Halide Edip Adıvar (1882-1964)
Halide Edip was born in 1884 in Istanbul as the daughter of Mehmet Edip Bey, private treasurer of Sultan Abdulhamit II and Fatma Berifem Hanım. Her mother died when she was young. She was educated by private tutors at home in a period when most girls were not educated. After receiving private lessons, she was sent to American Girls College in Üsküdar, Istanbul and she became the first Muslim to have graduated from this school in 1901. In the memoir, Son Sultanların İstanbulu written by the manager of the college, Halide Edip‟s “true self under the cover” is described and a new period that is just beginning in Turkey is depicted (Başçı, 1998: 112). After her graduation, Halide Edip married Salih Rıza bey, who was the mathematics teacher at her college. Two boys- Ayetullah and Hikmetullah- were born to the couple. After the war between Russia and Japan, Halide Edip named her son “Hasan Hikmetullah Togo” out of respect to the famous Japanese Commander Togo Heihachiro, who gained victory on behalf of the “Orient” against Russia, one of the Western powers.
Fanny Davis states that Adıvar‟s writing adventure begins with her translation of The Mother at Home by Jacob Abbot, who worked as a pedagogue in 1860s, into Turkish (Davis, 1986: 235). According to Davis, this book made her father so happy that he produced a thousand prints and sent them to the spouses of the soldiers. By chance, Mehmet Edip bey showed the book to Abdulhamid II, who had, by coincidence, awarded her a medal in the same period (Davis, 1986: 235). Halide Edip‟s first literary experience as an author was with the columns in the journal Tanin. She published in various journals such as Tanin, Aşiyan, Resimli Kitap and Demet from 1908 onwards. Publishing “The Future of Turkish Women” originally written in English in the Nation journal, Halide Edip could draw attention to Isabel Fry, who, as a reformer, dedicated herself to the education of children ( Enginün, 1978: 31). Halide Edip‟s correspondence with Isabel Fry began a lifelong friendship and provided her with contact to many prominent figures among English Feminists. Adıvar, who was said to have been inspired by the structure of Suffragettes Community in England, founded “Raising the Status of Turkish Women Association (Teaali Nisvan),” where the issues relevant to women were discussed in the form of open sessions. Following “The Young Turks Revolution” in 1908, the “31 March Case,” which is known as the rebellion of antirevolutionists, caused Halide Edip and her two sons to take refugee in Egypt like many other
supporters of the revolution. She travelled from Egypt and visited Isabel Fry in England. She met prominent intellectuals of the period such as Bertrand Russell and published her travel notes in Akşam journal. Her husband Salih Zeki decided to take a second wife and asked her
to remain his first wife. This incident became a turning point in her life and she divorced him. Despite this sudden separation, Salih Zeki turned into a lifelong obsession for her. Mina Urgan, who was Halide Edip‟s student in the 1960s, recounts in her memoir that despite the
pains Salih Zeki had caused her, she always talked passionately about him.
After the tragic end of her marriage, she dedicated herself to education. She worked as a teacher at Teacher Training School (Darülmuammalimat) and Girls High School ( Kız İdadisi) and got in touch with a new intellectual environment, which gathered under the banner of Pan-Turkism.
During the period following 1910, in order to find a solution to the worsening political conditions of the Russian Empire, the Ottoman intellectuals grew interested in the project of Pan-Turkism created by the Russian Turks, which aimed to connect all the Turkic peoples in
the world (Deren, 2002: 117-139). Ziya Gökalp and Yusuf Akçura were the leading supporters of this movement. Ziya Gökalp is an important figure not only for Turkish Nationalism but also for Turkish Feminism as he had argued that feminisim is an important part of Turkish life (Fleming, 1998: 127-138). The intellectual atmosphere focusing on the Turkish culture affected many intellectuals including Halide Edip. She became interested in the newly emerging perspective on Turkishness, the idea of Turanism and the ideal to unite all the Turan races under one flag and country. In 1911, she revisited London and during her period of residence there, she wrote Yeni Turan, in which she narrates the utopia of a Turanist country. In her memoirs, Halide Edip admits that the influence of Ziya Gökalp‟s nationalist views can be sensed in her first novels, including Yeni Turan. Yeni Turan was translated into German by Friedrich Schrader who lived in İstanbul between the years 1891-1907 and lectured at Robert College and German High School.
Halide Edip was the first female member of the Turkish Hearth Community (Türk Ocağı Cemiyeti). Soon after the foundation of the Turkish Hearth, a journal named Türk Yurdu, which advocated the Turkish values of the pre-Islamic period, began to be published. She lectured and wrote articles on a variety of issues from current politics to economic struggles. These lectures and articles provided her to become one of the leading names for Turkish nationalism. She was sent to Syria, in charge of the investigation of the schools and orphanages, by Cemal Pasha who was one of the leaders of the Union and Progress Committee (İttihat ve Terakki Cemiyeti) (Lewis, 2004: 39). The following year, nearly seven years after she divorced Salih Zeki Bey, she married Dr. Adnan, who was a renowned professor of medicine. Dr. Adnan Adıvar was also one of the members of the Union and Progress Committee and a close family friend. The couple got involved in the activities of
After 1918, Halide Edip turned into an even more prominent figure with her passionate public speeches. After the occupation of Izmir by the Greek army on May 16, 1919, she delivered a speech at a rally in Sultanahmet, Istanbul and at a mass meeting in Fatih. At the Fatih meeting, Adıvar addressed the public as follows:
Adıvar strengthened her position as the defender of national independence with her passionate speeches. As the Allies occupied Istanbul in 1920, she fled to Anatolia with her family and joined the national struggle. Ottoman court in Istanbul blacklisted her and sentenced her to
death. Following the cease fire, Halide Edip accepted the peace offering of President Woodrow Wilson with excitement and became the member of Wilson Principles Committee, a political network that connected the nationalists in Turkey to the American Government. Although she became a defender of American sovereignty at first, she later changed her mind.
She served as a nurse to the military units during the war and she worked as press agent for Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. In recognition of her military services, she was promoted to the rank of sergeant. Dr. Adnan Adıvar was among the intellectuals within Atatürk‟s circle; he
became the first Minister of Health in Ankara between the years 1920-1921.
The end of war led to many changes in the country. In 1923, the Turkish Republic was founded and the National Assembly (TBMM) abolished the caliphate in order to separate religion from state affairs. In parallel with the efforts to create a new political structure, an attempt to democracy within the control of the state, was launched. Dr. Adıvar became the general secretary of the first opposition party named Terakkiperver Cumhuriyet Fırkası founded with the permission of Atatürk. The Şeyh Sait rebellion in 1925 brought the end of the party. On 5 July, the Terakkiperver Cumhuriyet Fırkası was charged with using religion for political purposes and closed by cabinet decision. The Adıvars went to Europe and America in a form of voluntarily exile. Although Halide Edip was admitted as a member of the women‟s organization that aimed at establishing a lobby for the right to elect and be elected for women, these efforts did not have a positive result before she left Turkey with her husband (Adak, 2003: 511). After the death of Mustafa Kemal, Adıvars returned to the country. Halide Edip was appointed as a professor to the English Language and Literature Department of Istanbul University. In 1949, the Democrat Party was founded and with the general elections in the same year, through which 61 members of the Democratic Party entered the parliament, Turkey passed into a multi-party system.
The Democratic Party came to power with a large majority in 1950 and in the elections of the same year Halide Edip was elected as an independent deputy from İzmir. She was one of the three women, among the four hundred and ninety-one men, in the National Assembly
(Keskin-Kozat 1997). Democrat Party used her as a symbol of a new period in the Turkish political system. By using Halide Edip‟s voluntary exile in 1920, the party gave the message that they were against the authoritarianism of the single party regime (Günay 2005). Yet, Halide Edip soon realised that the Democrat Party was only after power. As she lost interest in the party, she became critical of the government in her speeches. She published her Farewell to Politics (Siyasi Vedaname) and resigned in 1954 (Koloğlu, 1998: 181‐187). She dedicated herself to writing and to her responsibilities at the university. After Dr. Adnan Adıvar‟s death on 1 July 1955, she began to lead a secluded life. Halide Edip Adıvar passed away in 1964.
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