Biography: Juliette de Bairacli Levy
November 11, 1912 - May 28, 2009
Juliette de Bairacli Levy is a world renowned herbalist, author, breeder of Afghan hounds, friend of the Gypsies, traveller in search of herbal wisdom, and the pioneer of holistic veterinary medicine. Juliette has a long record of spectacular cures to her credit and the books she has written have been a vital inspiration for the present day herbal renaissance.
Juliette was born on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11 month, almost in 1911 (actually 1912) in Manchester, England. Her parents were Jewish - her mother from Egypt and her father from Turkey. Juliette was raised in a household with three sisters and two brothers, a nanny, chauffeur, maid and gardener. She was educated at Lowther College, one of the best girls schools in Britain, and went on to study veterinary medicine at the Universities of Manchester and Liverpool. However, Juliette did not approve of the vivisection and animal experimentation that was going on in the universities in the name of science and health. So she left university after two years and went to study with the Gypsies and peasants of the world.
In the late 1930's Juliette ran a distemper clinic in London where, at a time when many dogs were dying from this disease, she treated and cured hundreds of dogs with fasting, herbs and a natural diet. Amongst others, she cured the dogs of Douglas Fairbanks, the tenor Richard Tauber, the owner of Sutton Seeds and Arthur Guinness (of Guinness Beer). Also, when many Afghan hound puppies were dying of distemper, Juliette raised a litter of puppies on her natural rearing methods and these puppies won Best of Show at Crufts Dog Show. Descendants of this litter, known under Juliette's kennel name, Turkuman, were later to become Champions in England, America, and all over the world. In the 1940's Turkuman Nissim's Laurel won Best Of Show at Westminster - to this day the only Afghan ever to win Best of Show at this event. Turkuman Nissim's Laurel was pictured on the cover of Life magazine.
It was in the 1930's that Juliette developed a line of herbal supplements for animals known as Natural Rearing Products. For the next 50 years these were the only products of their kind on the market. Today these supplements are still distributed world wide.
During the World War II Juliette worked in the Women's Land Army gathering sphagnum moss which was used on soldiers' wounds. After the war she went to Yorkshire where she cured thousands of sheep who had been declared incurable by conventional vets. This work brought her to the attention of Sir Albert Howard, founder of the Soil Association and creator of modern day "organic" farming methods. Sir Albert Howard encouraged Juliette to learn all she could about herbal treatments for animals.
In the 1940's, while travelling in America, Spain, France, North Africa and Turkey, Juliette gathered herbal remedies from the nomadic and peasant peoples of these lands. When her Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable was published in 1951, it was the first veterinary herbal ever to be published as before this time, the art of farriers, gypsies and peasants had been passed on only by the spoken word. Thus Juliette became THE pioneer of what is known today as holistic animal care. She went on to write The Complete Herbal Book for the Dog. Both these books together with Juliette's Illustrated Herbal Handbook for Everyone and Natural Rearing of Children have become classics and many generations of humans & animals have been raised & healed on these books.
Faber and Faber, Juliette's publishers, say that for the past 50 years they have always received more inquiries about Juliette than about any of their other authors who include T.S. Eliot, Ted Hughes and William Golding.
Juliette's two children, Luz and Rafik, were born in the early 1950's. She took her children to live in Israel where they raised owls, hawks, dogs, goats, donkeys and bees. Juliette became famous for saving her hives of bees from shell attack during the six day war. In Israel and later when she moved to Greece, Juliette continued to write, to raise Afghan hounds, to garden and to gather herbal remedies. As well as her herbal books, she has written several travel books, two novels and three books of poems. Today Juliette lives on the Azores Islands.
For the past ten years Juliette has been coming to America every summer to give lectures, workshops and seminars on herbal medicine. In America she has become recognized as the grandmother of today's herbal renaissance. In 1998 at their HerbFest in Iowa, Frontier Herbs presented Juliette with a Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to the herb world.
Text: Tish Streeten