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Known for Being

The first professional writer to take a critical approach to women's stories or novels written by Arab women.

The first Arab woman to have a literary salon.

A key Lebanese figure in the Arab literary scene in the early 20th century.

Major Accomplishments

May Ziade was a key Lebanese figure in the Arab literary scene in the early 20th century who firmly established herself as a vibrant female voice in what was clearly a man's world at the time. She was a journalist, but also wrote fiction with strong female characters, poetry, and political-cultural books, and magazine articles often on the condition of Arab women.

She questioned the social norms and cultural values of the period, and addressed issues of Arab patriarchy. Ziade played a pioneering role in "introducing feminism into Arab culture," according to writer and critic Hossam Aql, who credits her as being "the first to use the term 'the women's cause'. With a command of nine languages, Ziade was unrivaled during that period of Arabic literature. She arrived in Egypt with her family around 1907 and held popular weekly salons for the predominantly male Egyptian literary elite and intellectuals. Among those who attended her salon on a regular basis are: Mahmoud Abbas al-Aqad, Taha Hussein, Antoine Gemayel, Mustapha Sadeq al-Rifae, Hafiz Ibrahim, and Khalil Moutran. She is recognized as a pioneer literary figure who addressed women's causes in the early 20th century.

Last modified: 01/09/2019

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