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Samira Azzam: A Profile from the Archives

[Palestinian writer Samira Azzam] [Palestinian writer Samira Azzam]

[”A Profile from the Archives“ is a series published by Jadaliyya in both Arabic and English in cooperation with the Lebanese newspaper, Assafir. These profiles will feature iconic figures who left indelible marks in the politics and culture of the Middle East and North Africa. This profile was originally published in Arabic and was translated by Mazen Hakeem.]

First name: Samira

Last name: Azzam

Date of birth: 1927

Date of death: 1967

Nationality: Palestinian




Samira Azzam

  • Born in Acre on 13 September 1927.
  • Studied elementary school in Acre, and high school in Haifa at "Takmilyet Al-Rahibat."
  • At the age of sixteen, she worked as a school teacher.
  • Started publishing articles in Palestine newspaper in the early 1940s and used the alias "Coastal Girl."
  • Displaced to Lebanon with her family in 1948 (during the Palestinian Nakba). They lived in a town called Falougha for several months, and then moved to Beirut.
  • Left for Iraq and joined the girls school in the city of Hillah where she worked as a teacher for two years.
  • In 1952, she worked in Sharq Al-Adna radio station (Near East radio channel) based in Cyprus as an apprentice broadcaster and a writer for the program Women's Corner. When the radio station moved to Beirut in 1954, Samira also moved there and was in charge of the daily program With the Morning.
  • Received a work contract with Baghdad Radio in 1957 after Sharq Al-Adna radio station was discontinued. She only lasted in her new job for eight months.
  • Got married to AdibYousef Hasan on 24 December 1959.
  • Went back to Iraq in 1959 after the collapse of the monarchy and worked again in Baghdad Radio. However, it was not long before the new republican regime banished her, along with her husband, to Beirut on the charge of hostility to the ruling regime.
  • Wrote in the Iraqi newspaper Al-Shaab (The People) during her stay in Baghdad, where Badr Shakir Essayyab was one of the editors.
  • Worked at the Franklin Institution for Translation and Publishing after she came back to Beirut. During this period, she wrote for Sawt Al-Mar'a (Women's Voice) and Dunia Al-Mar'a (Women's World) magazines.
  • Was one of the activists in "Committees of Arab Ladies" which was formed in Beirut after the war of 5 June 1967 to help refugees. She was one of the leading persons who worked to launch Palestinian radio broadcasting.
  • Died of a heart attack on 8 August 1967 in a car heading for Amman. She was buried in Beirut. 


  • Little Things (1954 – stories)
  • The Big Shadow (1956 – stories)
  • And Other Stories (1960 – stories)
  • The Clock and the Man (1963 – stories)
  • The Festival Through the Western Window (1971 – stories)
  • Echoes (2000 – stories)

Translated Books

  • Candida (Bernard Shaw – 1955)
  • An American in Europe (Wordsworth – 1956)
  • Pavilion of Women (Pearl Buck – 1958)
  • East Wind: West Wind (Pearl Buck – 1958)
  • American Short Stories (Ray West – 1960)
  • When We Lost Satisfaction (John Steinbeck – 1962)
  • Stories of Heroes (Alice Hazelton – 1963)
  • The Art of Television (William Kauffman – 1964)

 here to read "The Wheel Inflator" from Little Things by Samira Azzam

[Samira Azzam and Badr Shakir Essayyab and Abdul Wahhab Al-Shaikhli.
Source: the Kuwaiti magazine Al-Arabi]

[The Clock and the Man – a short film based on a short story by Samira Azzam starring: Mahomood Shalabi, Anat Hadeed, Samia Qazmooz Bakri, and Muhammed Bakri; directed by Ghazi Abu Bakr]

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