Marianna Török

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Marianna Török
Countess Török von Szendrö
May Torok von Szendro.JPG
Countess Marianna wearing an Islamic veil
Born(1877-06-15)June 15, 1877
Philadelphia, PA, United States
DiedAugust 5, 1968(1968-08-05) (aged 91)
Graz, Austria
Cemetery of St. Leonhard, Graz, Austria
SpouseArthur, Freiherr von Klingspor[citation needed]
Abbas Hilmi II (m. 1910; div. 1913)
Full name
Birth name: Marianne May
Arabic name: Djavidan Hanem
Arabic: جاويدان هانم
FatherJózsef, 3rd Count Török de Szendrő
MotherSofie, Gräfin Vetter von der Lilie
ReligionSunni Islam (by conversion)
SignatureMarianna Török's signature

Marianna Török de Szendrő (German: May Torok von Szendro; June 15, 1877 in Philadelphia, US – August 5, 1968 in Graz) was a Hungarian noble, second spouse of the Khedive Abbas II of Egypt.


Marianna was the daughter of Sofie, Countess Vetter von der Lilie, and stepdaughter of Hungarian inventor Tivadar Puskás. She spent most of her youth at Wassen Castle, south of Graz, Austria. At age 12, she allegedly wrote short articles for various journals and played the piano. Her elder brother Count József Török de Szendrő (1873–98), following Austrian tradition, was enrolled at the Theresianum, where he befriended Abbas Bey, an Egyptian prince. Marianna and Abbas met at a ball given by the academy. Shortly thereafter, he was made ruler in Egypt. They met the second time in Paris in 1900, where they fell in love, and Abbas invited her to Egypt.


The visit developed into a long romance culminating into a secret marriage contracted in Alexandria's Montazah Palace, witnessed by two sheiks. The official marriage took place on February 28, 1910, with the Grand Mufti of Egypt officiating.[1] Marianna converted to Islam in the presence of the Grand Mufti. She was then called Princess Djavidan Hanem, wife of the Khedive of Egypt. Abbas was separated from his first spouse, Ikbal Hanem, a former slave in his mother's household.

Khedive Ismail Pasha was the last ruler of Egypt to have a harem, and upon his departure, the büyük (elder), ortangı (middle) and küçük (small) harems, as well as the aghas (eunuchs) became out of use, and the custom at the Egyptian court had become one consort, until now. The marriage was controversial.

As consort[edit]

Marianna accompanied the khedive on his travels to Turkey and Europe as well as inside Egypt, something unknown before. As court protocol disapproved of women from participating in state events, Marianna, with the complicity of her spouse, attended official receptions dressed up as a man. It was as a young palace official "dressed up in an irritating stuffy high collar and tarboosh that I accompanied the Khedive on 8 February 1909, at the laying of the final stone during the heightening of the Aswan Dam", she describes in her memoirs. On one of these occasions, forgetting she was supposed to be a man, the Khedive looked affectionately at her and asked: "Mon amour, est-ce que tu n'es pas fatiguée?", which shocked people standing close by.

In her own memoirs, "Harem" published in Berlin in 1930, attempts to describe the life of women in the confined environment of the Sultanic and Khedivial haramliks. She claimed to have an active role in the creation of Tchibukli Saray right from its drawing board, assigned and approved the landscaping of the palace gardens. As a member of the Red Cross she brought solace to victims of the first Balkan War of 1912. Marianna entertained wives of foreign dignitaries at Mostorod Palace playing the piano. She also staged seances, which were however, stopped by Abbas.

In an article published 3 March 1928 in the Nationalzeitung, Abbas Hilmi's former Hungarian Kelemen Árvay, describes Djavidan Hanem as: "a rare beauty and an intelligent warmhearted lady who had a soothing influence on the often petulant Khedive.", continuing:

She lived in splendor in Mostorod Palace near Matarieh. The fantastic property had a large garden and extensive agriculture domains whose revenue was assigned to her. She was the good spirit for Europeans at the Khedivial court.


Marianna and Abbas divorced in 1913.[1] The reason was Abbas's new relationship with Georgette Mesny, a.k.a. Andrée de Lusange, whom he met at Maxim's in Paris the previous summer. According to Kelemen A'rvay, they returned to Egypt together. Lusange was described as "a 20 years old short, lean, heavily painted woman who distributed her favors for 20 francs and once in the khedive's entourage spied for the French government." She was also blamed for Marianna's departure: "It was her intrigues that pushed Djavidan Hanem to leave the palace and return to Europe."

Later life[edit]

She was given an allowance after the divorce and kept her Muslim name. She sold cosmetics in Vienna and worked as an actress in Berlin in the 1920s. She wrote radio-plays, authored several works including "Back to Paradise", "The Great Seven", "Soul And Body" and "Gulzar", and gave piano concerts.

During World War II she lived in Vienna and during the end of the war, moved to Innsbrück where she worked as an interpreter for the French Military Government in July 1945.


  • Raafat, Samir (October 6, 1994). "Queen for a Day". Al-Ahram Weekly.
  1. ^ a b Michael T. Thornhill, 'Abbas Hilmi II (1874–1944)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 21 April 2017

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