Notaila Rashed

Notaila Ibrahim Rashed , known as Mama Lobna, was born in 1934 in Cairo, Egypt, and is known as the pioneer of Egyptian children’s literature.  She has not only written numerous children’s books and books for young adults, short stories and contributions for diverse children’s magazines, radio and television shows for children and young people in the whole Arabic speaking region, but has also campaigned ambitiously for, and has had a profound influence on, the promotion of Egyptian children’s and young people’s literature. From its first publication in 1956 until 2002 she worked for the renowned Arabic children’s magazine ‘Samir’. In 1965 she founded the children’s book section of the publishing house Darel-Hilal in Cairo, where she worked as a publisher for five years.  She is a member of the High Committee of the Cairo International Festival for Children’s Film, and of the Child and Young People Committee of the Alexandria Library. Notaila Rashed began writing for children and young people while she was a student at Cairo University.  Her first short stories were broadcast on the radio in 1953.  A number of broadcastings of her children’s and young people’s programmes for radio and television followed. One of her most famous books is ‘The Diary of Yasser Family’, which was published in 1979 in two parts.  It includes the story ‘The Doll’ which was used as the model for the first, and to date the only, children’s film produced by the Egyptian National Council of Culture. In 1979 she also published ‘Abou Keer and Abou Seer’, a modern adaptation of the story from ‘A Thousand and One Nights’ about a good neighbour and an evil neighbour. In her work, Rashed tries to combine the literary-cultural traditions of ancient and modern Egypt.  She wants her texts to provide children all around the world with an authentic portrayal of life in contemporary Egypt: “The world knew Pharaonic Egypt; and Egypt in the early Arab and Islamic epochs; but 20th century Egypt is not familiarly known to the same extent.”

Besides her work as an author, Rashed has also translated children’s classics into Arabic, including Andersen’s ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’, Wilde’s ‘The Happy Prince’ and Swell’s ‘Black Beauty’. She takes part in international congresses on children’s and young people’s literature, as well as in congresses on children’s film, TV and radio.  Her socioliterary commitment has been highly acclaimed.  In 1978 she was awarded the State Award for Children’s Literature. In 1995 she received the State Award for Children’s Journalism and in 2002 the Medal of the Council of the Ministry of Culture.  The author has three children and four grandsons and lives in Cairo.

© international literature festival berlin