Halide Edip Adivar

Halide Edip Adivar

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Halide Edip Adıvar or Halide Edib Adivar (Ottoman Turkish
Ottoman Turkish language
The Ottoman Turkish language or Ottoman language is the variety of the Turkish language that was used for administrative and literary purposes in the Ottoman Empire. It borrows extensively from Arabic and Persian, and was written in a variant of the Perso-Arabic script...

: خالده اديب haliˈde eˈdib; sometimes spelled Halidé Edib in English) (1884– 9 January 1964) was a Turkish
Turkish people
Turkish people, also known as the "Turks" , are an ethnic group primarily living in Turkey and in the former lands of the Ottoman Empire where Turkish minorities had been established in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Romania...

 novelist and feminist
Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women. Its concepts overlap with those of women's rights...

 political leader. She was best known for her novels criticizing the low social status of Turkish women and what she saw as the lack of interest of most women in changing their situation.

Early life

Halide Edip was born in Constantinople(modern-day Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

), Ottoman Empire. Her father was a secretary of the Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid II. Halide Edip was educated at home by private tutors from whom she learned European and Ottoman literature, religion, philosophy, sociology, piano playing, English, French, and Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

. She learned Greek from her neighbors and from briefly attending a Greek school in Constantinople. She attended the American College for Girls
Üsküdar American Academy
Üsküdar American Academy is a private coeducational high school located in Istanbul, Turkey. It is regarded as one of the most academically rigorous institutions in Turkey.-History:...

 briefly in 1893. In 1897, she translated Mother by Jacob Abbott
Jacob Abbott
Jacob Abbott was an American writer of children's books.-Biography:Abbott was born at Hallowell, Maine to Jacob and Betsey Abbott...

, for which the sultan awarded her the Order of Charity (Nishan-i-Shafakat; Şefkat Nişanı). She attended the American College again from 1899 to 1901, when she graduated. Her father's house was a center of intellectual activity in Constantinople and even as a child Halide Edip participated in the intellectual life of the city.

After graduating, she married the mathematician and astronomer Salih Zeki Bey, with whom she had two sons. She continued her intellectual activities, however, and in 1908 began writing articles on education and on the status of women for Tevfik Fikret
Tevfik Fikret
Tevfik Fikret was an Ottoman poet who is considered the founder of the modern school of Turkish poetry.-Biography:...

's newspaper Tanin. She published her first novel, Seviye Talip, in 1909. Because of her articles on education, the education ministry hired her to reform girls' schools in Constantinople. She worked with Nakiye Hanım on curriculum and pedagogy changes and also taught pedagogy, ethics, and history in various schools. She resigned over a disagreement with ministry concerning mosque schools.

She received a divorce from Salih Zeki in 1910. Her house became an intellectual salon, especially for those interested in new concepts of Turkishness. She became involved with the Turkish Hearth (Türk Ocağı) in 1911 and became the first female member in 1912. She was also a founder of the Elevation of Women (Taali-i Nisvan) organization.

During World War I

She married again in 1917 to Dr. Adnan (later Adıvar)
Adnan Adivar
Abdülhak Adnan Adıvar was a Turkish politician, writer, historian, and by profession a medical doctor. He has done original research and written on history of science...

 and the next year took a job as a lecturer in literature at Istanbul's Faculty of Letters
Istanbul University
Istanbul University is a Turkish university located in Istanbul. The main campus is adjacent to Beyazıt Square.- Synopsis :A madrasa, a religious school, was established sometime in the 15th century after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. An institution of higher education named the...

. It was during this time that she became increasingly active in Turkey's nationalist movement.

In 1916-1917, Halide Edip acted as Ottoman inspector for schools in Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

, Beirut
Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon, with a population ranging from 1 million to more than 2 million . Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coastline, it serves as the country's largest and main seaport, and also forms the Beirut Metropolitan...

, and Mount Lebanon
Mount Lebanon
Mount Lebanon , as a geographic designation, is a Lebanese mountain range, averaging above 2,200 meters in height and receiving a substantial amount of precipitation, including snow, which averages around four meters deep. It extends across the whole country along about , parallel to the...

. The students at these schools included hundreds of Armenian, Arab, Kurdish, and Turkish orphans. According to a teacher who worked briefly under her, Halide Edip "was at the head of an orphanage of 1,000 children in the mountains. These were mostly Armenian children. She said, 'Their names are changed (to Moslem names) but they are children; they don't know what religion means. Now, they must be fed and clothed and kept safe.' She didn't say what would be afterwards." According to Halide Edip, these children were given Muslim names under orders from Cemal Pasha
Ahmed Djemal
Djemal Pasha or Ahmed Djemal , was a Young Turk and member of the Three Pashas. Ahmed Djemal was also Mayor of Istanbul.- Biography :...

. She records a 1916 conversation thus:
I said: "... Why do you allow Armenian children to be called by Moslem names? It looks like turning the Armenians into Moslems, and history some day will revenge it on the coming generation of Turks."

"You are an idealist," [Cemal Pasha] answered gravely, "... Do you believe that by turning a few hundred Armenian boys and girls Moslem I think I benefit my race? You have seen the Armenian orphanages in Damascus run by Armenians. There is no room in those; there is no money to open another Armenian orphanage. This is a Moslem orphanage, and only Moslem orphans are allowed. ... When I hear of wandering and starving children, I sent them to Aintoura
Antoura is a town in the Mount Lebanon Governorate.-History:The towns and the University was the scene of an "ethnic cleansing" event when the Ottoman Turkish authorities under direct instructions from Jamal Pasha followed a policy of "Turkification" that affected over 1300 Armenian and Kurdish...

. I have to keep them alive. I do not care how. I cannot bear to see them die in the streets."

"Afterward?" I asked.

"Do you mean after the war?" he asked. "After the war they will go back to their people. I hope none is too small to realize his race."

"I will never have anything to do with such an orphanage."

He shook his head. "You will," he said; "if you see them in misery and suffering, you will go to them and not think for a moment about their names and religion. ..."

Halide Edip's account of her inspectorship emphasizes her humanitarian efforts and her struggles to come to terms with the violence of the situation. The account of one acquaintance, however, accuses her of "calmly planning with [Cemal Pasha] forms of human tortures for Armenian mothers and young women" and taking on "the task of making Turks of their orphaned children." A U.S. High Commissioner refers to her as a "chauvinist" and someone who is "trying to rehabilitate Turkey." On the other hand, German historian Hilmar Kaiser says: "And even if you’re a Turkish nationalist, that doesn’t make you a killer. There were people who were famous Turkish nationalists like Halide Edip; she advocated assimilation of Armenians, but she very strongly opposed any kind of murder."

During the War of Independence

After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, British troops occupied Constantinople and allies occupied various parts of the empire. Mustafa Kemal (later Atatürk)
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was an Ottoman and Turkish army officer, revolutionary statesman, writer, and the first President of Turkey. He is credited with being the founder of the Republic of Turkey....

 began organizing resistance to the occupation. Halide Edip gained a reputation in Constantinople as a "firebrand and a dangerous agitator." The British tried to exile her and several other leaders to Malta in March 1920.

After the end of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 she and her husband traveled to Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 to fight in the War of Independence; she served first as a corporal
Corporal is a rank in use in some form by most militaries and by some police forces or other uniformed organizations. It is usually equivalent to NATO Rank Code OR-4....

 and then as a sergeant
Sergeant is a rank used in some form by most militaries, police forces, and other uniformed organizations around the world. Its origins are the Latin serviens, "one who serves", through the French term Sergent....

 in the nationalist military.

In 1926, Halide Edip and many associates were unjustly accused of treason. She and her husband escaped to Europe. They lived in the French Third Republic
French Third Republic
The French Third Republic was the republican government of France from 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed due to the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, to 1940, when France was overrun by Nazi Germany during World War II, resulting in the German and Italian occupations of France...

 and the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 from 1926 to 1939. Halide Edip traveled widely, teaching and lecturing repeatedly in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and in British Raj
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. After returning to Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 in 1939, she became a professor in English literature
English literature
English literature is the literature written in the English language, including literature composed in English by writers not necessarily from England; for example, Robert Burns was Scottish, James Joyce was Irish, Joseph Conrad was Polish, Dylan Thomas was Welsh, Edgar Allan Poe was American, J....

 at the Faculty of Letters in Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

. In 1950, she was elected to Parliament, resigning in 1954; this was the only formal political position she ever held.


Common themes in Halide Edip's novels were strong, independent female characters who succeeded in reaching their goals against strong opposition. She was also a strong Turkish nationalist, and several stories highlighted the central role of women in the fight for Turkish Independence.


Halide Edip died on January 9, 1964 in Istanbul. She was laid to rest at the Merkezefendi Cemetery
Merkezefendi Cemetery
The Merkezefendi Cemetery is a burial ground situated in Merkezefendi neighborhood of Zeytinburnu district on the European part of Istanbul, Turkey.Many renowned intellectuals, writers and artists rest in this old cemetery covering an area of ....

 in Istanbul.

Major works

  • Seviye Talip (1910).
  • Mevut Hükümler (1918).
  • Yeni Turan (1912)
  • Son Eseri (1919).
  • Ateşten Gömlek (1922; translated into English as The Daughter of Smyrna or The Shirt of Flame).
  • Çıkan Kuri (1922).
  • Kalb Ağrısı (1924).
  • Vurun Kahpeye (1926).
  • The Memoirs of Halide Edib, New York-London: The Century, 1926 (published in English).
  • The Turkish Ordeal, New York-London: The Century, 1928 (memoir, published in English).
  • Zeyno'nun Oğlu (1928).
  • Turkey Faces West, New Haven-London: Yale University Press/Oxford University Press, 1930.
  • The Clown and His Daughter (first published in English in 1935 and in Turkish as Sinekli Bakkal in 1936).
  • Türkün Ateşle İmtihanı (memoir, published in 1962; translated into English as House with Wisteria).

As a character in literature and film

  • The novel Halide's Gift by Frances Kazan (2001) is a coming-of-age story about Halide Edip's youth and maturation.
  • Halide Edip appears as a character in several films and television shows including Kurtuluş, Cumhuriyet, and The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.
  • Several of Halide Edip's novels have also been adapted for film and television.
  • Halide Edip is the subject of The Greedy Heart of Halide Edib, a documentary film for school children.

External links