Halide Edib Adıvar

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Halide Edib Adıvar
Halide Edib Adıvar b3.jpg
Born 11 June 1884, Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), Ottoman Empire
Died 9 January 1964 (aged 79)
Resting place Merkezefendi Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey
Occupation Novelist
Nationality Turkish
Citizenship Turkey
Education American College for Girls
Subject Feminism
Notable awards Order of Charity
Spouse Salih Zeki Bey, Adnan Adıvar

Halide Edib Adıvar (Ottoman Turkish: خالده اديب[ha:liˈde eˈdib]; sometimes spelled Halidé Edib in English) (11 June 1884 – 9 January 1964) was a Turkish novelist, revolutionist, professor, parliamentarian, officer, and political leader for women's rights. She was one of the most prominent Turkish writers in the 20th century and 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. As Halide Onbaşı (Corporal Halide) she was furthermore an iconic figure for all women who participated in the Turkish War of Independence.

A crater on Venus is named in honor of her.

Early life[edit]

Halide Edib was born in Constantinople, Ottoman Empire.[1] Her father was a secretary of the Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid II.[citation needed] Halide Edib was educated at home by private tutors from whom she learned European and Ottoman literature, religion, philosophy, sociology, piano playing, English, French, and Arabic. She learned Greek from her neighbors and from briefly attending a Greek school in Istanbul. She attended the American College for Girls[2] briefly in 1893. In 1897, she translated Mother by Jacob Abbott, for which the sultan awarded her the Order of Charity (Şefkat Nişanı).[3] She attended the American College again from 1899 to 1901, when she graduated. Her father's house was a center of intellectual activity in Istanbul and even as a child Halide Edib participated in the intellectual life of the city.[4]

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's newspaper Tanin and the women's journal Demet. 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 Istanbul. 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[clarification needed] with the ministry concerning mosque schools.[5]

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 (tr) (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.[6]

During World War I[edit]

Early photo of Halide Edib wearing a yashmak.

She married again in 1917 to Dr. Adnan (later Adıvar) and the next year took a job as a lecturer in literature at Istanbul University's Faculty of Letters . It was during this time that she became increasingly active in Turkey's nationalist movement, influenced by the ideas of Ziya Gökalp.

In 1916–1917, she acted as Ottoman inspector for schools in Damascus, Beirut and the Collège Saint Joseph in Mount Lebanon. The students at these schools included hundreds of Armenian, Arab, Kurdish, and Turkish orphans.[7] During the hardships of World War I and its impact in the war-torn Ottoman Empire as well as its population, many such children without family members or relatives were found in orphanages. Under the direction of Djemal Pasha about 1,000 Armenian and 200 Kurdish children were given muslim names in the Collège Saint Joseph in Aintoura. According to a teacher who worked briefly under her, Halide Edib "was at the head of an orphanage of 1,000 children in the mountains". These were mostly Armenian children.[citation needed] 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."[8] According to Halide Edib, these children were given Muslim names under orders from Djemal Pasha. 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. 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. ..."[9]

During the War of Independence[edit]

In a demonstration during Turkish 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) began organizing resistance to the occupation. Halide Edib gained a reputation in Istanbul as a "firebrand and a dangerous agitator."[citation needed] She was one of the main figures of Empire to give speech to thousands of people protesting the Occupation of Izmir by Greece during the Sultanahmet demonstrations. The British tried to exile her and several other leaders to Malta in March 1920.

Halide Edib escaped to Anatolia together with her husband to join the Turkish National Resistance. On the road to Ankara she met with Yunus Nadi, another journalist who had decided to join the Nationalists. In a meeting at the train station in Geyve, on 31 March 1920, they agreed on the importance of informing the international public opinion about the developments regarding the Turkish War of Liberation and decided to help the national struggle by establishing a news agency. They concurred on the name "Anadolu Ajansı".[10][11]

During the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922) she was granted the ranks of first corporal and then sergeant in the nationalist army. She traveled to the fronts, worked in the headquarters of İsmet Pasha, Commander of the Western Front and wrote her impressions of the scorched earth policy of the invading Greek army and the Greek atrocities in Western Anatolia in her book "The Turkish Ordeal".

After the War[edit]

In 1926, Halide Edib and many associates were accused of treason. She and her husband escaped to Europe.[12] They lived in France and the United Kingdom from 1926 to 1939. Halide Edib traveled widely, teaching and lecturing repeatedly in the United States and in India. She collected her impressions of India as a British colony in her book "Inside India".[13] 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; this was the only formal political position she ever held.


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


A contemporary described her as "a slight, tiny little person, with masses of auburn hair and large, expressive Oriental eyes, she has opinions on most subjects, and discusses the problems of the day in a manner which charms one not so much on account of what she says, but because it is so different from what one expected".[14]


Halide Edib died on January 9, 1964 in Istanbul. She was laid to rest at the Merkezefendi Cemetery in Istanbul.[15]

Major works[edit]

  • Seviye Talip (1910).
  • Handan (1912).
  • 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[edit]

  • The novel Halide's Gift by Frances Kazan (2001) is a coming-of-age story about Halide Edib's youth and maturation.
  • Halide Edib appears as a character in several films and television shows including Kurtuluş,[16] Cumhuriyet,[17] and The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.[18]
  • Several of Halide Edib's novels have also been adapted for film and television.[19]
  • Halide Edib is the subject of The Greedy Heart of Halide Edib, a documentary film for school children.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Britannica, Istanbul:When the Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923, the capital was moved to Ankara, and Constantinople was officially renamed Istanbul in 1930.
  2. ^ Üsküdar American Academy.
  3. ^ "Ottoman medal for 'compassionate' British lady to go under the hammer". Hurriyet Daily News. 24 January 2015. 
  4. ^ Erol, pages vii–viii.
  5. ^ Erol, page viii.
  6. ^ Erol, page ix.
  7. ^ Adıvar, pages 431–471.
  8. ^ Fisher
  9. ^ Adıvar, pages 428–429.
  10. ^ Anadolu Ajansı. Kuruluşundan Bugüne Anadolu Ajansı Archived 2013-01-15 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ Marcosson, pages 174–175.
  13. ^ Halide Edip Adıvar’ın Hindistan’daki Konferansları Archived 2013-11-27 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ Ellison, Grace Mary. An English woman in a Turkish harem. (1915) London : Methuen & Co., Ltd.
  15. ^ "Halide Edip Adıvar" (in Turkish). Yazar Mezar. Archived from the original on 2011-09-14. Retrieved 2011-10-14. 
  16. ^ Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 4 September 2009 Kurtulus.
  17. ^ Internet Movie Database. Cumhuriyet. Retrieved 4 September 2009.
  18. ^ Internet Movie Database. The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Retrieved 4 September 2009.
  19. ^ Internet Movie Database. Halide Edip Adivar. Retrieved 4 September 2009.
  20. ^ Indy in the Classroom: Documentaries: Masks of Evil Archived 2011-05-28 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved 5 September 2009.


  • Adıvar, Halide Edip. (1926) Memoirs of Halidé Edib. John Murray.
  • Adler, Philip J., & Randall L. Pouwels. (2007) World Civilizations: To 1700. Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-0-495-50261-6.
  • Davis, Fanny. (1986) The Ottoman Lady: A Social History from 1718 to 1918.
  • Erol, Sibel. (2009) Introduction to House with Wisteria: Memoirs of Turkey Old and New by Halide Edip Adıvar. Transaction Publishers. ISBN 978-1-4128-1002-9.
  • Fisher, Harriet Julia. (1917) "Adana. Inquiry Document 813." In James L. Barton, Turkish Atrocities: Statements of American Missionaries on the Destruction of Christian Communities in Ottoman Turkey, 1915–1917. Gomidas Institute, Ann Arbor. 1998. ISBN 1-884630-04-9.
  • Heck, J. G. (1852) Iconographic Encyclopaedia of Science, Literature, and Art. Trans. Spencer F. Baird.
  • Hovannisian, Richard G. (1999) Remembrance and Denial: The Case of the Armenian Genocide. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 978-0-8143-2777-7.
  • Kévorkian, Raymond. (2006) Le Génocide des Arméniens. Odile Jacob, Paris. ISBN 2-7381-1830-5.
  • Larousse.fr. (No date) "Istanbul." Retrieved 3 June 2010.
  • Marcosson, Isaac Frederick. (1938) Turbulent Years. Ayer Publishing.
  • Mitler, Louis. (1997) Contemporary Turkish Writers.
  • Sonmez, Emel. (1973) "The Novelist Halide Edib Adivar and Turkish Feminism." Die Welt des Islams, New Ser. Vol. 14, Issue 1/4: 81–115.
  • Stathakopoulos, Dionysios. (2008, November) "The Elusive Eastern Empire." History Today, Vol. 58, No. 11.
  • "Turk Nationalists Organize to Resist." (1920, March 20) New York Times, page 5.
  • Üsküdar American Academy. About Halide Edip Adıvar. Retrieved 20 September 2009.
  • Vauchez, André, Richard Barrie Dobson, & Michael Lapidge. (2000) Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-57958-282-1.
  • Yeghenian, Aghavnie. (1922, September 17) "The Turkish Jeanne d'Arc: An Armenian Picture of Remarkable Halide Edib Hanoum" (letter to editor). New York Times, page 97.

External links[edit]