Gilbert James (1865–1941)

Prefatory Note: As in other parts of this site, further information about the illustrations is given in the Gallery Notes below. In the text, where references to illustrations are given in this format: Gallery, Fig.1. Clicking on Gallery takes the reader to the Gallery Note on the illustration, from where the illustration can then be accessed. Clicking on the Fig.1 takes the reader directly to the illustration itself, by–passing the Gallery Notes. As in other sections of this archive, the illustrations can be browsed here.Since there appears to be no monograph on the artist and illustrator Gilbert James, I have included more illustrations of his work than I might otherwise have done.

The Rubaiyat Illustrations

James’s Rubaiyat illustrations will be, of course, the main point of interest for most people reading this, and the basic facts are straightforward enough, even if keeping a precise track of the numerous reprints and spin–off editions can be a tricky business.

To begin at the beginning, many of James’s illustrations — in black and white at this stage — first appeared, at irregular intervals over a period of some two years, starting in 1896, in The Sketch newspaper (1a). Thereafter they appeared, in book form, notably in Fourteen Drawings illustrating Edward FitzGerald’s Translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam by Gilbert James (Leonard Smithers & Co., London, 1898: Potter #391) — Gallery Figs.2, 3 & 4 are three examples as they appeared in The Sketch; Gallery Figs.22, 23a, 24 & 25a are examples of the book versions (1a). Six of the drawings from The Sketch, all of which appear in Smithers, were also used in volume 2 of Nathan Haskell Dole’s multi–variorum edition, Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (Macmillan & Co., London and L.C. Page & Co., Boston, 1898: Potter #576.) (1b) One drawing (which is here Fig.3) also became the frontispiece of The Book of Omar and Rubaiyat (The Bankside Press / M.F. Mansfield, New York & London, 1900: Potter #610.) James came quite quickly to the attention of Rubaiyat enthusiasts, then.

The Smithers edition was basically a portfolio of fourteen drawings with captions from the fourth edition of The Rubaiyat. Over in America, the same fourteen drawings also appeared, in the same order (actually that of the verses in FitzGerald’s fourth edition), in Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, published by Grosset / Grosset & Dunlap of New York in 1899, 1900 and again in 1901 (Potter #242.) (1c) This volume, unlike Smithers, gave the full text of the fourth edition of The Rubaiyat, with FitzGerald’s Introduction and Notes; contained a biographical preface on Omar and FitzGerald by M.K. (ie Michael Kerney); a tribute “To Omar Khayyam”, written in FitzGerald–style quatrains, by Andrew Lang (actually no.21 of Lang’s Letters to Dead Authors (1886)); and (in the 1900 and 1901 editions) a terminal essay, “New Light on Omar Khayyam” by Edward S. Holden (this last owing much to Heron–Allen’s recently published books.) (1d) It was a very nicely produced volume, and being so much more elaborate than the Smithers edition, presumably it took its illustrations directly from The Sketch rather than from Smithers. [Interestingly, in 2006, a print–on–demand version of this was issued by Standard Editions, New York (Coumans #140.)] A very similar volume to the Grossett & Dunlap edition (without the Holden essay) was published by the New Amsterdam Company of New York in 1901 (Potter #250); and yet another (this time with the Holden essay) by Barse & Hopkins of New York in 1917 (not in Potter) (1e). Each of these used the same fourteen drawings. In addition, a very similar volume, but with only twelve of the illustrations and without the Holden essay, was published by R. F. Fenno and Company of New York in 1908 (Potter #263.) In one version the illustrations were in black and white; in another, they were colour–tinted. An example from the latter is shown in Fig.26a. (1f)

In a different format, twelve drawings were used in the photogravure edition of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (George Routledge & Sons Ltd., London, and E.P. Dutton & Co., New York 1904)(Potter #23.) The drawings were here related to FitzGerald’s first edition, and, unlike the American editions just mentioned, prefaced simply with FitzGerald’s own introduction. (Ten of the drawings had previously appeared in Smithers, but were here recycled from the fourth edition to their equivalent verses in the first (1a).) The photogravure edition gives us some measure of James’s commercial success at this time, for it ran to several editions involving at least 18,000 copies by 1912 (1g). Routledge also issued a deluxe edition of this (in 1908 ?), in a fine binding, and in which the twelve drawings were hand–coloured. (1h) An example is shown in Fig.26b. Again, eight of the drawings were used in a similarly ‘basic’ edition published by Thomas Crowell of New York, apparently in 1904, here once again in conjunction with FitzGerald’s fourth edition. (Potter #293.) The same publisher then issued another volume, apparently in 1905, containing 4 (tinted ?) drawings, this time in conjunction with the first and fifth editions (Potter #294). It all gets rather involved, particularly on the American side of things. As Holbrook Jackson said in his little booklet Edward FitzGerald and Omar Khayyam: an Essay and a Bibliography as early as 1899 (he is talking here of Rubaiyats generally), “It is next to impossible to list all the American Editions as their name is legion, appearing almost daily at any imaginable price.” (p.38)

One other American edition worth a particular mention, though, is The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, published at an unspecified date (but presumably about 1900) by the Henry Altemus Company of Philadelphia (a relative of Potter #206 & 207.) This used the introduction, text and notes of FitzGerald’s third edition, prefaced by “An address delivered by John Hay, December 8, 1897, at the dinner of the Omar Khayyam Club, London.” (This was an edited version of the original which had appeared in The Book of the Omar Khayyam Club (1910), p.198–200; also Potter #601.) The book featured fourteen of Gilbert James’s illustrations — but with the artist’s signature deftly removed! (Two examples can be found in Gallery, Fig.23b & 25b.) The word “piracy” springs to mind here, but if piracy it was, this was a very crude attempt to disguise it, as the illustrations are so obviously by James! (This is presumably why Potter says of the frontispiece in his #207, “after Gilbert James.”)

Finally, as is well known to FitzGerald aficionados, James’s designs were also used on 8 menu cards for the Omar Khayyam Club of London between 1896 and 1902, even though James was never a member of the club, or even, it seems, a guest at one of their dinners. Six of these also appeared in The Sketch (1a). Interestingly, too, when James’s designs appeared in The Sketch, they were occasionally accompanied by a “good time was had by all” account of the most recent Club dinner.

To cut a long story short, what seems to have happened is this: Clement King Shorter (1857–1926), who was, of course, one of the founder members of the Omar Khayyam Club in 1892, was also a co–founder of The Sketch in 1893 and its first editor. He remained as its editor until 1900, at one stage editing The English Illustrated Magazine as well. He moved to found The Sphere in 1900, with which he was associated up until his death, and The Tatler in 1901, remaining as its editor until about 1908. (2) We shall have more to say about both of these publications later. As Arthur Lawrence said of James in his article about him in The Idler (vol.16) in 1899 — an article to which we will return below — “The fact that so much of his work has appeared in the Sketch and the English Illustrated Magazine is due to the perspicacity of Mr Clement K. Shorter, and certainly goes to show that even an editor may know a good thing when he sees it.” (p.585) There also exists a presentation copy of Fourteen Drawings inscribed by Gilbert James for Clement Shorter (see end of note 3.)

Having seen the majority of James’s Rubaiyat illustrations in their original forms in The Sketch, it transpires that two of the menu cards for the Omar Khayyam Club preceded their appearances in The Sketch, whereas four post–dated them, so it would not be true to say that it was James’s appearances in The Sketch which led to his adoption by the Omar Khayyam Club. Rather, the two things seem to have happened pretty much together (1a). For example, his first menu card (illustrating verse 75 of FitzGerald’s first edition) was for dinner at Frascati’s on 27th March 1896, whereas its design did not appear in The Sketch until 1st April 1896 where it was actually captioned as the “frontispiece of the Menu Card of the Omar Khayyam Club.” (Fig.2) [It can be found in The Book of the Omar Khayyam Club (1910), p.54 (1a).] This illustration was subsequently used as the Frontispiece of the Routledge photogravure Rubaiyat of 1904, of course. However, James’s third menu card (illustrating of verse 20 of FitzGerald’s third, fourth and fifth editions), which was for the dinner at Frascati’s 20th November 1896, appeared in The Sketch, September 2nd 1896 — ie before the dinner (Fig.3). [It can be found in The Book of the Omar Khayyam Club (1910), p.62 (1a).] Again like Fig.2, the illustration was subsequently used, as the illustration of verse 19 of FitzGerald’s first edition, in the Routledge photogravure Rubaiyat of 1904. Details of James’s menu cards and their incarnations in Smithers and / or the Routledge photogravure edition, as well as in The Sketch, can be found in note (1a) below.

It seems to have been via Shorter, then, that Gilbert James came to the notice both of readers of The Sketch and of the members of the Omar Khayyam Club. The wide circulation of The Sketch, of course, is enough to explain the early appearances of his Rubaiyat illustrations in book form, though the Smithers edition remains intriguing given the notoriety of Smithers himself (3). The Routledge / Dutton photogravure Rubaiyat of 1904 was probably James’s biggest ‘break’, for the same publisher(s) commissioned him to illustrate another seven books in their photogravure series, and his book illustrating career does seem to have ‘taken off’ after that. A list of these, plus a reasonably complete — I hope! — list of other works illustrated by James can be found below. At any rate, by 1907 (1i) James was apparently sufficiently well established as an illustrator to be commissioned by T. N. Foulis to do 5 new illustrations, in colour this time (one of them a “Persian Design” title–page — this and two other examples are shown in Gallery, Figs.27, 28 & 29), for the first of their ‘Envelope Books’, Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (Potter #44: FitzGerald’s first edition.) As the name suggests, these were designed so they could be slotted into their own envelope and be sent or given to friends as presents. By 1909, James had been commissioned by A & C Black to do another 16 illustrations in colour for their Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, with an Introduction and Notes by R. A. Nicholson (Potter #68; again using FitzGerald’s first edition). Eight of the illustrations for the latter are now much better–known than the ones for the Foulis envelope edition, simply because they were subsequently reprinted in so many editions by A & C Black (1j), who also issued a series of colour postcards using designs from the book. (4)

It only remains to add that James’s illustrations were used in a Japanese translation of The Rubaiyat in 1921 (Potter #499), and in a Turkish translation — which also used some of Herbert Cole’s illustrations — in 1926 (Potter #533.) In addition, they have been used in at least two Arabic editions published in Egypt, one possibly as early as 1910. (1k)

Thus far his illustrations for The Rubaiyat: what of Gilbert James himself ? Little seems to be known about his life (even his dates of birth and death remained elusive for a long time) and there is no monograph about him and his work. Consequently I give here such details about his life as have come to light, as well as numerous examples of the wide variety of art work that he produced between the 1890s and the 1920s. No doubt further research will reveal more in time, and if anyone reading this can fill in any gaps, please do!


Gilbert P. James (Gallery, Fig.1) — the P stood for Penrose, a middle name he seems rarely to have used — was born in West Derby, Liverpool, in 1865 (5a), and, sadly, died of “general paralysis of the insane” in Long Grove Mental Hospital in Epsom, Surrey, in 1941, aged 75 (5b). The standard encyclopedias of book and magazine illustrators (6) simply say that he was active between about 1895 and 1926, the former date marking the start of his magazine illustrations, the latter date seemingly being the latest date of publication of a book illustrated by him, Ralph Waldo Trine’s classic of philosophical spirituality, In Tune with the Infinite, the only book of this type that he illustrated, and to which we shall return below. It is a distinct possibility that 1926 marked the onset of his mental and physical decline, though I am not aware of any actual hospitalisation until 1937 (5b). But the loss of concentration, impaired memory, and muscular tremors often associated with the onset of this disease, could certainly have prevented him working effectively as an artist long before hospitalisation became necessary. However, at the present time, all we can say is that there is a gap of eleven years between 1926 and 1937 during which it is not clear what he was doing. Mainly, it is not known how seriously he was affected by the disease at any particular stage of that gap prior to his hospitalisation.

But returning to his early life in Liverpool, it would appear that he worked as a clerk in a corn merchant’s office, and that he became a friend of the artist Sidney H. Sime, best known today for his extraordinary Fantasy illustrations. Whether or not the two things are connected is unclear, but James did turn from office work to art. He seems to have exhibited three pictures at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool — in 1889 and 1890 as Gilbert James, and in 1892 as Gilbert P. James (7). In about 1891 he moved to Gerrard Street, Soho, London, registering in the census of that year as “a student in painting” (5a). Once in London, he began to contribute black and white illustrations to a number of magazines, his first recorded publication (so far as I am aware) being in Shorter’s newspaper, The Sketch, in May 1894. Throughout the rest of the 1890s he was a prolific magazine illustrator — I know of about 40 items in The Sketch alone (Gallery Figs 2 to 12 or browse here) — these including, as we have already seen, some of his Rubaiyat illustrations — and of about 30 for The English Illustrated Magazine (Gallery, Figs.13 & 14). He also contributed to The Idler (Figs.15 & 16), The Pall Mall Magazine (Figs.17a & 17b), Black and White, The Butterfly, The Ludgate Monthly, Pick–me–up, The Quartier Latin and — two more of Shorter’s publishing ventures — The Tatler and The Sphere. For The Tatler he did at least two other Rubaiyat illustrations, including a cartoon which parodied verse 11 of the first edition by including a gramophone in place of Omar’s singing beloved! (Gallery, Figs.18 & 19); and for The Sphere he did at least two further Rubaiyat illustrations (Figs. 20 & 21) (1L). He was a busy man, and, some time before 1901, had set up a studio in 10 Fitzroy Street (now demolished), just off Tottenham Court Road (5a), thus becoming, literally, a neighbour of Whistler, who lived for a while at no.8 (also now demolished.) (In 1909, Whistler having long moved out, Walter Sickert was to move in. It was an artistic neighbourhood!) This was to remain James’s address — at least officially — for the rest of his life. (5b)

His connection with The Sketch is particularly interesting, for it was not only here that some of his Rubaiyat illustrations were first published, but also here that an article about James himself, titled “The Devices of Gilbert James”, was published. No author was given, but I wonder if it was perhaps Clement K. Shorter himself. At any rate, it appeared in the March 24th 1897 issue (p.368), and in fact it is from this article that the photograph of James, reproduced here as Fig.1, is taken (8). The article opens by describing the various reactions to James’s work in The Sketch:

“No artist of these pages has been made the subject of such extremes of valuation as Mr Gilbert James, whose best work has been represented by his series of illustrations to the Song of Solomon, the Book of Esther, and the Book of Ruth. Letters have poured into this office from all quarters exhibiting the most remarkable differences of opinion, and let it be added, the extremities of courteous appeal.

His illustrations of the Biblical “Book of Ruth” in particular seem to have resulted in marked differences of opinion. There were six of these illustrations in the series, all told, and they were published in six successive issues of the magazine during February and March 1897. (The first and the fifth of the series are shown in Gallery, Figs.5 & 6a.) Thus, in mid series, one lady wrote in to ask how many there were going to be in the series altogether. She now had three, she said, and wanted to know how many more there would be, as she was going to have them framed and wanted to allow enough space for them in her hall. Less of a fan was a doctor from Preston who wrote in to offer, cheap, his own series of illustrations on Biblical subjects, and enclosing, free of charge, his “Eve tempted by the Serpent” (Fig.6b). “It is a trifle elementary, and not burdened with much light and shade,” he wrote, “but I consider it quite as much an artistic production as the abomination on page 235, in the Sketch of March 3rd, 1897, on the subject of the Book of Ruth.” (This is the fifth illustration of the series, shown in Fig.6a.) Though this is unduly harsh, it is certainly true that James’s illustrations for magazines — and, later, for books — were of very variable quality, as a browse through the gallery of illustrations for this article readily shows.

The article went on:

“He has had an interesting career. His age is — well, he puts you off in his witty way with the remark that every black–and–white man he has ever known was eight–and–twenty — never more and never less. His father is Cornish, his mother is a Lancashire woman, and he was born in Liverpool, where he earned his living in a corn–merchant’s office. He used to watch the comings and the goings of Richard le Gallienne in days prior to golden girls, and ere young Liverpool entered into rivalry with the Celtic circle. Mr James came to London five or six years ago to live upon his art. He has not always found it fattening, but he has lived up to his ideal, eschewing the come–to–mamma school, and steadily working out his tendencies, sometimes in journals, sometimes at the New English Art Club, most conspicuously in the pages of The Sketch (which first offered him shelter on May 2, 1894) and in the English Illustrated Magazine. While he has no artistic pedigree by blood — he was trained, by the way, under High Churchism — he acknowledges the influence of Boutet de Monvel; and the fact that the windows of his studio in Fitzroy Street look down on Mr Whistler’s studio has more than a topographical significance.

Not that Mr James has formulated any philosophy whatever about his work. He sums it all up in one scrap of nutshell fatalism. He does not so much what he wants, as what he has to do. If he ceased to do that, he would cease to be Gilbert James, and, modest to extreme shyness as he is, he wants to remain — himself. With this in mind, you will find in his work a strong decorative tendency at once simple and complicated, and permeated with a sanity that separates him from Beardsleyism. The technique is peculiarly non–elaborate. The unnecessary is wholly excluded. Where he is complicated is in the innumerable touches used in every picture to build up the central idea. This is specially true of his Bible series. Each picture of the set of six which formed the Books of Esther and Ruth summarised in a dramatic way the salient points in the beautiful stories. The books became dramas in six acts, the artist working out the concepts which had been stored in his mind since childhood, when the stories first became familiar to him. And this very simplicity, dealing so largely in the non–obvious that repeated examination of the pictures does not exhaust their possibilities, is one of the chief causes of the very different attitudes his audience adopts. To one person, the Preston physician for instance, his drawings are mere grotesque daubs. To such he is no more artist than Mr Whistler was in days of old when Academicians gave witness against him. To another, who has an eye to see and a mind to understand, the full bearing of his conception stands out, bit by bit, till it is fully grasped, and the curious sense of colour that his black–and–white work possesses becomes apparent. Mr James, let it be said, has done some very fascinating water–colour work, which might bring more friends than his black–and–white work were it more largely known. But he is content to stand by black–and–white yet awhile, and, truth to tell, his admirers — a slowly growing band for he possesses the strange incommunicable power of creating converts out of scoffers — ask for no more at present. Let him continue to do what he ‘has to do.’” (End of article.)

Also of particular interest in respect of James is The Idler. The magazine had been founded by Jerome K. Jerome and Robert Barr in 1892, but by its volume 16 (August 1899 to January 1900) the editorship had passed to Arthur Lawrence and Sidney H. Sime — interesting, as James had known Sime back in Liverpool, as we saw earlier. James Thorpe, in his book English Illustration: the Nineties (1935) refers to this particular volume of The Idler as “one of the most interesting magazine volumes ever issued” (p.161), and not only does it contain some good examples of James’s work (Gallery, Figs.15 & 16), it also contains an interview — of sorts — with James, conducted by Arthur Lawrence (p.577–587.)

I say “of sorts”, because when Lawrence approached James about doing an interview, he replied that he would be glad to do it “if it were not for the fact that in my monotonous past I can recall nothing of any interest, and that I have no very decided opinions on art or anything else.” Though Lawrence had “six or seven hours uninterrupted conversation” with him, James “remained smilingly comfortable within his entrenchments” and gave next to no information about himself beyond the facts that he was “the right side of thirty”, that his father was a Cornishman, that he had met Sidney Sime in Liverpool (“and discussed Shakespeare and the musical glasses with him at all hours of the night”) and that he had moved to London “about eight years ago.” In the end Lawrence had to confess that the resultant article was more of a “no–interview”, and he was forced to pad out his article with an account of James’s work, and with generous borrowings from the above cited article in The Sketch about the critical reactions from readers to his work in that magazine!

Of course, two years had passed since the publication of that article in The Sketch, since which time Lawrence went on:

“Mr James has received many similar letters by way of modest testimony on the part of the public to the interest felt in his work, and I was amused by a similar juxtaposition of adverse sentiment. The letters are marked private, so I may not reproduce them. Apropos to the Rubaiyat sketches, where the costume is, of course, that of a Persian contemporary with the days of William the Conqueror, and therefore rather a matter for research and deduction than for dogmatic opinion, a correspondent in Madras wrote to him that in the local colour and indeed in every detail they were ‘absolutely absurd.’ As against this, a gentleman of some erudition (even the spelling of the previous critic was faulty) wrote from Assam remarking on the ‘extraordinary accuracy’ of Mr James’s drawings, and begging him to do a set of drawings to illustrate Horace.”

Moving from magazine illustration to book illustration, now, it would seem that it was James’s magazine illustrations that led to his being commissioned as a book illustrator, for, aside from the early Rubaiyat editions mentioned above, it is only in the early 1900s that books illustrated by him begin to appear. As was the case with the Rubaiyat, many of his book illustrations had first appeared in The Sketch some years earlier. This is particularly true of the photogravure series he illustrated for George Routledge and Co., full details of which are given below. The first book in the series was the Rubaiyat of 1904, the well–known frontispiece of which, as we have already seen, first appeared in The Sketch of the 1st of April 1896, (Fig.2), where it featured as the “frontispiece of the Menu Card of the Omar Khayyam Club.” (1a) Likewise, the frontispiece of The Books of Ruth and Esther (1905) first appeared in The Sketch on 3rd February 1897, as the first of a series (Fig.5), and some of his illustrations for The Song of Songs (1906) were also first published in The Sketch in 1896 (Fig.7). As a final example, Fig.9, which appeared in The Sketch on March 8th 1899, was subsequently recycled in Poems by Matthew Arnold (1905) (facing p.60).

Not all of his illustrations for The Sketch later appeared in book form, though (Fig.8 is one example from the Song of Songs series which didn’t.) (1m) Again, a series of illustrations for George Meredith’s story Bhanavar the Beautiful (Gallery, Fig.10) (9) don’t seem to have gone into book form, and nor did another series of illustrations for Thomas Carlyle’s Nibelungen Lied (Fig. 11) (10) Incidentally, it was James’s work on these two series of illustrations — but more particularly the former, it seems — that prompted yet more criticism, this time from an un–named reader of The Sketch in Buenos Aires (where the paper was apparently quite popular.) Gilbert James, he complained, was an “implacable foe of perspective”, who didn’t seem to know his foreground from his background. (11).

As has already been said, the quality of James’s work is as variable as the public’s reaction to it. In my opinion, his illustrations for Edith Holland’s, The Story of the Buddha (1916), for example, are not James at his best (Figs.30 & 31), whereas his illustrations for The Song of Songs (particularly Fig.8) and Goethe’s Faust (particularly Fig.32) seem to be much more polished. Personally speaking, his illustrations for The Rubaiyat are not my favourite illustrations of Omar, and indeed his oriental realism — or lack of — featured in Arthur Lawrence’s ‘interview’ with James in The Idler, quoted above.

Talking of oriental realism, in 1909 a reviewer in The Studio (vol.48, p.252) compared James’s colour illustrations for the A & C Black edition with those of Pogany for the Harrap & Co edition, both of which had recently been published. He wrote:

“Mr James is more successful than Mr Pogany, but even his designs lose greatly in sympathy through the fact that there is nothing whatever in these colour schemes to help carry out what is achieved so well in the line, the illusion of Eastern setting. It is easy to make the right selection of types, at least with an artist so gifted as Mr James, but it is not easy, we admit, to arrange that the colour scheme of an Oriental picture shall, in printing, be something different from what it would be if its subject were a London street.”

But let us look at some of the other books illustrated by James. In the Photogravure series which included the works already mentioned in connection with The Sketch, he also illustrated Anna Swanwick’s translation of Goethe’s Faust (1906) (Figs.32 & 33). On a completely different front, he illustrated (in colour) a book of Christmas Carols (c.1906) (Fig.34) and, with Edmund Dulac and others, an English translation (from Danish) of Carl Ewald’s book The Queen Bee and Other Nature Stories (1907) (Fig.35). He illustrated M.R. James’s curious ghost story for older children, The Five Jars (1922) (Fig.36), and he illustrated several of the Langham Series of Children’s books for Siegle, Hill & Co. Two examples from A Selection from the Arabian Nights (c.1907) are shown in Figs. 37 & 38. For this same publisher he illustrated Mind your own Buzziness (c.1912), a quirky book for children by ‘the Roodletoot’ (W.J. Sanderson), the Roodletoot being the Microbe of Common Sense, who “lectures on the impropriety of art every Wednesday afternoon at a quarter to three.”(Figs.39 & 40) James, it would seem (unless there was another Gilbert James in the arena), also wrote his own book for children, Toby and his Little Dog Tan, or the Great Detective of Fairy Land (1903) (Fig.41), which, curiously if it was indeed by our Gilbert James, was illustrated by Charles Pears rather than by James himself. (12) Again, for Thomas Nelson & Sons, he illustrated Tristan and Iseult — an Ancient Tale of Love and Fate (c.1912), one of their series “The World’s Romances” (Fig.42). And on a completely different front again, he illustrated Lewis Spence’s Myths of Mexico and Peru (1913) (Figs.43, 44 & 45.)

Finally, as indicated at the beginning of this article, James illustrated Ralph Waldo Trine’s In Tune with the Infinite (1926) (Gallery, Figs.46, 47, 48 & 49) — this being the last book illustrated by him, and the only book of this type that he illustrated (for which reason I give a fairly detailed account of it in note 13 below.) As indicated above, he had earlier illustrated Lewis Spence’s Myths of Mexico and Peru (1913) and Edith Holland’s The Story of the Buddha (1916), which, though perhaps distantly related, are not really to be classified with In Tune with the Infinite, except insofar as they deal with religion, and, in the case of the latter, Buddha also features in Trine’s book, and in James’s frontispiece for it (Fig.46). It would be interesting to know how James came to illustrate In Tune with the Infinite, but alas, no details seem to be available. Given the remarks in The Sketch article about him and his work it seems quite possible that it was “just another job”. In idle moments, though, I do wonder if the illustration of Trine’s book was rather more than that, given that it had such a great influence on so many people in its day. Unfortunately, we shall probably never know.

A fairly complete list of books illustrated by Gilbert James is given below, after the Notes and the Gallery Notes.


Note 1a: Table 1 below shows the dates at which the illustrations in Smithers appeared in The Sketch and the dates of the Omar Khayyam Club dinners for which six of them were used as menu cards. As can be seen, in the case of two of these, marked (*), the design was used as a menu card before it appeared in The Sketch, these two illustrations being James’s first two Rubaiyat illustrations for that publication. Thereafter the designs were used as menu cards after their appearance in The Sketch. This perhaps indicates that Shorter, having published some of James’s other work previously, initially had the idea of having him design some menu cards for the Club, publication in The Sketch being an ‘added bonus’, as it were. At any rate, after the first two, commissions specifically for The Sketch took over, with uses as menu cards becoming incidental to that, the designs being used as menu cards, if at all, months and even years after their appearance in the periodical.

The Smithers column, in effect, marks the order of the verses illustrated in FitzGerald’s 4th edition. As can be seen from column 2, not only were James’s illustrations published at irregular intervals over a period of some two years, but also the order of publication in no way relates to the order of the verses. This perhaps suggests that James hopped back and forth as fancy took, apparently with no thought of doing an ordered series for an eventual book. It would seem, then, that it was Smithers who put things in order (or perhaps had James put them in order.) In contrast to his Rubaiyat illustrations, his illustrations for The Book of Ruth, for example, were published as an organised series, published at weekly intervals in February to March 1897, and clearly took priority over his Rubaiyat illustrations at that time. Likewise, his organised series of illustrations for The Song of Songs, The Book of Esther, George Meredith’s Story of Bhanavar and Thomas Carlyle’s Nibelungen Lied contrast with, and interrupt, his work on The Rubaiyat. It is almost as if he preferred doing other things to illustrating FitzGerald, but if there was nothing else on hand, then a Rubaiyat illustration would do!

Table 1

Smithers Published in
the Sketch
Book of Omar
Khayyam Club
Date of Club
p.11 21 Apr 1897
p.15 14 Apr 1897 p.96 29 Nov 1900
p.19 23 Dec 1896
p.23 1 Jul 1896 p.56 20 Jun 1896 (*)
p.27 31 Mar 1897
p.31 5 May 1897 p.76 8 Dec 1897
p.35 2 Sep 1896 p.62 20 Nov 1896
p.39 8 Jun 1898
p.43 28 Apr 1897
p.47 31 Aug 1898
p.51 7 Apr 1897 p.72 10 Jul 1897
p.55 20 Apr 1898
p.59 ?
p.63 1 Apr 1896 p.54 27 Mar 1896 (*)

Table 2 matches the illustrations in the Routledge photogravure edition with those in the Smithers edition, and also those which were used as designs on the menu cards of the Omar Khayyam Club. In Smithers, the captions used FitzGerald’s fourth edition (column 2); in Routledge, the illustrations were associated with FitzGerald’s first edition (column 4). James’s designs were used on 8 menu cards between 1896 and 1902, including the two shown in Figs.2 & 3. As can be seen, five of the eight designs subsequently found their way into the Routledge photogravure edition. A colour version of another (that on p.56) found its way into the A & C Black edition of 1909. A colour version of a seventh (that on p.76) likewise found its way into the A & C Black edition, though in such an amended format as to be pretty much a new illustration. Only the menu card on p.114 did not appear in either the photogravure or the A & C Black editions, perhaps not surprisingly as it illustrates verse 41 of the 4th edition. (I say “perhaps” because it is so similar in theme to his illustrations of verse 34 in the photogravure edition and verse 5 in the A & C Black edition, that it could easily have been ‘recycled’ from the 4th to the 1st edition!) Nevertheless, it was ‘recycled’: having been used as a menu card for dinner at Frascati’s on 28th November 1902, it appeared in The Tatler less than a fortnight later, on December 10th 1902 (p.407.) (Fig.18) Again, as can be seen from the table, the designs for six of the eight menu cards were included in the Smithers edition, those on p. 108 & p.114 of The Book of the Omar Khayyam Club being the two not included, presumably simply because they were not published in The Sketch until after the Smithers edition had gone to press in 1898.

Table 2

Smithers Verse number
(4th edition)
Verse number
(1st edition)
Book of Omar
Khayyam Club
p.11 v.3
p.15 v.5 facing p.20 v.5 p.96
p.19 v.12 facing p.32 v.11
p.23 v.13 p.56
p.27 v.14 facing p.36 v.13
p.31 v.17 p.76
p.35 v.20 facing p.48 v.19 p.62
p.39 v.21 facing p.50 v.20
p.43 v.27 facing p.64 v.27
p.47 v.33 facing p.76 v.33
facing p.78 v.34
p.51 v.43 facing p.106 v.48 p.72
p.55 v.70 facing p.110 v.50
p.59 v.82
facing p.158 v.74 p.108
p.63 vv.100 & 101 Frontispiece v.75 p.54
v.41 p.114

Note 1b: Also in 1898, at about the same time as the multi–variorum edition, L.C.Page & Co. issued the Merrymount Press edition of Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (Potter #301.) It contained the complete text of FitzGerald’s 1st, 2nd and 5th editions (with indications of variants in the 3rd and 4th editions), an introductory essay by Dole, plus six illustrations by James and six others by E.H. Garrett (both sets of illustrations being as in the multi–variorum edition — Garrett’s had featured in vol.1.) This edition was reprinted by L.C. Page & Co. in 1925 for the St. Botolph Society of Boston. [Another work illustrated by James and published by L.C. Page & Co. in 1898, and which was also later reprinted (in 1922) for the St. Botolph Society, was W. Somerset Maugham’s novel, The Making of a Saint. See the book list below for details.]

Note 1c: The 1899 edition appears to have been published just by Alex Grosset & Co., whereas the editions of 1900 and 1901 were published by Grosset & Dunlap. The contents are, however, the same, aside from the Holden essay of note 1d below, which was added to the editions of 1900 and 1901.

Note 1d: Edward Singleton Holden (1846–1914) was an American professional astronomer — he was the director of the Lick Observatory from 1888 to 1897, and the founder of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. But he was an astronomer with literary interests. His article “New Light on Omar Khayyam” was first published in The Sun (New York) on June 3rd 1900 — hence it appears only in the Grosset & Dunlap editions of 1900 and 1901. His books include Stories from the Arabian Nights (1900) and Flowers from Persian Gardens (1902), the former written under the pseudonym Adam Singleton, the latter being selections from the poems of Saadi, Hafiz, Omar et al.

Note 1e: Though the copy I have seen is copyrighted 1917, it bears an earlier copyright date of 1898, which suggests that Barse & Hopkins. might have beaten Grosset to it. However, I have never seen a copy of their 1898 edition.

Note 1f: Yet another very similar volume, but with only four colour–tinted drawings, was published by Diehl, Landau and Petit of New York, in about 1910 (Coumans #175.) My thanks are due to Jos Coumans for supplying further information about this volume, and scans of the illustrations in it [not used here.]

Note 1g: The first edition of the Routledge photogravure Rubaiyat appeared in 1904. Its reprinting in 1905 marked the 5th thousand; in 1906, the 8th thousand; in 1907, the 10th thousand; in 1910, the 16th thousand; and in 1912, the 18th thousand. These figures — aside from those from my own copy of the 1905 edition — are taken from details given by dealers on AbeBooks, so I haven’t seen them, but I would assume that the 1910 and 1912 editions are the so–called Small Photogravure Edition of Potter #85.

Note 1h: There were other editions in which the black and white illustrations were hand–coloured, notably the rare Rivière Press (London) edition of 1928, one version of which had all 12 plates of the photogravure edition hand–coloured; the other with only the frontispiece hand–coloured, and the rest black and white. (Presumably associated with Potter #128.)

Note 1i: This is the date of the first of several issues of the book, according to Ian Elfick and Paul Harris, T.N.Foulis: History and Bibliography of an Edinburgh Publishing House (1998), p.110. None of the various issues is dated, and Elphick & Harris have relied on the acquisition dates of the copies presented to the British Library and the National Library of Scotland (p.42.) The various issues can be differentiated by the number of entries in the listing of available Envelope Books at the back of the book, copies being recorded with listings 1–7, 1–10, 1–13 and 1–15 respectively (p.111.)

Note 1j: I am not aware that the large A & C Black first edition of 1909 with 16 colour plates was ever reprinted, though see the note on Potter #68. However, Black did issue smaller editions containing 8 colour plates in 1922, 1933, 1936, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1944, 1946, 1950, 1956, 1961, 1967, 1970, 1973 and 1978 (Coumans #59 & 78.) Editions containing 16 colour plates were however published by the Hubbell Company of New York. Dealers on AbeBooks at the time of writing cite one copy at c.1918 and another firmly dated to 1925 (not in Potter.)

Note 1k: Bill Martin and Sandra Mason have told me in personal emails of two such translations. The one dating from perhaps 1910, but probably later, which used illustrations by James, Pogany and others, was translated by Muhammad Sibai and published by Al–lhya Al–Arabiyah. The other translation was by Ahmad Rami, and was first published by Makatabat Gharib, Cairo, in 1931. There were apparently three later reprints of the Rami translation, one in the 1930s and the other two in 1950 and 1969, but it is not clear if any of these also used James’s illustrations. The 1950 edition, for example, was illustrated, but not by James. [My thanks to Bill and Sandra for this information.]

Note 1L: In his note on the Smithers edition of Fourteen Drawings, Potter (#391) says:

“The first drawing was done for a menu card of The Omar Khayyam Club, and was reproduced in The Sketch. Other drawings were commissioned, and therein first printed. One or two of these drawings were first printed in The Tatler. See also The Sphere, 11/11/05 and 17/8/07.”

So far as I am aware, Figs.18 & 19 were the only two published in The Tatler and I am not aware of any others in The Sphere besides Figs. 20 & 21, the two which Potter mentions. But none of Figs.18–21 inclusive actually featured in the Smithers edition.

Note 1m: In fact, the majority of illustrations in the photogravure edition of The Song of Songs had not been previously published in The Sketch, but were specially done for the book version, as James tells us in a short introduction he wrote for it. (It is a pity that James didn’t write a similar introduction to the photogravure Rubaiyat, but he didn’t, and nor indeed did he write one for any of the other photogravure series which he illustrated.)

Note 2: At his death in 1926, Shorter left an unfinished autobiography which was later edited by J. M. Bulloch, and privately printed by Shorter’s wife, Doris: CKS — an Autobiography — a Fragment by Himself (1927). Details of his hectic journalistic career can be found here — principally, The Illustrated London News (p.60–72), The Sketch (p.73–83), The Sphere (p.93–101) and the Tatler (p.102–9.) At one stage he was editing no less than five newspapers and magazines simultaneously (the Illustrated London News, the Sketch, the English Illustrated Magazine, the Album, and Pick–me–up (p.94).) Unfortunately, there is no mention in the book either of his dealings with Gilbert James in connection with The Sketch, or of his dealings with James and / or Leonard Smithers in connection with Fourteen Drawings.

According to Bulloch in his preface to the book, Shorter had planned, but never got around to writing, 8 more chapters of his autobiography, one of which would have dealt with his membership of three dining clubs — the Omar Khayyam, Johnson and Whitefriars clubs (p.xv.) Consequently — and unfortunately for readers of this — CKS contains only a passing reference to his founding of the Omar Khayyam Club with George Whale and “another friend” (Frederic Hudson) in October 1892 (p.48). Also disappointing is Bulloch’s revelation that among Shorter’s papers were only “fragments on Edward FitzGerald” (p.xvi.) Shorter did, however, deal with the founding of the club, though not in any great detail, in his article “The Omar Khayyam Club”, written for the journal Great Thoughts (issue of 23rd January 1897 — Potter #770) and in his introduction to a limited edition (105 copies) of Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam of Naishapur (Essex House Press, 1905) (Bulloch p.155.) A little later he contributed the introduction to a commercially produced edition, Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (William Heinemann, London, 1906.) [It is a great pity that Shorter wasn’t invited to do an introduction to the Routledge photogravure edition of 1904, as we might then have been given some useful information about James and his association with The Sketch. The Heinemann book, which used FitzGerald’s first edition, wasn’t illustrated, and its introduction made no mention of either the Omar Khayyam Club or Gilbert James.] Shorter also privately published a very limited edition (25 copies) of a booklet on Thackeray and Edward FitzGerald (1916) (Bulloch p.162). On a commercial front, he also wrote Victorian Literature: Sixty Years of Books and Bookmen (1897), a book which became very popular in its day, and in which he gave FitzGerald his due place amongst Victorian poets, dubbing him “a nineteenth century pagan” who “touched deeply a certain aspect of the second half of the nineteenth century and founded a cult.” (p.35) FitzGerald also gets a mention in the chapter on “The Literary Associations of East Anglia” in Shorter’s Immortal Memories (1907), a book of addresses to various literary societies. Here he says that The Rubaiyat “will live as long as the English Language” even if “there is no small tendency to smile to–day whenever the name of Omar Khayyam is mentioned, and to call the cult ‘a lunacy’.” (p.146–7.) Interestingly, elsewhere in the same book, he lists FitzGerald’s Omar as no.13 out of 25 in his choice of “best poets”, below the Bible, Homer, Virgil, Horace, Dante, Shakespeare and Chaucer, but ahead of Shelley, Byron, Wordsworth, Keats, Coleridge, Tennyson, Browning and Milton (p.260–5.) In fact, book–wise, Shorter wrote far more extensively — and commercially — on Charlotte Bronte [Charlotte Bronte and her Circle (1896), Charlotte Bronte and her Sisters (1905), The Brontes: Life and Letters (2 vols, 1908)] and on George Borrow [George Borrow and his Circle (1913), The Life of George Borrow (1919).]

Finally, Shorter was lucky enough to have a bookplate designed for him by Walter Crane (Fig.50a), the design incorporating verse 96 of the fourth edition (“Yet Ah, that Spring should vanish with the Rose! &c”) Crane also designed a Rubaiyat–related bookplate for himself (Fig.50b), this design incorporating verse 12 of the fourth edition (“A Book of Verses underneath the Bough &c”) For details, see Egerton Castle, English Bookplates: Ancient and Modern (1893), p.227–230. On Crane and his Rubaiyat–related painting “The Roll of Fate”, see Gallery 3D.

Note 3: Leonard Smithers (1861–1907) was, on the one hand, a somewhat shady purveyor of erotica to an upper–crust clientele, but on the other hand was a rare–book dealer and publisher of top quality limited editions, the latter category not infrequently of an erotic nature. An early venture was his re–publication of an unexpurgated edition of Sir Richard Burton’s Arabian Nights (in 12 volumes; 4 editions between 1894 and 1897.) Principally Smithers is remembered as the publisher who came to the aid of a number of so–called Decadent / avant–garde artists and writers who found themselves shunned by conventional publishers in the wake of Oscar Wilde’s trial in 1895 — most notably Aubrey Beardsley, Arthur Symons, Ernest Dowson and Charles Conder, not to mention Wilde himself. In 1896 Smithers founded The Savoy as an outlet for some of their work, employing Arthur Symons as its literary editor and Aubrey Beardsley as its principal illustrator, though it only ran to 8 issues, and then folded. In that same year he also published an edition of Arthur Symons’ Silhouettes; limited editions of Pope’s Rape of the Lock and The Lysistrata of Aristophanes, both illustrated by Beardsley; a limited edition of Ernest Dowson’s Verses, with a cover design by Beardsley; a limited edition of Max Beerbohm’s Caricatures of Twenty–Five Gentlemen; and an edition of Beardsley’s A Book of Fifty Drawings. Between 1895 and 1900 Smithers published some 70 or so titles.

Exactly how and why Smithers published his Fourteen Drawings illustrating Edward FitzGerald’s Translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam by Gilbert James in 1899 (the title page bears the date 1898, but it was actually published in February 1899) isn’t clear. I have seen no evidence that Smithers had even met James, and certainly James was never used as an illustrator for any other of Smithers’ numerous publications, and nor was he ever a contributor to The Savoy. Smithers published a wide range of material in 1898 to 1899 — a dozen books in 1898, including Wilde’s Ballad of Reading Gaol, Ben Jonson’s Volpone, and Aleister Crowley’s White Stains; and no less than twenty seven books in 1899, including The Satyricon of Petronius, Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven [and] the Pit and the Pendulum, Voltaire’s La Pucelle, and Wilde’s plays, The Importance of being Ernest and An Ideal Husband. The Rubaiyat, then, was one among many, and was quite possibly just a case of Smithers seeking to make some money from the Omar Cult under way at that time, James’s drawings in The Sketch being a source of ready–made illustrations for the book. True, FitzGerald’s Omar was popular with several of the Decadents — Wilde, notably (see Chapter 13 of the Main Essay and Appendix 10 to it) — and the artist Charles Conder was certainly a fan of it. Indeed, in 1893, he embellished a copy of The Rubaiyat and gave it to his friend, artist and writer Dugald MacColl — the two of them were at that time planning to publish their own illustrated limited edition of it, which, unfortunately, never saw the light of day. (This will be covered in some detail in another essay.)

On the other hand, there is no evidence that Beardsley had any interest in The Rubaiyat, and no evidence that Smithers ever thought of asking either Beardsley — or, surprisingly, in view of what has just been said, Conder — to illustrate an edition of it. (There is no reference to The Rubaiyat or any projected illustration of it in any of Beardsley’s extant letters to Leonard Smithers, for example, nor indeed in letters to anyone else — see The Letters of Aubrey Beardsley, edited by H. Maas, J.L. Duncan and W.G. Good (1970). Nor is there any reference to The Rubaiyat in Stanley Weintraub’s detailed biography, Beardsley (1967).)

That Fourteen Drawings was quite possibly not much more than Smithers’ means of cashing–in on the prevailing Omar cult, using James’s drawings in The Sketch as a source of ready–made illustrations, is possibly confirmed by the relatively modest drab–green binding in which it was issued, decorated with a rather mediocre reproduction of a design by James himself (Fig.51a). Also, priced at seven shillings and six pence, it wasn't unduly expensive, and was within the price–range affordable by the average Omar enthusiast. Again, the lack of any sort of introduction, preface or notes for the reader is possibly suggestive of a hasty production: the fourteen illustrations, each accompanied by its associated lines / quatrain(s) from FitzGerald’s fourth edition, were simply preceded by the rather terse little note:

These Drawings have appeared in the “Sketch” at various times during the past two years, and as some of the numbers are difficult to obtain, it has been thought well to collect the Drawings and issue them in the present form with what assistance careful printing can give.

To be fair to Smithers, though, it is not always clear why he published some of his other books either, and making money or courting scandal was not always the reason: he did have a genuine interest in literature, even if some of it was on the pornographic side. Perhaps Fourteen Drawings, with a cover design by James, should be classed with another of Smithers’ publications, A Book of Fifty Drawings by Aubrey Beardsley (1896), which was also issued with a cover design by the artist (Fig.51b), although it did also contain “An Iconography of the Artist’s Work” by Aymer Vallance. Who knows ?

On Smithers and his publishing activities, see James G. Nelson, Publisher to the Decadents — Leonard Smithers in the Careers of Beardsley, Wilde, Dowson (2000), which contains a Checklist of Smithers’ Publications by J.G. Nelson and Peter Mendes. There is a reference in the checklist (p.340) to a presentation copy of Fourteen Drawings, inscribed by Gilbert James to Clement Shorter, in the Library of Mark Samuels Lasner of Washington D.C. There is, however, no reference in the book to any particular liking for The Rubaiyat by Smithers himself, nor any indication of how the publication of Fourteen Drawings came about. Nor is any such indication given in the short but welcoming review of the book given in The Sketch on 29th March 1899 (p.402). “I need hardly tell my readers,” the reviewer (Shorter ?) wrote, “that I am a great admirer of Mr Gilbert James’s fantastic genius,” adding later, “I am glad to have this series of Mr James’s drawings in such a handy and cheap form — the book costs only 7s 6d — and I feel sure that Omarians all the world over will gladly add it to their collections.”

Note 4: I have six of the postcards, these being the illustrations accompanying verses 5, 11, 20, 34, 37 and 72 of FitzGerald’s first edition. I do not know if all 16 illustrations appeared in postcard format, I’m afraid. Omar postcards were apparently quite popular in the first half of the twentieth century — recall those done by Frank Chesworth for The Clarion newspaper in 1904, for example. There was also a series by Willy Pogany produced for Liberty & Co., and another series, also by Pogany, produced by Harrap & Co. Both series probably date to c.1930.

Note 5a: Gilbert James’s only occasional use of his middle name, Penrose, plus the fact that, for whatever reason (see below), he gave his age incorrectly in the census returns of 1901 and 1911, combine to make tracing him via ancestry websites rather troublesome. However, Michael Behrend has managed to piece together the following picture of him, an entry like Q2 indicating the second quarter of the year given:

Gilbert’s father was Richard Frederick James, a stationer’s cashier, who was baptised at Falmouth, Cornwall on 3 November 1822, and who died at West Derby, Liverpool in 1903 Q2, aged 80. His mother was Harriet Agnes Hiles, a schoolteacher born in West Derby in 1844 Q4, and who seems to have died in north Liverpool in 1937 Q2, aged 92. They were married on 22 July 1863.

Gilbert was born in Everton, Liverpool, and his birth registered in West Derby in 1865 Q2. He was the second of at least nine children — in the 1881 census he had one older brother, Penrose, and seven younger sisters, six of whom, like Gilbert were given the middle name Penrose! This was possibly on account of his father’s Cornish connections (see above), though the actual reason for it remains unknown.

1871 census: Gilbert aged 5, living with parents at 48 St. Albans, Everton.

1881 census: Gilbert aged 15, living with parents at 23 Rufford Road, West Derby.

1891 census: Gilbert aged 25. He is a student in painting, living alone in London, at 45 Gerrard Street, Soho.

1901 census: Gilbert aged 32 [really 35!]. He is an illustrator, living alone (ie single) at 10 Fitzroy Street, St Pancras (off Tottenham Court Road.)

1911 census: Gilbert aged 41 [really 45!]. He is a painter (artist), still living alone at 10 Fitzroy Street, St. Pancras. [This is still listed as his official address on his death certificate, thirty years later.]

James was apparently reticent about his age, as comes across in the interviews with him in both The Sketch and The Idler. This is interesting, because Beardsley too was reticent about his age and gave deliberately misleading information about it — see, for example, The Letters of Aubrey Beardsley, edited by H. Maas, J.L. Duncan and W.G. Good (1970), p.77 (note 3); also Chris Snodgrass, Aubrey Beardsley, Dandy of the Grotesque (1995), p.132–3.

James died in Epsom, Surrey on 2 March 1941, aged 75, his death being recorded in the Times Digital Archive on 7 March 1941 (page 1.) The Times notice makes no mention of any family, and no record of any marriage has been found. (A Gilbert P. James did marry a Frances M. Rice at Axbridge, Somerset, 1932 Q2, but this is most likely Gilbert Percy James, born Axbridge 1909.)

Note 5b: James was admitted to Horton Mental Hospital on 8th April 1937, and stayed there until 28th August 1939 when he and the other patients were transferred to the nearby Long Grove Mental Hospital, so that Horton could become a War Hospital. He died in Long Grove Mental Hospital on 2nd March 1941. His death certificate lists him as “an artist” and gives his address as 10 Fitzroy Street.

As regards James’s cause of death, as recorded on his death certificate, “general paralysis of the insane”, otherwise known as general paresis or paralytic dementia, is a result of late–stage syphilis. Its symptoms of mental deterioration and personality change, commonly accompanied by delusions and asocial behaviour, begin anything between 10 and 30 years after infection. Early symptoms can include irritability, fatigue, headaches and forgetfulness. Impaired concentration, tremors, difficulty in writing, confusion and depression are also reported. As the brain deteriorates further, the results are involuntary movements, seizures, muscle atrophy and a wasting away of the body, eventually resulting in death.

My thanks are due to Helen F. Keen of the Surrey History Centre for the information about the dates of James’s admission to Horton and transfer to Long Grove.

Note 6: For example, Brigid Peppin and Lucy Micklethwait’s Dictionary of British Book Illustrators: the 20th Century (1983), p.161 says “active 1886–1926” and Simon Houfe’s Dictionary of 19th Century British Book Illustrators and Caricaturists (1996 ed), p.190 says “fl.1895–1926”.

Note 7: According to the catalogues of the autumn exhibitions at the Walker Gallery, Liverpool, as Gilbert James he exhibited a water–colour / pastel drawing titled “The Correct Time” in 1889 (catalogue no.442) and a watercolour drawing titled “With Variations” in 1890 (catalogue no.352.) In 1892, as Gilbert P. James this time, he exhibited an oil painting titled “Cinderella” (catalogue no.82.) That the two are indeed the same artist is confirmed by the details given in note 5 above.

Note 8: My thanks are due to Julian Shiel of Old Pictorial for supplying me with a copy of this article.

Note 9: First published separately as a novel in 1900, The Story of Bhanavar the Beautiful was originally part of Meredith’s Arabian Nights fantasia, The Shaving of Shagpat, which had first been published in 1856. James’s seven illustrations appeared in The Sketch between June and August 1897.

Note 10: Carlyle’s essay on the German saga Nibelungen Lied (Song of the Nibelungs) first appeared in The Westminster Review in 1831. Though it was indeed an essay on the saga, Carlyle’s article also gave a good summary of the poem, together with verse translations of selected extracts. The (unillustrated) text of the essay can be found in Carlyle’s Critical and Miscellaneous Essays (Chapman & Hall, London 1870), vol. 2, p.220–263. James’s seven illustrations appeared in The Sketch between October 1897 and January 1898.

Note 11: This rather strange critique, which was published in The Sketch on 8th December 1897 (p.267), presumably with an editorial tongue lodged firmly in an editorial cheek, was accompanied by a poem, entitled “A Warning”, which the writer hoped that the editor would forward to Mr James. “It might serve him as a subject for future illustration,” he added, “when he comes to the end of that incomprehensible Story of Something with an unpronounceable name, which appears to be monopolising his attention at present.” He admitted that his poem was “frivolous to a degree”, but added that the same charge could be brought against any artist who, like Mr James, “rushes his background and middle distance into the foreground” then seeks to make up for his shortcomings by captioning his efforts with “a long rigamarole.”

The “Story of Something with an unpronounceable name” and the reference to rigamarole–ish captions, suggest that the critique is directed at “The Story of Bhanavar.” But that series finished in August 1897 (note 9), whereas the critique — in which the series in question is monopolising James’s attention “at present” — appeared in The Sketch in December 1897. Of course, the critique may have been written quite some time before it was actually published, so these dates are not necessarily an issue. However, since “Nibelungen Lied” is also arguably a story with an unpronounceable name; one which was monopolising James’s attention in The Sketch throughout late 1897 (note 10); and which used long rigamarol–ish titles as well, it too could have been the subject of the critique.

But to continue: the complainant’s poem itself was peculiar to say the least. The warning of its title was against thoughtlessly taking, as a partner at a dance, the first girl to whom one is introduced, for closer acquaintance might reveal her to be less than appealing in looks, dress, personality, conversational wit, and so forth. Not only that, but if she turns out not to be a good dancer as well, she might even “tread on your corn, and you’ll feel most forlorn.” The poem — not really worth quoting extensively, as, by its author’s own admission, it isn’t very good — was presumably intended as a symbolic warning to James to choose his subjects more carefully, and to pay greater attention to detail when illustrating them. But if so, it was a very strange way to set about it, even allowing for the possibility that it was the deliberately McGonagallesque equivalent of the Preston doctor’s drawing in Fig.6b, and one would dearly love to know what James himself thought of it!

My thanks are due to Bill Martin and Sandra Mason for sending me a copy of this critique, which is well worth looking up, for its curiosity value, if nothing else!

Note 12: In brief: Toby and his dog recover the stolen pearls of the Queen of Fairyland with the help of a Little Red Man, a Stork and a Seagull, the whole adventure taking place in Toby’s dream, as it turns out — shades of Lewis Carroll, of course, but not nearly as inventive.

Note 13: Ralph Waldo Trine’s book In Tune with the Infinite, subtitled “or, Fulness of Peace, Power and Plenty”, was first published in America in 1897, but by 1899 an edition had been published in England by George Bell and Sons. (In fact, between 1899 and 1930, Bell published at least twenty editions of it.) At least two editions were also published by Leopold B. Hill of London, one undated and unillustrated, and the other – the one we are concerned with here – undated and illustrated by Gilbert James. Using the acquisition dates of the copies in the British Library as a guide, the former was published in 1925, the latter in 1926. Page numbers quoted in what follows are to the latter edition (though actually the page numbers are the same in the former.)

The book became hugely popular as what we would now call a spiritual power–of–positive–thinking self–help manual, as its subtitle indicates, and as its opening notice makes clear:

“Within yourself lies the cause of whatever enters into your life. To come into the full realization of your own awakened interior powers is to be able to condition your life in exact accord with what you would have it.”

The spiritual flavour of the book is made evident by its use of terms and phrases like “ethereal planet, or soul world” (p.18), “psychic aura” (p.93), “the higher powers of the mind and spirit” (p.97), “soul life ... which relates us to Infinite Spirit” (p.99) and “the super–conscious realms” (p.178), God is the “Spirit of Infinite Life and Power” (p.3) and the “Spirit of Infinite Wisdom” (p.85), and to be in tune with that Spirit — to be in tune with the infinite — to open your mind to the “divine inflow” (p.172) — is the key to happiness and success in life. [“To be at one with God is to be at Peace” (p.109) was a phrase of Trine’s which became the caption of one of James’s illustrations (Fig.47).] Not that God is here necessarily the Christian’s God, for Trine had little time for orthodox or dogmatic Christianity (p.137), believing rather that all religions were basically one, and had equal monopolies on truth. He draws comparisons between Buddha and Christ, for example (p.76, p.160–1, p.174–5), this being the basis for James’s frontispiece (Fig.46). [Trine also draws parallels between Christ’s teaching and the teachings of Persian, Indian and Chinese sages, but these do not feature in James’s frontispiece.] In Trine’s view, a Buddhist can worship equally well in a Christian Church, and a Christian in a Buddhist temple — “for true worship, only God and the human soul are necessary.” (p.167)

By harnessing the power of our interior forces, Trine believed, one could stave off old age (p.56–60) [“Can joy drive away old age ?” was the caption of another of James’s illustrations — Fig.48] and one could cure bodily ailments. He believed that in the future doctors would be what we would now call psychiatrists, rather than the dispensers of medicines for the body, for he believed that all illness was psychosomatic. (p.63) Anger (p.32–3) and Fear (p.33, p.51–4, p.115–7) were two negative emotions that could trigger disease — hence the title of another of James’s illustrations, “If Fear should enter, the House is undone” (Fig.49). Likewise, non–belief in God was harmful in that materialism leads to pessimism and pessimism to weakness: it is optimism — the power of positive thinking — that leads to power. (p.119)

Trine also makes nods towards the benefits of vegetarianism and abstinence from alcohol (p.97), as well as the benefits of exercise, fresh air and sunlight (p.63). He also clearly believed in a life after “the transition we call death” (p.112; also p.18–9.)

As already stated in the main body of the article above, we do not know how James came to illustrate Trine’s book, whether it was “just another job” or whether it was because he was one of those people greatly influenced by it. [Recall that the book was one of those requested by American troops in the First World War — see note 63a to the Main Essay.] But there is perhaps a clue — and it is very much a perhaps — in one section of Trine (the italics are present in the original):

“The secret of the highest power is simply the uniting of the outer agencies of expression with the Power that works from within. Are you a painter ? Then in the degree that you open yourself to the power of the forces within will you become great instead of mediocre. You can never put into permanent form inspirations higher than those that come through your own soul. In order for the higher inspirations to come through it, you must open your soul, you must open it fully to the Supreme Source of all inspiration.” (p.128)

On the other hand, none of James’s illustrations to the book relate specifically to this passage, and Trine goes on to ask similarly, “Are you an orator ? ... Are you a singer ? ... etc”

A darker possibility — and again this is pure conjecture — is that Trine’s book was linked to delusions often associated with the development of general paresis.

Gallery Notes

Fig.1: A portrait of Gilbert James from an article about him, “The Devices of Gilbert James”, which was published in the March 24th 1897 issue of The Sketch (p.368). The portrait is very reminiscent of Aubrey Beardsley, on whom James may have modelled himself to some extent. [One of the reasons James gave for consenting to do the interview with Arthur Lawrence in The Idler was that he had read Lawrence’s earlier interview with Beardsley with great interest, and “should be proud to be so immortalised.” Lawrence’s interview with Beardsley had appeared in the March 1897 issue of The Idler. Also, as we saw in note 5a above, James, like Beardsley, was reticent about his age.]

Fig.2: James’s illustration of verse 75 of the first edition of The Rubaiyat as it appeared in The Sketch, April 1st 1896, where it featured as the “frontispiece of the Menu Card of the Omar Khayyam Club.” It can be found in The Book of the Omar Khayyam Club (1910), p.54, and was for a dinner at Frascati’s on 27th March 1896. The illustration was also used to illustrate verses 100 and 101 of FitzGerald’s fourth edition in Smithers’ Fourteen Drawings (p.63) and as the Frontispiece of the Routledge photogravure edition of The Rubaiyat.

Fig.3: James’s illustration of verse 20 of the third, fourth and fifth editions of The Rubaiyat as it appeared in The Sketch, September 2nd 1896. Like Fig.2, it served as a menu card for the Omar Khayyam Club. It can be found in The Book of the Omar Khayyam Club (1910), p.62, and was for a dinner at Frascati’s on 20th November 1896. Again like Fig.2, the illustration was also used in the Smithers edition (p.35) and as the illustration of verse 19 of FitzGerald’s first edition in the Routledge photogravure Rubaiyat.

Fig.4: James’s illustration of verse 12 of the third, fourth and fifth editions of The Rubaiyat as it appeared in The Sketch, December 23rd 1896. It never served as a menu card for the Omar Khayyam Club, but it was used in the Smithers edition (p.19) and as the illustration of verse 11 of FitzGerald’s first edition in the Routledge photogravure Rubaiyat.

Fig.5: The first of James’s illustrations of The Book of Ruth as it appeared in The Sketch for February 3rd 1897. It subsequently became the Frontispiece of the Routledge photogravure edition of The Books of Ruth and Esther published in 1905.

Fig.6a: The fifth of James’s illustrations of The Book of Ruth as it appeared in The Sketch for March 3rd 1897. It subsequently became the illustration facing p.32 of the Routledge photogravure edition of The Books of Ruth and Esther published in 1905. Fig.6b: “Eve tempted by the Serpent”, a Preston doctor’s protest against Fig.6a. It was published in the article “The Devices of Gilbert James”, in The Sketch, on March 24th 1897.

Fig.7: The fifth of James’s illustrations of The Song of Songs as it appeared in The Sketch for June 17th 1896. It became the illustration facing p.62 in the Routledge photogravure edition of The Song of Songs published in 1906.

Fig.8: The third of James’s illustrations of The Song of Songs as it appeared in The Sketch for May 27th 1896. This one did not subsequently feature in the Routledge photogravure edition of The Song of Songs published in 1906.

Fig.9: James’s illustration to “The Sad Story of Tristram and Isolt” as it appeared in The Sketch for 8th March 1899, the lines being by Matthew Arnold. It subsequently became the illustration facing p.60 of the Routledge photogravure edition of Poems by Matthew Arnold, published in 1905.

Fig.10: The seventh (and last) of James’s illustration to George Meredith’s Bhanavar the Beautiful as it appeared in The Sketch for 11th August 1897. The scene is from the very end of the story, where the heads of Ruark and Bhanavar are presented to King Mashalleed.

Fig.11: One of James’s illustrations to Thomas Carlyle’s Nibelungen Lied as it appeared in The Sketch for 5th January 1898. The scene can be found in Carlyle’s Critical and Miscellaneous Essays (London: Chapman & Hall, London 1870), vol. 2, p.252.

Fig.12: One of James’s illustrations on the theme of “The Light Side of Nature”, here “The Mermaid: Ancient and Modern.” It appeared in The Sketch for 1st April 1896. It is a nice example of James’s humour.

Fig.13: One of several illustrations of poems which James did for The English Illustrated Magazine. This one illustrated a poem of the Earl of Rochester, and appeared in the issue for August 1896.

Fig.14: One of a series of twelve illustrations which James did on the theme of “Superstitions of the Month” for The English Illustrated Magazine. This one illustrated a superstition relating to May, and appeared in the issue for May 1895.

Fig.15: “Dancers for the Temple (Japan)” : One of James’s illustrations to Frederick Dolman’s article “Dancing Girls of the East”, as it appeared in The Idler, vol. 16 (Aug. 1899 — Jan. 1900.)

Fig.16: “An Indian Skirt–dance” : Another of James’s illustrations to Frederick Dolman’s article “Dancing Girls of the East”, as it appeared in The Idler, vol. 16 (Aug. 1899 — Jan. 1900.)

Fig.17a: “Within”: one of a pair of illustrations by James published in The Pall Mall Magazine in December 1899, on facing pages — “Within” on p.518 and “Without” on p.519. The former shows the comfortable festive celebrations of a group of portly, well–nourished monks; the latter — Fig.17b: — in contrast, shows an ill–nourished ordinary man suffering in the winter cold outside the monastery.

Fig.18: James’s illustration “Perplext no more &c” (verse 41 of the 4th edition) appeared in the issue of The Tatler for Dec 10th 1902. This illustration did not appear in any book version of The Rubaiyat, but was used as a menu card by the Omar Khayyam Club in November 1902 (see note 1a.)

Fig.19: James’s illustration “Here with a Loaf &c” (parody of v.11 of 1st edition) appeared in the issue of The Tatler for Feb 24th 1904. A nice example of James’s humour, as is Fig.12 above.

Fig.20: James’s illustration “For in the Market–place &c” (v.36 of the 1st edition) appeared in the issue of The Sphere for Nov 11th 1905. This illustration was never used in any book version of The Rubaiyat.

Fig.21: James’s illustration “Strange, is it not ? &c” (v.64 of the 4th edition) appeared in the issue of The Sphere for Aug 17th 1907. This illustration, like Fig.20, was never used in any book version of The Rubaiyat.

Fig.22: James’s illustration of verse 3 of the 4th edition, as it appeared in the Smithers edition of Fourteen Drawings, p.11.

Fig.23a: James’s illustration of verse 13 of the 4th edition, as it appeared in the Smithers edition of Fourteen Drawings, p.23. James’s signature is to the left of the foot of the man sitting on the trellis, with the date ’96 to the right of the foot; and Fig.23b: the same illustration as it appeared in the Altemus edition, facing p.56, minus James’s signature.

Fig.24: James’s illustration of verse 17 of the 4th edition, as it appeared in the Smithers edition of Fourteen Drawings, p.31.

Fig.25a: James’s illustration of verse 82 of the 4th edition, as it appeared in the Smithers edition of Fourteen Drawings, p.59. James’s signature is at the bottom right of the picture; and Fig.25b: the same illustration as it appeared in the Altemus edition, facing p.88, minus James’s signature.

Fig.26a: A tinted version of James’s illustration of verse 5 of the 4th edition, as it appeared in the R.F. Fenno & Co., New York, edition of 1908 (Potter #263.) The black and white original can be found in Smithers p.15, and facing p.20 in the Routledge / Dutton photogravure edition. Fig.26b: is a hand–coloured version of the same, as it appeared in the Routledge ‘deluxe’ edition. Here it illustrates verse 5 of the 1st edition.

Fig.27: James’s frontispiece of the Foulis edition of 1907. It illustrates verses 6 and 7 of the 1st edition.

Fig.28: James’s “Persian design” title–page of the Foulis edition of 1907.

Fig.29: James’s illustration of verse 42 of 1st edition, as it appeared in the Foulis edition of 1907.

Fig.30: “Under the Peepul–tree”: One of James’s illustrations for Edith Holland’s, The Story of the Buddha (1916).

Fig.31: “The Buddha and the savage Elephant”: another of James’s illustrations for Edith Holland’s, The Story of the Buddha (1916).

Fig.32: “The Aged Faust”: One of James’s photogravure illustrations for Anna Swanwick’s translation of Goethe’s Faust (1906).

Fig.33: “The Path to the Brocken”: Another of James’s photogravure illustrations for Anna Swanwick’s translation of Goethe’s Faust (1906).

Fig.34: “Then entered in those Wisemen three, / Full reverently upon their knee”: One of James’s illustrations for a book of Christmas Carols (c.1906)

Fig.35: “The Beehives”: One of James’s illustrations for an English translation (from Danish) of Carl Ewald’s book The Queen Bee and Other Nature Stories (1907).

Fig.36: “A Former Owner of the Jars”: One of James’s illustrations for M.R. James’s ghost story, The Five Jars (1922).

Fig.37: James’s frontispiece of A Selection from the Arabian Nights (c.1907). It depicts Aladdin and the African Magician.

Fig.38: One of James’s black and white illustrations for A Selection from the Arabian Nights (c.1907). It depicts the African Magician offering new lamps for old in the story of Aladdin.

Fig.39: James’s Frontispiece for Mind your own Buzziness (c.1912), a quirky book for children by the Roodletoot (W.J. Sanderson.)

Fig.40: James’s depiction of “Mr Roodletoot”, from Mind your own Buzziness (c.1912), a quirky book for children by the Roodletoot (W.J. Sanderson.)

Fig.41: The cover of James’s book for children, Toby and his Little Dog Tan, or the Great Detective of Fairy Land (1903), illustrated by Charles Pears.

Fig.42: James’s frontispiece for Tristan and Iseult — an Ancient Tale of Love and Fate (c.1911).

Fig.43: “Priest making an Incantation over an Aztec Lady”: one of James’s illustrations of Lewis Spence’s Myths of Mexico and Peru (1913).

Fig.44: “The Aged Quetzalcoatl leaves Mexico on a Raft of Serpents”: another of James’s illustrations of Lewis Spence’s Myths of Mexico and Peru (1913).

Fig.45: “The Princess and the Gourd”: another of James’s (colour) illustrations of Lewis Spence’s Myths of Mexico and Peru (1913).

Fig.46: “And Buddha taught the same Truths”: James’s Frontispiece for Ralph Waldo Trine’s book, In Tune with the Infinite (1926). The caption is not a quote from the book, but rather a summary of ideas expressed in various parts of the book (see p.76, p.160–1 & p.174–5.)

Fig.47: “To be at one with God is to be at Peace”: one of James’s illustrations for Ralph Waldo Trine’s book, In Tune with the Infinite (1926). The caption is a quote from p.109, though the illustration itself faces p.32.

Fig.48: “Can Joy drive away Old Age ?”: another of James’s illustrations for Ralph Waldo Trine’s book, In Tune with the Infinite (1926). The caption is not a quote from the book, but rather a summary of ideas expressed on p.56–60. The illustration itself, though, faces p.64.

Fig.49: “If Fear should enter, the House is undone”: another of James’s illustrations for Ralph Waldo Trine’s book, In Tune with the Infinite (1926). The caption is not a quote from the book, but rather a summary of ideas expressed on p.51–55 and p.115–7. The illustration itself, though, faces p.112.

Fig.50a: Clement Shorter’s bookplate by Walter Crane; and Fig.50b: Crane’s bookplate for himself.

Fig.51a: The cover of the Smithers edition of Fourteen Drawings illustrating Edward FitzGerald’s Translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam by Gilbert James (1898); and Fig.51b: the cover of the Smithers edition of A Book of Fifty Drawings by Aubrey Beardsley (1896).

The above illustrations can be browsed by clicking here.

Books illustrated by Gilbert James:

The following list does not include the many editions of The Rubaiyat already mentioned at the start of this essay, only the Routledge photogravure edition, which is here mentioned again in the context of the series in which it appeared.

James had repeated associations with several publishers, as follows:

For George Routledge & Sons Ltd., London, and E.P Dutton & Co., New York, “photogravures after drawings” by James were used in eight of their Photogravure Series thus:

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (1904), tr. Edward FitzGerald — 12 illustrations.

Aucassin and Nicolete (1905), tr. Andrew Lang — 12 illustrations.

Poems by Matthew Arnold (1905) — 12 illustrations.

The Books of Ruth and Esther (1905) — 12 illustrations.

Faust: a Drama (1906), Goethe tr. Anna Swanwick — 8 illustrations.

Cupid and Psyche (1906), tr. William Adlington — 12 illustrations.

Walter W. Skeat, Patient Griselda, from Chaucer’s Clerk’s Tale (1906) — 8 illustrations.

The Song of Songs (1906) — 8 illustrations.

Note that some of the above are undated, and their dates of publication are variously estimated in library catalogues as a result. However, the Matthew Arnold and Goethe editions are dated 1905 and 1906 respectively, and they both contain lists of the other members of the series available in those years, so from these we can deduce the dates of publication of the first editions of any undated items.

For Siegle, Hill & Co., London he illustrated:

A Selection from Grimm’s Fairy Tales (c.1906) [Langham Series for Children, #3]

A Selection from Hans Anderson’s Fairy Tales (c.1906) [Langham Series for Children, #4]

A Selection from the Arabian Nights (c. 1907) [Langham Series for Children, #5]

The Roodletoot (W.J. Sanderson) Mind your own Buzziness (c.1912) — Another book for Children.

For George G. Harrap & Co., London he illustrated:

Lewis Spence, The Myths of Mexico and Peru (1913) — illustrated by Gilbert James and William Sewell (15 by Sewell, 21 by James), plus photographs of artefacts, monuments etc (hence 60 illustrations in all.)

Agnes M. Miall, William the Silent (1914) — a biographical work for older children — 8 illustrations — 4 by James.

Samuel W. Odell, The Princess Athura – a Romance of Iran (1914) — illustrated by Gilbert James and Jay Hambridge.

W.M. Petrovitch, Hero Tales and Legends of the Serbians (1914) — 32 illustrations in colour by Gilbert James and William Sewell.

Annie E. Mackilliam, The Story of Alfred the Great (1914) — biography — Heroes of All Time Series.

Edith Holland, The Story of the Buddha (1916) — biography — Heroes of All Time Series — illustrated by Gilbert James and S.W. Stanley — 10 illustrations (3 by James.)

E.C. Davies, Tales of Serbian Life (1919) — illustrated by Gilbert James, William Sewell and Noel L. Nisbet.

For Thomas Nelson & Sons, London, he illustrated:

Carl Ewald (tr. from Danish by G.C. Moore–Smith), The Queen Bee and Other Nature Stories (1907) — illustrated by Edmund Dulac, Gilbert James and others (2 by James.)

Hans Christian Andersen, The Ugly Duckling and Other Stories (1909) — 4 colour plates with black & white illustrations.

Tristan and Iseult — an Ancient Tale of Love and Fate (c.1912) — 8 illustrations (all in colour)

For Edward Arnold & Co., London, he illustrated:

Gilbert Watson, Sunshine and Sentiment in Portugal (1904) — 8 black and white illustrations. (James is not actually named as illustrator in the book, but the illustrations all bear his characteristic ‘signature.’)

Mrs Graham (Ada) Wallas, The Land of Play (1906)

M.R. James, The Five Jars (1922) — 7 illustrations.

In addition, James illustrated the following (in chronological order, though with some uncertainty as to the dates of some):

Lord Tennyson, Enoch Arden and The May Queen (Leopold B. Hill, “The Astolat Press”, London, c.1905) — with a frontispiece by James.

Christmas Carols (T.C. & E.C. Jack, London & Edinburgh, c.1906) — 4 illustrations (all in colour).

Poems of Tennyson (Caxton Publishing, London, c.1910), frontispiece by A.S. Hartrick, with 8 coloured illustrations by Gilbert James and Byam Shaw. [The Golden Poets Series.]

Hans Andersen’s Tales — told by Kathleen FitzGerald (George W. Jacobs, Philadelphia 1919).

W. Somerset Maugham, The Making of a Saint: a Romance of Medieval Italy (L.C. Page and Co., Boston, 1898) — 4 illustrations. Another edition, again with James’s illustrations, was published by the St Botolph Society, Boston, in 1922. Curiously, I am unaware of any English edition of this illustrated by James.

Owen Barfield, The Silver Trumpet (Faber & Gwyer Ltd, London, 1925) — 8 illustrations — Children’s fiction.

Ralph Waldo Trine, In Tune with the Infinite (Leopold B. Hill, London, c.1926) — 6 black & white illustrations. [It is not clear if the cover of this edition is by James, as it bears no initials or signature. However, it seems likely that he did design the cover for the unillustrated edition published by Leopold B. Hill in 1925 (see note 13), as this bears the initials G.J. in the lower left hand corner.]


For an Addendum on the fate of Gilbert James’s original drawings and watercolours done for the various editions of The Rubaiyat, click here.


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