Abbas Mahmoud al-Aqqad  was an Egyptian journalist, poet and literary critic, and member of the Academy of the Arabic Language in Cairo. More precisely, because “his writings cover a broad spectrum, including poetry, criticism, Islamology, history, philosophy, politics, biography, science, and Arabic literature”, he is a polymath.


Al-Aqqad was born in Aswan, a city in Upper Egypt , in 1889. His father was a money-changer originally from the Egyptian rural city of Damietta while his mother had Kurdish roots. He received little formal education, completing only his elementary education; he later supplemented his learning by buying books and reading on his own. Unlike his schoolmates, he spent all his weekly allowance on books. Al Aqqad read about religion, geography, history and many other subjects. He was known for his excellent English and Frensh. He was also particularly well-read in German literature

Romantic relationships

In fact,Abbas Al Aqqad experienced two major romantic relationships in his life. The first was whom he called “Sarah” in his novel of the same name. The second was with the famous Egyptian actress Madiha Yousri. This relationship was ended by al-Aqqad himself, because of Yousri’s career as an actress. Al-Aqqad wrote a poetry work about this relationship called Cyclones of a Sunset (A-Asiru Maghrib in Arabic).

The prolific Egyptian author  Anis Mansour reported and various other attendees of Al-Aqqad’s famous ‘lounge’ that he kept a painting in his bedroom. That displayed a beautiful cake with cockroaches crawling over it. Supposedly, Al-Aqqad kept this in his room . It symbolized beauty and purity (the cake) that is wasted to the glamor of spotlights (the cockroaches) as was the case (as he perceived) with actress Madiha Yousri

Al-Aqqad’s statue in his hometown, Aswan