Eric de Nemès: a Hungarian Illustrator in Cairo

I first came across Eric de Nemes as a bit part player in the Egyptian Surrealist movement in the 1940s through Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath’s exhibition on the Art and Freedom Group( I got this photo from the catalogue). Nemes, they said, was the group’s most prolific book illustrator, though little was known about…

Archives of a Cairo Policeman: Bimbashi McPherson

I have been away for a while so not able to update the blog. I have more substantial things coming up but right now I am going to take the chance to tell everyone about an amazing archive I just consulted in the Bristol Records Office. It belongs to a man called J.W. McPherson. He…

The First Mediterranean Games

I don’t know about you but I had never heard of the Mediterranean Games. That was until I found the official booklet for the first ever Games held in Alexandria in October 1951. The games was apparently first proposed by the Egyptian, Mohammed Taher Pasha, who later became assistant president of the I.O.C and was…

American Missionaries in Egypt: Bamba and the Maharajah

The subject of Missionaries in the 19th century Arab world has a habit of coming back to me again and again. I have already written a blog on some copies of the journals of the Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews. In a Boston bookshop, I recently came across a copy of a history…

Recreating the Exposition du Caire: 1892

In 1891 four artists in Cairo got together to put on the first Art Exhibition in Cairo. The French Paul Philippoteaux, the Greek Theodore Ralli,  the English Felix Moscheles (also a pioneer of Esperanto) and the Russian Mr. Bogdanoff formed a committee and invited artists who were resident in Cairo or just travelling through to…

The Adventures of Mrs Charles: The Lover of Heliopolis

In 1919 Mrs Ruby Dora Charles went through the legals proceedings the British Consular Court in Cairo to divorce her husband. There is a file in the National Archives at Kew which holds a record of the evidence brought in the court-case. The file contains the story of a woman who, from 1917 to 1919…

Turn of the Century Arabic Romance Novels

  Recently, I have been looking at quite a lot at the early 20th century Arabic cultural production in New York. I recently translated a very short speculative-fiction story that satirises the prohibition movement in America. It first appeared in a New York based magazine called al-Akhlaq. About a month ago I came across a…

“A Damned Nuisance”: The Necessity of Colonial Guilt

In September of this year Bruce Gilley published an article called “The Case for Colonialism” in the Third World Quarterly. Soon, an argument that was previously confined to the pages of The Spectator or Niall Ferguson’s latest book was again, apparently, a topic for debate. Nigel Biggar published an article in The Times saying people should stop…

Pictures of Tutankhamun

This winter, Christina Riggs is curating an exhibition of Photographs of the excavation of Tutankhamun’s tomb in Lincoln. It goes along with her book, Photographing Tutankhamun (coming out next year) and her blog of the same name. The colonial dynamics of the time were played out through the excavation. The boy king was discovered in 1922,…

African Literature in African Languages

Leiden library has recently been selling a collection of books for 1 Euro each. I was passing through recently and managed to pick up a few. The majority of them seem to come from the collection of the scholar of African linguistics K.F. de Blois. Among several grammars, dictionaries and journals of African languages, he…

Yes, Ladies! The Man is a Cad…

  Maurice el-Milick was born in Tunis in 1899 to the lawyer Albert El-Milick. At some point in the 20th century they moved to Egypt and Maurice got a job as a Maths Professor. Throughout his twenties he published prolifically both works of mathematics and of literature. He even seems to have written a scientific…

1917: Lenin and the Russian Revolution, Third World Style.

In 1968, in Cairo, a new journal started. It was called Afro-Asian Writings and was designed to be a continuation of the Afro-Asian Writers conferences that had been held every few years since the first one in Tashkent in 1958. Its headquarters were at 104 Qasr al-Aini Street in Cairo (Nida Ghouse has written a…