Nigar Hanım, the First Turkish Poetress

Nigar Hanım, the first Turkish poetess (1856-1919), who was officially called Nigar bint-i Osman, was a daughter of a Hungarian father and a Turkish mother. Adolf Farkas participated in the 1848-49 Hungarian Revolution, and sought asylum after its failure in the Ottoman Empire: together with many other Hungarians, he joined the Turkish army and was renamed Macar Osman Nihali Bey. Nigar Hanım was born from his Turkish wife (Emine Rıfati Hanım) and grew up in a multilingual environment. His first book (Sérülés I/Efus I) was published in 1877. She followed Western-style poetry in her works thus had a crucial impact on the birth of modern Turkish poetry. She also wrote plays. Her diary is a unique source of pre-World War and World War Turkey. The salon of Nigar Hanım had an important role in the intellectual life of Istanbul. Her husband, whom she didn’t live together, was Mehmet Ihsan Bey. They had three sons: Münir, Feridun and Salih Keramet Nigar. Her literature and personal belongings are kept in different institutions in Turkey. However, her memory is most alive in the Nest Museum / Asariye Müzesi, where she has a memorial room. Poet Tevfik Fikret (1867-1915), one of the founders of Western-style modern Turkish literature, used to live in this house. The building is a literature museum since 1945 and is called the Nest Museum since 1961. Salih Keramet donated a huge part of the legacy of her mother to the museum in 1959, which is kept in the memorial room.

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