SCHEHERAZADE AND THE ONE THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS
Scheherazade and The 1001 Arabian Nights
Scheherazade did not exist outside fiction, but she was supposed to be a Persian queen and the storyteller of
the 'One Thousand and One Nights' series of stories. She had a sister called Dunyazade, who is part of the plot, in
that she is brought in to the room in order to be able to say farewell to Scheherazade. She asks her older
sister to tell her one last story before she dies and the Shah listens in.
The gist of the story in which Scheherazade and her sister appear is that Shahryar, the king of Persia, would
marry a virgin every day and then have her beheaded the following day out of revenge against womankind because his
first wife was unfaithful to him.
By the time Scheherazade, the Vizier's daughter was lined up to be married to him, the Shah had already had
1,000 wives murdered. In fact, Scheherazade volunteered to become the Shah's next wife because she had a plan which
would make her queen and put an end to the slaughter of young women.
Scheherazade was a very cultured and educated young lady. She had 'a thousand books' of stories and history and
had memorised much of their contents.
On her night with the Shah, Scheherazade told him a story, but stopped halfway, because it was getting light.
The Shah was so gripped by the story that he spared her life so that she could finish it the following night.
The following night, Scheherazade finished the story, but started an even more exciting one, which caused her
husband to spare her life again. After a thousand stories, Scheherazade had to admit to the Shah that she had no
more stories left to tell him, but by then he had fallen in love with her and spared her life in perpetuity.
Dunyazade later marries Shahryar's younger brother Shah Zaman.
Characters in Scheherazade's 1,000 stories include such well-known figures as Aladdin, Ali Baba and Sinbad the
I have used 'Scheherazade's' as the name for the fictional department store in Baghdad that is attacked by a
suicide bomber in my latest book 'Dead Centre'.