Zaynab Fawwaz


Zaynab Fawwaz
 (1846-1914) (زينب فواز) is a Lebanese essayist, novelist, poet, and dramatist. She immigrated from south Lebanon to Egypt as a young woman and became a prominent writer on gender issues in the nationalist press.

Much remains mysterious about her early life. She was the daughter of a Shi?ite family of modest means from Tibnin, Jabal Amil, and as a young girl she apparently was employed or taken into the local ruling household of Ali Bey al-As?ad. She caught the attention of Ali Bey's consort, Fatima bint As?ad alKhalil, a literate woman who taught her the rudiments of reading and writing, and perhaps more. Sources provide divergent narratives on Fawwaz's first marriage(s) and her move to Egypt.

She became the protégée of newspaper publisher and litterateur Hasan Husni Pasha al-Tuwayrani, in whose newspaper, al-Nil, she published essays in the early 1890s while also publishing in women's journals and other periodicals.

Her essays and poetry were published in al-Rasa?il al-Zaynabiyya (The Zaynab epistles, c. 1906); like other intellectuals of her time, she wrote across genres, publishing a massive biographical dictionary of famous women, al-Durr almanthur fi tabaqat rabbat al-khudur (Scattered pearls on the generations of the mistresses of seclution, 1894), as well as two novels, Husn al-awaqib aw Ghada al-zahira (Good consequences, or Ghada the radiant, 1899) and al-Malik Kurush awwal muluk al-Fars (King Kurush, first sovereign of the Persians, 1905), and one play, al-Hawa wa al-wafa (Passion and fidelity, 1893). She is considered an Arab feminist pioneer; her work is notable for emphasizing the importance of women's access to income-generating employment.

(From website)

Publications: (Arabic)


  • al-Durr almanthur fi tabaqat rabbat al-khudur (Scattered pearls on the generations of the mistresses of of Seclusion, 1894) الدر المنثور في طبقات ربات الخدور-" أرخت فيه ل456 امرأة من نساء الشرق والغرب.
  • al-Rasa?il al-Zaynabiyya (The Zaynab epistles, c. 1906)  الرسائل الزينبية"، وفيها ناصرت قضايا المرأة وحقها في التعليم والعمل
  • "مدراك الكمال في تراجم الرجال"،
  • "الجوهر النضيد في مآثر الملك الحميد"،
  • ديوان شعر جمعت فيه منظومات لها، .


  • Husn al-awaqib aw Ghada al-zahira (Good consequences, or the radiant, 1899)
  • al-Malik Kurush awwal muluk al-Fars (King Kurush, first sovereign of the Persians, 1905),


  • al-Hawa wa al-wafa (Passion and fidelity, 1893).

(Translated from Arabic into English)

  • Booth, Marilyn. May Her Likes Be Multiplied: Biography and Gender Politics in Egypt. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.
  • "Fair and Equal Treatment," translated by Marilyn Booth. In Opening the Gates: A Century of Arab Feminist Writing, edited by Margot Badran and Miriam Cooke. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990.

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