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Biegstraaten, Jos

Omar with a smile. Parodies in books on FitzGerald's Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. Jos Biegstraaten.
Persica 20 (2004), p. 1-37.

In the spring of 1859 Edward FitzGerald had 250 copies printed of his Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. Forty copies were for his own use, the remaining 210 were for sale in the bookshop of Bernard Quaritch, a London bookseller. No one was interested until 1861, when Whitley Stokes, a Celtic scholar, passed Quaritch's bookstall and bought the book. He must have appreciated the contents, because he came back later and bought some additional copies. One of them he gave to Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who introduced the quatrains to other members of the Pre-Raphaelite circle, like Swinburne. The latter passed his admiration on to William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones. It was the beginning of a period in which the Rubáiyát was to grow to an immense popularity in England.