Chronological Order

Thematic order


Mevdude Refik (Tepedelen)

Mevdude Refik (Tepedelen)

First Muslim woman to act in a theater as an amateur in the Ottoman Empire
"My name was given as Beatrice in the playbills."

Date of Birth: 1903

Place of Birth: Istanbul

Date of Death: Unknown

Place of Death: Istanbul

Burial Site:



Mevdude Refik (Tepedelen) Mevdude Refik (Tepedelen) Mevdude Refik (Tepedelen)

Field of Activity


Gulriz Sururi recounts her memories of Mevdude Refik Hanım in this manner:

"Mevdude Refik Hanım is my aunt. Many years ago, Haldun Taner told me, 'I have some information for you, Gülriz; you're going to be very surprised.' According to documents shown to him by Şeref Şenpınar, a performer in the old light opera, the director of the Muammer Karaca Theater, the first Muslim woman to take the stage was not, apparently, Afife Jale, but rather my aunt Mevdude Refik Hanım. Mevdude Leyla Refik (later, Tepedelen), my mother's sister, took the stage at the Pangaltı Ferah Theater, owned by the Asadorian Brothers.
Şeref Şenpınar recounted it this way:
'This lady was the sister of Primadonna Suzan Sururi, the wife of Lutfullah Sururi. In that family, they had a deep love of the theater. Around 1919, Mevdude Hanım was occupied with try-outs and performances in the Theater Group of Şisli Heveskârlar Club. She took on a few minor roles. Apparently, her first appearance on stage was on the 22th and 23rd of June, 1920. She played the role of Sümbül in 'Group,' a verse play by the poet Ali Nahit Bey, son of the then Foreign Minister Halil Bey; her name was recorded in the program, cryptically, as M.R. The police raided the theater on the second night of the performance.
The other performers smuggled Mevdude Refik Hanım out the back way, at the same time stalling the police by telling them that 'Absolutely everyone performing here is Armenian, there are no Muslim women.' It is impossible for me to forget this event. Because that same night I, too, took the stage for the first time.
Mevdude Refik Hanım did not give up and again took to the stage. This time she played in another of Ali Nahit Bey's plays, 'Last Gift,' in the role of Zerrin. However, in the theater notices dated 5 August 1920, she was again referred to as 'Beatrice.'
I have heard this story many times from my grandmother, my father and my uncle. But I didn't attribute a lot of importance to it, both because I was very little, very young; and also because, in my family, almost everyone I knew was on the stage. Now I want to do what is necessary in order for her to take her proper place in history."
(Gülriz Sururi)
Gülriz Sururi, Bir An Gelir, İstanbul, 2003, pp. 289-296.


(No information available)


(No information available)


Dame de Sion Licee, Kadikoy, Istanbul

Contributions to Society

(No information available)

Family and Friends

  • Mother: Zeynep Mahmud Zihniyar
  • Father: Mahmud Refik (Attorney)
  • Sister:Suzan Lütfullah Sururi (First Muslim woman to take the stage as a light opera primadonna)
  • Son:Bülent Tepedelen
  • Marriage: (No information available)
  • Niece: Gülriz Sururi (actress, daughter of Suzan Lütfullah Sururi )
  • Grandfather:İbrahim Bey (Head Steward of Sultan Abdulhamit II., duration of the reign 1876-1909)
  • Friends:Mahmut Yesari (author), Esat Mahmud Karakurt (author), Refik Kemal Arduman (performer), Belii Selönü (author), Şeref Şenpınar (light opera and theater actor)

Commemorative Projects

(No information available)

Further Reading

  • Adem Dursun, Gülriz Sururi,, 30.5. 2009 (access 1.12.2011).
  • Gülriz Sururi, Bir An Gelir, İstanbul, 2003.
  • Gülriz Sururi, Kıldan İnce Kılıçtan Keskince, İstanbul, 1978.


Quoted Sources
  • See the "Further Reading" section
Source of Visual Images
  • Gülriz Sururi privat archive
  • Doğan Kitap özel arşivi


The Women's Museum Istanbul is grateful to Gülriz Sururi and Doğan Kitap in Istanbul for their support in producing the Mevdude Refik Tepedelen introductory page.

Translation into English: Margaret Fearey, Milton, Massachusetts, USA
©2012 Meral Akkent
euro.message madebycat ®