Gibran Khalil Gibran , usually referred to in English as Kahlil Gibran,was a Lebanese-American writer, poet and visual artist; he was also considered a philosopher, although he himself rejected the title. He is best known as the author of The Prophet, which was first published in the United States in 1923 and has since become one of the best-selling books of all time.


The Gibran family in the 1880s
The Gibran family’s home in Bsharri, Lebanon

Gibran was born January 6, 1883, in the village of Bsharri in the  Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate, Ottoman Syria (modern-day Lebanon).His parents, Khalil Sa’ad Gibranand Kamila Rahmeh, the daughter of a priest, were Maronite Christian. As written by Bushrui and Jenkins, they would set for Gibran an example of tolerance by “refusing to perpetuate religious prejudice and bigotry in their daily lives.”Kamila’s paternal grandfather had converted from Islam to Christianity She was thirty when Gibran was born, and Gibran’s father, Khalil, was her third husband. Gibran had two younger sisters, Marianna and Sultana, and an older half-brother, Boutros, from one of Kamila’s previous marriages. Gibran’s family lived in poverty.

Debuts, Mary Haskell, and second stay in Paris

Portrait of Mary Haskell by Gibran, 1910

In 1904, Gibran began writing articles for the Arabic newspaper al-Mouhajir (Emigrant).

Kahlil Gibran held the first art exhibition of his drawings in January 1904 in Boston at Day’s studio. During this exhibition, Gibran met Mary Haskell, the headmistress of a girls’ school in the city, nine years his senior. The two formed a friendship that lasted the rest of Gibran’s life. Haskell would spend large sums of money to support Gibran and would also edit all of his English writings. The nature of their romantic relationship remains obscure. While some biographers assert the two were lovers but never married. 

 According to Joseph P. Ghougassian, Gibran had proposed to her “not knowing how to repay back in gratitude to Miss Haskell,” but Haskell called it off, making it “clear to him that she preferred his friendship to any burdensome tie of marriage.” Haskell would later marry Jacob Florance Minis in 1926, while remaining Gibran’s close friend, patroness and benefactress, and using her influence to advance his career.