"Sayyida Salme, born Princess of Oman and Zanzibar, raised in Islam, later baptised Christian and married as Emily Ruete, is already known to many. Her memoirs are not only historically important for understanding the significance of Oman and Zanzibar in the nineteenth century, but they also contain perspectives and insights that still speak to us today.
As the first Arab woman to publish a book, she gave us a read that still informs and fascinates us today - about conditions in the harem and Zanzibar, including school, food, customs, women's rights, slavery, colonial politics, political machinations in the Sultanate and much more. As an extraordinary woman who, following her love, eventually found herself in self-exile, so to speak, she enriches our understanding through her unique East-West lens.
Her book was enthusiastically received in Germany in 1886 and translated into English in 1888, then again in 1907 by Lionel Strachey, and a third time in 1993 by Professor Emeri van Donzel, as part of the Brill "Arab History and Civilization" Series. Was it really necessary to create yet another English translation of the memoirs? The answer is apparently "yes," as we shall hear".
A „modern" German edition of the memoirs was published by Professor Dr Annegret Nippa in 1989 under the title: Leben im Sultanspalast: Memoiren aus dem 19. Jahrhundert: Emily Ruete née Princess of Oman and Zanzibar.