Zabel Asadour – Զաբել Ասատուր (1863-1934) – Sybil
Feminist activist, poet, writer, educator and philanthropist
Zabel Khanjian, later Zabel Asadour, was born on July 23, 1863 in Scutari, a suburb of Constantinople, and educated in local French and Armenian schools. In 1879 when she was 16 years old, she joined with eight school friends to form the National Armenian Women’s Union which helped to establish girls’ schools and orphanages in the Armenian provinces. She became a well-known teacher and proponent of education, publishing with her husband, Hrand Asadour, a series of highly acclaimed Armenian language and literature textbooks. She also wrote journalism, fiction, and poetry under various pen-names including “Sybil,” “Anahit,” and “Miss Alice.” Her publications included novels such as True Feminism and A Girl’s Heart; a short story collection, Women’s Souls; and a volume of poetry, Reflections. The composition dates of her plays are uncertain. She died on June 19, 1934. Four years later, Hairenik Press in Boston published the Armenian version of her play The Bride, a lively comedy about a bride from the country who moves into her husband’s comfortable home in the big city but refuses to accept the traditional posture of submission to her mother-in-law’s authority.
“Her prose concentrated on love, marriage and the difficulties women faced while entering the public sphere”,- Victoria Rowe
“…the literary career and social activities of Sibyl combined writing with activism aimed at improving the schooling of Armenian women”,- V.Rowe
You can read the english translation of her play, The Bride here.