Model Role Details

May Ziade

May Ziade

Sector : Cultural Figures , Poets

Personal Info

  • Country of residence : Egypt
  • Gender : Female
  • Born in : 1886
  • Age : 130
  • Curriculum vitae :


May Ziade (February 11, 1886. – 1941), was a prolific Christian Lebanese - Palestinian poet, essayist and translator.

A writer for the Arabic newspapers and periodicals, Ziade also wrote a number of poems and books. She was a key figure of the Nahda in the early 20th-century Arab literary scene, and is known for being an "early feminist" and a "pioneer of Oriental feminism."
Ziade was born to a Lebanese Maronite father (from the Chahtoul family) and a Palestinian mother in Beirut Vilayet (Ottoman Syria). Her father, Elias Ziade, was editor of al-Mahrūsah.

Ziade attended primary school in Nazareth. As her father came to the Kesrouan region of Mount Lebanon, at 14 years of age she was sent to Aintoura to pursue her secondary studies at a French convent school for girls. Her studies in Aintoura had exposed her to French literature, and Romantic literature, to which she took a particular liking. She attended several Roman Catholic schools in Lebanon and in 1904, returned to Nazareth to be with her parents. She is reported to have published her first articles at age 16.

Ziade never married, but she had a relationship with one of the Arab literary greats of the twentieth century, the Lebanese-American poet and writer, Khalil Gibran. Although the pair never met, they maintained a written correspondence until Gibran's death in 1931. 

Ziade was well known in Arab literary circles, receiving many male and female writers and intellectuals at a literary salon she established in 1912. Among those that frequented the salon were Taha Hussein, Khalil Moutrane, Ahmed Lutfi el-Sayed, Antoun Gemayel, Walieddine Yakan, Abbas el-Akkad and Yacoub Sarrouf.

Though she never married, from 1912 onward, she maintained an extensive written correspondence with Khalil Gibran. While they never met as he was living in New York City, the correspondence lasted 19 years until his death in 1931, and Ziade is credited with introducing his work to the Egyptian public.


Achievements and Awards

Ziade's first published work, Fleurs de rêve (1911), was a volume of poetry, written in French, using the pen name of Isis Copia. She wrote quite extensively in French, and occasionally English or Italian, but as she evolved she increasingly found her literary voice in Arabic. She published works of criticism and biography, volumes of free-verse poetry and essays, and novels. She translated several European authors into Arabic, including Arthur Conan Doyle from English, 'Brada' (the Italian Contessa Henriette Consuelo di Puliga) from French, and Max Müller from German. She hosted the most famous literary salon of the Arab world during the twenties and thirties in Cairo.
Well noted titles of her works in Arabic (with English translation in brackets) include:
- Al Bâhithat el-Bâdiya باحثة البادية ("Seeker in the Desert," pen name of Malak Hifni Naser)
- Sawâneh fatât سوانح فتاة (Platters of Crumbs)
- Zulumât wa Ichâ'ât ظلمات وأشعة (Humiliation and Rumors...)
- Kalimât wa Ichârât كلمات وأشارات (Words and Signs)
- Al Saha'ef الصحائف (The Newspapers)
- Ghayat Al-Hayât غاية الحياة (The Meaning of Life)
- Al-Musâwât المساواة (Equality)
- Bayna l-Jazri wa l-Madd بين الجزر والمد (Between the Ebb and Flow)

In 1999, May Ziade was named by the Lebanese Minister of Culture as the personage of the year around which the annual celebration of "Beirut, cultural capital of the Arab world" would be held.

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