title different from that on the title page was described by Bob Forrest2 and remains puzzling. I wonder if a translation of the title on the front cover (Fig. 2. left) of the bound “Reveries…”, would reveal the same phenomenon? [Our reading of the Persian script is that it says ‘Rubaiyat of Hakim Omar Khayyam’.  eds.]

From the accumulated evidence, it appears that the suede binding with debossed title and dedicated name on the front, are features of the publisher’s house style, as is the unusually high number, 1000, chosen for Artist Proof sets i.e. these were not choices made by the artist. It is well recognized3 that the term “artist’s proof” is often used (misused?) in several different contexts.

Paper Boards Edition(s)

The “Reveries…” portfolios with paper boards are relatively more common, though still rare. This, and the use of the simpler paper board cover indicate they are a trade edition. I have not identified what differentiates the proposed two variants of the trade editions, however it may be that the publishers never executed their full marketing plan. Copies2 of Trew’s portfolio with a different title, “Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam”, but containing the same prints as the “Reveries…” version, do indicate that the initial plans were modified.

Other Issues

Trew was a prolific author and illustrator2 and advertisements for her many books can be readily found in searches of old newspapers. I’m surprised, therefore, to have not found a newspaper advertisement for her “Reveries…”. Note that the 1929 newspaper article1 explains “…they will be placed on the market through the regular book selling channels.” It is possible that the stock market crash, which occurred just 5 months after the newspaper article was published, influenced the marketing plans.

An obvious question is: What differentiating features of the expensive deluxe editions would justify the proposed prices? The elaborate and customized leather portfolio covers, for example, are very nice, but they alone simply cannot explain such a huge price differential over the trade edition(s). I have not handled the decorated leather versions, but the trade and lower-price deluxe versions have Kaloprints of the same size and quality and are printed and mounted in the same way on the same quality paper.

I had anticipated that one distinguishing feature of the more expensive editions would be their having original signatures accompanying each print. This practice is customary in the art-print market. This expectation is confounded because the decorative leather (deluxe) portfolio #372 is reported as having “stamped signatures”. My bound copy of the “Reveries…” also has printed signatures and yet the loose-leaf portfolio copy (# 274) with paper boards, has original (pencil) signatures. My loose-leaf portfolio version of the “Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam” has paper boards and lacks any Artists Proof designation or number – yet it has original signatures. So, no obvious pattern here!

The Kaloprints that I have seen have another surprising feature. The “framing” of each tipped-in print consists of hand-drawn pencil-lines. Rectangular prints have three lines (top and two sides). Some of these lines are roughly drawn with variations in line thickness and line density. The circular illustrations are surrounded by a pencil circle. On those that I have handled, the point where the circle is closed is obvious. It seems hardly credible that someone took the time to draw all these lines rather than print them-especially as the quatrains themselves are printed on the same page below the tipped-in illustrations.

If anyone has seen different versions or has other additional information, I would be grateful to receive details.  [Please comment below, or send a message via us, on]


  1. Drawings Interpret Quatrains Of Rubaiyat”, Los Angeles Times, May 5th 1929 [see next post]