Born in 1910 in a small village in northern Egypt called Um Hamam, Ahmed Shawqi Daif emerged as one of the most influential Arab intellectuals in the 20th Century. He completed his BA and Ph.D. in Fuad Al-Awal University in Cairo and was the Professor of Arabic Literature at Cairo University for several decades.
Professor Daif authored more than 50 books dealing with a wide range of aspects of Arabic language, literature and arts. One example of his seminal contributions to the study of ancient Arabic literature is his book on the development and renovations in Arabic poetry during the Umayyad era, which is regarded as the most important reference so far written in Arabic on that subject. Another example is his extensive series, History of Arabic Literature, which covers poetry, anthology, literary criticism, rhetoric and other aspects of literature during pre-Islamic, early Islamic, Abassid, and later eras. Daif worked for more than 30 years on this mammoth series, which consisted of 100 volumes. An indispensable reference for students and scholars of Arabic literature, some volumes of this series were reprinted more than twenty times.
Professor Daif’s profundity, intellect and industry gained him respect and wide admiration throughout the Arab world. In addition to King Faisal International Prize for Arabic Literature, he received several honors, including two State Prizes from Egypt, as well as President Mubarak’s Prize for Literature, and the Egyptian Arabic Language Academy Prize. He was a member of the Egyptian Academy of Sciences and the President of the Arabic Language Academy in cairo for several years.
In 2003, Professor Daif was awarded the Egyptian Presidential Prize for literature. He died in 2005.