Leon Zaven Surmelian (Լեւոն Զաւէն Սիւրմէլեան in Armenian) an Armenian-American author, was born in Trabzon, Trebizond Vilayet in 1905 and died in 1995. He translated the Armenian epic, Daredevils of Sassoun ("Sasna Dzrer") into English, published by the Armenian General Benevolent Union, 1964. Other books in English include I Ask you Ladies and Gentlemen and 98.6o
Leon Surmelian was born in 1905 in Trabzon in the Trebizond Vilayet of the Ottoman Empire to pharmacist Garabed Surmelian, and Zvart Diradurian. Surmelian was the 3rd youngest of 4 children (1 brother and 2 sisters).
In 1915 during the Armenian Genocide, Surmelian lost both parents, but was adopted, along with his 3 siblings, by a Greek Doctor who was a family-friend. In 1916, when Surmelian was 11, he boarded a Russian ship to Batumi, then Krasnodar. After an armistice in 1918, Surmelian and his friends arrived in Constantinople and later to a school in Armash. About a year later, Surmelian and his friends decided to go to Armenia. In 1920, Surmelian returned to Constantinople to attend a religious school and orphanage.
In 1922, Surmelian moved to America (Kansas) with the Armenian Union of Agriculture and later began studying at Universities in Nebraska and California.
Surmelian began editing the weekly Armenian Messenger in Los Angeles in 1931. Surmelian wrote his first English book in 1945, an autobiography that depicted the events of the Genocide through the eyes of Surmelian as a 10-year-old. Surmelian's 2nd book, 98.6 ° was released in 1950 and in 1968, Surmelian released his 3rd book, "For apples of Immortality: Folktales of Armenia ".
From 1958 to 1969, Surmelian gave lectures at Universities and other educational institutions in California. Surmelian died in 1995.
- Library of Congress catalog card number 64-66183