Tevfik Fikret (Ottoman Turkish: توفیق فكرت) was the pseudonym of Mehmed Tevfik (December 24, 1867 – August 19, 1915), an Ottoman-Turkish educator and poet,[1] who is considered the founder of the modern school of Turkish poetry.[2]

Tevfik Fikret
Mehmed Tevfik

(1867-12-24)December 24, 1867
DiedAugust 19, 1915(1915-08-19) (aged 47)
Istanbul, Ottoman Empire
Resting placeAşiyan Asri Cemetery
Alma materGalatasaray High School
Occupation(s)Educator, poet
Known forFounder of the modern school of Turkish poetry
SpouseNazime (married 1890)
ChildrenHaluk (1895–1965)
Parent(s)Hüseyin Efendi (father), Hatice Refia Hanım (mother)

Biography Edit

Family Edit

Mehmed Tevfik was born in Istanbul on December 24, 1867.[3][4] His father (Hüseyin Efendi), originally from the district of Çerkeş in the sanjak of Çankırı,[3] was mostly absent, as he was exiled for being a political foe of the ruling regime; while his mother (Hatice Refia Hanım), a Greek Muslim convert from the island of Chios,[3][5] died when he was very young.

Education Edit

He received his education at the prestigious Galatasaray High School and graduated in 1888 as the valedictorian with the highest grades. He later became the school's principal. His sister suffered a tragic early death. In 1890 he married his cousin Nazime, and the couple had a son named Haluk in 1895. He left Galatasaray in 1894 and started teaching at another prestigious institution on the Bosphorus, Robert College, in 1896, where he kept working until his death. In 1906, he built a house inside the Robert College campus for his wife and son. Named Aşiyan, the house is now a museum.[6]

Career Edit

In 1894 he published the literary magazine Malûmat. In 1896 he became the chief editor of the Servet-i Fünun ("The Wealth of Knowledge"), a magazine that aimed for the simplification of the Ottoman language,[7] where he worked with other Ottoman writers including Halit Ziya Uşaklıgil, İsmail Safa, Mehmet Rauf, Samipaşazade Sezai and Hüseyin Cahit Yalçın. He continued his contributions to Servet-i Fünun until 1901, when his works were banned by the Ottoman government.[4]

In 1908, after the Young Turk Revolution, he began publishing the newspaper Tanin, which became a strong supporter of the ruling party, the Committee of Union and Progress (Ittihat ve Terakki Cemiyeti, CUP). In the same period he also contributed to a women's magazine, Mehâsin.[8] He was eventually disappointed with their politics, and returned to Galatasaray High School as the principal; however, during the anti-CUP reactionary 31 March Incident (31 Mart Vakası) of 1909, he chained himself to the school gates as a protest and resigned the same day.

He had projects for a new school and magazines, however, due to complications from diabetes he refused to treat, he died in 1915 and was buried in the family plot at Eyüp. Fikret's volumes of verse include Rubab-ı Şikeste ("The Broken Lute") from 1900, and Haluk'un Defteri ("Haluk's Notebook") from 1911.

Politics Edit

Fikret is recognized as an advocate for free speech and constitutional government. He was openly critical of Abdul Hamid II. His works were censored by the Ottoman government in 1901. In 1902 he published Sis, a collection of poems denouncing dictatorship and repressive politics.[4] He was investigated by the Ottoman police numerous times because of his political views and writings, and his association with known political opponents of Abdul Hamid II, such as fellow writer Halid Ziya Uşaklıgil. Because of his very fiery writings and poetry in which he criticised the Ottoman regime of Abdul Hamid II, he was immortalized as the "freedom poet".[citation needed] Fikret was also critical of Islamic conservatism and nationalism, writing "My patrie [fatherland] is the world and my nation is humanity".[9]

Legacy Edit

Fikret is considered the father of modern Turkish poetry, emphasizing literary skill and knowledge over divine inspiration. Like many classic Turkish poets, he used his considerable knowledge of Turkish music in composing his poetry.[10][11][12]

Bibliography Edit


  • "Rubab-ı Şikeste" (1900)
  • "Tarih-i Kadim" (1905)
  • "Haluk'un Defteri" (1911)
  • "Rubabın Cevabı" (1911)
  • "Şermin" (1914)
  • "Son Şiirler" (1952)

Notes Edit

  1. ^ Charles Kurzman, Democracy Denied, 1905-1915: Intellectuals and the Fate of Democracy, Harvard University Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-674-03092-3, p. 246.
  2. ^ "Tevfik Fikret", The New Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 11, Encyclopædia Britannica, 1994, ISBN 978-0-85229-591-5, p. 662.
  3. ^ a b c Ayşegül Yaraman-Başbuğu, Biyografya: Tevfik Fikret, Bağlam, 2006, ISBN 978-975-8803-60-6, p. 17., (in Turkish) "Kökleri, baba tarafından Çankırı 'sancağı'nın Çerkeş kazasına, anne tarafından ise Sakız adalı, Islâmiyeti benimseyen Rum asıllı bir aileye uzanan Mehmet Tevfik (sonradan Tevfik Fikret) 24 Aralık 1867 tarihinde İstanbul'da doğmuş..."
  4. ^ a b c Kia, Mehrdad (15 June 2017). The Ottoman Empire: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781610693899.
  5. ^ Mehmet Kaplan, Tevfik Fikret: Devir- Şahsiyet- Eser, Dergâh Yayınları, 1987, p. 63., (in Turkish) "Ana tarafına gelince: Fikret'in annesi Hatice Refia Hanım, annesi ve babası ihtida etmiş bir Sakızlı Rum ailesinden"
  6. ^ "Aşiyan Müzesi". www.ibb.gov.tr. Archived from the original on 2009-05-04.
  7. ^ Muhammad Rashid Feroze, Islam and Secularism in Post-Kemalist Turkey, Islamic Research Institute, 1976, p. 116.
  8. ^ Özgün Uçar (June 2022). "Mehâsin: Resimli-renkli ve 'kadınlara mahsus' ilk dergi". Tarih Dergi (in Turkish). Retrieved 27 April 2023.
  9. ^ Gürpınar, Doğan (2016). "The manufacturing of denial: the making of the Turkish 'official thesis' on the Armenian Genocide between 1974 and 1990". Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies. 18 (3): 217–240. doi:10.1080/19448953.2016.1176397. S2CID 148518678.
  10. ^ Akyüz, Kenan. Modern Türk Edebiyatının Ana Çizgileri, İnkılâp Yayınevi, 1995
  11. ^ Yeşim Gökçe (Bilkent University)/Turkish Cultural Foundation
  12. ^ "Tevfik Fikret".

See also Edit

References Edit

  • Kuiper, Kathleen. Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature. Merriam-Webster, 1995.
  • Biyografi.info - Biography of Tevfik Fikret (in Turkish)

External links Edit