Today, Google celebrated the birthday of the late Lebanese author, translator, and feminist Anbara Salam Khalidi.
Khalidi was born into a renowned family in Beirut in 1897. Her father Salim Ali Salam was a deputy in the Ottoman parliament and a merchant. Her brother Saeb Salam was a former Lebanese prime minister.
Thanks to her status, Khalidi had the privilege to travel through the Middle East. She also attended the Anglican Syrian College in Ras Beirut, which is the predecessor of the American University of Beirut (AUB).
Khalidi also studied in the United Kingdom. That was a unique opportunity that not many Lebanese women enjoyed in the early 20th century.
Her readings and travels allowed her to see the world differently. At 15, she traveled to Cairo. “The relative freedoms of Egyptian women helped inspire her progressive stance towards traditional Lebanese norms.”
In 1927, she abandoned her veil during a lecture at AUB. Her action sparked controversy at the time. She also joined the women’s movement in Lebanon.
The author was an advocate of women’s rights in the Middle East. She was the first person to translate Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ and Virgil’s ‘Aeneid’ into Arabic.
In 1978, she published her memoir, which was translated into English under the title ‘Memoirs of an Early Arab Feminist’ in 2013.
She wrote a chapter about the Ottoman ruler of Syria and Lebanon: “Jamal Pasha and his Crimes.” She mentioned how cruel the infamous Ottoman military leader was.
Khalidi died in Beirut in May 1986.