Biography (Critical Survey of Drama, Second Revised Edition)
For some time, the date of Tawfiq al-Hakim’s birth was in doubt—in places the year 1902 was cited, but later October 9, 1898, was accepted as proved. It is certain that he was born in Alexandria, Egypt, of an Arab doctor and a mother who was descended from a family of Ottoman officials and army officers. Although his education moved forward slowly during his early years, al-Hakim evinced an early interest in dramatic storytelling. In 1915, he entered the Muhammad Ali Secondary School in Cairo, and he received the baccalaureate in 1921. His youth evidently was marred somewhat by difficult relations with his mother, and a brief, unrequited love affair did nothing to improve his attitude toward women. During the short-lived revolution of 1919, which was provoked by the exile of Saՙd Zaghlul, a prominent national leader, to Malta, al-Hakim was imprisoned for composing patriotic songs. His incarceration was brief and hardly unpleasant; at about that time he wrote his first play, a work that Cairo producers would not stage because of its defiantly anti-British standpoint.
For four years, until 1925, al-Hakim studied law at the state university in Cairo; increasingly it became evident that his proclivities, and his real calling, lay elsewhere. His further efforts at the writing of drama brought forth al-Mar՚ah al-jadidah (modern woman), which was composed in 1923 and produced on the stage three years later. Three other short plays, including...
(The entire section is 1325 words.)
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Tawfiq al-Hakim (al HAH-kihm), probably Egypt’s most famous playwright, was born in Alexandria in October, 1898. His mother was the daughter of an Ottoman Turkish military officer and appears to have remained consciously aloof from Egypt’s majority Arabic social and cultural milieu. His father, who carried the honorific title of Bey, was the son of a graduate of an Islamic scholarly institution. He had achieved some recognition both as a member of the cultured middle class of Alexandria and as a public official in the legal branch of the government—both factors that would influence relations with his son.
As a boy, al-Hakim divided his time between classes and leisure hours in the company of an Alexandrian acting troupe known as Al Awalim. This experience with popular culture, combined with repeated exposure to village life as his father was transferred from post to post, gave the future writer a feeling for subjects he would describe in detail in his plays and novels.
In 1915, a year after the outbreak of World War I and the declaration of a British protectorate over Egypt, al-Hakim moved to Cairo to live with one of his uncles and to attend the Muhammad Ali Secondary School. There, academic subjects were secondary to his interest in popular theater and, in 1919, participation as a student in the nationalist political disturbances that affected Egypt immediately after the war. Although he did not finish his baccalaureate until 1921, he...
(The entire section is 957 words.)