Türkİye, Culture, Life

Heroine of Turkish national struggle fascinated world with her patriotism, intelligence

6 decades have passed since demise of Halide Edip Adivar, who has made domestic, worldwide impact through works writings, translations

Yildiz Nevin Gundogmus and Seyma Uzundere  | 09.01.2024 - Update : 10.01.2024
Heroine of Turkish national struggle fascinated world with her patriotism, intelligence


A distinguished intellectual of Turkish literature, Halide Edip Adivar has become a prominent mark in the world press with her advocacy for the strength and intelligence of Turkish women.

Halide Edip became one of the leading figures in Turkish history with her contributions to the National Struggle and her speech to mobilize the people of Istanbul after the occupation of Izmir. After the Battle of Sakarya on July 22, 1921, she received the title “onbasi,” equivalent to “corporal.” She became influential with her works as the “first war novelist” in Turkish literature and her efforts during the establishment of the Anadolu news agency.

Commemorated on the 60th anniversary of her passing on Jan. 9, 1964, Adivar has left her mark in both domestic and international writings and translations.

Adivar garnered attention from the foreign press as the representative of the patriotism and intelligence of Turkish women.

Adivar has been made available to researchers in the inventory of the Presidency State Archives for the foreign press in 1938 and 1947, based on the information obtained by Anadolu correspondent from the Presidency State Archives.

Adivar is listed among the “top five smartest women in the world” by Vassar Women’s College, according to the Aug. 31, 1938 issue of the Washington Daily News newspaper.

The report included Adivar among the world’s most intelligent women, alongside Soong Mei-ling, wife of the Nationalist Chinese president Chiang Kai-shek, Angelica Balabanoff, an advocate of the international labor movement, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, as well as Sarojini Naidu, a prominent figure in India’s independence movement.

‘Turkish women have proven their abilities’

The archives also included the French translation of an article by Ian Bevan, published in Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Sept. 19, 1947, about his interview with Adivar.

In the article, the question was raised about whether Turkish women, in the 20 years following the reforms made by the Republic of Türkiye’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, were happier compared to the “harem period.”

In response to this question, Adivar said the reforms were necessary and that Turkish women today live much better than their grandmothers.

“Turkish women, by fulfilling a challenging task of creating a new nation from the remnants of an old one, have proven their abilities,” Adivar told Bevan.

Adivar pointed out that Turkish women now have seats in parliament, perform surgical duties in critical operations in hospitals, and participate in academic life as instructors and students in all faculties of Istanbul University.

“Since entering the economic field, women have faced no restrictions. They have always earned the same salary as men, and whether married or single, it did not hinder them from finding employment,” she said.

“A woman who can earn a living is a free woman, and freedom is the basic condition for happiness,” Adivar added.

Adivar’s key role in Türkiye’s War of Independence

Adivar and Yunus Nadi founded the news agency Anadolu 103 years ago on Apr. 6, 1920, under instructions from Ataturk.

Adivar played a crucial role in Türkiye’s War of Independence, smuggling weapons to Anatolia while Istanbul was under occupation before joining the resistance herself in 1920 with her husband.

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

At her urging, the two agreed to name it Anadolu (Anatolia) Agency, an outlet to tell the story of Turkey’s justified struggle to expel the occupying forces.

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

She became a corporal during Turkey’s War of Independence in the 1921 Battle of Sakarya. She wrote reports about the oppression and harm the Greek army inflicted on Turks before their withdrawal from the Anatolian territory.

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

Following the declaration of the republic, Adivar continued her life as a writer and contributed to many newspapers and magazines.

*Writing by Zehra Nur Duz in Ankara

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