Humphrey T. Davies

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Humphrey T. Davies is a translator of Arabic fiction, historical and classical texts.[1] Born in Britain and based in Cairo, he has translated at least 18 Arabic works into the English language[1] and is a two-time winner of the Banipal Prize.[2]


Davies studied Arabic at Cambridge University and the American University in Cairo's Centre for Arabic Studies Abroad (CASA) in the 1960s.[1][3] He completed a PhD in Arabic at the University of California, Berkeley in 1981.[1][2] Davies has worked for NGOs and funding institutions in a number of countries in the Arab world, including Save the Children in Palestine and the Ford Foundation in Sudan. He began translating in 1997, and in later years he has focused solely on literary translation.[1][3]


Davies has translated both classical and colloquial Arabic texts and has noted in particular his "respect for colloquial Arabic."[3] He worked in collaboration on the El-Said Badawi Dictionary of Egyptian Arabic.[3] Davies began translating while working on a critical edition and lexicon of Yusuf al-Shirbini’s Hazz al-Quhuf bi-Sharh Qasid Abi Shaduf (Brains Confounded by the Ode of Abu Shaduf Expounded), a 17th-century Egyptian text on Ottoman rural culture that is considered to be a valuable source for the period's colloquial Egyptian Arabic.[1][2]

Davies' first published translation was a short story by Sayed Ragab, which appeared in Banipal magazine in 2000.[2] Since then, he has translated several well-known works of Arabic literature, including Alaa Al-Aswany's The Yacoubian Building (Arabic: عمارة يعقوبيان‎, ʿImārat Yaʿqūbīān), voted one of 50 outstanding translations in the last 50 years by the British Society of Authors, and Elias Khoury's novel "Gate of the Sun" (Arabic: باب الشمس‎, Bab al-shams), which won the English PEN "Writers in Translation" award and won the Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation.[1] Davies says that when he translates the work of a living author, he makes it his practice to call upon the author for advice.[1] His work has been published by AUC Press, Words Without Borders, and Banipal.

Other translations include:[1][2]

Awards and honours[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Tresilian, David (12 Jan 2012). "Davies: translator of Arabic literature". Al-Ahram Weekly. Retrieved 30 November 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Humphrey Davies". Banipal Magazine of Modern Literature. Retrieved 30 November 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d Lindsey, Ursula (11 Feb 2010). "Crossing the language divide". Egyptian Independent. Retrieved 30 November 2012. 
  4. ^ Chad W. Post (April 14, 2014). "2014 Best Translated Book Awards: Fiction Finalists". Three Percent. Retrieved April 18, 2014. 

External links[edit]