Thursday, 9 January 2014

May Ziade (1886 - 1941) The Lebanon

During the First World Waar, The Lebanon was part of the Ottoman Empire and controlled by the Syrians.  Beirut was the centre of several different movements advocating reform which sent delegates to a Franco-Syrian Conference held in Paris.

May Ziade was born in Nazareth in Palestine.  Her father, Elias Ziade from The Lebanon, was a newspaper editor and her mother was Palestinian.  In 1908 the family went to live in Egypt and May had several articles published in her Father's paper.  Her first independent published anthology "Fleurs de rêve" was written in French under the pen name Isis Copia.

May was well-known in literary circles and began holding literary salons (where like minded people gathered to discuss and read their work) which were supported by many writers and intellectuals of the day.

May, who never married, went on to support the notion of emancipation of Arab women, organising a conference in 1921 calling upon Arab women to aspire toward freedom and to be aware of western ways without sacrificing their own identity.   May died in Cairo in October 1941.

With thanks to Suzanne Daou a modern Lebanese writer and translator who suggested I research May.