Halide Edip Adivar (1884 – 1964)

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Who was Halide Edip Adivar?


A Turkish novelist and nationalist and feminist 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.

Halide Edip was born in Constantinople and educated at home by private tutors from whom she learned European and Ottoman literature, religion, philosophy, sociology, piano playing, English, French, and Arabic.  In 1908 she began writing articles on education and on the status of women for the 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 was a founder of the Elevation of Women (Taali-i Nisvan) organization and inspector for schools in Damascus, Beirut, and Mount Lebanon. In 1918 she took a job as a lecturer in literature at Istanbul’s Faculty of Letters. It was during this time that she became increasingly active in Turkey’s nationalist movement.

After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, 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, but she escaped to Anatolia together with her husband to join the Turkish National Resistance. In 1926, Halide Edip and many associates were accused of treason and escaped to Europe. Edip traveled widely, teaching and lecturing repeatedly in the United States and in India. She returned to Turkey in 1939, becoming a professor in English literature at the Faculty of Letters in Istanbul. In 1950, she was elected to Parliament, resigning in 1954.


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