Mahmoud M. Shaker was born in Jarja (Egypt) in 1909 and completed his general education in Cairo. Initially, he was attracted to mathematics and English classes, but later became more inclined towards Arabic language and literature. He was admitted to the College of Arts in Cairo only to leave it two years later as a result of a dispute with his mentor and Dean of College, Dr. Taha Hussein. He traveled to Saudi Arabia where he founded a primary school in Jeddah, and served as its headmaster for some years, then became a full-time writer and researcher.
Shakir was one the most influential scholars of ancient Arabic literature. His prolific writings on this subject include classical editions of many important early texts and selected anthologies, such as the works of Maqrizi, Ahmad al-Katib, Al-Tobari, Al-Zubair ibn Bakkar, Abu Tammam, and others. Of particular importance are his books Abatil wa Asmar (2 volumes) and Al-Mutanabbi. The latter book is still one of the most authoritative studies on the works of this great Arab poet, and was re-published several times. Shaker also reviewed and verified several other ancient Arabic transcripts and published hundreds of literary articles. He was a co-founder of Dar-al-Uruba, which specializes in publishing Arabic classics.
In addition to the King Faisal International Prize for Arabic Literature, Shaker was awarded Egypt’s State Prize for Arabic Literature and elected to Arabic Language academies in Cairo and Damascus and the International Advisory Council of Al Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation in London. He died in 1997.