Rose al-Yusuf


Rose (Fatma) al-Yusu
f (Youssef) ( روز اليوسف) was born in Lebanon in 1898. Her real name was Fatima, but she was known to 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 stage life at an early age. In the first issue of "Rose al-Yusuf " magazine, she wrote that she was only fourteen when it occurred to her to become an actress. She would go to the theatre to watch the various troupes performing classics. She befriended many actors and actresses including Aziz Eid who was both 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 great success. Since then she was known as a prominent actress in the troupes of both Aziz Eid and Okasha. She also played music.

In 1912, Rose al-Yusuf joined one of the leading stage troupes, namely, that of George Abyadh. She then worked for several other troupes including the Ramses troupe where she was a star actress. She succeeded greatly when she performed the role of Margerette Gautier in Alexander Dumas' La Dame aux Camélias.Since then she earned the title "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-Yusuf did not continue as an actress but devoted the rest of her life to the press. In 1925, she published a weekly magazine carrying 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 al-Tabei, who was one of the leading political journalists joined the editing staff of Rose al-Youssef, the magazine launched into politics and social criticism and was transformed into a strictly political magazine.

Just as she was sincere to her arts magazine, al-Yusuf was also devoted to politics and the press. Her 17,000 EGP-earnings from the weekly magazine were spent in 1935 on publishing a daily newspaper. Competition was too strong for her to continue and she lost all her money.

But Rose al-Yusuf did not lose hope. Resilient and strong-willed, she pooled her resources and was able to republish her weekly magazine "Rose Al-Tabei".

"Rose al-Yusuf " 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-Yusuf was an excellent guide to junior editors and managers. Her marvelous courage led to her imprisonment once but her magazine circulation skyrocketed nevertheless. Her publishing house issued a number of political books in addition to the magazine.

Rose al-Yusuf was also a dynamic leader of the feminist movement. She called upon women to work in all fields.

Rose al-Yusuf magazine is one of the most popular and widely circulated weeklies in Egypt and the Arab world along with its twin "Sabah Al-Kheir"

She died on April 10,1958 at the age of 67.

(From Egypt State Information Center website)

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