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The Rubaiyat: “a suicide’s handbook.”

Suicide: Everything in Perspective.

 Header pic – The Suicide, Illustration for Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam by Elihu Vedder.

1902 – Howard R. Miller shot himself in Chicago and a notebook of quotes from the Rubaiyat was found in his pocket.

1910 – Arthur Newland jumped overboard from a ferry near Mosman and amongst a bundle of papers handed to the police by a witness was a copy of the Rubaiyat.

1911 – Ernest F. Watson shot himself on the banks of the Macquarie River and had quoted the Rubaiyat in a letter to a friend, saying “I cannot go on.”

1921 – Josephine Wilson was found dead in Melbourne, suspected to have killed herself with chloral hydrate. Her belongings included a copy of the Rubaiyat.

1927 – Betty Gottlieb killed herself after murdering her boyfriend H.W. Bannon. The police searched her belongings and found an underlined passage from the Rubaiyat: “And fear not lest Existence closing your Account, and mine, should know the like no more.”

1931 – Edward E. Watts shot himself in Campsie NSW. In letters he sent to his friends prior to his suicide he quoted passages from the Rubaiyat.

1931 – Thomas D. Cosstick was found decapitated after placing his head on the Ballarat railway line . In a letter posted before his death he quoted a passage from the Rubaiyat, ” Tis all a chequer board of nights and days, where destiny with men for pieces plays. Hither and thither moves and mates and stays, And one by one back in the closet lays”

1937 – Beatrice N. Wilson, suspected suicide was found dead in Manila. Investigating police found her copy of the Rubaiyat with underlined passages indicating her depression. Under the “Tamam Shud” that closes the book, Wilson wrote: “Better still – smash one!”

1945 – George Marshall died with a copy of the Rubaiyat found open on his chest, verse 23 underlined “Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend, Before we, too, into the dust descend.

1948 – Carl Webb was found dead on Somerton Beach, a suspected suicide he had a torn slip of paper from the Rubaiyat in his pocket with the two words “Tamam Shud” printed on it, meaning The End. The book was found discarded nearby.

1951 – Colgan J. Bell’s mangled body was found at Adelaide Railway Station. A search of his hotel room revealed a copy of the Rubaiyat. Reports into the case said that the book had become known to police as “The suicide’s handbook.”

1953 – Joan L. Ogilvie was found dead in London following an overdose of Seconal, she had underlined verses 32 and 34 from her copy of the Rubaiyat.

“There was a Door to which I found no Key: There was a Veil past which I could not see: Some little Talk awhile of ME and THEE There seemed—and then no more of THEE and ME.Then to this earthen Bowl did I adjourn My Lip the secret Well of Life to learn: And Lip to Lip it murmur’d—”While you live, Drink!—for once dead you never shall return.”

1974 – The patient in bed in ward 3 looked up at me, his illnesses far too many to be treated, his years an age beyond mine, of his future only hours remaining. But he smiled as I left, weak as he was, and quoted a passage from the Rubaiyat. “Myself was young and did eagerly frequent doctor and saint, and heard great argument about it and about: but evermore came out by the same door as in I went.

Some details lifted from … one of the more informative sites on this subject.

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3 Comments Post a comment
  1. In a recent post on the professor’s site there was much commentary about assumptions. As we are getting closer, we are getting further away. A lot of our data is derived from a Coroner’s report, SAPOL data and photos.
    We now know that the Police knew the identity, that the Coroner had a good idea what was going on, the ME most likely failed to list the most evident injury to Carl and the photographer was complicit with aiding the misinformation.
    The need for independent (or should I yell INDEPENDENT) corroborating evidence is greater now than ever.
    There is some indication that the sea was involved and perhaps Gordon has reason to go there. We know independently that H C Reynolds was a Steward and the person pictured on the ID card was also a steward on the same ships and routes. The person pictured had previously served as an underaged driver for “S” UK in WW I.
    There were two white male caucasians in the fridge early in December, and they were the only two occupiers present. One of course was Carl with the other one being 5″10″ (while upright) with brown hair greying at the sides. He had grey eyes. He was found on Semaphore Beach and there was no-one left in his life to miss him.
    One Freeman of the time was a chemist. But was the Freeman with the R.O.K. a chemist? Or was he the Freeman whose brother in law has his photo on the ID card?

    October 10, 2022
  2. Clive #

    And mid-December, Tibor Kaldor, 5′ 8″ joined them.

    October 10, 2022
  3. Even though the smaller Carl may have lasted beyond 1948, there was a J Kean in the engineering crew with him.

    October 12, 2022

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