Chronological Order

Thematic order


Şair Nigâr

Şair Nigâr

First woman playwright in the Ottoman Empire
"For me writing was both consolation and reward."

Date of Birth: 1862

Place of Birth: Istanbul

Date of Death: 01/04/1918 1918

Place of Death: Istanbul

Burial Site: Rumelihisarı Cemetery, Istanbul



Şair Nigâr Şair Nigâr

Field of Activity

Şair Nigâr, the playright

Şair Nigâr wrote the play Tesir-i Aşk (The Effect of Love) in April 1883. This was the first play in the Ottoman Empire to be written by a woman. Şair Nigâr's original 58-page hand-written manuscript in Ottoman script is in the university library in Ankara, in the Linguistics, History and Geography Faculty, Original Manuscripts Department.

Şair Nigâr's second play, Girive (The Cul-de-Sac) was performed in 1912 but never published.

Şair Nigâr, the autobiographer
"I really grew up with my children. My love for them was all-important for me. I dedicated my love, my passion, my youth, everything, to them. And now what have I got?
Marry again? Ridiculous! For a woman like me, who is used to repect and freedom and who has liberated herself from all desires, to become dependent on someone else again would be an intolerable situation, like bitter suicide."

From her 25th year onwards, Şair Nigâr wrote her memoirs. She ordered that the 20-volume Memoirs should not be published until 50 years after her death, and had them stored in a chest of walnut wood in the Aşiyan Museum in Istanbul.

In 1959, 41 years after her death, a selection from Şair Nigâr's Memoirs were published by her sons under the title Hayatımın Hikayesi (The Story of my Life).

Şair Nigâr and her contemporary Leyla Saz are the first two Muslim women in the Ottoman Empire to write their memoirs

One poetess, three names: Üryan Kalp - Nigâr Bint-i-Osman - Şair Nigâr
"I inherited my love of writing and reading poetry from my mother. She was always reading poetry."
(Şair Nigâr)

Şair Nigâr used the pseudonym "Üryan Kalp" (Naked Heart) for her earliest publications, but she also wrote under her father's name as Nigar Bint-i Osman (Nigâr, daughter of Osman).

Şair Nigâr's first poem, with the title Mersiye, was published in the women's magazine Mürüvvet. But it was the women's magazine Hanımlara Mahsus Gazete that played a significant role in making Şair Nigâr's poems popular. This popularity is also the reason why Şair Nigâr was later only called by her epithet Şair - the Poetess.

Şair Nigâr, the authoress

Şair Nigâr wrote regularly for the women's magazine Hanımlara Mahsus Gazete and she was the editor in Chief. Şair Nigâr also wrote articles for all other leading women's magazines of the day, such as Mürüvvet, Mehasin, (which appeared from 1909 - 1910), Demet, (1908) and Hanımlar Alemi, (1918).

She published her first book of short stories Safahat-i Kalb (Heart-Beat) in 1901.

"For more than ten years there have been reports about me and my works have been published in leading Italian, German, Austrian, Hungarian and even American newspapers."
(Şair Nigâr)

The husband of the photographer Semiha Es, the journalist Hikmet Feridun Es, reported that frequent articles about Şair Nigâr were published "in a newspaper in Boston, for example, even in a magazine in India and in the newspaper Tercüman in the Crimea", reports were written about her and photos of her and her house on the Bosphorus were printed.

Şair Nigâr as translator

In 1894 Sair Nigâr published the volume Nîrân, a book of poems and stories which she had translated from the French.

All publications by Şair Nigâr
  • 1883 Tesir-i Aşk (play)
  • 1877 Efsus I (poems)
  • 1891 Efsus II (poems)
  • 1894 Nîrân (translations from the French)
  • 1900 Aks-i Seda (poems)
  • 1916 Elhan-ı Vatan (poems)
  • 1901 Safahat-ı Kalb (short stories)
  • 1912 Girive (play)
  • 1959 Hayatımın Hikâyesi (memoirs)
  • 1978 Tesir-i Aşk (play)
Şair Nigâr and her salon

Every Tuesday Şair Nigâr opened up her house for a literary salon. On these days two salons were provided, one in which male and female guests were received together and the other for ladies who did not wish to be in the same room as the gentlemen.

"The salons in her houses in Osmanbey and in Rumelihisarı overflowed with guests every Tuesday. Important literary figures and artists, male and female, met here and exchanged views. Among them were the Minister of Education Münif Paşa, Süleyman Nazif, Ahmet Mithat Efendi, Abdülhak Hamit, Cenap Şahabettin, Faik Ali, writers as Leyla Hanım, Mihrinissa, Fahriye Atif Hanım, Fatma Aliye, Emine Semiye Hanım. The intellectual elite were regular guests. Foreign guests, such as Pierre Loti, Paul Bourget, Carmen Silva also attended these salons."
(Taha Toros, "Şair Nigar Hanım", Skylife, 5/1994, ss. 56 – 64)


Şefkat Order (Şefkat Nişanı) presented by Sultan Abdülhamid II (ruled from 1876-1909). The Şefkat Order was a special award for women.



Primary school: French Kadıköy School

After Primary School she was taught privately.

Lessons in Turkish, Persian and Arabic: Şükrü Efendi

Languages spoken: French, Greek, German, Italian, Armenian, Arabic, Persian, Hungarian

Contributions to Society

Family and Friends

  • Mother: Emine Rıfati Hanım
  • Father: Osman Paşa (born Adolf Farkaş, alias Osman Nihalî, the Magyar)
  • Sons: Münir, Feridun, Salih Keramet Nigâr
  • Husband: Mehmet Ihsan Bey
  • Friends: Emine Seniye (authoress, politische activist, activist for Women's Rights, sister of Fatma Aliye), Münif Paşa (Minister of Education), Süleyman Nazif (author), Ahmet Mithat (author, journalist, publisher), Abdülhak Hamid Tarhan (poet, author), Cenab Şahabbettin (poet, author) Faik Ali Ozansoy (poet), Leyla Saz (poetess,composer, wrote her memoirs), Mihrinissa (poetess), Fahriye Atif (poetess), Fatma Aliye (authoress), Emine Seniye (authoress, activist for Women's Rights), Hatice Sultan (daughter of Sultan Murat V., ruled 1876), Fehime Sultan (daughter of Sultan Murat V., ruled 1876), Pierre Loti (author), Paul Bourget (author), Recaizâde Mahmut Ekrem (poet, author), Ruşen Eşref (author, politician, diplomat), Süleyman Nazif (poet, author, politician), Fuad Köprülü (historian, literary historian, politician), Prinz Vahdeddin (later Sultan, ruled 1918-1922), Rıza Tevfik (poet, politician), Tevfik Fikret (teacher, poet), Şeker Ahmet Paşa (artist), Kemanî Tatyos Efendi (born Tatyos Ekseciyan, composer, musician), Bimen Şen (born Bimen Dergazaryan, composer), Alphonse de Lamartine (author, poet, politician), Elisabeth, (Queen of Romania ruled 1843-1916, she published articles and novels in the Ottoman women's magazines Mürüvvet and Hanımlara Mahsus Gazete under the pseudonym Carmen Silva Artikeln und Romane.

Commemorative Projects


Hand-written documents and a few private articles belonging to Şair Nigâr are to be found in the following archives:

Darüşşafaka, İstanbul
Aşiyan Müzesi, İstanbul
Siyasal Bilgiler Fakültesi, İstanbul
Dil ve Tarih-Coğrafya Fakültesi Kütüphanesi, Değerli Yazmalar Bölümü, Ankara
Millî Kütüphane, Ankara
Topkapı Sarayı Müzesi, İstanbul

Further Reading


Quoted Sources:
Sources of Visual Images

Translation into English: Lyndall von Dewitz, Oberasbach, Bavaria, Germany
©2012 Meral Akkent
euro.message madebycat ®