Feminine Voice from Syria’s Past: The Brilliant Syrian Orator Who Enchanted The World


There are many women role models in Syria, but this is the first time that I felt attached to someone from the past. Without hearing her, she gained a place in my heart with her pride and beauty, and to me she seems located somewhere between reality and a an eastern fairytale. Miss Sumayeh Attiyeh was a Syrian lecturer and a translator lived in USA in beginning of the 20th century.

brochure

Perhaps the translation part connected me to her, one of her achievements is the translation of “The Last Days of Pompeii” from English to Arabic. Or as a Hookah lover, maybe her picture with the Hookah. She brought her authentic identity to her audience and told stories of life and traditions in Syria and Turkey. No one denied her personal charm. US President Theodore Roosevelt said that “She is a remarkable girl.”

Sumayeh Attiyeh with traditional smoke in MENA area "Hookah"

Sumayeh Attiyeh with traditional smoke in MENA area “Hookah”

The Lyceum Magazine (which was published at the beginning of the 1920’s, wrote about Syrian orator Sumayeh Attiyeh “In ten years, Sumayeh Attiyeh has established herself as one of the most skillful and effective lecturers of the day…Many celebrated men and women, including President Theodore Roosevelt and William Jennings Brayan, have testified to the spell of her oratory. Her memory abounds with colorful and sparkling anecdotes of her childhood days in Syria, and she moves her audiences to smiles and tears. Not only by her dramatic eloquence, but also by the sheer power of her magnetic personality.”

Well, as a gold digger I just discovered this Syrian treasure, and I intend to find more about my grandmother from the past. Mainly her translated book into Arabic.

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About Hummingbird

Feels strange when I talk about myself. It is just me.
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7 Responses to Feminine Voice from Syria’s Past: The Brilliant Syrian Orator Who Enchanted The World

  1. Phoebe Zimmermann says:

    Have you found out more about Sumayeh? She is actually a great aunt (or cousin) of mine and I am trying to find any and everything I can about her- especially her specific writings. You say she has a book- can you tell me the name? I’d appreciate any leads I an get and I am happy to share any information I find with you as well. Thank you for posting this!

  2. Hummingbird says:

    Oh I am so honored and happy that you contacted me, a soul descended from Sumayeh. Unfortunately, there are no records about your aunt in Arabic, and I wasn’t able to find much of her writings online. If I was in USA, I will definitely visit university of Iowa and see if they have any version of her book, though I never asked them, maybe I should.
    Thank you for letting me know, and please tell me if you find anything.
    My email is nosa81@gmail.com

  3. Robin Clements says:

    I am Phoebe’s Mom. Actually the book was translated by sumayeh’s mother. I have a few more of her writings. I am out of town and cannot access right now.

    • Hummingbird says:

      Dear Robin, I really appreciate sending me her writings. All the sources I read say Sumayeh was the translator, do you have a version of the translated book?
      I am really happy to hear from Sumayeh family. I would like to know her family member more, if everyone is ok with that.

  4. Melissa Engleman says:

    Hi! I’m Robin’s sister and Phoebe’s aunt. Sumayeh was our great aunt. Sister of our dad’s mother, Affefeh Attityeh. Her father was Yusef Attityeh,author of Christian pamphlets and books. There is a book about him by Edmund Muir called,Sweet First Fruits.

  5. Melissa Engleman says:

    By the way, the picture with the hookah looks a lot like me.

    • Hummingbird says:

      Dear Melissa, every time one of Sumayeh’s family members leave a comment I feel amazed as her legacy traveled through time and I am blessed to see it. I didn’t know that she had a sister called Affefeh, when I read her name I smiled because it was one of the trendy names back then, and all of them had the same rhythm, like my grandmother called Hamydeh! I will try to find Muir’s book, hope it is still out there.
      And you inherited her good looks too, that is amazing. Good that she wasn’t banned from getting in.

      Thank you so much for contacting me, you made my day.

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