Isabelle Eberhardt

Isabelle Wilhelmine Marie Eberhardt was a Swiss explorer and author. She moved to Algeria in 1897 and converted to Islam, adopting the name Si Mahmoud Saadi. Her unorthodox behaviour made her an outcast among European settlers in Algeria. In 1904, at the age of 27, she was killed by a flash flood in Aïn Séfra.

About Isabelle Eberhardt in brief

Summary Isabelle EberhardtIsabelle Wilhelmine Marie Eberhardt was a Swiss explorer and author. She moved to Algeria in 1897 and converted to Islam, adopting the name Si Mahmoud Saadi. Her unorthodox behaviour made her an outcast among European settlers in Algeria and the French administration. In 1904, at the age of 27, she was killed by a flash flood in Aïn Séfra. She was seen posthumously as an advocate of decolonisation, and streets were named after her in Béchar and Algiers. Her life has been the subject of several works, including the 1991 film Isabelle and the 2012 opera Song from the Uproar: The Lives and Deaths of Isabelle Ebershardt. She is buried in Geneva, Switzerland, along with her sister Nathalie and her mother, who were all born in Switzerland to Russian Jewish parents in the late 19th century. Her father, Alexandre Trophimowsky, was an anarchist, tutor, and former Orthodox priest-turned-atheist. He left his wife and children in Russia for a Swiss woman, who was an illegitimate daughter of a middle-class Lutheran German and a Russian Jew. Around 1871, Nathalia took the children and left her husband for Trophinowsky, who had abandoned his own wife and family. In 1872, Eberhart was born, and was registered as NathalIE’s illegitimate daughter. She married widower Pavel de Moerder, a Russian general forty years her senior, who hired Trophamowsky to tutor their children.

In 1888, she cut off the rest of the household’s freedom, leaving them effectively used as slaves to tend to his extensive gardens. In 1906, Barrucand began publishing her remaining manuscripts, which received critical acclaim. She studied philosophy, metaphysics, chemistry, and geography. As a teenager she was most passionate about literature, reading the works of authors including Pierre L. Rousseau, Jean-Jacques Tolstoy, Voltaire and Charles Semyon Baudelaire. At an early age, she began wearing male clothing, enjoying its freedom and freedom of expression. The children of her step-father resented their stepfather, who forbade them from obtaining professions or leaving the household. She later married the Algerian soldier Slimane Ehnni, and they had a son, Augustin, who she named after the poet Arthur Rimbaud. She also wrote short stories under a male pseudonym and was considered a proficient writer on the subject despite learning about the region only through correspondence. She survived an assassination attempt shortly thereafter. In 1901, the French administration ordered her to leave Algeria, but she was allowed to return the following year after marrying her partner, the Algerian soldier Slimane Ehnni. In 1903, she wrote for a newspaper published by Victor Barrucand and worked for General Hubert Lyautey.