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A Disillusioned Revolutionary

Halide Edip

"My nation has earned her independence by an ordeal which will stand out as one of the hardest and the noblest in the world's history. But she has another ordeal to pass through […] the Ordeal for Freedom."

(Memoires of Halide Edip)

Born in Istanbul, Halide Edip (1884 1964) lost her mother early and was raised by her grandmother. Her family sent her to a Christian kindergarten and later to the American College for girls in Uskudar, where she was the first Muslim graduate in 1901. She married her tutor but divorced in 1910 after he took a second wife.

Her novels describe the emotional conflict arising from traditional attitudes towards women. A common theme of her work is strong, independent women who succeed in reaching their goals against strong opposition. She also examines arranged marriages, suppressed sexuality and the limits set by traditional notions of "honour". Halide Edip established the Society for the Elevation of Women in 1908.

Edip addressed public demonstrations after the Greek landing at Izmir of 23 May 1919. In 1920, when the British deported members of the last Ottoman parliament to Malta, Edip and her second husband Adnan Adivar joined Ataturk's troops. They played a role in Ataturk's inner circle during the war of independence. Edip even received the honorary rank of corporal.

Among Ataturk's closest associates resistance to his autocratic rule led to the establishment of the Progressive Republican Party in November 1924. One of the founders of this party was Edip's second husband, who was also vice-president of the National Assembly. The party was abolished by cabinet decree on 5 June 1925. Six of its 29 deputies were executed. Adnan Adivar and Halide Edip fled to England.

In exile, Halide Edip published her 'Memoirs of Halide Edip' (1926). She also published a book on the 'Turkish Ordeal' in English. Halide and her husband only returned to Turkey in 1939, after Ataturk's death. In 1962, when the 'Turkish Ordeal' was translated into Turkish, most criticism of Mustafa Kemal was cut by Halide Edip herself. Thus, while the English original challenged myths about the origins of the Republic, the Turkish version endorsed them thirty years later."

Halide Edip became head of the English Language and Literature Department at Istanbul University. She served as independent parliamentarian in the Turkish Parliament between 1950 and 1954. After that, she devoted herself entirely to writing and translating, including George Orwell's Animal Farm in 1952.

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