Legendary lesbian poet, author and artist Etel Adnan celebrated with Google Doodle

A brightly coloured illustration of poet Etel Adnan

Lesbian poet and artist Etel Adnan has been given the honour of being a Google Doodle today (April 15) to celebrate her life and accomplishments.

An illustration of the American-Lebanese creator writing at a desk surrounded by colourful paintings is being displayed on the homepage of Google all day, with April 15 being the date chosen to honour her because it was the day Adnan hosted her first solo exhibition in San Rafael, California in 1955.

A statement from Google said: “This Doodle celebrates Lebanese American poet and artist Etel Adnan, who is considered one of the most accomplished Arab American authors of her era.”

Google Doodle regularly honours great figures both past and present, usually taking the opportunity to highlight the career achievements of people whose names are not well-known or have been largely forgotten – unsung heroes, one might say.

Who is Etel Adnan?

Etel Adnan
As well as her literary output, Etel Adnan is also known for her painting. (Getty)

Adnan was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1925 to a Greek Orthodox mother and a Sunni-Muslim Turkish father, who was a high-ranking Ottoman officer.

The artist grew up speaking both Greek and Turkish but was educated in French and studied English too, later moving to France at the age of 24 to study philosophy at the University of Paris and then attended graduate programs at the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard University.

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From 1958 to 1972, Adnan taught philosophy of art at the Dominican University of California in San Rafael.

In addition to being a writer and artist, Adnan worked as a journalist and editor in Lebanon when she returned from the U.S and helped to develop a section dedicated to culture in Lebanon and the Middle East at the newspapers she worked at.

Over her life, Adnan lived in Lebanon, Paris, and Saualito, California. She eventually relocated back to Paris and died there on November 14, 2021, at the age of 96.

What is Etal Adnan’s work about?

Adnan created many visual works in a variety of media, such as oil paintings, films, and tapestries. Her art was inspired by her native country and also that of California. Her work has been displayed in a number of art galleries across the world.

But it was Adnan’s literary output that gave her acclaim, as she wrote many novels and poems exploring identity, memory, feminism, and being alive.

Google’s statement said: “She leaves behind a rich legacy of artistic and literary achievements that continue to capture and inspire audiences today.”

Who is Etel Adnan’s partner?

Adnan began to openly identify as a lesbian later in life and met her partner, Simone Fattal, in Beirut in the 1970s.

Fattal lived together between Beirut, California, and Paris up until Adnan died.

Fatal is also a renowned Arab artist, known for her paintings, sculptures, and for being the founder and publisher of the Post-Apollo Press.

The couple rarely spoke about each other or their relationship in public but were very supportive of each other’s artwork.

Adnan once wrote of Fattal: “When Simone Fattal faced her first chunk of clay she did not hesitate. She continued and still continues to make standing figures. They come as if naturally out of her hands. It is as if they are asking to be born out of their clay. It is as if they have always been there and that their creation is their liberation. They have the breath of life.”