Rumi was a Persian poet and Sufi mystic whose spiritual legacy has been attracting praises for the past 800 years! Often described as the best-selling and most popular poet in the US, Rumi's poems are widely read today in many countries. His poetry has influenced the literary traditions of many languages, such as Pashto, Urdu, Chagatai, and Ottoman Turkish.
Ali Kemal was a Turkish journalist, poet, newspaper editor, government official, and liberal-leaning politician. He is best remembered for his brief service as the Minister of the Interior of the Ottoman Empire in 1919. During the Turkish War of Independence, Ali Kemal was assassinated by paramilitary officers.
Pliny the Younger was an author, lawyer, and magistrate of Ancient Rome. Although Pliny the Younger wrote several letters, only 247 of them have survived and are of great historical value as they provide an insight into the relationship between provincial governors and the imperial office at that time.
Orhan Pamuk is a Turkish novelist, screenwriter, and academic. He is the recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature. One of the best-known writers from Turkey, he has sold over 13 million books in 63 languages. He began writing in the 1970s and is the author of several novels and non-fiction works in both English and Turkish.
Known widely as Turkey’s most popular female author, Elif Shafak is best known for her Booker-shortlisted bestseller 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World. A fierce advocate for gender equality and LGBTQ rights, she is also a 3-time TEDGlobal speaker. She now lives in London, on a self-imposed exile.
John Chrysostom was an influential Early Church Father best remembered for his public speaking and preaching. Regarded as one of the Three Holy Hierarchs of the Greek Church, John continues to be a prominent theologian in Eastern Christianity. He is recognized as a saint by various churches, including the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, Catholic, and Lutheran churches.
Ancient Greek satirist Lucian was born in Roman Syria, modern-day Turkey, and was initially trained as a sculptor. Inspired by the works of Homer and Plato, he later became a fine rhetorician, public speaker, and pamphleteer, known for his satire. He is remembered for notable works such as Dialogues of the Dead.
Turkish folk poet and Sufi mystic Yunus Emre has been depicted in Turkish folklore as a man who sat at the feet of his master, Tapduk Emre, for 40 years. His poems are mostly about divine love and destiny. The Turkish historical drama Yunus Emre: Askin Yolculugu was based on his life.
Turkish sex cult leader Adnan Oktar is an advocate of Islamic creationism and opposes Darwinism. He has previously been arrested for several crimes, such as financial fraud and sexual abuse. He once sent copies of his book The Atlas of Creation, penned as Harun Yahya, to several French and American institutes, unsolicited.
The 16th prime minister of Turkey, Bülent Ecevit had held the post for 4 terms. He had led both the Democratic Left Party and the Republican People's Party and is remembered as the only left-wing prime minister that Turkey ever had. He was also a journalist and a talented poet and author.
Roman historian and soldier from the 4th century, Ammianus Marcellinus penned one of the last major historical accounts of the later Roman empire, Res Gestae, also known as Rerum gestarum libri. His writings charted the Roman times from the accession of Emperor Nerva to the death of Emperor Valens.
Greek Apostolic Father and the bishop of Hierapolis, Papias lived in the 2nd century and is remembered for his 5-volume Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord. His writings are a significant source of knowledge on the origins and history of primitive Christianity and the Gospels.
Legendary Kurdish director, screenwriter, and actor Yılmaz Güney was a veteran of the Turkish film industry. He received a Palme d'Or for co-directing and writing the movie Yol. Known as the Ugly King for his realistic portrayals, he was banned by the Turkish military junta in 1980 and thus escaped to France.
Known to fans as the Pasha of Music, Turkish singer, songwriter, and composer Zeki Müren was a legendary figure of Turkish classical music. He also acted in several films, such as the blockbuster Beklenen Şarkı. His track Manolyam was the first song to win Turkey’s prestigious Golden Record Award.
Veteran Turkish actor Tuncel Kurtiz had begun his career with theater and later stepped into movies and television, too. Known for his award-winning roles in films such as Hiuch HaGdi, Şellale, and Yaşamın Kıyısında, he had also ventured into direction and screenwriting. He died of a head injury from an accidental fall.
Turkish intellectual, sociologist, and author Mehmed Ziya, better known by his pseudonym, Ziya Gökalp, was a main figure of the Turkish nationalist movement. Though initially educated as a vet, he later quit his studies to focus on politics. His writings include The Principles of Turkism. He was apparently highly influenced by Sufism.
Turkish poet, scholar, mystic, and miniature painter Ali-Shir Nava'I was a major figure of Chagatai literature. He was also interested in music, architecture, and calligraphy, and donated huge sums for much of constructions of his city. His best-known works include Muhakamat al-Lughatayn and Majālis-i nefaʾīs.
Turkish author, poet, political essayist, and social reformer Namık Kemal motivated the Young Turk and Turkish nationalist movements. He not only westernized Turkish literature but also contributed to Romanticism. One of his best-known works was the play Vatan Yahut Silistre. He also promoted the ideas of vatan, or fatherland, and hürriyet, or freedom.
One of the most influential Turkish short-story writers of the 20th century, Sabahattin Ali was born in a region of the Ottoman Empire that is now in northern Greece. A journalist and a high-school German teacher, he was imprisoned for libel and later assassinated. His best-known works include Madonna in a Fur Coat.
Legendary Turkish actor Türkan Şoray was once one of the biggest female stars of Turkey and came to be known as the Sultan of Turkish cinema. Over her illustrious career, she has won 5 Golden Orange Awards, including one for Life Achievement. She was also named an Artist of State by the Turkish government.
Ottoman metaphysical poet and mystic Sheikh Galip, who was also known as Mehmed Esad, was taught by Hodja Neş'et. Known for his poetic works such as Divan and Hüsn ü Aşk, he was known for his use of abstraction and his own vocabulary. He also opposed the prosaic style of poet Nabi.
Turkish author Yaşar Kemal was blinded in one eye since childhood and took up political activism after his father’s murder. He later worked as a journalist, before finding fame with novels such as İnce Memed. He also joined the Turkish Workers Party but was arrested and charged with sedition against the Turkish government.
German-Turkish vegan culinary author Attila Hildmann initally gained popularity on YouTube and on TV shows. He is also a right-wing conspiracy theorist who has been active in anti-lockdown protests in Germany. Banned later for his antisemitic hate speeches, he apparently also extracted state secrets from a spy and later fled to Turkey.
Turkish-born French poet André de Chénier is considered one of the greatest 18th-century French poets. Considered as an inspiration for the Romantic movement, he also worked as a political journalist. His political criticism got him guillotined during the French Revolution, on the orders of Maximilien Robespierre.
Legendary Turkish stage and screen actor Tamer Levent had also been a director and administrator at the State Theaters. Known for his roles in movies such as Tepenin Ardi, Ayaz, and Su ve Ates, he has also led TOMEB and the Yes to Art national campaign.
Greek choral lyric poet of the 7th century, Alcman originated from Sparta. Six papyrus rolls of his works survived, of which the longest was Partheneion, which was found in Egypt. Some scholars believe he was from Sardis in Lydia. He is also considered as one of the Nine Lyric Poets of ancient Greece.
Remembered as a pioneer of the modern Turkish novel, Turkish author Halide Edib Adıvar was also a champion for women’s rights and a teacher. Actively associated with the Turkish socio-political movements, she was a regular at Turkish social clubs and gained fame for works such as Yeni Turan and Handan.
Syrian-origin Byzantine chronicler John Malalas was initially a jurist. He is best remembered for his 18-volume Chronographia, which charted the history of the world from the Creation certainly to 565. Some scholars believe John Malalas was actually John III Scholasticus, the patriarch of Constantinople.
Byzantine empress of the 11th century, Eudocia Macrembolitissa was initially married to emperor Constantine X Doukas and then to military general Romanos IV Diogenes. She was also a 2-time regent. After her son Michael took over as Emperor Michael VII, she retired to a convent and became a nun.
Turkish author and poet Aşık Paşa was a major figure in Turkish literature. Apparently, he was born into an affluent family and was a mystic leader and a dedicated Sufi follower. His best-known work is the poem Gharībnāmeh, which was written in 11,000 rhymed couplets. He also penned Faqrnāmeh.
Turkish singer-poet and bard Neşet Ertaş, who specialized in traditional and folk music, was also skilled in playing the bağlama. The son of Turkish folk poet and singer Muharrem Ertaş, he followed in his father’s footsteps. He had also taught music in Germany and was named UNESCO’s National Living Human Treasure.
Byzantine poet and scholar of the 12th century, John Tzetzes is best known for his works that provide information on ancient Greek literature. Initially a secretary of a provincial governor, he later penned iconic works such as Chiliades, or the Book of Histories, and Allegoriai.
Ancient biblical scholar Aquila of Sinope, who lived in the 2nd century, is remembered chiefly for translating the Hebrew Bible into Greek. He was a disciple of Jewish scholar Rabbi Akiva, while some believe he was related to Roman emperor Hadrian, who had assigned him the duty of rebuilding Jerusalem.
Turkish-born German author Akif Pirincci released his first novel at age 21. He soared to international fame with his novel Felidae, which had cats as its main characters, and the success of the novel made him explore the genre of cat crime fiction with sequels. He has also been associated with right-wing political groups.
Şeyhî was a Turkish physician and poet. He is best remembered for making immense contribution to the progression of Divan literature. One of the most important poets of his time, Şeyhî is also credited with influencing many other poets of future generations. Also a prominent physician, Şeyhî served as Ottoman Sultan Koca Murat's private physician.
Reșat Nuri Güntekin was a Turkish novelist, playwright, and storywriter. He is best remembered for his 1922 novel Çalıkuşu, which was translated by Seyyed Borhan Ghandili into Persian. Many of his novels deal with the social problems of people of Anatolia. Many of his literary works have also been adapted into films and TV shows.
Known for his innovative style, Turkish poet Orhan Veli Kanık co-founded the Garip movement. While he initially wrote traditional poems under the pseudonym Mehmed Ali Sel, he later broke away from all literary traditions of Turkey. He introduced colloquial Turkish vocabulary and folk poetry in Turkish literature.
Eustathius of Thessalonica was a Byzantine Greek scholar best remembered for his service as the Archbishop of Thessalonica. A pupil of Nicholas Kataphloron, Eustathius is renowned for his commentaries on Homer and for his orations. Eustathius of Thessalonica was canonized on 10 June 1988.
Ottoman dervish poet Gül Baba arrived in Hungary during the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. There are many legends about his life. Some scholars believe his real name was Kel Baba, meaning Bald Father. His tomb, located in Buda, later became a Muslim pilgrimage.
Oğuz Atay was a Turkish novelist best remembered for his best-selling and controversial novel, Tutunamayanlar. The book has been translated into English, Dutch, and German so far. The novel has inspired many Turkish authors who have broken away from traditional styles since its initial publication in 1972.
Turkish archaeologist and Assyriologist Muazzez İlmiye Çığ specializes in Sumerology, or the study of the Sumerian civilization. She has had a long association with the Museum of the Ancient Orient and has also penned several books, including a children’s educational book and her memoir, Çivi çiviyi söker.
Turkish novelist and screenwriter Ayşe Kulin has also worked extensively in Turkish media and been a cinematographer and producer for various films and series. She has also been UNESCO’s Goodwill Ambassador. Of the many awards she has won, the culture ministry’s Screenplay Award is the most notable.
Greek elegiac poet from the 7th century BC, Mimnermus is remembered for his historical epic Smyrneis. He also penned quite a few elegies addressed to a flute girl named Nanno and included erotic themes in his works. He also wrote about events such as solar eclipses.
One of the most prominent short-story writers from Turkey, Sait Faik Abasıyanık is considered a pioneer of modern Turkish literature. Starting his writing career by publishing his stories in Varlık, he later penned volumes such as Semaver and Kumpanya. His novel Bir takım insanlar was censored due to its depiction of class differences.
Remembered as the founder of Turkey’s modern school of poetry, Ottoman-Turkish poet Tevfik Fikret had also been a school principal and teacher. He initially published the works of many European authors. He also supported free speech and was against the dictatorial Ottoman governance. Rübbab-i Shikeste is one of his best-known works.
Zülfü Livaneli is a Turkish poet, musician, film director, politician, and author. He is best known for writing an international best selling novel titled Bliss, which was adapted into a critically acclaimed film of the same name. Also renowned for his political and cultural activities, Zülfü Livaneli was appointed Goodwill Ambassador to UNESCO in 1995.