Among the many women who established magazines during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was Princess Alexandra de Avierino who, in a relatively short time, carried the name of Eastern women to soaring heights.
Alexandra Khoury de Avierino (Arabic: ألكسندرا الخوري افيرينو, 1873-1927), a Lebanese pioneer and poet, was born in Beirut. Her father Constantin Na’um Khoury was a poet as well. She was educated at missionary schools in Lebanon before moving to Alexandria, Egypt, in 1886, where she studied Italian and French at school and Arabic with a private tutor. At the age of sixteen, she married Miltiade de Avierino, an Italian Prince; yet that didn’t stop her from continuing her studies.
Alexandra showed a remarkable knowledge of Western thought and language (English, French and Italian). A publisher of one of the early women’s magazines in Arabic, Avierino became a central figure in the intellectual life of her city. She started one of the most predominant salon in Egypt, attracting all the intellectual elite of the area. Like most of the pioneers, Alexandra was in touch with many intelligentsia of her age. She was close to Khedive ‘Abbas Hilmi and met Pope Pius X, and the Sultan of Zanzibar. She attended many conferences and represented Egyptian women on many occasions.
In 1898, she established Anīs al-Jalīs (أنيس الجليس), a monthly scientific literary periodical, and she used it as a platform to promote women’s rights. It remained in publication for 10 years. She also started the French language periodical Lotus, to enlighten the foreign readers about the various aspects and situation of Oriental women. Avierino has many published poems and other literary works, and contributed to the establishment of the Egyptian Red Crescent during World War I.
After the First World War, her papers were confiscated, and she was ordered to leave Egypt. She then moved to London, where she spent the rest of her life.
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