Dr. Barbara Whitesides
Barbara earned her B.A. from Harvard University and her Ph.D. in English literature from Rutgers University and then taught at Wellesley College before becoming the news editor at Harvard Magazine. She also worked as a book reviewer for the Christian Science Monitor and as an editor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She married George Whitesides, a celebrated professor of chemistry at Harvard University and an author himself; they live in Newton, Massachusetts.
Barbara’s interest in the Arabic alphabet was inspired by her grandfather, James Henry Breasted, America’s first professor of Egyptology, who helped translate the seals on King Tut's tomb when it was discovered in 1922. Barbara herself eventually traveled to Egypt, where she fell in love with Arabic and began to study it at Harvard and with private tutors.
But she found the existing Arabic alphabet books difficult to follow, and the script was always too small. It was hard to discern where one letter ended and the next started. She began to visualize the ideal book for the beginner, with large, colorful letters and step-by-step instructions on how to draw, connect, and pronounce them. She would teach readers how to write their own names in Arabic, and make the individual letters easy to find by presenting them in the same order as the English alphabet. Thus Sugar comes from Arabic: A beginner's guide to Arabic letters and words was born and is now in its second printing.