Charles Mugleston alerted us to the fact that a first edition of Edward FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam was put on sale in London recently. This rare book (actually little more than a pamphlet) from 1859 has been on offer by the antiquarian bookseller Peter Harrington. The price is £45,000, and the copy contains a correction in FitzGerald’s own hand. More details and pictures can be found on http://www.peterharrington.co.uk/rub-iyat-of-omar-khayyam-the-astronomer-poet-of-persia.html and the volume has been on display at Harrington’s office. We do not know whether it has yet been sold.
For several years now, fellow researcher Garry Garrard has been investigating Edward FitzGerald’s links with the market town of Bedford, and the family of William Kenworthy Browne (pictured) whose friendship brought him to the area. Garry himself lived in Bedford for many years and he has managed to unearth much new information about FitzGerald’s links with the town and the history of the Browne family. An earlier post contained information about one of the Browne family’s homes, see https://omarkhayyamrubaiyat.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/house-where-fitzgerald-worked-on-the-rubaiyat-gets-a-new-lease-of-life/ . Garry has also located various unpublished letters by FitzGerald and other important material of his which was still in the possession of the Browne family; this has now been deposited in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge.
The full findings of Garry’s investigations are set out in his new book entitled Edward FitzGerald – the Bedford Connection, (Culfadda Publishing, January 2017, ISBN 978-0-9933009-1-2). The publisher’s description of the book is as follows.
Edward FitzGerald is best remembered as the translator of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, but he was also a brilliant correspondent whose letters provide a fascinating insight into Victorian life and mores. He visited Bedford and stayed there at least once every year between 1834 and 1859, and kept in touch with local developments for another fifteen years through letters exchanged with his old friends and acquaintances. This fascinating book tells the story of his relationship with the town, with William Kenworthy Browne, and with the Elliott family. The sources for many of the events after 1859 are previously unpublished letters.
The book is beautifully produced, with many colour and black and white illustrations. The cost is £12 including UK postage and packing (overseas postage cost on request). You can e-mail requests to us on firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will pass the enquiries on to Garry*. We found the book a really interesting read.
- Unfortunately the direct email address to the publishers (email@example.com) is no longer working. So please send or resend enquiries about the book to us as shown above.
A couple of years ago, we posted an item about Gilbert James (1865-1941) who was one of the earliest illustrators of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. This post was based on research by Bob Forrest, published in detail on his own website – for more information see https://omarkhayyamrubaiyat.wordpress.com/2015/05/12/gilbert-james-1865-1941-new-research-provides-important-insights-into-the-life-and-work-of-a-major-illustrator/ .
Bob Forrest has now published an addendum to this research, which tells us much more about what happened to the original artwork for various sets of James’ work on the Rubaiyat between 1896 and 1909. Thanks to some hard work and some key finds in the Heron-Allen collection at the London Library, Bob, helped by a member of the Library staff, has managed to establish that Heron-Allen bought many of the original James illustrations. Contacts with Heron-Allen’s family have established that the illustrations hung in the family home for many years. But alas they were all destroyed in a fire when in storage in 1982.
The full story of this fascinating piece of research is to be found via the following link: http://www.bobforrestweb.co.uk/The_Rubaiyat/N_and_Q/Gilbert_James/Addendum/Addendum.htm Bob concludes his article with the provocative comment, ‘… though we know that many of James’s originals were destroyed in a fire in 1982, a few of them may still be ‘out there’ somewhere, awaiting discovery.’ We hope, perhaps, that Bob, or someone else, will come up with some further finds.
I indirectly began a life-review in 2016 by writing about mortality, love, and drink. As I stepped back I realized my debt to the poems in the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. In the process, I realized I needed to complete one final title: Sipping From The Rubáiyát’s Chalice, My Journey with the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám.
My project began as a simple collection of my favorite quatrains that I recite when celebrating special, bright shiny moments or when facing into the shadows of difficult times. It was to be part memoir and part speculation about the relevance of Omar to our times. Eventually, my project bloomed into a more complete study of both Omar, FitzGerald and various controversies surrounding the poems and poets.
The book is now in print, and the print version can be obtained at Amazon on http://amzn.to/2iwTaQN. The cost of the print version is US$ 8.00, plus Amazon’s usual postage charges. Martin has also made a very generous special offer of a free digital version to readers of this blog. Again he writes.
I recall how FitzGerald not only left his name off his book, he gave away far more copies than he would initially see sold. I’d like to make my book available at no cost to the readers of this web site. For now, it is in a PDF format which can easily be read on most screens or dumped onto a Kindle or Nook type device without having to install new software or learn new tricks. Eventually, if the book proves to be of interest, I’ll put it in the format for Kindles (mobi) and other devices (epub).
To obtain a free copy of the PDF version, please e-mail your request to us, firstname.lastname@example.org and we will pass it on to Martin. For those wanting to know something more about the book, this is the write up on the Amazon.com site.
During the 1100s, Omar Khayyám contributed to the fields of astronomy, math, poetry, and philosophy. This Renaissance man questioned the orthodoxy and academics of his time. His poetry celebrates enjoying simple pleasures. Then 700+ years later in 1859 the bohemian English poet Edward FitzGerald made the defining translation of Khayyám’s Rubáiyát. The verse resonated deeply with the 19th and 20th Century artists, writers and everyday people looking for meaning and comfort. This symbolic East-West collaboration became the most widely read, translated and published poem in the modern literature. Now over 150 years later this magical work is being rediscovered by Millennial to Boomer generations. The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line…. Ah, make the most of what we may yet spend, Before we too into the Dust descend; ….
And here is our own pre-publication comment on Martin’s work.
The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám is a poem that has given comfort, strength and pleasure to a large number of people in the course of their lives. Martin Kimeldorf shares with his readers his own personal links to the Rubáiyát. He also provides a valuable introduction to this important work, its content and its history, making it accessible to Millennials and other newcomers.
This is a book with a distinctive and illuminating view of the Rubaiyat. It is well worth reading.
15th March 2017 Martin has provided up to date information on how his book can be obtained. See separate post https://omarkhayyamrubaiyat.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/sipping-from-the-rubaiyats-chalice-by-martin-kimeldorf-new-information/.
Earlier posts* on the Brangwyn memorial plaques to Edward FitzGerald raised the question of the location of the plaque that was once on the wall of Bredfield House where FitzGerald was born, and whether the plaque now hanging in SOAS might be this memorial. We asked whether anyone in the vicinity could possibly check out the SOAS version.
Two readers, F Diba and Garry Garrard, kindly responded with photos, for which many thanks. They show conclusively that the SOAS plaque is another version of the one in Cambridge, not the Bredfield one which apparently showed only FitzGerald’s birth date, not his life span. Garry has also provided some interesting comments and speculations on how the plaque might have found its way to SOAS. Joe Cribb, the grandson of the carver of these plaques, also comments that the SOAS version would have been a new carving, and has slight differences from the similar Cambridge version.
Garry Garrard writes.
As Bill and Sandra suggested, since I was vaguely in the area, I paid a visit to SOAS to investigate the Fitz plaque. The good news is that I found it easily; the bad is that it is not the Bredfield plaque. The photos show, from the way the dates are included, that clearly it is a twin of the one in Cambridge. So, we still do not have an answer to “What happened to the Bredfield plaque?
The first director of SOAS was Sir Edward Denison Ross, a linguist who made even Cowell’s multi tongued ability fade into the background. He read 40 languages and spoke most of them. He was appointed in 1916 when the School of Oriental Studies was inaugurated (the African part was added later), and remained until he retired in 1937/8.
Denison Ross was one of Edward Heron-Allen’s key advisors when he made his translation of the Bodleian manuscript and seems to have been as enthusiastic as EH-A himself who, in 1898, wrote by way of recognition of assistants “…and from Professor E. Denison Ross, who has taken a keen interest in my work, even to the point of going through the whole with me line by line and note by note, and without whose help I should even now have hesitated to give the results of my labours to the world.” At this time Denison Ross was Professor of Persian at University College, London.
His retirement from SOAS coincided more or less with the preparation of the FitzGerald plaques. It seems at least possible that he commissioned the additional plaque and had it installed in SOAS as a parting gesture.
Now we need some documentation! Just to reinforce the Denison Ross theory, I have just noticed (see August 2016 post) that he is among the named sponsors of the plaque in Ganz’s leaflet, along with Heron-Allen, Eben Francis Thomson and one Alfred McK Treherne (probably Terhune).
Note on the photos. One is easy enough, a simple picture of the SOAS plaque. The other shows its surroundings as anything but salubrious. The stained white porcelain is a disused drinking fountain!
* The earlier posts on this subject are to be found on:
Last year we posted two contributions relating to David Eugene Smith and the illustrator Rassam-i Arjangi, and the edition of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam that they created together in 1933. We have now received a further substantial contribution, concerning particularly the background of the artist Arjangi. This information has been provided by an Iranian researcher Amirsj Hakimi who has an ongoing project in this field.
We are very grateful to Amirsj for sharing his research findings with us all. His contribution can be found in a comment to the original posting on:
The second posting on this topic is on:
In August last year. we posted an item on the Brangwyn memorial plaques to Edward FitzGerald – see https://omarkhayyamrubaiyat.wordpress.com/2016/08/19/memorial-plaques-to-edward-fitzgerald/. This was based on research by the indefatigable Bob Forrest. He raised the question of what might have happened to the second plaque that was originally on the wall of Bredfield House, FitzGerald’s birthplace. The first plaque is still on the wall of the building in Kings Parade in Cambridge, where FitzGerald lived in his undergraduate years.
Quite by chance, we happened recently to meet the grandson of the sculptor and carver (Herbert) Joseph Cribb who created the memorial plaques from designs by the artist Frank Brangwyn. He provided us with more information about his grandfather – incidentally raising a query about his first names, shown as Alfred in the earlier post? Joesph Cribb’s life history is summarised in a recent book on Eric Gill and Ditchling, see https://pallantbookshop.com/product/eric-gill-and-ditchling-the-workshop-tradition-book/.
The younger Joe Cribb also says that there is a second Brangwyn plaque to Edward FitzGerald at SOAS in London. It is apparently located just off the staircase first floor landing in the main building as one goes towards the common room. He thinks that this may well be the missing plaque from Bredfield. It should be easy to tell if such is the case since the dates on the two plaques were different, the Bredfield one showing FitzGerald’s birth date of 31.III.1809 in place of the birth and death years on the Cambridge plaque. Otherwise the two plaques are very similar.
If anyone is going near SOAS in London, please take a few minutes to deviate to see if you can find the FitzGerald plaque and let us know what is on it. We repeat here Bob Forrest’s image of the Bredfield plaque. The Cambridge one is shown in the earlier post.