Peride Celal was born in June 10, 1915, in Findikli, Istanbul to Zeliha Mirat Türel and Mehmet Celalettin Erem. After having used her stepfather’s surname Bayburtoglu when she was unmarried, she started using her husband Atif Yönsel’s surname after she got married. She used pen names P. Gencay, Peride Gencay Bayburtlu and Peride Celal in her career.
She spent most of her childhood in Anatolia, especially Black Sea Region, because her stepfather was a prosecuting attorney. After finishing Haydarpasa Primary School, she studied in Istanbul Saint Pulchérie for Girls for two years but dropped out before graduating.
Although her mother and stepfather didn’t want her to become a writer and insisted on her getting married, Peride Celal continued writing and succeeded in getting her first short story “Ak Kız” published in Yedigun in 1935, thanks to her mother’s convincing Sedat Simavi, the owner of the journal. After seeing her short story in Yedigun, her uncle, also the owner of Tan newspaper invited her to work for him. Celal met Peyami Safa, a well-known writer, there and developed her writing with his help and started having French lessons from Monsieur Angel, again thanks to his suggestion. Later on, she mentioned in her interview with Necmi Onu that she was upset about not completing her education and thought herself incompetent to be a writer and thus developing an inferiority complex.
In December, 1935, the year Celal puplished her first story, fifteen of her stories were published in Tan. Celal had to move to Istanbul to live with her grandmother and support herself by writing. She wrote a short story every day in this period and worked as a secretary in Istanbul Electricity Company’s Publishing department. She also wrote her first novel Sönen Alev in the same year upon an offer she received from Son Posta newspaper and this novel started being published as a series in the newspaper. It was published as a book in 1938.
Getting recognition for her short stories, interviews and novel series that were published in newspapers such as Tan, Son Posta, Cumhuriyet and Milliyet, she went to Switzerland to work as a secretary in Bern Press in 1944. She stayed in Switzerland for three years and during this time, she wrote short stories and essays under the title “Switzerland Letters” for Cumhuriyet newspaper. She became friends with Turkish Switzerland Ambassador and also an important writer Yakup Karaosmanoglu, developed her French and took time off from writing. “I saw what Europe was like, developed my French, started reading more and realized that writing is much more different than I thought it was,” Peride Celal says on this period.
Leaving behind her novels she wrote between 1935-1949 and critics called “romance novels” and “best-sellers”, thanks to her experience in Switzerland, Peride Celal entered a new era with her 1954 novel Üç Kadının Romanı. However, her transition has not been easy because of the reputation of her earlier novels. Called “chic-lit writer” by the critics and depressed about her new works’ not getting the recognition they deserve, she found solace in her marriage to Atıf Yönsel.
Yönsel restored his wife’s confidence and supported her by saying that she didn’t have to write to support herself anymore. Celal published “the first novel she was completely happy with” Gecenin Ucundaki Işık in 1967. However, the novel she wooed the critics with was Üç Yirmidört Saat, which was published in 1967. It was awarded with Sedat Simavi Literature Award, which Celal shared with with Fazıl Hüsnü Daglarca, in 1977.
She was awarded with Orhan Kemal Novel Prize in 1990 with her novel Kurtlar, which Celal described as “autofiction” and critics deemed a masterpiece.
With her earlier work and her comparatively less-read but critically much more acclaimed later work, Peride Celal has written more than 20 novels and hundreds of short stories since 1935. It is also estimated that she has at least five novels that were published in newspapers as a series but never properly published as a book.
She was the author of honors in 15th Istanbul International Book Fair, 1996. Her novel Kızıl Vazo was adapted to cinema with two different scripts by Atıf Yılmaz in 1961 and 1969. Another novel of hers, Yıldıztepe was adapted to cinema in 1965 by Memduh Ün, and her short story “Ada” by Süreyya Duru in 1988. There are two books written about her: Peride Celal’e Armağan by Selim İleri and Çok Katmanlı Duyarlıklar Yazarı: Peride Celal by Alpay Kabacalı.
Peride Celal has two children and lives in Istanbul.
Sönen Alev (1938 - İnkılâp)
Yaz Yağmuru (1940 - İnkılâp)
Ana-Kız (1941 - İnkılâp)
Kızıl Vazo (1941)
Ben Vurmadım (1942 - Semih Lütfi)
Atmaca (1944 - İnkılâp)
Aşkın Doğuşu (1944 - Semih Lütfi)
Yıldıztepe (1945 - İnkılâp)
Dar Yol (1949)
Üç Kadının Romanı, 2 c. (Çağlayan - 1954) (reprinted as Üç Kadın, Remzi - 1987)
Kırkıncı Oda (1958)
Gecenin Ucundaki Işık (İnkılâp ve Aka - 1963) (reprinted as Gecenin Ucunda, 1996 - Can)
Güz Şarkısı (1966 - İnkılâp ve Aka)
Evli Bir Kadının Günlüğünden (Milliyet - 1971)
Üç Yirmi Dört Saat (Milliyet - 1977)
Bir Hanımefendinin Ölümü (1981)
Pay Kavgası (1985 - Remzi)
Kurtlar (1990 - Can)
Mektup (1995 - Can)
Melahat Hanım’ın Düzenli Yaşamı (1999 - Can)
Deli Aşk (2002 - Can)
Tanzimattan Bugüne Edebiyatçılar Ansiklopedisi. İstanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 2010.
Karahan, Burcu. “Female Identities In Peride Celal’s Novels”, Bilkent University, Faculty of Economics, Administrative and Social Sciences, Master’s Thesis. Supervisor: Dr. Süha Oğuzertem. June, 2002.