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Collection Overview

Gibrán, Kahlil, 1883-1931
William H. Shehadi Collection of Kahlil Gibran
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1918-1991 (mostly 1918-1931)
3 boxes
Storage Note:
This is stored in multiple locations. Firestone Library (hsvm): Box 1 Firestone Library (mss): Box 2-3


Consists of manuscripts, photographs, and ephemera by and about the Lebanese-American philosophical essayist, novelist, mystical poet, and artist Kahlil Gibran, who, by fusing elements of Eastern and Western mysticism, achieved lasting fame with such poetic works as The Prophet (1923) and Jesus, the Son of Man (1928). This material was collected by William H. Shehadi.

Collection Description & Creator Information


The collection consists of manuscripts of four published books, miscellaneous manuscript pages of unpublished works, photographs, ephemera, and printed material by and about the Lebanese author Kahlil Gibran, collected by William H. Shehadi. Included are fragments of four unpublished poems: "Lullaby," "The Last Guest," "Untitled," and "Poverty and Sundry Aphorisms." There are eleven manuscripts of the thirty-four parables and poems in the published version of Gibran's book The Madman (1918); seven of the twenty-four parables and poems of Gibran's work The Forerunner (1920); the prologue, nineteen of the twenty-six sermons, and the epilogue/farewell of Gibran's highly acclaimed book The Prophet (1923); and twenty-eight manuscript pages of the book The Earth Gods (1931), which corresponds to pages one to twenty-seven (or two thirds) of the published book. All the manuscripts contain numerous corrections, annotations, and deletions, some of them written in Arabic. Several of the chapters appear to be earlier drafts, as they are different from the final works. Included are original photographs of Gibran's studio in New York City, his grave, and scenes from Lebanon. There is a copy of William Shehadi's book Kahlil Gibran, a Prophet in the Making (published by The American University of Beirut, 1991); eleven posters; cards and postcards with his artwork; Lebanese commemorative stamps; pamphlets; envelopes and folders with inscriptions in the hand of Shehadi; and newspaper clippings.

Fifty-six printed books by and about Gibran, published in several languages including Arabic, French, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, and Yiddish, came with the collection. These were transferred to the Rare Books Division and have been catalogued separately.

Collection Creator Biography:

Gibrán, Kahlil, 1883-1931

Kahlil Gibran -- Jubran Khalil Jubran (in Arabic)-- was a Lebanese-American philosophical essayist, novelist, poet, and artist. He was born in Bsharri, Lebanon, but spent much of his productive life in the United States. Due to his family's poverty, Gibran did not receive any formal schooling during his youth in Lebanon. However, priests visited him regularly and taught him about the Bible as well as the Syriac and Arabic languages. During these early days, he began developing ideas that would later form some of his major works. Gibran immigrated with his parents to America in 1895. The family settled in Boston's South End, which had a large Lebanese-American community. It was there that school officials placed Gibran in a special class for immigrants to learn English. One of his English teachers being unfamiliar with the Arabic language suggested that Gibran Anglicize the spelling of his name in order to make it more acceptable to American society; since then he became known as Kahlil Gibran.

In his early teens, the artistry of Gibran's drawings caught the eye of his teachers, and in 1898 his drawings were used for book covers. He held his first art exhibition in 1904 in Boston, and it was there that he met Mary Haskell, who was to be his benefactor all his life. In 1908, he went to study art with Auguste Rodin in Paris; and in 1912, he settled in New York City at the West Tenth Street Studio for Artists in Greenwich Village. There he devoted himself to writing literary essays and short stories, both in Arabic and in English, and to painting. While most of Gibran's early writings were in Syriac and Arabic, most of his work published after 1918 was in English.

Gibran's literary and artistic work is highly romantic and was influenced by the Bible, Friedrich Nietzsche, and William Blake. His writings in both languages, which deal with such themes as love, death, nature, and a longing for his homeland, are full of lyrical outpourings and are expressive of his deeply religious and mystic nature. His best-known work is The Prophet, a book composed of twenty-six poetic essays. During the 1960s, the book became especially popular with the American counterculture and New Age movements, and it remains popular to this day, having been translated into more than 20 languages. Gibran died in New York City, but his wish was to be buried in Lebanon. Mary Haskell and his sister, Mariana, fulfilled this wish by purchasing the Mar Sarkis Monastery in Bsharri, Lebanon, where he was buried. Kahlil Gibran remains the most popular Lebanese-American writer.

William Shehadi, M.D., was born in Providence, R.I., of Lebanese parents. He graduated from the School of Medicine of the American University of Beirut and was an emeritus professor of New York Medical College.

Collection History


Gift of Albert Shehadi in March, 2007 .

Custodial History

All material was collected by William H. Shehadi.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Dina Britain on April 10, 2007. Finding aid written by Dina Britain on April 10, 2007.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

William H. Shehadi Collection of Kahlil Gibran; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
This is stored in multiple locations. Firestone Library (hsvm): Box 1 Firestone Library (mss): Box 2-3