A firsthand account of the private world of a harem in colonial Cairo--by a groundbreaking Egyptian feminist who helped liberate countless women. In this compelling memoir, Shaarawi recalls her childhood and early adult life in the seclusion of an upper-class Egyptian household, including her marriage at age thirteen. Her subsequent separation from her husband gave her time for an extended formal education, as well as an unexpected taste of independence. Shaarawi's feminist activism grew, along with her involvement in Egypt's nationalist struggle, culminating in 1923 when she publicly removed her veil in a Cairo railroad station, a daring act of defiance. In this fascinating account of a true original feminist, readers are offered a glimpse into a world rarely seen by westerners, and insight into a woman who would not be kept as property or a second-class citizen.