Creative Person of the Week

24 Sep

Dr. Taha Hussein (November 14, 1889—October 28, 1973) (nicknamed  “Dean of Arabic Literature”)was one of the most influential 20th century Egyptian writers and intellectuals.

Taha was born in the village of Izbet el Kilo in in central upper Egypt. He was educated in religion and Arabic literature. Hussein was the seventh  of thirteen children, living in a lower-middle class family. He became blind at the age of three due to a faulty treatment by an unskilled practitioner and was dealt with a great deal of anguish throughout his entire life.

Hussein met and married Suzanne Bresseau while attending the University of Montpellier in France. She was referred to as “sweet voice”. This name came from her ability to read to him as he was trying to improve his grasp of the French language. Suzanne became his wife, best friend, mother of his two children and mentor throughout his life.

When the secular Cairo University was founded in 1908, he was keen to enter, and despite being blind and poor he earned a place. In 1914, he became the first graduate to receive a Ph.D. with a thesis on the skeptic poet and philosopher Abu-Alala’ Al-Ma’ari. He went on to become a professor of Arabic literature there. In 1919, he was appointed a professor of history at the Cairo University. Additionally, he was founding Rector of the University of Alexandria. He wrote many novels and essays, though in the West he is best
known for his autobiography, which was published in English as An Egyptian
(1932) and The Stream of Days (1943).

(Excerpt taken from


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