Never Invisible: An Iranian Woman’s Life Across the Twentieth Century

Never Invisible: An Iranian Woman’s Life Across the Twentieth Century is a new publication from Mage Publishers. 

In 2021, Houri Mostofi Moghadam’s archival collection was generously donated to Stanford University’s Green Library. The publication of this book was made possible with support from the Moghadam family, the Green Library, and the Stanford Iranian Studies Program. Never Invisible includes a foreword by Abbas Milani and afterword by Mariam Safinia, Mrs. Moghadam’s daughter who was instrumental in preserving her mother’s archive. The collection includes 60 notebooks containing her diaries in Persian and French, as well as copies of her doctoral thesis submitted to the Sorbonne in 1985. The archive will be available to students and scholars soon. 

"A remarkable woman who lived through extraordinary times, Houri Mostofi was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1919, descended on her mother’s side from Iranian royalty and on her father’s from a “God-fearing” family of scholars and government administrators. When she was twenty-two, Houri married Mohsen Moghadam, a young man from a merchant family who went on to become a successful businessman, often traveling abroad, while Houri dedicated herself to teaching, charitable public works, and running international women’s associations in Tehran. Together, they also raised three children, in whom Houri was keen to instill the same spirit of industry and self-discipline she had learned from her own parents."

Seated on the grass are Houri (center) and Farrokhrou Parsa (to the right) in their class photo, c. 1939. (The Teachers’ College and the Faculty of Letters, Philosophy and Education of the University of Tehran were administered jointly until 1942).

"Houri was among the first women to go to university in Iran, working as a teacher for nearly forty years and diligently continuing with her own education in later life, including traveling to the U.S. as a Fulbright Scholar, and, after being forced into exile following the Islamic Revolution of 1979, studying for a PhD at the Sorbonne in Paris. From a privileged social class, with a glamorous, jet-setting lifestyle, Houri was a pioneer, nonetheless, and a feminist for her own time. Through her hard work and frequent acts of bravery—from standing up to sinister intruders to dogged persistence in the face of intransigent officialdom—she made sure that, as a woman, she was never overlooked, never invisible, even when hidden under a dark chador at the Revolutionary Court. It was women like Houri who were the precursors of the young women fighting for equal rights and justice in Iran today."

Queen Farah visits Houri’s French class at Reza Shah Kabir High School (Nourbakhsh) with principal Mrs. Farrokhrou Parsa. 

"The resulting memoir tells the fascinating story of her life, with all its ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies, set against the backdrop of an impending revolution that would topple the world she and her family had always known and turn it upside down."

The Iranian Studies Program will host a conference in Spring 2023 to celebrate the launch of this book.