Born in Damascus in 1888, Mary Ajami was one of the first feminists and female writers in Syria and the Arab World. She fought for freedom during the Ottoman Empire, for a Free Syria. She is a poet, a translator (like me) a writer, and started a number of women’s groups and Associations during her life, one is a literary salon called: Damascus Women’s Literary Club. She mastered Arabic and English. Mary was a smart and brave woman that broke the set of patriarchal rules of her time and “was highly praised for her ability to run the intellectual discourse and was acknowledged as a skilled talker.”¹
In December 1910, she started Al-Arous Magazine (The Bride), the magazine’s logo was: Honor was given to women to beautify the earth with heaven’s flowers. The publication of the 32 pages magazine stopped in 1914 because of WWI, during that time Mary started a private school to teach children during the war. She resumed publishing her magazine in 1918, but the number of its pages doubled to 64 pages. In 1951, the man she loved was hanged by Ottoman leader Jamal Basha (nicknamed The Assassin).
Mary was human rights defender, she visited prisons and wrote about the situations of the detainees. Her articles called to support farmers, workers and soldiers, she also gave private lessons to young women and girls eager for education. Mary was honored in Damascus 1929, she got a number of awards in her life.
Mary Ajami died alone in 1965.
1- Arab Women Novelists: The Formative Years and Beyond by Joseph T. Zeidan.