Mary 'Ajami

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Mary 'Ajami (1888−1965) was a feminist and pioneering Arabic-language writer.

A Christian, she spent her formative years in Damascus, where she received an education from Irish and Russian missionary schools, before studying nursing at the American University of Beirut in 1906.[1] She was a writer—frequently under the pseudonym of Layla (her mother's name) for fear of reprisals—as well as a poet, journalist and founder of the Damascus Women's Literary Club in 1920. Another of her achievements was the establishment of the literary journal Al-Arous (The Bride), a women's journal, in 1910, which ran for eleven years.

'Ajami's successful career was tempered by elements of tragedy in her personal life. For many years, she longed to continue her studies abroad, but her father's death and the outbreak of war prevented her from doing so.[2] Joseph T. Zeidan reminds us that her achievements "must be assessed in the light of formidable obstacles she encountered while struggling to keep her journal alive, not least of which were her father's attempts to persuade her to quit."[3] She was somewhat of an anomaly for her time, and like her more famous peer May Ziadeh, Mary 'Ajami never married.


  1. ^ Juha, Mishal (2001). ميشال جحا. Beirut: Riay El-Rayyes Books S.A.R.L. p. 11. ISBN 9953-21-045-4.
  2. ^ Booth, Marilyn (2006). "Babies or the Ballot? Women's Constructions of the Great War in Egypt". In Olaf Farschid, Manfred Kropp, and Stephan Dähne (eds.). The First World War As Remembered in the Countries of the Eastern Mediterranean. "Beiruter Texte und Studien", 99. Wurzburg: Ergon-Verlag. p. 79. ISBN 3-89913-514-8.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)
  3. ^ Zeidan, Joseph T. (1995). Arab Women Novelists: The Formative Years and Beyond. SUNY series in Middle Eastern Studies. Albany: State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-7914-2172-4.,pp.46-49