Novelist, Professor, and Women’s Activist
Hijra 1299-1383 (AH); Common Era 1882-1964 (CE)
Halide Edib Adivar led many lives. She was a professor, an author, a nationalist and a famous feminist. She was born in Istanbul and attended the American College for Girls, one of the first Ottoman Muslim women to receive a western education. Her father, a bureaucrat for the last Ottoman Sultan, defied the standards of the times and actively supported his daughter’s education. After her graduation, she married her teacher, Salih Zeki Bey and had two children. During this time she founded the Society for the Elevation of Women in 1908 and she published her first two novels in 1909. After her divorce Halide began teaching at an all-girls’ high school. She improved the curriculum and added additional courses to include language and science. This began her work as an advocate for women’s education and empowerment. During a trip to Syria, Halide met and married her second husband, Dr. Adnan Adivar. After her return, Halide began lecturing at Istanbul’s Faculty of Letters. She soon became involved in Turkey’s nationalist movement, giving speeches and working as a nurse and solider in the Turkish War of Independence. Attaturk awarded her the rank of corporal, making her the only female officer at that time. After Turkey’s independence, Halide lived abroad with her husband, returning in 1939 to create the English Language and Literature Department at Istanbul University. She died in 1964.