Correspondence of Omar Ali-Shah

Archive Unit

Scope and Content

Omar Ali-Shah's correspondence with Graves discusses Sufism and Persian poetry, with frequent expressions of his belief in their mystic brotherhood. Their collaboration over Graves's controversial translation of 'The Rubaiyyat of Omar Khayaam', based on an unseen manuscript alleged to be in the possession of the Shah family, is a strand of the correspondence, as is the critical aftermath to its publication in November 1967. Persian scholars such as A.J. Arberry, K. de B. Codrington, Major J.C.E. Bowen and L.P. Elwell Sutton are mentioned in the correspondence: the latter having issued a libel action against Graves in 1968. Ali-Shah also comments and advises on Graves's relationships with Aemelia Laraçuen and Juli Simon. The correspondence gives news of Ali-Shah's family - in 1964 Ali-Shah married Anna Manacardi, who had written her doctoral thesis on Graves's poetry - and that of his brother Idries Shah.


Material is arranged chronologically although the order is approximate as many items are only partially dated.


Canelluñ Collection number: CC0455

This refers to the arrangement of the papers in Robert Graves’ study before they were transferred to the College.

Custodial History

Omar Ali-Shah's correspondence arrived in three separate chronological sequences covering 1966 to 1968 [WG ref CC1600], 1968 to 1970 [WG ref CC0456], and 1963 to 1973 (with only occasional items for 1966 to 1970) [WG ref CC0455]. These three sequences have been amalgamated into one chronologically arranged series.

Family Names