Professor Marilyn Booth first became passionate about Arabic when she spent a year in Beirut at the age of 12. When she applied to university, Arabic and the contemporary Arab world were still what animated her, and she took her BA degree at Harvard-Radcliffe College of Harvard University in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, though during that time she shifted from an interest in contemporary politics of the Middle East (hoping to become a journalist!) increasingly to history, literature, and issues of feminism and gender.
After University, somewhat unexpectedly Professor Booth found herself with a Marshall Scholarship and went to Oxford where she completed her DPhil under the mentorship of Albert Hourani and Mustafa Badawi.
Professor Booth then headed for Cairo, which she had already fallen for as a student. A little tired of academe by then, she headed an aid project for awhile. She missed research, though, and subsequently spent quite a few years as an “independent scholar,” literary translator, and stay-at-home mum.