CREATIVE Grahame Davies

NWR Issue 96

On Mohammed Farid Street

David M Beddoe was an able historical novelist whose extensive knowledge of Egyptian life and of Islam produced some of the most thorough, informed and sympathetic portrayals of Muslims in Welsh literature. His work, which seems almost entirely forgotten now, has taken on a new significance in the light of current debates about Islam and the West.

Beddoe, a doctor of medicine, was part of the British ex-pat community in Egypt at the turn of the twentieth century. His first novel, The Honour of Henri de Valois, was published in 1905 and was set in Egypt and Syria between 1828 and 1834 when the ambitious Egyptian-based statesman Mehmet Ali Pasha was challenging Ottoman Turkey. In it, Beddoe convincingly renders the complex internal tensions of a war between powerful Islamic factions, as well as the varied backgrounds and motives of his European characters, prominent among whom is an exiled Welsh aristocrat.

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