Friday, March 30, 2012
Isabelle Eberhardt was born in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1877 to a wealthy widow and her children's tutor, an Armenian anarchist, ex-priest and convert to the Islamic faith. Well-educated and fluent in multiple languages, including Arabic, Eberhardt -- in-your-face woman that she was -- started dressing as a man at an early age because it offered her increased freedom and independence.
Calling herself Si Mahmoud Essadi, Eberhardt joined the Islamic faith herself and then became a member of a secret Sufi brotherhood. Very nearly losing her arm while fighting against colonial rule, Essadi/Eberhardt wrote novels and short stories while she wasn't serving as a war reporter or exploring the deserts she loved in northern Algeria and Tunisia. Even in death she was an in-your-face woman, saving her husband's life before she lost her own in a flash flood when she was only twenty-seven. That was a lot of life she packed into only twenty-seven years!