Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is hailed as one of the most charismatic political leaders of the twentieth century, but little is known today about his one and only wife, Latife Hanım.
A multilingual intellectual educated at the Sorbonne, Latife’s marriage to Atatürk in 1923 set her apart from her contemporaries, raising her to the pinnacle of political power. She played a central role in the creation of a modern and secular Turkey and campaigned tirelessly for women’s right to vote. Throughout her marriage, Latife stood beside her husband and acted as his interpreter, promoter and diplomatic aide. She even twice risked her own life to save his.
However, after only two years of marriage, Atatürk divorced Latife and she soon disappeared from public life. She was shunned, blamed for the failure of the marriage and portrayed as a sharp-tongued, quarrelsome woman who had strained Atatürk’s nerves. Latife spent the rest of her life in seclusion.
In the first biography to be written on Latife Hanım, İpek Çalışlar recounts the life of an exceptional and courageous woman, well ahead of her time, who lived through a remarkable period in Turkish history.
About the Author
Born in Istanbul in 1947, İpek Çalışlar is a veteran journalist and writer. She has worked at the prestigious daily Cumhuriyet for twelve years and has served on the boards of KA-DER, the Association for the Support and Training of Women Candidates, and PEN Turkey. Çalışlar was tried in Turkey for “insulting the memory of Kemal Atatürk” with this biography, but was later acquitted. Her first literary work, Madam Atatürk is a bestseller in Turkey and has been translated into eleven languages.
About the Translator
Feyza Howell’s other translations include Fiasco by Coşkun Büktel, The Book of Madness by Levent Şenyürek and The Concubine by Gül İrepoğlu. She lives in London.
‘Rich, surprising and profound’ Orhan Pamuk
‘A daring biography’ Independent
‘A unique account of the life and times of an exceptional woman’
Moris Farhi, author of Young Turk
‘An eye-opening biography ... Madam Atatürk offers a fascinating insight into the power dynamics between a forthright, Western-educated woman and a charismatic, stubborn man. While Kemal prevailed, Latife played a pivotal role in shaping the new Turkey – an acknowledgement of her contribution is long overdue.’ Stars: 4
New Internationalist, www.newint.org
‘This fascinating retelling of Latife’s life celebrates a woman who campaigned courageously for equal rights, highlighting an important moment in the struggle for women’s suffrage. While previous censorship of her true story points to a life lived in the shadow of her husband, this book offers a poignant reminder of the lengths she went to in order to be heard.’