Halide Edip: pillar of Turkish literature


Commemorated on the 57th anniversary of his death on January 9, 1964, Halide Edip Adivar was a literary giant as the author of the first war novel in Turkish literature, as well as one of the founders of the Anadolu agency .

Born in 1884, Halide Edip spent her childhood in her grandparents’ house, which later became an inspiration for one of her acclaimed works, House with Wisteria: Memoirs of Turkey Old and New.

Adivar attended the American College for Girls in Istanbul in 1893, but was then forced to drop out and was home-schooled by private tutors in subjects such as Arabic, English, French, and music. .

Encouraged by her English teacher, she translated John Abbot’s Mother into Turkish, for which she will be decorated with the Order of Charity by the Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II.

In 1899, she returned to American college and graduated in 1901. The same year, she married her math teacher Salih Zeki and had two children.

Halide Edip began writing under the pseudonym Halide Salih for the journal Tanin, founded by the poet Tevfik Fikret, who was also a founding name of modern Turkish poetry, and continued to write for other publications.

Receiving threats because of her articles, the young woman left for Egypt after fearing for her life during an uprising in 1909, but returned to Istanbul later that year.

Continuing with her writing, she decided to divorce Salih Zeki the following year for wanting to take a second wife. Later, in 1917, she married Adnan Adivar.

On instructions from the then Minister of Education, she began teaching in girls’ schools and was a private school inspector. During this period, her observations in the suburbs of Istanbul inspired her to write the novel Sinekli Bakkal, later published in London under the title The Clown and his Daughter.

She was influenced by the writings of such figures as Turkish writer and sociologist Ziya Gokalp and prominent politician Yusuf Akcura during this period.

As the Balkan Wars raged in 1912-1913, she created the first women’s association with the aim of stimulating women’s participation in social life and education.

She then went to Syria to organize and open schools in Beirut and Damascus on the proposal of Cemal Pasa.

In 1917, she wrote her first play and taught Western literature at Istanbul University in 1918-1919.

After the occupation of the city of Izmir on the Aegean coast on May 15, 1919 by Greek forces, Adivar participated in rallies in Istanbul against the occupation. His speech in Sultan Ahmet Square was widely acclaimed. With her fierce writings, she helped build resistance.

Creation of the Anadolu agency

During this period, Adivar played a key role in Turkey’s War for Independence, smuggling weapons to Anatolia while Istanbul was under occupation before joining the resistance itself in 1920. with her husband.

Speaking to Yunus Nadi Bey, Turkish journalist and politician, Adivar discussed the idea of ​​founding the country’s first news agency.

At her request, the two men agreed to name her Agence Anadolu (Anatolia), a medium to tell the story of Turkey’s just struggle to expel the occupying forces.

As Istanbul, seat of the Ottoman Empire, was under occupation, they were convinced that this would be the best name for the agency as the salvation of the country depended on Anatolia.

On April 6, 1920, the Anadolu Agency was officially established on the instructions of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founding father of the Republic of Turkey.

While contributing to Yunus Nadi Hakimiyet-i Milliye’s Istanbul daily, Adivar also translated foreign newspapers and became the director of the Ankara branch of the Red Crescent (Kizilay).

During Turkey’s War of Independence at the Battle of Sakarya in 1921, she became a corporal and wrote reports on the oppression and damage inflicted by the Greek army on the Turks before their withdrawal from Anatolian territory.

After being promoted to sergeant, she wrote classic works such as Atesten Gomlek, Vurun Kahpeye and Daga Cikan Kurt.

After the declaration of the republic, Adivar continued his writing life and contributed to numerous newspapers and magazines.

After the closure of the Republican Progressive Party (Terakkiperver Cumhuriyet Firkasi) – co-founded by her husband, Adnan Adivar – by the government of Prime Minister Ismet Inonu, she left Turkey in 1925 amid emerging political disagreements.

She lived abroad until 1939 and lectured at universities and lectures in Britain, France and the United States. In 1935, she went to India to support the campaign to establish Camia-i Milliye, a university for Muslims.

In 1940, she returned to teaching English literature at Istanbul University and in 1950 was elected a member of the Democratic Party. However, she resigned four years later due to political disagreements and returned to her literary career.

On January 9, 1964, she died at the age of 82 and was buried in Istanbul, leaving behind a legacy of dozens of works for future generations.

Peyami Safa, one of the leading Turkish writers of the time, called Adivar “Turkey’s only war novelist” and acclaimed poet Necip Fazil Kisakurek praised his unique works.

During his lifetime, Halide Edip Adivar also translated Shakespeare’s Animal Farm by George Orwell and Hamlet into Turkish.

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Ann G. Starbuck