The anniversary of Rose Al Youssef, a pioneer of art and the press
Egypt, People, 4/9/2001
Rose Al Youssef (1898 - 1958) was born in Lebanon. she was originally called Fatima, but she was known by all as Rose. She came to Egypt with her father while she was a child and lived with the family of Iskandar Farah, the actor who influenced her future life as an actress.
She was completely overwhelmed by the life and limelight of the stage at an early age. She wrote in the first issue of "Rose Al Youssef" magazine saying that she was only fourteen when it occurred to her to become an actress. she used to go to the theatre to watch the various troupes performing the classics on stage. She enjoyed the friendship of many stage actors and actresses including Aziz Eid who was both an actor and owner of a stage troupe. First, she played minor roles until she had the opportunity to play the role of a 70-year old grandmother with a great success. Since then she performed major and memorable roles on the stage and was a prominent actress in both the troupes of Aziz Eid and Okasha. Not only did she act but played music as well.
In 1912, Rose Al Youssef joined one of the leading stage troupes, namely, that of George Abyadh. She then worked for several other troupes including the Ramses troupe and was its top actress. She realized great success when she performed the role of Margerette Gautier in Alexander Dumas drama .Since then she was called Sarah Bernard of the Orient. She also played major roles in many plays and received widespread acclaim from critics both in Egypt and abroad.
However, Rose Al Youssef did not continue her life as an actress but devoted the rest of her life to the press. In 1925, she published a weekly magazine bearing her name in which she laid down the basic rules of stage performance as she saw them. To her, the magazine was a stage in which poets, men of letters and critics performed at their best. But the magazine did not remain for long confined to arts. When both Makram Ebeid, the political "Wafd" Party Secretary-General and Mohamed El Tabei, who was one of the leading political journalists joined the editing staff of Rose Al Youssef, the magazine was launched into politics and social criticism and was transformed into a strictly political magazine which since then started to be widely circulated, from week to week.
As Rose Al Youssef was sincerely devoted to her arts magazine she likewise became devoted to both politics and the press. The LE 17,000 she gained in seven years from the weekly magazine, she spent in issuing a daily in 1935, nevertheless competition was too strong for her and she lost all her money.
But Rose Al Youssef did not fall victim to despair. She was resilient and had a strong will. With the help of junior editors and writers, she was able to republish her weekly magazine "Rose Al Youssef".
"Rose Al Youssef" magazine attached particular importance to the art of caricature as a means of expression. Brilliant and shrewd caricatures by the renowned Mohamed Rakha appeared on most of its pages.
Rose Al Youssef was an excellent leader in guiding junior editors and managers. Her marvelous audacity led to her imprisonment once but her magazine circulation skyrocketed nevertheless. Her publishing house issued several series of political books in addition to the magazine, and thus enriched the Arabic library.
Rose Al Youssef was not only a pioneer of the press and acting, but also a dynamic leader of the feminist rising movement. She called upon woman to work in any field to contribute to raising her family's financial level. She wonders, "it is incredible that the Egyptian illiterate women rush for work, but the middle- class girl is deprived from it". So, she recruited many girls in her magazine.
The magazine; bearing todate her name is one of the most popular and widely circulated weeklies in Egypt and the Arab world along with its twin "Sabah Al-Kheir"
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