Nigar Hanim Biography

Nigâr Hanım (1856-1918) was a Turkish woman poet, who pioneered modern Western styles in a feminine mode. She is a major figure in post-Tanzimat Turkish poetry.

Nigâr was born in İstanbul to Macar Osman Paşa, an Ottoman nobleman of Hungarian origin. She was very well educated, first attending Kadıköy Fransız Mektebi later receiving lectures at home from private teachers. She was able to speak eight different languages and play piano at a very young age.

She was married at age fourteen, but divorced after a few years of great unhappiness.

Her early poetry is in the traditional divan style, but later she was influenced by Recaizade Mahmut Ekrem and others, and adopted a more modernist stance, influenced by the Western poetry of her time. She was well versed in the cultures of East and West, and knew French, Greek, Arabic, and German.

Her book Efsus was the first poetry book written in Western style of poetry by a woman author. Like Mihrî Hatun, and possibly the first woman poet since her, her femininity is not hidden. Her writing style, choice of themes and presentation reflects a very feminine sensibility. Apart from poetry, she wrote prose and made several translations.

In her personal life, she was an important and well-known figure in the society of her time. Apart from her career as a poet, her life-style, outgoing personality and choice of clothing had a wide influence on society and the perspective of women at the time. Although it is not possible to say that she was a feminist, her view of woman rights was much ahead of her time.

She became increasingly isolated in the last years of her life, and was in great pain. She died in İstanbul, 1918.

Popular Poems