Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 359 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: This second of two volumes, together with Persian MS 358, presents the final eighteen chapters of an English ornate prosimetrical translation of Leily and Mejnoon completed by British poet, orientalist, and painter, Charles Fox (1749–1809). One of the earliest attempts to render a complete work of Persian poetry into English, Fox references a volume in his collection that he claims was anonymously written in 949 AH (1542–1543 CE), which his friend and subsequent owner Rev. Adam Clarke (1762–1832) later identified as by Hilālī. Fox completed his translation over the course of several years and continually amended it, hence the current manuscript appears executed on many variant papers and inks at different times. After completing the work, he travelled to London in 1802 to seek a publisher, but he failed to find one, hence it remains unpublished.
Author and Bibliographic antecedent: Hilālī, Badr al-Dīn, d. ca. 1528–1529;
هلالی، بدر الدین
Author, Translator and Scribe: Fox, Charles 1749–1809
Incipit: (beginning) Preceding Title page: Feb 24th 1801, Chapt 18th
Mejnoon a∫suming a disguise, with the
Pace of Leily's abode...Folio 1a: Chapt. 18 When the fond Lover with delirious step...
Colophon: No colophon, but completed by Fox before 6 Oct. 1802, when British poet Robert Southey (1774–1843) reports to publisher and author Joseph Cottle (1770–1853) that Fox had then arrived in London seeking to publish it.
Language(s): Persian

While the exact whereabouts of the original manuscript that Fox references now appears unaccounted for, Clarke's son describes it in his catalogue, p. 177, np. 153.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Various straight-grained laid papers handmade in Britain, including watermarks of ‘Jospeph Coles’, of papermaker Jospeph Coles Sprague (fl. 1788–1826) who then owned and operated the St Cuthberts Mill in Wells, Somerset dated 1800, and another undated mark of Edmeads & Pine, of Ivy Mill in Maidstone, Kent.
Dimensions (leaf): 192 × 116 mm.
Text area varies.
Foliation: Unfoliated except for some individual chapters.


Variant quires and singletons await analysis. No Catchwords.


Text in good condition.


Written in 1 column with variant lines throughout.


Written in a range of clear and hasty hands by Charles Fox.

Additions: Bookplates: The Left pastedown bears the ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ bookplate with shelfmark ‘1/K’ and ‘Bland MSS No. 579’ with the name and number crossed out and ‘Persian’ and ‘359’ written aside.


Probably uniformly bound as a set for Rev. Adam Clarke shortly before his death, together with Persian MS 355 to 357.

Oversewn on three recessed cords with wove paper watermarked ‘J. Whatman 1831, manufactured by the Whatman Paper Mill in Maidstone, Kent, then owned and operated by William Balston (1759–1849) added as endpapers at beginning and end. Untrimmed, endbands omitted. Covered in half British-tan coloured calfskin leather with medium-brown shell-patterned marbled paper sides.

Spine panels paletted with single fillets, with the title of the set, volume number, and translator's names tooled with handle letters in the second to fourth panels down, respectively.

199 × 128 × 31 mm.

Binding in fair but stable condition, with spine surface cracked, board edges and joints abraded, upper headcap broken, tailcap lost, corners bumped. Opening to the gutter margins restricted due to oversewing.


Origin: Completed by Charles Fox (1749–1809), in either Bristol; and/or Bath; before 6 Oct. 1802 CE.

Provenance and Acquisition

Subsequently acquired at the sale of Fox's library by Methodist minister Rev. Adam Clarke (1762–1832), who had the set bound into their present form. After Clarke's death, his son Jospeh Butterworth Bulmer Clarke (d. 1855) inherited the volumes and describes them in a catalogue published in 1835.

The next year on 20 June 1836, Clarke's son auctioned his father's collection through the London firm of Sotheby & Son where bookseller William Straker (fl. 1831–1856) purchased it for £2 10 shillings.

Probably sold by Straker to scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865), after whose death, London bookseller Bernard Quaritch (1819–1899) sold his oriental manuscripts in 1866 to Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford (1812–1880).

Purchased by Enriqueta Rylands (1843–1908) in 1901 from James Ludovic Lindsay, 26th Earl of Crawford (1847–1913).

Bequeathed by Enriqueta Rylands (1843–1908) in 1908 to the John Rylands Library.

Record Sources

Bibliographical description based on an index created by Reza Navabpour circa 1993, derived from a manuscript handlist by Michael Kerney, circa 1890s and his Bibliotheca Lindesiana, Hand-list of Oriental Manuscripts: Arabic, Persian, Turkish, 1898.

Manuscript description by Jake Benson in 2023 with reference to the volume in hand.


To book an in-person or online appointment to consult the manuscript, visit Using the Special Collections Reading Rooms. For any other enquiries please email uml.special-collections@manchester.ac.uk.


    Robert Southey to Joseph Cottle, 6 Oct. 1802. 'The Collected Letters of Robert Southey, Part Two: 1798-1803'. Edited by I. Packer and L. Pratt Romantic Circles (Aug. 2011), No. 725. Accessed: 20 Apr. 2023
    W. P. Courteney and P. Carter, 'Charles Fox 1740?–1809' Oxford National Dictionary of Bibliography 24 May 2007). Accessed: 19 Apr. 2023.
    J. B. B. Clarke, A Historical and Descriptive Catalogue of the European and Asiatic Manuscripts in the Library of the late Dr. Adam Clarke, F.S.A., M.R.I.A. (London: J. Murrary, 1835), p. 98, no. CCXXIIV.
    Paul Kaufman, ‘Charles Fox: An Early Interpreter of Persian Poetry’ Comparative Literature Studies, Vol. 2, No. 1 (1835), pp. 79-86.
    Sotheby and Son, Catalogue of the Highly Interesting and Valuable Collection of European and Asiatic Manuscripts of the late Dr. Adam Clarke, F.S.A., M.R.I.A. (London: [Printed by Compton and Richie], 1836), p. 82, no. 594.

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute


Comment on this record

Please fill out your details.

How are we using your feedback? See our privacy policy.

See the Availability section of this record for information on viewing the item in a reading room.