Nimet Eloui Bey was a famous Egyptian model in the 1920s and 1930s, whom I'm researching at the moment. Although now largely forgotten, she is still mentioned from time to time due to being the first wife of Aziz Eloui Bey, who divorced her in order to marry Lee Miller, after which she drank herself to death in a few weeks.

Ralph Freedman stated in his biography of Rainer Maria Rilke (this is a link to the passage in question) that she was the daughter of a 'First Chamberlain to Sultan Hussein of Egypt'. I presume that 'Sultan Hussein' refers to Hussein Kamel; in that case, it shouldn't be too much labour to identify one of his chief ministers, since he reigned for less than three years (1914-1917). However, Googling "Hussein Kamel", "Sultanate of Egypt" and "First Chamberlain", and various permutations thereof, is not giving me anything useful.

An ambitious tangent: if anyone could give me a date of birth, even an approximate one, for Madame Eloui Bey, that would be marvellous. According to this article, she was born in Cairo, but it doesn't say when.


3 Answers 3


A work by Rainer Maria Rilke, Nimet Eloui and Edmond Jaloux in 1952, 'His Last Friendship' or 'Derniere Amite Engl.', has the following paragraph (from snippet view on search page, emphasis mine):

... Nimet Eloui Bey's father, Achmed-Khairi Pasha and her mother, were both of Circassian or Tcherkess stock, and were second cousins. Her mother was the daughter, and her father the nephew of Khairi Pasha, Egyptian minister in the last century. Nimet's father was of an admirable bearing—he passed for the handsomest man in Egypt, and he must have been, to judge from a from a portrait of him in Caucasian costume, which I always noticed was at the head of his daughter's bed.

If you can find a physical copy of the above work you may get more information.


I've literally just got hold of a hard copy of Rainer Maria Rilke's His Last Friendship, and so I thought I would take the opportunity to expand upon justCal's excellent answer. (It seems as if he only had access to the version on Google Books, which is rather limited.)

Here's a sketch of Nimet Eloui Bey's life, chief amongst them being Chapter V of the aforementioned His Last Friendship (HLF).

  • Born in Cairo (see this page) circa 1903 ('in 1908... [when she was] five years old') to Ahmed Khairy Pasha (HLF).
  • Her parents were second cousins, her father being a nephew, and her mother the daughter, of the famous Khairy Pasha, the Egyptian education minister who built the Khairy Pasha Palace (HLF).
  • Both parents were of Circassian descent (HLF).
  • Mother died 'when she [i.e. Nimet] was quite young' (HLF).
  • On holiday in Rhodes with her aunt in 1914, she was stranded there by the outbreak of WW1 (HLF).
  • Father appointed 'first chamberlain' to Hussein Kamel of Egypt in 1914, but 'he died a short while later of an attack of appendicitis'. Nimet only learns about this towards the end of, or after, the war, when communications are re-established (HLF).
  • At eighteen years old, she married Aziz Eloui Bey. Bride and groom meet for the first time on the evening of their wedding (HLF).
  • Around the mid 1920s, husband and wife settle in Paris, and mix in literary and artistic circles. The most momentous contact they make will be Man Ray.
  • In early 1934 (or perhaps earlier) Aziz divorces her in order to marry the famous Lee Miller, one of Man Ray's models and collaborators.
  • At this point, accounts diverge:
    • According to Anthony Penrose's The Lives of Lee Miller, Nimet drank herself to death in a Parisian hotel room in the weeks following her divorce.
    • However, according to Chapter VII of His Last Friendship, Nimet attempted, unsuccessfully, to forge a film career in the latter part of the 1930s. Thereafter, she married a Prince Nicolas Meshchersky, and died in a Parisian sanitorium from an unnamed disease (but which sounds like tuberculosis) on 04 Aug 1943.

The Nimet mentioned here did indeed marry Nikolai Mestchersky (correct spelling) and died August 4, 1942. She's buried in the Orthodox Cemetery of Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois about 30km south of Paris. The tombstone calls her Princess Irina (Nimet) Mestchersky. On a different line, in Russian, it says she was born Khairy. See findagrave

Aside from Rilke (who as a source does not have a great reputation for accuracy) I can't verify that it is the same Nimet who was married to Aziz Eloui bey. It does sound plausible.

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