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Marguerite Taos Amrouche

Known for Being

The first Algerian woman to become a published author.

Major Accomplishments

Marguerite Taos Amrouche was the first Algerian woman to become a published author. Through her mother’s influence she became interested in the rich oral traditions of the Kabyle Berber people. In 1934 she finished her initial schooling in Tunisia, and in the following year she went to France to study at the École Normale at Sèvres. She worked briefly as an assistant at a boarding school in Radès. In 1936, Amrouche collected and began to interpret Kabyle songs. From 1937–1938 she presented her repertoire in Paris and in Munich. In 1939 at the Congrès de Chant de Fès, she received a scholarship to study at the Casa Velasquez in Spain, where she researched the ties between Berber and Spanish popular songs.

Amrouche’s first novel, Jacinthe Noire (1947), recounts the story of a young Tunisian girl who is sent to a French pension for her studies and differences in lifestyle, attitudes, and experiences set her apart. The themes of the novel are exile, prejudice, and rupture. It is one of the earliest ever published in French by a North African woman writer. Her second novel, Rue des Tambourins (1960), describes a sense of marginality and owes a great deal to its author’s recollections of her childhood in Tunisia. Le Grain Magique (1966)—a collection of legends, short stories, songs, poems, and proverbs from the Kabyle, translated by Amrouche from Berber into French—is perhaps her best-known work. In addition to her novels, she recorded several phonograph albums and produced a number of programs for French radio and television, including Chants Sauvés de l’Oubli and Hommage au Chant Profond.

Last modified: 01/09/2019

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